Flights Of Fancy

With the help of radio controls, more retired men are soaring the skies without entering the cockpit

On a brilliant fall Saturday in New York State, the surface of Congers Lake reflects the small airplane motoring above it, rolling left, flipping over, circling in a Cuban Eight, then gliding effortlessly through the October wind. "Flying straight like that is very delicate," offers one nervous spectator. "He has the bare minimum amount of wind under his wings. If he gets it wrong, that plane will crash, straight down. You won't see it again."

Panic does not seize the day, though--not least because the pilot, an expert, is standing coolly on the ground, dual-levered radio transmitter in hand, 500 ft....

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