Chairman’s Corner for May – June 2024

Hello members, here we are in May and at lease the rains may have moved on.  As you can see our field is busting loose with all the flowers blooming, more like a super bloom.  Which also means that the field will dry out in next few months, and we need to be careful.  Meaning it will be a fire danger.  Please make sure that you have a fire extinguisher that is full and in the green.  I have mentioned this before, you can get a fire extinguisher from Costco, and it is refillable.  I highly recommend that you get one, keep it in your vehicle and place it by the gate for easy access just in case we have fire.  We can act quickly to bring it under control before the Fire Department arrives.  Which is important to call once we see smoke due to an unfortunate crash.

Next on list is to talk about unattended vehicles when you’re the last one to leave our field.  Yes, we did recently have an incident when a vehicle was left unattended.  One of our members did go over the vehicle to check to see if anyone was in the car, and nope, no one was there.  This vehicle was locked in. I got an email for the person who was locked in asking to get out.  However, the story I got was completely incorrect compared to what they said to the ranger who cut the chain.  This has shortened the chain for us to lock the gate.  We are looking to see if we can get the chain replaced with a longer one.  I hope by the time this article is published; we may have that corrected.  We are in the process and again by the time you read this article, we will have a sign just below “Visitor welcome” it will say unattended vehicles will be locked in.  So, if you happen to see someone parking and leaving their car, kindly go up to them and let them know that the last member will be locking the gate, and you will be locked in.  Perhaps they will move over to the boat ramp.

I am happy to say I see more members calling out their intentions while beginning to “Take Off”, “low fly-by” and “Landing”.  Thank you for I and many other Club members greatly appreciate it.  And then again, there are a few who just won’t do it.  If I am at the field, I do step up to them and kindly ask for them to call out their intensions.  And please, yell it out so we can hear you!  Of course, I get the stink eye when I ask…Oh well!

I do believe I covered what I need to say for this month while being at the field.  Now I will talk about upcoming events:

Starting with 4th of July.  We are going to have a catering truck (Taco truck) come out on the 4th of July which is a Thursday and just a reminder on that day we will be keeping the gate closed.  As you come in, lock the gate behind you, we don’t want people who watch the fireworks think they can park at our site.  And remember, No Alcohol is permitted at our flying site as well in having a charcoal BBQ.  Gas BBQ is allowed.  I will have more information as we get closer to the 4th of July.

Yes sir, we are entering another raffle for Labor Day weekend. Tickets are like last year price, and that is $1.00. Tickets will be sold down at the field every Saturday starting on May 25, our club meeting, and you can also go online to our web site and purchases them which will start on Friday May 24. You could win the top prize, an NX10SE Special Edition 10-channel Spektrum radio.  Also included in the raffle are: F-16 Thunderbirds Jet, P-51D Mustang, and a P-51 Red Tail Mustang.  For those who want to perfect their flying skills we will have a Real Flight Simulator w/transmitter. These great prizes will be available for you look at every Saturday at the field, and you could win with $1.00 per ticket. Ask Dennis, for he won the iX 14 Spektrum radio last year on our 4th of July event last year.  I know I’m gonging to purchase 100 tickets…Yes, I’m getting excited about this raffle.  I invite you all to join in the fun on Labor Day weekend happening on September 2, 2024.  Currently we are still figuring out what we are going to do with food. But I know it will be great.  More on that as the days go by.

Jim Bonnardel has another fun event for us, do you all know what it is???  All the events are on our calendar in our Web site.  The event will be “Dead Stick Landing Challenge”.  Look out for Cory and his Heli…..I think Jim is going to allow him to compete, it’s all good!

Alright, that’s all that I have for this month, in the meantime, happy flying and see you all down at the field!


Chairman of the BOD!

President’s Corner for May – June 2024

I sincerely hope everyone is having a great Month!

The mix of sunshine and May Gray has been prevalent and mostly enjoyable. As far as I have seen, only one day ( May 5th ) had winds over 30 MPH – and only one pilot ( Your President ) was dumb enough to go in at 5:30 AM and fly in the wind…  Bob was with me on site, but didn’t fly since you had to be CRAZY with gusts over 40 MPH. There have been surprise gusts and dust devils damaging planes by blowing them off of the tables. It’s best to set them on the ground when not actually being prepped for flight.

There was a LiPo fire a few weekends ago – on the tailgate of a members truck. Luckily, Dennis was parked a few feet away and had his extinguisher handy. The member did replace Dennis’s discharged extinguisher, as  a common courtesy for saving his vehicle. Did you check your extinguisher last month when I mentioned it? The fire was a result of balance charging when one of the batteries had a bad cell that was not evident. As I have mentioned, the modern chargers have circuitry and software that can detect faults and stop charging. These features can be fooled if you are not careful. Please review the current safe charging practices listed in the LiPo charging section of RC Groups to see if you can improve your methods and increase your safety. If you have questions about balance charging for speed and efficiency, please talk to me about how to do it safely.  Members have lost their vehicles, and large structures to a few moments of inattention – never charge your batteries unattended.

