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When the world’s top remote control airplane exposition in Toledo, Ohio succumbed to COVID in 2020, Round Top local Fred Massey saw an opportunity to bring the annual event, which draws RC airplane hobbyists from all over the world, to his own backyard. 

The first annual Round Top R/C Expo will be held this November 11 through 13th at Thunder Field, a section of land off South Weyand Road that has served Massey’s in-laws as a hay field since the 1960s. Massey, a lifelong model builder and licensed pilot, has carefully graded, rolled, fertilized and planted rye grass to make the area suitable for planes and guests alike. The wide-open spaces and fair weather of Round Top provide excellent conditions for flying the small craft. 

The Texas Warbird Thunder Flying Team poses with their planes at Thunder Field. (Photo courtesy of Lee Ray)

“The unique difference between the Toledo show and the Round Top Expo is that the Round Top Expo will not only have vendors of RC aircraft, but we will have an actual flying component of the show,” Massey tells Massey notes that the world-famous Toledo Show, which had been held in Ohio for more than 65 years, was strictly indoor – and completely grounded. 

The Texas Warbird Thunder Flying Team, a group of skilled pilots who specialize in building and flying World War II replica planes, are sponsoring a fly-in for the inaugural Texas event dubbed Thunder Over Round Top. Large enclosed tents will be installed at the field to house model airplane vendors and provide cover for a swap meet and other activities. Attendees will also enjoy special exhibits, presentations by RC experts and an auction.

“My favorite part of the (Toledo) expo was seeing all the new technology and models that were being brought to the market,” Massey says. “Over the last several years, the trend in RC modeling has been towards what is known as the ARF or ‘almost ready to fly’ models. These kits require much less time to assemble, and the pilot can be ready to fly within a couple of hours or less.”

Basic RC airplane kits start at around $200. For those new to the hobby, Massey recommends starting with a base model, or buying a used plane. New pilots are advised to join a local RC club and buddy up with an experienced pilot by connecting the transmitters on their plane to two remotes. If the new pilot gets in trouble, the mentor can take over and save the plane — most of the time. 

“Having a few crashes is — unfortunately — part of the sport, but the good news is that the pilot walks away to fly another day,” Massey muses.

The expo will also provide opportunities for kids to participate in flying lessons with contests and prizes. Like Massey, who was a private pilot for three decades, many young RC enthusiasts often go on to careers in general or commercial aviation.

“As a kid, one of my favorite hobbies was building model cars and airplanes,” Massey says. “Eventually, I became interested in flying control line model airplanes which were powered by small glo plug engines that ran on a castor oil fuel. These are the type of planes that were attached to about 60 feet of wires that the pilot flew in circles. Much later in life, a friend of mine introduced me to radio control gliders and that grew to much larger and more powerful gas engines which were actually converted chain saw engines.”

Kids, and kids at heart enjoy the high flying RC action.

“You don’t have to be a pilot, or own an RC plane to enjoy the expo,” Massey says. There will be food trucks on site during the show, and with the center of Round Top located just five miles down the road, there are plenty of lodging, dining and shopping options open year-round. For the expo itself, it is recommended that guests bring a folding chair and a small tent if desired. Show dates are November 11 to 13 from 9 am to 5 pm each day. Go to to get tickets, or for information on how to participate in the swap meet, or sign-up for a vendor space.

Good, clean fun. The Texas Warbird Thunder Flying Team enjoying a day at Thunder Field in Round Top.