General Interest

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SEFSD Supports UCSD Model Aircraft Design Competition

Dennis’s Team

By Steve Manganelli

Twenty-twenty four marked the third year of SEFSD supporting the flyoff of University of California San Diego (UCSD) Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering professor John Hwang’s MAE-155 Aerospace Engineering Design class. The design class started March 27th with the competition taking place on June 14th at our Mission Bay Park field. This class is the culminating exercise for graduating senior aerospace engineering students whom design and fabricate a payload carrying R/C model. The flight mission changed a little from last year as this year’s  payload was water filled 20 ml syringes vs golf balls.. The object was to carry as many as possible on a successful flight which was a takeoff, fly around the pattern and landing in one piece (more or less). The scoring formula had to do with weight and size envelope of the model without payload and the number of syringes carried. The models were carefully weighed before each flight attempt and tentative scores recorded.

Flying the explicitly unflown models is where  SEFSD support was paramount: none of the students were R/C pilots and none appeared to have R/C model building experience! Myself, Dennis LaBerge and Glen Merritt each adopted (2) teams for the flying chores. Before flying, each model required some rework: poorly hinged control surfaces, excessive control throws, flexible servo linkages, incorrect Center of Gravity and weak landing gears plagued most of the models. Once corrections were made, the models took to the air!

Glen Merritt’s all white model made the first scoring flight followed by my team, “Build With Friends” (BWF). The BWF team can be seen in the group photos wearing light blue shirts. I felt sorry for Dennis’s black and red team as they initially had an unworkable aileron hinging system and a (4) wheel non-steerable landing gear configuration. However, just pointing the plane into the steadily increasing wind (which fortunately stayed mostly down the pike) coupled with Dennis’s  great flying skill eventually proved victorious in the competition with I believe around 40 syringes. My BWF team finished 2nd with around 32 syringes and I believe Glen’s charges were 3rd. Other teams suffered from either inadequate power or too large a propeller or “aero-elastic” problems that resulted in crashes.

You might think something bad could happen with all these inexperienced aviators together, but it’s really quite safe: the students are provided the same propulsion system, radio system, servos, a selection of appropriate propellers and a supply of 3S-1800 batteries charged and maintained by experienced UCSD staff member Paul Arcoleo.  Paul’s position is to provide basic guidance on tool use and of course assure safety during the fabrication and be the master instructor during the flyoff. 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.

I also want to recognize Frank Sutton whom came and took many pictures for our album, to Larry Kosta for helping out Frank with a few mobile shots, to Jeff Struthers for loaning us a fire extinguisher (unneeded as it turned out) and of course my co-pilots Glen and Dennis.


SEFSD Vice President Quan Earns His Private Pilot License

It took ten months, 148 hours of flight training, a lot of money, and two checkride attempts, but on June 9th, 2024, I finally passed my checkride, earning me the privilege to fly passengers for pleasure around the country. I actually got into RC planes first because when I was younger, my parents considered it too dangerous to jump into a clapped out (but still airworthy) Cessna Skyhawk to go on a discovery flight in French Valley Airport in Temecula, where I grew up. Flying a model plane from the ground seemed like a safer option.
Learning to fly took me about three lessons a week, about 1.5 hours each, and $295 an hour. This is not to mention the 40 hours of ground school I had to do at home online, as well as in the classroom. There was also a 60 question FAA knowledge test to take before being eligible to take the checkride. During my training, I learned slow flight, stalls, ground reference maneuvers, and handling emergencies like engine-out scenarios.
On my checkride day (that’s like the final exam for student pilots), there were two portions, a 2 hour oral exam, and then a 2 hour flight portion, if I passed the oral portion. I blew through the oral exam in just under two hours. The flight portion didn’t go so well though! After a successful short field landing and staying in the pattern, my DPE (examiner) asked me to do a slip to a normal landing, and I missed my touchdown point by 200ft. FAILED! “Oh well”, I thought, I tried my best, but failed before I even left the airport.
I still opted to continue the checkride and do airwork, since whatever portion I passed, I don’t have to redo next time. So I finished the checkride flight 2 hours later, and returned to the Carlsbad Airport knowing I wouldn’t be getting my PPL today. What a bummer, I thought.
So I spent the next three weeks practicing a forward slip to landing, making sure I could land anywhere I wanted to, and retook the test in Ramona. I passed and flew back to Carlsbad as a Private Pilot! My journey is just starting though, as I’m working on my instrument rating, and hope to own a Bonanza 36 someday!
Your Vice President

Letter to the New Members

Hello SEFSD New Flyers,

My name is Larry Kosta and if you are interested in learning to fly model airplanes, please contact me at my email address:  I am listed on our website as the primary flight instructor.

Once you enroll with the AMA, you will then be eligible to join our local club, Now that you have established your membership in both organizations, we can get to the fun stuff, flying!