We still have one or two members who refuse to play nice at the field. I will be approaching the Board of Directors at the June meeting about expelling them from the club. If they want to terrorize others on EVERY flight, I will wish them luck elsewhere.

  Scott Vance has been taking over the lion’s share of field maintenance from Dennis over the last few months. When you see Scott, please thank him for his efforts. The rotor plex area is becoming overgrown again. I have had a few drone pilots mention it. The last time it needed clearing, Jovi organized it – and mostly airplane pilots with a few Heli/drone pilots spent a day cleaning it up. This time I am asking Heli/drone pilots to organize something – and some airplane pilots will help.  If no one organizes anything, we will remove the race gates and let the field take over.

A couple of members have experienced some serious medical issues in the last few weeks. Please take care of yourselves, and don’t be too shy to seek medical attention when you know something isn’t right.

Stay safe, and Fly ’em before it gets too hot!!


Dead Stick Challenge

This month’s club event is the:

Not too long ago,  when we were all liquid-fueled RC aviators, a skill that was required, was the mastery of the dead-stick landing. These days, with electric power, hearing someone call “DEAD STICK” is something we simply don’t often hear anymore.  Along with the problem of a nitro engine flame-out going away, so did the needed skill of bringing it back to the field without power.

This event  will test your “emergency return” skills, and reward those who have command of the task.

How it will work:

Rule #1.  DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR AIRCRAFT.  If during the event, you are not going to make it to the field safely, you can simply power up and come back to try again.  You get 3 attempts.  NOT 3 TRIES.  It MUST BE a “safety for aircraft” abort,  not a “you didn’t do well” abort.

You get 20 seconds of motor on.  Once the motor is off,  the flight timer starts.  Timer ends when model stops moving on the ground.  Points for flight time are accrued. Landing on the runway allows for a time score.  Off field landings are zero.  The position on the runway ONCE MODEL STOPS, can score bonus points.

Scoring will be similar to electroglide where a long glide is helpful and the scoring bonus zones will be larger than the standard electroglide target.

No gliders allowed.

This is a dead stick challenge of a regular airplane not designed to be flown power-off.

If you play Electroglide you will understand because it’s similar. Where the model stops, is where the score is calculated from (unlike spot landing challenge which is where the model touches the runway).   Scoring zones are LARGER than the Electroglide target.

Gliding starts at 10:00am, and like usual,  Meeting, Awards & Lunch afterwards.

UCSD Model Aircraft Design Competition Coming to SEFSD

By Steve Manganelli

I will be reporting on the event after the fact, but for a change will be announcing the event before the fact : mark your calendar’s for Friday, June 14th, starting at 7:30 A.M. and ending at 12:30 P.M. at our Mission Bay Park field.  Dr. John Hwang, UCSD Professor of Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering holds a capstone design class for his graduating Seniors the last Quarter of the academic year. Six groups of students will design and fabricate small R/C models suitable for carrying a proscribed payload. Last year’s payload included golf balls and some bulk weights. Each team tries to one-up the previous team carrying the most payload until only 1 plane stands. Last year’s planes featured a variety of fabrication materials and none of the planes had been test flown before, lest any crashes impede the festivities! 

The students are provided the same propulsion system, radio system and a pile of the same charged batteries for the final exam so to speak. Based on last year’s mid June experience with the same class, I really enjoyed the elation of the students watching their handiwork take to the air for the first time; it’s a feeling cherished among us experienced R/C model designers as well. John told me to expect (6) aircraft and even some biplanes and yes, a few extra experienced SEFSD pilots may be needed as well. So if you’re one our retired class and have experience in assessing flight worthiness of student designed/fabricated models come on out give a hand. If you don’t feel comfortable flying, just come out and watch, guarantee it’s going to be a hoot! “


Steve Manganelli

SEFSD Member Wins FIRST Tech Challenge Against 7,000+ Other Teams!



All team photos were taken at the World Championships in Houston TX

Frank Sutton Reporting

     Did you know that a member of Silent Electric Flyers San Diego literally drove and led his team to winning the 2024 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship in Houston, TX April 17-20?  Who am I speaking about you must be wondering?  I’m very pleased to inform you it is our 17 year old SEFSD Pilot and Electroglider, NEIL ZHU!

     The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is an annnual robotics competition for students in grades   7-12 to compete head-to-head, by designing, building, and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams.  CONGRATULATIONS to Neil and his Robotics Team,  “The Clueless!”  Actually, his team is not clueless at all when it comes to the amazing world of high technology robotics!

