Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: 2015 Aerobatics Challenge to feature oversize model airplanes

Jeffery Johnson, left, and pilot Jim Woodward participated in the 2014 Aero Modelers of Perrine (AMPS) Aerobatics Challenge featuring giant-scale model planes.
Jeffery Johnson, left, and pilot Jim Woodward participated in the 2014 Aero Modelers of Perrine (AMPS) Aerobatics Challenge featuring giant-scale model planes.

Look up! It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane, but not the usual size. Members of the Aero Modelers of Perrine (AMPS) are set to present the 2015 Aerobatics Challenge featuring giant-scale model aerobatic airplanes flown by 60 pilots from all over Florida, and as far away as Canada. The pilots fly their planes from the ground via radio control.

The competition is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1. A freestyle competition will be flown at 1 p.m. March 1 with the awards presentation at 3 p.m. The event will be at the AMPS flying facilities two miles west of Krome Avenue on Southwest 168th Street. The address is 20040 SW 168th St.

Five competition classes range from basic, where any size model airplane can be entered, up to the unlimited class, in which you can see 42 percent-size exact replicas of modern aerobatic airplanes. Some have wingspans of more than 10 feet and exceed $10,000 in value.

The public is invited to attend this free two-day event where the whole family can enjoy a day of exciting competition, all while enjoying South Florida’s mild winter climate. There is a requested $5 per car parking donation. Food will be available for purchase.

In addition to competing for awards and points, the pilots enter into raffles for valuable prizes donated by some of the country’s leading model-airplane manufacturers. For event information and directions visit AMPS website at or contact contest coordinator Tony Fandino at 305-216-8580 or

AMPS Membership is open to anyone interested in flying or learning to fly model aircraft. Membership is organized in three classes: junior, under age 19; open, 19 to 64; and senior, 65 and older. The group raises scholarship funds to help aspiring aviation college students.

Garden tours

It is almost time again for The Villagers annual garden tour and this year guests can go behind the walls and hedges of some of the most beautifully designed private gardens in Miami-Dade County.

The Villagers 2015 Garden Tour, Tropical Perspectives, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 7, and will feature gardens in the Pinecrest area. Event co-chairs are Deena Bell Llewellyn and Sheila Revell.

The event has been popular for anyone interested in garden design since its inception in the early 1990s. Tickets are $30 advance purchase and $35 the day of the tour, if not sold out. Included are complimentary light refreshments featuring homemade treats, and a boutique with unique garden-related gifts for sale.

Owners, professional garden designers, and landscape architects will be on-site to answer questions about design concepts, materials, and methods.

Visitors drive their own vehicles between the properties. The venues cannot accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or strollers. Flat shoes are recommended and, at the garden-owners’ request, there is no photography or smoking.

Tickets are available through Villagers members, at (with a $2 service fee), or by sending a check by March 1, payable to “The Villagers, Inc.,” P.O. Box 141843, Coral Gables, Fla. 33114-1843. Include your address and phone number on the check and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

March Against Hunger

Residents can do their part to help others by joining Feeding South Florida’s fifth annual March Against Hunger 5K Walk/Run. The event will be from 7 to 10 a.m. March 7 with the start at Charnow Park, 300 Connecticut St. in Hollywood. Walkers and runners will travel along the acclaimed Hollywood Beach Boardwalk and beach area.

The goal is to help feed 871,920 residents of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Each registration fee of $30 will supply 150 meals. Awards will go to the top three participants in each age group and overall first, second and third places. Each registrant will receive a T-shirt and certificate of participation.

“The March Against Hunger is a fun and easy way to get out and walk or run to make a difference in the lives of many South Floridians struggling to put food on the table,” Feeding South Florida President and CEO Paco Vélez said in a news release.

To register online, visit If you have questions, email Anggie Rocco at

Helping out

The Officer Duncan Kidson (ODK) Food Pantry received a donation of $9,000 recently that will allow the charity to continue feeding needy families in South Miami-Dade County.

The funds were generated from the loose change left inside slot machines by patrons of Magic City Casino and collected throughout 2014. Another donation recipient was Best Buddies of Southwest Miami Senior High School, which received $4,000.

The Food Pantry has made a lot of changes since last year’s donation of $8,000 by the same change collection method. It has moved to a nearby site to double in size and now offers a Clothes Closet on an as-needed basis at no cost to the community. The Clothes Closet helps unemployed members find appropriate interview clothes.

With the latest donation, the food pantry plans to increase hours of operation, feed 1,440 families, purchase a freezer to store frozen foods and help with costs for permits, inspections and electrical upgrades.

The two charities were nominated and voted for by Magic City Casino’s managing directors.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to support local organizations doing such positive work in our community, including the Officer Duncan Kidson Food Pantry and Best Buddies of Southwest Miami Senior High School,” Scott Savin, chief operating officer of Magic City Casino, said in a release. “It’s inspiring to see the progress that these organizations have been able to make with these donations, which began as loose change.”

The food pantry was named after Officer Duncan Kidson, the son of one of Bay Community Church’s founding members, who was killed in a car accident in 2010. A decorated Miami-Dade Police Officer, Officer Kidson served his community for nine years.

The donation for Best Buddies of Southwest Miami Senior High School will go toward the purchase of technological tools that the students use to work with residents in the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at