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President’s Corner for April – May 2024

Happy April to all!

As I begin this month’s segment, I would like to start with a “Thank you!” to most of you for understanding and respecting the “RED LOCK” mandate that we put in place to restrict field use when the flying surface is muddy, or an event in SOCAL restricts all types of unofficial flight operations in our air space. By keeping off of the field when the clay is wet, we currently have one of the nicest flying surfaces we have seen in recent years.

One thing I highlighted in last month’s segment was “situational awareness” on site. While I absolutely need you to know and control all aspects of your aircraft while in flight, I also need you to be aware of what is happening in the adjacent airspace, on the runway, and in your immediate vicinity. I don’t raise my voice at members often at the field. When I do, it is because I see something dangerous that could cause injury, and I want immediate attention from the parties involved. If I raise my voice at you – I apologize if you are startled. At the same time – I hope I have your attention before someone gets hurt.  I hear members from other clubs complain about the rules at SEFSD, and grumpy old guys yelling at them…  At the end of the day, 99% of our rules are directly or indirectly related to member and spectator safety – so I am good with being that grumpy old guy. If you see people demonstrating that they have the skill to fly well, but are flying unsafe- they generally come from other area clubs to ours and we need to educate them. Please wear your 2024 member badges while on site. It shows that you are a member, have AMA insurance, and hopefully have read and understand the Club safety/boundary rules for flying at Mission Bay. ANY active club member can let another person know when they see dangerous actions being performed by that person. Letting a Board member know later, or the next day, defeats the purpose.

It has been a while since we have heard a lot of discussion about battery fires. Even though most of the modern chargers manufactured in the last 2 years have updated software to catch charge faults, they are not 100% all of the time going to recognize a charging failure before the fire starts. And quite a few of us are using older chargers with no fault protection, or even balance boards. I have heard some interesting stories from members lately about charging on the kitchen counter, in the living room while watching TV, and even have a close friend that used to charge on his sons bed upstairs while watching TV  downstairs…

Indoor charging is always a risk. Even if you think the battery is physically in a safe place, I have seen them shoot across the floor 15 – 20 feet while outgassing. If one flames up indoors without taking your home and belongings with it, your guests will smell the aftermath up to a year later. Outdoors, away from anything combustible is always the best bet. This time of year we often see old BBQ’s sitting on street corners with a “Free” label, as people buy new grills in preparation for summer activities. I have mentioned to members before that these are perfect to set outside the back door, or on a small balcony to use as a charging container. Any type of grill with a lid will work. It may let the smoke out, but will contain the fire and keep the battery itself inside if it vents violently.

My charging station at home consists of a 3 shelf wire rack from Home Depot. The bottom shelf holds (2) 36v power supplies. The middle shelf holds (2) 4010 I-Chargers. The upper shelf has a 12” x  24” piece of porcelain tile. The batteries sit on the fireproof tile while charging. I pull the entire unit onto the driveway while charging, so no risk to the house/van/car. I use 10ga appliance extension cords from the outlet to the power supplies. I charge with balance boards at a 2c rate, so with this setup I can safely charge up to (16) 6s 5000 mAh packs in around 30 minutes.  I strongly urge everyone to peruse the numerous articles on RCGROUPS.com about battery safety, and fire prevention when you have a few minutes of downtime. Before leaving the subject, now is the time to look at the fire extinguishers you “should” be bringing with you to the field. Look at the little gage on top and make sure the needle is in the green range. If not, it’s best to replace it now and not be surprised when it fails at the worst possible moment.

  Due to the amount of rain we have received this season, and monthly events missed due to that rain, I am a bit behind in 50/50 fundraising compared to last year.  The 50/50 not only has a lucky CASH winner each event day, it also helps us subsidize our yearly banquet in a fun way. 50/50 raffle tickets are $10 each, and the drawings are held that day as the scheduled event ends. Sorry George, no IOU’s accepted. Upon hearing that I am behind my fundraising target, Jovi is considering taking on the laborious task of coordinating a Labor Day raffle to make up the revenue. If you think this is a good idea and will support, please let Jovi know.

  High speed passes between the centerline and the fence are NEVER ACCEPTABLE. This past month we have had planes hit the fence, a table, and the parking lot due to a failed servo, or a pilot that ran out of talent in the middle of an unauthorized maneuver. Going fast within 30 feet of the fence gives you NO TIME to recover a failure. There is no reason to be south of the centerline unless you are taking off, landing, or taxiing to the gate after your flight.

This months fun fly event on 27 April will be “ Jet Day”. I believe Jim’s rules state ducted fan only, and a model that strongly resembles a jet. No Ducted fan pizza boxes please. You can earn a raffle ticket for prize certificates for: Bringing a ducted jet; flying a ducted jet; and static display of a ducted jet. The event will start at 10:00 am, and will be followed by the monthly meeting at the field – and lunch (Thanks Mark!!).

Hope everyone has a great May!!

Brad