     This year out of the 7000+ teams from around the world, 224 teams advanced into the World Championships.  Neil’s robotics team won the San Diego Regional Championships and set a new world record in March!  As a result, The Clueless qualified for last month’s 2024 FTC World Championships in Houston, TX.

     The first 3 days of the World Championships were qualification matches where every team played 10 matches against randomized opponents.  Neil’s team almost went undefeated in the qualification matches with 9 wins and only 1 loss.  The team advanced into the division playoffs facing against 4 other alliances.  The Clueless swept through their division winning both the      Divisional Semifinals and Finals!  This led to The Clueless advancing into the Worlds Semifinals in which they outplayed their opponents and then advanced to the Finals.  Facing the #1 ranked team in Australia, the #1 ranked team in Canada, and the #2 ranked team in Romania,  Neil remarked,

“It was going to be a very tough match.  Thankfully our alliance was equally strong having the #1 ranked team in Romania, the #1 ranked team in South Africa, and us, the new world  record holder and #2 ranked team in the world.” 

     The Clueless Team lost their first finals match due to a failure in the 30-second autonomous program.  They came back in the second round winning 366 points vs 326 points, a 40-point      margin.  Then they moved on to the third round, the tiebreaker.  Both Neil’s team and their     partners’ autonomous programs worked flawlessly.  Neil drove the 2-minute driver-controlled   period near perfectly, he quickly cycled back and forth and swiftly avoided their opponent’s     defense.  The Clueless Team held their lead throughout the match and finally outplayed their   opponent scoring 400 points vs 374 points!  Neil and his mother, Spring, both smiled proudly at me as Neil said,

“We won the 2024 FTC World Championships!”

I was smiling proudly as well!

     Here is the YouTube link to the World Championships’ last match of the finals video:

Note:  In this final match video you can clearly see Neil wearing a yellow shirt in the upper left corner as he picked up his transmitter at the 30-second mark and then demonstrating superb   driving skills to win the final match and World Championship!  Very well done, Neil!

     And this is the YouTube link to the Driver’s Point of View video:

     Neil’s roles on team “The Clueless” were being the mechanical design lead and the main   driver.  Neil remarked,

“A lot of the skills required for robotics are exactly what I learned from doing RC airplanes.  Over the past 7 years, RC airplanes have been an important part of my life.  RC airplanes have taught me how to design and test systems, critical thinking to solve problems, and most         importantly how to deal with failures and handle high-stress situations.  I’m incredibly     grateful for the opportunity that SEFSD has provided me and I hope to continue my passion for RC airplanes and Robotics!”

     After viewing the excellent YouTube videos and reading more about his world-record breaking events, I had several questions for the young Robotics Master…..

     At first glance the video reminded me of Battle Bots ( which Alex and I both love to watch), but rather than destroying the opponent’s robot, yours competes to perform a task better than your opponent’s robot, is that right?


     “Yes, the main task for this year’s game is to stack the hexagon plastic pieces called       “pixels” up on the backdrop.  The intaking and deposit system that I designed is one of the fastest in the world.  All we have to do to grab the pixels is drive in, drive out, no time wasted.  Our speed and efficiency are one of the reasons why we were able to make it to the worlds      finals and actually win the finals.”


     It looks like the assigned task changes from year to year to challenge teams with something new, right?


     “Yes, the assigned task changes each year.  Last year was stacking cones on a pole.  Two years ago it was delivering balls and cubes to a “shipping hub”.  This year is stacking             hexagonal pieces on a slanted board.”


     Who pays for all the hardware and electronics needed to construct one of these robots?  Looks to me like this could quickly get out of hand with costs!


     “It does cost a lot of money to run a robotics team, everything added up we spent around  $7,000 this year for robot parts, equipment, tools, etc.  But we also make around $7,000 from the robotics summer camp that we host.  We also have a lot of companies sponsoring us, for            example, Qualcomm, General Atomic, Raise 3D, and HiTEC.  HiTEC offered to transport our equipment to Houston for free and provided a lot of titanium gear high torque servos for us.  We actually visited HiTEC North American Sales and Marketing Headquarters here in San Diego.   I saw Jim’s big planes in one of the rooms, but unfortunately, Jim wasn’t in that day.”


     I’m very impressed too by the 30-second autonomous phase, I would think of it like Tesla’s AutoPilot or Full Self Driving system.  How in the world did you program your robot to act autonomously?  Does it use ultrasonic sensors, radar, or cameras to “see” where it goes like Tesla cars?  If you can’t tell me because it is Top Secret, no problem, I understand TS.


