An open letter to Electrogliders, EMAC and F5B, F5D pilots and all members of SEFSD

By Jim Bonnardel

 

Electroglide has seen many changes in its 16 year history at SEFSD. From 2 minute climbs with NiCad batteries and brushed motors, to 20 second climbs with LiPo batteries and brushless motors. Additions of classes, and modifications of class descriptions. All with the 400 foot limit in mind. Electroglide has maintained a status in our club that other clubs have modeled events after. Although I have only been personally running the contest for 4 years, I have been participating for 7, and it is one of my favorite things we do at the field.

 

It is with a heavy heart that I bring the news to you that effective immediately we need to put Electroglide, soaring and other tall climb events on hiatus. It is evident that we are now being monitored by SDPD ABLE (Airborne Law Enforcement) airborne support group as we punch though our 400 feet altitude limit.

Maintaining a positive, working relationship with the San Diego Parks & Recreation as well as SDPD is essential, and I believe at this time, keeping the field in a proactive light is more important than having our monthly Electroglide, or any other event that challenges the 400 foot limit.

As your new Vice President, I feel compelled to not give the continual warning of “we will lose the field” unless the threat is real, and this one is. Hearing ABLE Pilots state “I’ll recommend closing it down” over the radio when we were visited by the Park Rangers on an Electroglide Saturday did not give me a comforting feeling. Keeping the field is more important than the Electroglide, or ANY contest or activity that is often right at, or above the 400 foot altitude limit specified by the AMA, and our agreement with the city of San Diego.

 

Clearly posted at the field are our boundary signs and our field operational rules. A 400 foot limit is not hard to understand and comply with. With today’s new radios, many of us have telemetry that give us real-time altitude limits. Those that do not have that technology available, can easily maintain responsible activity by not blatantly going to altitudes that are clearly over 400 feet. If you are interested in a low-cost altimeter, see the link at the bottom of this letter.

 

So, starting in January 2014, SEFSD will no longer be supporting any activity that has a history of climbing past 400 feet. There will be no contests, or events, where any of the activity historically has gone out of the boundary, or above our altitude limit. It simply is not good enough to ‘watch for traffic’ and head for the deck when they come through. We must be below 400 feet at all times. AMA guidelines clearly state that all full scale aircraft have the right of way, and often, SDPD Able is operating at or below 300 feet for their law enforcement activities.

 

This is not the best news, nor what I had hoped my first entry as your new Vice President to be, but it is what it is. You, as a valued SEFSD club member need to be vigilant in your situational awareness to your position, and steadfast in your monitoring of your fellow members. If you see someone who is clearly above 400 feet, please remind them in a positive, friendly manner that we need to be where we need to be. If you get any friction from that member, please let me, or any other board member know. This is one item that we simply cannot afford to be lax on, and I will not stand for anyone purposely bringing heat from law enforcement onto our club. Please understand that any member blatantly violating the 400 foot limit is subject to membership suspension and or termination. Friendly reminders will only be issued one time, and documented. Repeated violations will result in your membership being terminated, and no dues refunded.

 

Our friends at CVMRCC (Chula Vista Model Radio Control Club) have extended a warm welcome to us for an Electroglide substitution. Their event (called the Chula Vista Glidernaut) is also once per month (currently the 2nd Saturday) and follows the identical rules, classes and structure we had for Electroglide. They have a separate MOU with the nearest air station and are allowed to 1000 ft on weekends. I would highly recommend participating in that event to ‘get your glide on’.  They’re happy to welcome everyone who would like to participate. And for the glider competition, will be flying as guests, as long as they have their current AMA or SEFSD membership. (Which confirms their AMA status.)

 

Thank you for your support, understanding, and cooperation.
Jim Bonnardel
Vice President, SEFSD.

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