I have a Buddy Box system, that consists of two transmitters (Instructor & Student) tied together. You can take full control of the plane on the student transmitter, but you do not have to worry about crashing because I will take over on the instructor transmitter if you get in trouble.

Initial training starts with our club safety rules and an explanation of where the flying boundaries are and what is expected of you to fly safely at our club.

If possible, invest in a flying simulator for your computer for under $200, and practice a few hours there. Buy the simulator here at Discount Hobby on Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

You’ll be surprised how easy the transition is from your simulator to your actual trainer airplane!!! 

Keep your wings level and we’ll see you at the field!!!   

A Tale of A Downed Plane, A Drone & A Spider

Recently I accompanied Frank G. out to our field to watch him re-maiden his 20+ y.o. Goldberg Extra 300 that he had just converted to electric.  It took off great but he lost contact with it half way around the first lap.  We saw it go down somewhere off to the East.  Frank & I thought it was a good idea to tromp through the dried weeds and brush to look for it.  We never found the huge blue and orange plane but I did run across this giant man-eating spider that I swear was about the size of a Volkswagen.



I quickly ran the away screaming.  On the way home, from what some might call an unsuccessful flight, we contacted Randy of Aerial Traffic and arranged for him to canvas the area with his drone.  The plane was found the next day sitting quietly waiting to be picked up.  Happy ending?  Not so much.  When Frank got home he chopped it up and threw it in the trash.  -Steve B.


Valley Fliers – A Novel

Set in the world of remote control model aviation, a story that evokes Top Gun but with drones and remote controlled model planes…
Book blurb:
Jay Smalley, seventeen, loves remote control aviation.  He spends most of his time flying model planes at a San Fernando Valley miniature airfield near his home.  When a newcomer arrives at the field practicing risky maneuvers with a military-grade drone, Jay suspects there is more to this stranger than meets the eye.  But Jay has always been a little paranoid and too prone to conspiracy theories for his own good. 
As Jay rallies his fellow Valley Fliers to help unpack what he believes the drone pilot is hiding he sabotages his budding romance with co-pilot Cassie and alienates Kent, the father figure who manages their tiny airfield like it’s Edwards Air Force Base.  He even puts his scholarship to flight school at risk.  Is Jay deluded or the only one who can see a clear and present danger posed by the cocky new flight suit on the tarmac?
Valley Fliers was just featured in the February issue of Model Airplane News.  See attached pdf.  

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.


By Steve Manganelli

The American Institution of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design-Build-Fly (DBF) competition concluded April 21st in Wichita KS and SEFSD was there! Myself, design mentor and Pilot/Safety Officer Steve Neu supported both San Diego State University and my alma matter University of California San Diego at this competition among undergraduate aerospace engineering student teams.

Though not unique among undergraduate competitions, DBF is unique in that the missions change every year so there can be no year over year design iteration. This year’s predominant constraints were 20 ft takeoff, 5 ft wingspan and folding to 2 ½ feet for parking. The parking fold configuration among the 93 teams present at the flyoff were a mixture of high wing rotators, tip folders and tail/fuselage folders aka “scorpions” (think about it..) SDSU chose the rotator and UCSD the tip folder. Mechanisms for short takeoff included twin motors and “blown” flaps, just flaps and just a lot of power/high angle of attack. The cargo consisted of “peg dolls” and a 3” X 3” box to ballast as you choose for more points. Three of the 4 missions used normalized scoring where the best team received a 1.0 times the paper score and the others a proportional fraction.  Georgia Tech for instance chose to optimize the ground mission which required changing between the 2 payloads as fast as possible. This required them to use only a small number of peg dolls which in turn cost them on the mission where the larger number of peg dolls was favored. Their time of 36 seconds/4 peg dolls compared favorably with SDSUs 290 seconds/50 peg dolls. As it turned out, neither SDSU nor UCSD completed the peg doll flying mission and UCSD crashed spectacularly on their last mission attempt Sunday afternoon.

The flyoff began with publication of the flight order on the 16th of April. The flight order is the ascending  rank of the paper scores : SDSU scored an inauspicious 80 th position and UCSD a little better at 65 th. However, you’re not even eligible to fly until after you’ve passed “Tech Inspection” where predominantly non-modeler, local aerospace professionals scrutinize the models for rules compliance and safety. By the time SDSU passed tech inspection and joined the flight queue, the contest was nearly 1/3 over. We made the gratuitous “no-payload” flight early on the 20th and the box ballast mission very late in the day on the 20th. We climbed from 80th position to 37th and were pretty happy that evening.

