The Sun News

'Planes and Trains’ exhibit returns Thanksgiving week

The Middle Georgia Model Railroad Club and the Museum of Aviation will be hosting the 2014 “Planes and Trains” exhibit.

The 2014 display will include 16 miles of track in displays all hand built by members of the Middle Georgia Model Railroad Club and include Z scale, N scale, HO scale, O scale and G scale.

Backgrounds and buildings change from year to year as members of the Middle Georgia Model Railroad club change things. New for this year is a 1940s-era HO gauge circus complete with three big tops -- one with a complete three-ring circus, a lion tamer and plenty of clowns. The inclusion of the circus display makes this the largest HO display the Middle Georgia Model Railroad Club has ever done.

“It is amazing to see what comes from the imagination of these club members,” said Jim Kerr, chairman of the event.”

“Individual members own half of the modules of the HO display and are responsible for keeping them up,” said club member Ken Joyner. “The member that owns it will change it around, sometimes keeping it a secret even from the club members until we set up. We are constantly redoing and changing things.”

Not everything. The club is well aware that after six years of Planes and Trains, there are some things that attendees look forward to seeing, such as the streetcar scene and the cityscape.

Of course, the very popular Thomas the Tank Engine layout will be there again this year as well; doubled in size from last year because of demand. The club also will have three Thomas quilts that will be raffled off during Planes and Trains.

According to Joyner, on the main HO display, as many as nine trains on three main lines can run at the same time. The technology that allows for multi-trains on the same track has brought this century old hobby into the computer age.

Club members control their trains with hand-held throttles via radio signals from across the room. Some members can actually control their trains via smartphones.

A visit to “Planes and Trains” can be a history lesson with layouts showing icehouses, drive-in movies and street cars.

“You hear the people talking, explaining things to their children. The granddaddies and the kids have as much fun as we do,” Joyner said.

Austin Ogden, 17, has been a member of the Middle Georgia Model Railroad Club for two years.

“I have a 16 x 4 foot display at my house, in my room,” Austin said. “It’s a great hobby and a great chance to come out and see all the hard work we do. There is something for everyone, Thomas for the little kids and the N scale is so small and really neat. Plus you get to see the Museum and all the planes.”

The event will be held Nov. 22-30 (closed Thanksgiving Day). The exhibit will be held in the Museum of Aviation’s Century of Flight Hangar and will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Admission to the display is free.