Dedicated to the Promotion of Electric Propulsion in all types of Aeromodeling

Leadership Biographies

Brad Bender – Chairman

I started with control line as soon as I could push a lawnmower and buy my own plane at age 12. My dad wouldn’t let me have any fuel for years – but the imagination went wild for planes! In High School, I built quite a few rubber powered stick and tissue models. I entered the radio control side while on recruiting duty for the Navy in Montana in 1989. That was an experience since there was snow on the ground 7-8 months out of the year! There were no ARFs at the time, so the long building season was welcome. I took a vacation from the hobby between 1993 and 2003 as military assignments and transfers made it difficult to keep fragile items from destruction. In 2003 a pacific beach neighbor asked me to help him cover a small electric (Brushed/ NIMH batteries) plane, and I caught the bug again and joined SEFSD. I started small and have worked my way up to some fairly large models. Since then I have helped many new pilots past some of the initial pitfalls, and have a good time putting in maiden flights for the members who are a bit nervous about putting their untrimmed investment into the air for the first time. I really don’t have a “type” of airplane that I prefer more than others, it is more of a flavor of the month kind of thing.

Tony Blackhurst – President

I have been flying models for around four years but I have been in the aviation industry since I was a little kid. I spent four years in the Navy as a jet engine mechanic after that I got my A&P license. I have been fascinated with all things RC I have flown helicopters driven boats cars and now I’m flying airplanes that is the most fun. 

Steve Manganelli – Vice President

I’ve been an Aero Modeler since childhood, now a 59 y/o retired Aerospace Systems Engineer. I’ve been an AMA member since the early 1970s and an AMA contest director for the last 10 or so years. I learned to fly R/C gliders at Torrey pines in the late 1970s/early 1980s and jokingly say I lost a point on my GPA while attending UCSD from that huge distraction.  I am currently the Chairman of the US FAI-F5 (Electric Motor-Glider Duration, Motor Glider-Multitask, Pylon Race) Team Selection Committee. My first Electric powered designs go back to the early 1980s using Astro Flight brush motors and Ni-Cad batteries; these flew much better in the lift at Torrey Pines than from flat land! I have been members of several AMA chartered clubs over the years; my first stint at administration was as Vice President of the Torrey Pines Gulls around 1980. In 1991 I was part of the organizing committee that founded SEFSD and proud to become its first President! I served from 1991 to 1993 in that capacity and moved to Editor of Peak Charge for 1994. I know these dates because I have appreciation plaques on my trophy wall with these dates. I believe I was an Officer in the more recent past, but don’t remember the dates.

My focus as your current Vice President will be to work with whomever I can to improve our position with the FAA. I have 38 years of experience working for the Federal Government and hopefully leverage that to sanction a more realistic flight envelope than a simple altitude restriction.

Quan Nguyen – Safety Officer

Quan first started modeling in 2001 when he was thirteen. His first airplane was a GWS Lite Stick. After many busy years in grade school and college at UC San Diego as a computer science major, Quan finally found the time to get back into the hobby. He joined SEFSD in 2012, and was elected safety officer in 2014. He frequents the field on weekend mornings and enjoys flying sports aerobatic models, and is always eager to help newcomers into the hobby (Let him know if you want to set up a buddy box with him. He’s always glad to get people flying.).  When not flying, Quan spends his time as a software engineer writing code.

Ken Dresser – Secretary

I have been flying models for 37 years now and the most amazing thing I find with fellow aeromodelers is how nice they are.  Five different countries I have meet people at the flying field and instantly bonded.  My father’s hobby was building models and mine was crashing them.  When I was a kid my father retired and opened a hobby shop in Florida.  A kid’s dream come true.  So I spent my summers flying airplanes at the local High School every day after closing the store.  I believe having a hobby, specially a hobby with such good people is very important for a balanced life.

Eric Shapiro – Member At Large

My RC flying history got off to a shaky start when I was in high school. I had lettered enough times that by my HS senior year I chose to blow off gym class and lunch to student fly 152’s out of Montgomery instead. Well, scale planes are pretty expensive to fly as you might imagine. So, I managed to get a two-channel .049 Cessna 172 from a garage sale. It was a neat little plane and a perfect RC trainer. It was also a one-flight plane for me. I swear it would not do anything I wanted it to and I couldn’t shut the motor off to let it crash within walking distance. Instead, it hummed out of the school yard and then out of sight. Who knew RC was harder than real planes?

I returned to RC awhile later and in 2014, with friendly instruction and help, I managed to maintain stable RC flight and land without incident or fly-aways!! Woot!! And, now I’m not even too scared when the wind shakes nearby bushes.

Currently, I find that I like to fly: 3D, formation, drones, wings and other things plus fly in some competitions, too. Airplanes have always been a part of my family life and I’m glad to share my interest and camaraderie with the members of SEFSD.