Our students arrived early on the 21st to take their place in the ground mission queue where they executed their fasted time ever. The final day of the contest dawned sunny and calm; unusual for Wichita in Spring. By now every team capable of flight had passed tech inspection and the flight queue was very long. Plus, each crash required sending out the paddy wagon to collect the debris as the site is a full scale airport and leaving FOD was not an option. Some of the crashes were just no-start or no takeoff in 20 feet some were mid-air wing folds with pretty spectacular pile driving results. The so-called garbage bag crashes delayed the one-at-a-time flight order and we were becoming nervous as the day waned. When our turn came up, the winds were nearly calm, a condition we did not have the opportunity to practice at SEFSD field.  Pilot Steve Neu held full up elevator and poured the coals to it, but she didn’t make it up before the 20 ft line. Having the rest of the 5 minutes for the mission, Steve brought it around for a smooth landing for another try but while carrying the plane back to the starting, 2 of the passengers bailed out of an escape hatch and our last mission attempt was black flagged with no score!

SDSU moving from 80th to 47th is one of the better improvements at the contest. UCSD unfortunately was one of the garbage bag crashes coming in at high speed at a shallow angle with a very long debris field and slipped to 74th from 65 th. Steve Neu and I made the San Diego-impossible dash to the Wichita airport in less than 1 hour for our ride home. There it is, DBF 2024 complete and SEFSD completes another opportunity to serve the San Diego’s University community. For more pics, scores and details, go here : 2024 Competition Scoring | AIAA .


Design-Build-Fly Heats Up at Mission Bay Park

Jeremy Johnson holds Aztec Aerospace DBF aircraft with the rest of the Team.

By Steve Manganelli

If it’s Spring, it’s time for the annual Design Build Fly (DBF) competition for teams of undergraduate College students and SEFSD is there supporting San Diego State University Aztec Aero Design. Safety Officer Steve Neu piloted the maiden voyage of their prototype airplane on February 18th and additional test flights on March 10th and March 17th in preparation for the Fly-off being held in Wichita KS the weekend of April 13th. The Team, led by Gabriella Gonzalez Ayala and Jeremy Johnson aims to do well with additional mission practice flights at our Mission Bay Park field up through the flyoff date.

There are several other Student Aerospace Engineering competitions, but what makes DBF stand out is that the rules change every year. Highlights of this year’s challenge include the wingspan being 60” or less, but the model has to fit in a 30” wide “parking spot”. This requirement translates into folding wing tips or a center rotating wing a la V-22 Osprey. Key mission requirements include taking off in  20’ under empty and payload conditions, the payload being wooden peg dolls. The scoring formula involves number of peg dolls, number of laps flown around a 1000’ oval course in 5 minutes, speed to fly 3 laps in a different mission and capacity of the batteries used in the mission.  There is a timed ground mission where 1 student gets to swap the “medical supply” and “passenger” payloads. All missions use normalized scoring where the best team earns 100% of the possible score and the others get a proportional fraction of the winning team’s score.  A 60 page paper detailing the design-development of the model becomes a scoring multiplier as well.

Of the 110 schools invited to join the competition, generally less than 30 produce a mission capable aircraft. Once SDSU’s and a few other flight scores are posted to the leaderboard, you start to see what’s possible. It’s a little unnerving when an obviously capable school doesn’t post their last mission until nearly the end of the contest : 7th place can turn into 12th real fast. Gabriella and Jeremy are veterans of several past DBF contests and will lead their team to great success. Steve Neu and I will be there in Wichita with them.  If you fly Sunday afternoons or weekday afternoons you might catch a test flight yourself; feel free to come by and cheer us on. For more details about the DBF Competition, browse around here : AIAA Design/Build/Fly | AIAA 

Team leads Gabriella (5th from left) and Jeremy Johnson (8th from left) all smiles in front of prototype plane and rest of Team after successful test flight on March 17th.


Steve Neu flies SDSU DBF airplane on maiden voyage.


Thank You, SEFSD Pilots

SEFSD Pilots,

     This “Thank You” was long delayed because I became dangerously sick a few days after the SEFSD Banquet (unrelated to the banquet).  Thankfully, I’m doing much better now.  First, Thank You for the Get Well wishes from so many of you, it was very much appreciated!

