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Radio-controlled vehicles are undeniably cool. For many, the first introduction to aeromodeling came from an unlikely source: the fantasy films of Japanese special-effects director Eiji Tsubuyara, whose Godzilla films utilize an extensive arsenal of miniature radio-controlled tanks and flying vehicles dive- blasting the rubber-suited monstrosity. Home re-enactments were never quite the same -- at best, a radio-controlled four-wheeler might provoke the family dog into an attack, but monster mashes were firmly grounded.

This Saturday and Sunday (August 20 and 21), the area's finest crafters of scale aircraft converge on Buder Park (215 Valley Park Road, Fenton; 636-225-1076) for an Aeromodeling Extravaganza. This means you, the layperson, can view spectacular demonstrations of radio-controlled helicopters and airplanes soaring, hovering and sweeping across the landscape. In addition to the electric- and gas-powered vehicles, nitro-fueled craft take the air as aspiring rocket scientists aim for the stratosphere with a series of model-rocket launches.

Exhibits of all types of aircraft will be on display, and visitors are encouraged to participate. For those who don't have their own model aircraft, free radio-controlled flying lessons are offered, while armchair aviators can try their hand at virtual flying lessons on laptop simulators. Pilots and non-pilots alike get in for free, and concessions are available for purchase. The Aeromodeling Extravaganza takes flight from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. both days, and no rubber lizard suit is required. -- Mark Fischer

The Hills Are Alive
With Missouri

It's important to remember where you came from, and no place remembers better than our first state capital, St. Charles. Each year the people of St. Charles celebrate the 1800s -- the most important century in Missouri's history. We were granted statehood, Dred Scott sued for his freedom, and we optimistically broke ground on MetroLink's cross-county expansion. The Festival of the Little Hills looks back lovingly, lining the Missouri River (Frontier Park and Main Street, St. Charles) with artisans, musicians and food vendors from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (August 19 through 21). Admission is free, but chances are you'll end up with a microbrew in one hand, some kettle corn in the other. For more information call 636-940-0095 or visit -- Kristie McClanahan

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