SOUTHEAST ELECTRIC FLIGHT FESTIVAL

SOUTHEAST ELECTRIC FLIGHT FESTIVAL

Bell, Rick

A Southern-style electric fun-fly

You need four things for a successful fun-fly event: a great venue, favorable weather, good organization and lots of enthusiastic participants. This year’s Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF) wildly succeeded on all counts! Hosted by the Fayette Flyers of Atlanta at Hodges Hobbies field in Americus, GA, June 17 through 20, this all-electric fun-fly is fast becoming the premier must-attend event for e-flight enthusiasts. In its third year, SEFF had the largest turnout yet-282 registered pilots from more than 30 states, Japan and Great Britain. They brought hundreds of models to fly, and fly they did-despite the high heat and humidity. The 2005 SEFF is scheduled for the end of April when the temperatures are somewhat cooler. Good move!

The venue is owned by Mac Hodges, and it is one of the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen for any modeling event: a closely cropped, flat, 1,700-foot-long grass runway that’s wide open on all sides with a full-service hobby shop right at the site. Talk about going to heaven!

The most important part of any fun-fly is, of course, the flying. There’s no point of going to a fun-fly unless you get in plenty of flying. And this is where SEFF excels. The vast flightline was separated into three flight areas: park flyer, 3D and sport flying. The overwhelming majority of pilots thought the three flight zones were an improvement over last year’s, and there were plenty of models in the air at any given time.

HAPPENINGS

Like other fun-flys, SEFF offers many things to see and do. You can visit vendors and participate in organized events. There’s also a huge raffle with $12,000 in prizes and awards. Everybody went home with something, whether it was a modeling product, a hat, a T-shirt, or some other goodie. SEFF encourages manufacturers to introduce new products at the fun-fly, and the pilots vote on which is best. The winner has bragging rights for a year and also garners the coveted SEFF trophy. Other awards include Pilot’s Choice and Largest Sport Plane.

Some of the other happenings were a daily noontime demo by the JR Show team, with such notables as Quique Somenzini, Mike McConville, George Hicks, Peter Goldsmith and Steve Rojecki. Pilots extraordinaire Gary Wright, Jason Shulman, Dave Payne and Bob Belluomini were also present to strut their stuff. They flew everything from a 33-percent Extra to an electric ducted-fan jet that cooked along at IZOmph. On Saturday, the crowd was treated to a fullscale Pitts Special flown by George Hall doing beautiful aerobatics, smoke and all. On Thursday, the new Limited Motor Run Sailplane contest took place. It was well received and will be back next year.

By far the most unusual event was the World Championship Soarstar Pylon Race. If you aren’t familiar with the Super Flying Models Soarstar or its brother, the Kavan Wingo, they are high-wing foamies that have a gondola-type fuselage and a motor that’s mounted in a pusher configuration. These planes are designed for beginners, and that’s what makes the races a lot of fun; they’re slow and easy to fly, so anyone can compete.

ACCOLADES

Of course, an event the size of SEFF couldn’t happen without the generosity of the many sponsors who donate cash and prizes. A big thank you to primary sponsors Horizon Hobby, JR and Quiet Flyer magazine as well as to the many manufacturers that participated. And the biggest thank you goes to Mac Hodges-a gracious host-for providing a fabulous flying site.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Southeast Electric Flight Festival is not to be missed. The site is wonderful, the people are very friendly, and the flying is superb. No matter what your interest in electrics, you’re sure to find someone who shares it. The fantastic venue has plenty of airspace for many models to be airborne at the same time. If you break or crash your model, you can easily repair or replace it; just visit Mac’s on-site hobby shop or one of the many vendors. The biggest concern was the heat and humidity. Fortunately, this is being addressed, with next year’s SEFF to be held in late April. To event coordinator Jeff Meyers and contest directors Ernie Schlumberger and Ric Vaughn and the entire SEFF staff: a job well done, and I’ll see you again next year!

Copyright Air Age Publishing Nov 2004

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