     Next, THANK YOU very much SEFSD Board of Directors for honoring me with the 2023 SEFSD Founders Award!  I was in complete shock at the banquet when Steve Manganelli called my name as the recipient!  I was overwhelmed at the time and could not express my gratitude as I wanted to do.  I was even in tears for a moment!  I feel extremely honored to be the second Founders Award recipient after 2022’s very worthy first Awardee, Dennis LaBerge (Field Maintenance!), thank you!  I value the 2023 SEFSD Founders Award as much, or perhaps even more, than my highest US Navy awards!
     I believed there were other very deserving SEFSD members that had been a part of the club for many more years than Alex and I and you know what, that is the primary reason Silent Electric Flyers San Diego is without a doubt the best radio control aircraft club in the world!  Sure, the beautiful location is part of it, but the real reason behind SEFSD’s greatness are the many dedicated Pilots that belong to SEFSD!  Without all the hard working volunteers and friendly Pilots willing and able to assist new Pilots, or to help another Pilot repair a damaged plane, SEFSD would not be the R/C Club that it is today!   Alex and I are very fortunate to have discovered SEFSD in 2018; it changed both of our lives for the better!  I don’t know what we would have been doing on so many Saturday mornings without SEFSD!  We certainly wouldn’t have been making so many great friends and having so much fun!
     I’m very proud of the photos Alex shot at the February Electroglide when I was in the hospital, he made my job look easy!  Alex is back at SJSU now and I have returned to SEFSD Field, cameras in hand!  I pledge to each of you, so long as I’m physically able and not away on vacation, I will continue striving to get good photos of the SEFSD Pilots and their planes.  I will also continue to create an occasional video documenting the super fun times we all share together.  After making such good friends over the years and sharing so much fun, this is the least I can do to give back to the club and it is my sincere pleasure to do so too!  Thank goodness for SEFSD Pilots!
     Thank you!
Frank “Hobie” Sutton

Frank “Hobie” Sutton


By Frank Sutton
     Here’s a few photos of some Hobie Cat Memories that were hanging on the wall in our home.  As you can see, I was a natural born Sailor before being a US Navy Sailor!
     You may find the newspaper article interesting!  It was quite an adventure sailing from Morehead City, NC into the Chesapeake Bay via the Atlantic Ocean side of the Outer Banks (both times), especially considering I didn’t carry a cell phone or radio onboard my Hobie 16 (Desperado II).  I was on my own, for good or bad!  Looking back now, I don’t understand how my Dad let me do this but I’m very grateful that he did!
     The original Desperado was a Hobie 14 which I sailed for a few years and sold to help pay for the Desperado II in 1979.  I had a trailer and used to travel with my Hobie Cat friends as far south as Daytona Beach, FL and north to Virginia Beach, VA and all beaches in between whenever and wherever a sanctioned Hobie Cat Regatta was scheduled during the summer!  We had so much fun, I really miss those days!  I’m sure without a doubt, and very far in the future, Alex will think extremely fondly of his days flying at Mission Bay with SEFSD Pilots in the same way I think about my old sailing days!  That is the original reason I began taking photos for the SEFSD Pilots, to preserve the great memories not just for Alex, but for all the SEFSD Pilots!
     All the other (paper) photos (and film negatives) from those old sailing days are stored somewhere in our garage, buried in photo albums and boxes along with some of the old regatta trophies that weren’t lost or destroyed when moving from home to home or in storage over the many years.  I’m not in shape enough just yet to go out to the garage and find those photos, but these few photos are enough to share with the SEFSD Pilots!

     Now you may understand why Aviator Alex is so adventurous and loves to fly, it’s something in our family genes I believe!  He loves aviation as much as I love sailing!


Basics of Modern Radio Control

I can tell that some of you have less than full knowledge of how modern radio control systems work.  This is unfortunate since at some point you may need to do routine maintenance on your radio system such as: replace a worn out vacuum tube, replace a broken rubber band on your escapement, etc.  If you are one of these folks you can get yourself back up to speed by reading on.  I am sure most of you still have your recent 1953 issue of Air Trails Model Annual on hand.  If you have temporarily misplaced it or, for some other reason, it is not immediately available, I have scanned in the important pages for you.  Read and understand the simple basics below and you won’t look silly next time you talk about RC with your modeling friends.  -Ed.


Arizona Electric Festival 2024

By Mark Davis

I went to the Arizona Electric Festival this year, so here is a brief report and some pictures.   The event is held at the beginning of February every year, at Superstition Airpark on the east side of Phoenix.

This year was the 20th occurrence.  This scenic airstrip one of the fields most often featured in flight simulators, and has a large 800ft x 85ft runway with plenty of overrun area on all sides.  The event is generally well-attended and well-organized.  As the name implies, the event is all electric, of every type.  They have food trucks, dinner on Saturday, night flying, awards, and great raffle prizes.

This year there were major storms just before and after the event.  Saturday turned out perfect, but Friday and Sunday were more challenging in terms of wind.

Horizon’s Tony Quist and Ali Machinchy were there, mostly flying the Horizon OV-10 Bronco and a huge glider.   The glider is 9 meters in span (almost 30 feet), but weighs under 50lbs.  It has a folding prop (detachable, so isn’t shown in every photo).   Ali made turns at frighteningly slow speeds and low altitude, under perfect control.

At noon they put on a show featuring pro pilots, the Blackstar FPV team, miscellaneous “gaggles” of various types, and also this helicopter, which can hit 200mph.   I didn’t know that was even possible for a  helicopter (see link to short video)

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