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Southeastern Electric Flight Festival 2016

The Southern States Spring Fling!

The Avistar on floats has a very scale look to it in the air.
Hobbico’s booth up and running
For fifteen years pilots have made their way to Hodges Field outside Americus Georgia for the Southeastern Electric Flight Festival. It’s a week-long event filled with all types of electric flying machines. With flight lines for everything from sport flyers to FPV to 3D, it’s not hard to find a spot to meet up with like-minded flyers and have some fun. Mac Hodges’ field is a great place for the Fayette Flyers to hold SEFF with many campsites including electric and water hookups along with bathrooms and showers on site for the tent campers. They bring in Kate’s Soul food to provide breakfast and lunch all week long, so for those wanting some good southern cooking it’s no more than a walk back to the covered pavilion behind show center. With everything right at hand there is little reason to leave the site all week long.

The Horizon Hobby team had some fun with a gaggle of T-28’s.

I’ve been attending the event for the past six years. For me it’s a welcome escape from the great white north of Minnesota. In April we can still be dealing with snow and cold temperature swings so the trip down to Georgia usually gives me a jump on my sun tan and outdoor flying. This year Mother Nature had another plan. Almost the entire week we dealt with cloudy skies and scattered rain. There were some bright spots earlier in the week with the sun coming out and the winds dying down, but towards the end it kept more people in their tents and campers than out on the flight line. As the saying goes though, “A bad day at the field still beats the best day at work.” People still made a good week of the event getting flights in when the rain would stop and working on projects while the rain soaked the grass.

One such project that was planned to be worked on rain or shine was a little idea thought up by the guys over at The Crashcast Podcast. They have been coming to SEFF for a number of years and it’s a gathering for the hosts and many listeners of the podcast. A few months back they came up with the idea of building one really large plane at the event. The plane would be built from some parts prepared before the event, but everything else would be sourced from the local Lowes. Laine Stahr precut the fuselage formers and sides to help move the project along. Others brought foam wing ribs, power system parts and supplies. With help from many people they had it mechanically ready to fly by the end of the week. However, some power system issues kept the plane from flying. Mac Hodges graciously allowed them to hang it in one of his shops so they could rework the power system and try again at a later date.

The new Mini Dusters from Extreme Flight RC on display.
The new Mini Dusters from Extreme Flight RC on display.

With all the rules and laws being tossed about in congress and through the FAA there is a lot of confusion as to what is going on and how the current rules affect RC modelers. The SEFF staff  contacted and invited a representative from the regional FAA office to talk with SEFF attendees and answer questions. I had a chance to talk with him and asked him a few questions. He talked about how AMA clubs that have long existed should continue to operate under their current rules. He said the FAA’s biggest concern is with public airports and flyers not flying from established fields. He said RC modelers are not their big concern as we have teeth in the game as long-term modelers. He had grown up flying control line and appreciates all things aviation and wants to protect all aspects of it. I felt it was a pleasant conversation and I hope more of them can happen between FAA representatives and RC modelers.

The Carbon Z T-28 brings the gear down on a low dirty pass.

As one of the first big events of the springtime in the U.S. it’s common to get a sneak peek at new products being released. Even with the bad weather we still got a chance to seek out some new products and check them out. Hobbico was one of the first sponsors on site and we stopped by to see what they had to show off . One of the surprises from the Toledo show just a couple weeks earlier was the Micro B-25 from Flyzone. The micro B-25 looks great with its clear glass windows, counter rotating props and removable landing gear. It hand launched well and had decent power for a twin micro with geared motors. It’s definitely a calm weather flyer, which made it great for the morning and evening flights at SEEF. Hobbico also had the new Great Planes Sport Fighter Zero. This 56-inch sport plane has the looks of a Zero, but it’s built-up to handle like a low wing trainer or sport flyer. It tracks through the air like a sport pattern plane, but slows down for easy landings. I got some stick time on this one and had fun pulling it through some basic aerobatics such as split-S turns, stall turns, large loops and four point rolls.

The Great Planes Sport Fighter Zero.

Extreme Flight RC brought in a number of new items. The ones that really caught my eye were the new Mini Dusters from their legacy line. Their larger duster has been out for almost a year and people have enjoyed it, but it does take a larger power system so they shrunk the plane down for a simple 3S 2200 LiPo setup. It still performs great with full house controls plus flaps. It can amble around the sky nice and slow, but turn on the power and flip the rates up and it can still tumble, spin, loop and roll. It’s not precise like an Extra, but with the Extreme Flight name you can expect it to perform and be exciting. They also had one of their prototype FW-190’s on hand and were testing out the CG and power system. With the printed covering the details look great and in the air it performed very well. It’s not going to be a warbird for a rookie pilot, but for someone with some low wing and flap experience this looks to be a great way to get into a nice looking electric warbird. Expect to see both these new models out sometime this summer.

A pair of QQ Extra 300’s making a tandem harrier pass.

Throughout the week the pilots and staff dodged the rain and made the best of a wet week. The staff unloaded thousands of dollars in prizes through the raffle. Planes were flown even in the randomly wet conditions. There was plenty of hangar talk and side projects being worked on. The general feeling was while it was not the best week it still beat a week at work. This is what is great about most events. Even on the bad days people are happy to be around like-minded individuals sharing stories, ideas and even working on a crazy large airplane just to see if it can be done. The week ended with a sunny Saturday evening and those who stuck around for Sunday had the best weather of the week. The event organizers are already thinking about next year and, with the input of the pilots and sponsors, plan to tweak the layout to bring back the enjoyment of the main line for sport flyers without excluding others. SEFF is always a great time and the Fayette Flyers along with Mac Hodges team do a great job making it happen each year.