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South Bay : NO-FLY ZONE

July 19, 1995

Every weekend, the air above the oceanside bluffs in Palos Verdes Estates is filled with model airplanes in flight.

Unfortunately, the zooming aircraft don't always stay airborne, and one nearby resident reports that his roof has been struck several times by remote-controlled gliders.

That concerns neighbors of the Bluff Cove park where the planes are launched. Although the aircraft lack engines, they have been known to reach speeds of 60 m.p.h. in the brisk ocean updrafts. Residents worry that these hefty miniatures--weighing up to five pounds with wingspans of up to six feet--could pose a danger to houses or people.

With up to 100 hobbyists visiting the bluffs each weekend, the city grew so concerned that it even threatened to ban the aircraft.

But now Police Chief Gary Johansen has struck a compromise with the fliers. If the launch site is moved 300 feet to the south, the planes should be far enough away from homes to keep neighbors happy, he says. The city council is scheduled to approve the plan next week, and the "no-fly zone" will go into effect in 30 days.

"We'll see if it works," Johansen said. "If it doesn't, we'll have to look at grounding them altogether."

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