     “Sure.  We have 20 sensors on our robot for it to know what it’s doing in the autonomous period.  We have everything from color sensor, ultrasonic sensors, hall effect encoders,         Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), current draw          sensors, odometry, etc.  Below is a picture of the sensors on our robot.  Since my role was     mechanical design, build, and test, I don’t know the specifics about how they wrote the     autonomous program.”


     Are you and your Clueless Team planning to defend your World Championship next year? 


     ”Hopefully we can compete at the world championship again next year.  But the               opportunity to compete at the world championship is highly competitive, only 2 out of 70 teams are able to advance out of the San Diego region each year.  In fact, last year even though we held one of the highest solo scores in the world, we still weren’t able to advance to the world championships due to bad luck, mechanical failures, etc.  We are going to try our best next year and hope we make it to worlds again.


     Holy Cow, Neil!  WOW!  Thank you for these answers and now I’m more impressed than ever!  I will never understand how you can make the robot do what it does so well.  I SALUTE YOU and the Clueless Team!  Certainly the world needs more young engineers like yourself and I believe you will help to change the world for the better.  Keep up the amazing and outstanding work!  Congratulations again Neil, and thank you!



This Just in!

Labor Day Raffle

Labor Day Raffle

Hello Folks, we are doing it again with a Labor Day Raffle on September 2, 2024. We are going to have great prizes to raffle off to our members who purchase a ticket. Tickets are again just one dollar, yep you read it correctly, $1.00. Buy your tickets at the field every Saturday or get them online. Buying them online requires you to purchase a minimum of 10 tickets. There will also be a charge for the online tickets, and I hear it only pennies. At the field you can purchase from 1 ticket to your heart’s desire. Once again it is to generate more cash for prizes at next year’s banquet. Grand prize is the new NX10SE Special Edition 10-channel Spektrum radio. Next set of prizes are all from Horizon Hobbies. The next will be an F-16 Thunderbirds Jet. We will also have two P-51D Mustangs, one being the Red Tail and the other is a 1100mm PNP. The first item to be raffled off will be the Real Flight Simulator.


Look for the email blast coming soon.

T28 Racing Report for May 2024

Click the pic for more racing pics

by Steve Neu

We had a great turnout on May 11th with 13 pilots turning out to battle for the top spots. There was a lot of very close races with  a couple planes  touching without any damage. The results of the three preliminary rounds set the standings for the finals  with the results as follows:

1) Jeff
2) Fritz
3) Artie
4) Rockie

1) Max
2) SteveN
3) Fredrick
4) SteveM
5) Larry

1) Corey
2) Brad
3) Glen
4) George

A special thanks for Jovi for being the race master , Dennis , Jim for being turn judges and Frank as our photographer!

Three tips for winning races:

1) It pays to practice  flying the course on non race days

2) Most people have too much control travel for elevator and ailerons—you are racing not doing 3D!

3) Fly “smoothly”! Large rapid control inputs lead to scrubbing speed.

The June races will be as usual on the 2nd Saturday the 8th at 10am. 

Electroglide Report for May 2024

It was a quick Electroglide contest last Saturday. We only had five contestants and a brief period of sun before the 10:00 start time. Thermal lift seemed to be in short supply; longer flights were mostly on wind lift.

First launch had us climb up, four Radians and one Conscendo looking for some lift. Bob Anson, (Radian), had the long flight at 2:48 minutes. Dennis LaBerge, (Radian), was next at 2:35 and picking up a 30-point landing. Neil Zhu, (Conscendo), was third at 2:11 minutes, also getting a 30-point landing.

Second launch had Bob and Jeff, (Radians), both getting the long flight at 2:49 minutes. Jeff picked up a 10-point landing. Dennis was second at 2:23 and getting a 20-point landing. Neil picked up another 30-point landing.

Third launch had Jeff with the long flight at 2:30. Neil was second at 2:16 minutes and a 20-point landing. Bob was third at 2:12 minutes and getting a 10-point landing.

Fourth and final launch had Jeff with the long flight at 4:54, finding some ridge lift above the gazebo and palm trees. Bob was second at 2:27 minutes and Dennis was third at 2:20 minutes. Neil picked up another 20-points on his landing.

Winners for the day:

Open Class:          Neil Zhu               179 total points

Radian Class:         Dennis LaBerge  128 total points

Bob Anson            73 total points

Jeff Struthers       72  total points

I would like to point out that Neil Zhu was awarded two “Lucky Dog” awards for making it back to the runway with the two shortest flight times; thereby doubling his time score.  He also scored two 30-point landings and two 20-point landings.

You don’t need a super light, floating glider to compete in the Electroglide. Just know your aircraft, get the best flight time you can and hit the target circles.

Next Electroglide is scheduled for June 15th. 10:00 first launch.

See you there,

Jeff Struthers