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Model planes promote Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow

Jeff Himler
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A member of the Laurel Highlands Model Airplane Club provided this scale model of a vintage military pilot trainer for a display at the Shop 'n Save supermarket on East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg.

Customers at the Shop ‘n Save supermarket on Greensburg’s East Pittsburgh Street might have noticed a pair of planes circling for a landing above the checkout lanes.

The one-fifth scale models of biplanes from the 1960s and a few decades earlier are part of the promotion for the 2018 Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, set for July 28-29 at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

On loan from members of the Laurel Highlands Model Airplane Club, the planes serve as a preview of the roughly 20 other radio-controlled models the club will display at the air show.

“Many years ago, we used to give a flying demonstration at the air show, but not since 2001, when the airspace was restricted,” said Jim Andrews, club president.

The club’s 125 members fly at a field in Mt. Pleasant Township’s Mammoth Park.

“We have a good working relationship with the county and with the regional airport,” Andrews said.

The model hanging close to the customer service desk at the supermarket is based on the Stearman PT 17 biplane. It is owned by club member Dean Pollock and was built by another, Tony Kistler.

PT stands for pursuit trainer, Andrews explained.

“It was popular in the ’30s and early ’40s,” he said. “It was used by the different branches of the military as a training airplane to prepare pilots for flying in World War II. Stearman became part of the Boeing organization.”

The other plane on display is owned by club treasurer Rene Marquis and is a scaled-down model of the Liberty Sport. Despite its retro wing design, the compact plane originally flew in the mid-1960s. It eventually became popular as a kit pilots could build at home, Andrews said.

The models will remain on display at the store through the air show, he said.

The club’s models will join a variety of other ground-based attractions at the show, including a display of two F-18 military jets and several NASCAR-related features — including the No. 18 M&M Kyle Busch car and the No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hellman’s race car simulator.

Highlighting the show’s aerial demonstrations will be appearances by the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

Visit palmerairport.com for air show details and lhmac.org for more information about the model airplane club.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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