Nestled somewhere between the overpopulated urban-sprawn that is Atlanta, and the vast expanse of open farmland of Southwest Georgia, sits a pair of intersecting grass runways labeled 0GE4: The Pecan Patch. The 'Patch, as it's known by those who frequent this clean cut and hospitable southern strip, is a place right out of a post card. The drive in from the road is shaded by a cluster of mature Pecan trees that give way to a vast expanse of green grass. Beyond the runways lie a field of young pine trees and off-road trails, perfect for low-level FPV sorties.
The Pecan Patch has always been an rc friendly field. With owner Mark Murdock being an avid radio-controlled and full scale pilot himself, you can expect to see (and give way to) full-scale birds from time to time; an afternoon of flying rc is usually accompanied by the occational low-pass airshow from an experimental Fokker Eindecker, or full-stop from a bright yellow Cub. But this year, the big boys were overshadowed by a combination of flying foam, radio waves, and video goggles as The Pecan Patch hosted the 2nd Annual Southeastern FPV Fly-In.
What's an FPV fly-in without aerial pictures? Heres some aerials from my Logo 600SE equipped with a Canon 50D. The field consists of two intersecting runways; the east/west runway is 1050' and the north/south runway is 1600'. There were 27 registered pilots and many more spectators that came to see some of the best FPV'ers around.
As you can see in the above Google maps screenshot, there's ample real estate at The Pecan Patch for FPV missions. The south end of the field (bottom of the above photo) is scattered with young pine trees, smaller fields, and off-road trails. This combo makes for a great fpv challenge to follow the trails, and for the brave-of-heart, to drop down below the pines and race through the criss-crossing canyons.
Checking out the diverse group of aircraft and talking shop with your fellow fpv'ers is almost as much fun as flying, and seems to consume most of the day. From foam wings to hexacopters, homebuilt geobats to twin-boom pushers, it was all on hand. Sadly, an aircraft was lost at the fly-in due to a dropped video link and many search-and-rescue planes took to the sky trying to find it, but no joy.
People have their own ideas as to what works best and what airframe will accomplish a specified mission. Some pilots enjoy close-in flying and testing their reflexes while making high-speed passes through and around obstacles. Others enjoy long distance and duration flights. Some people just love being airborn under the hood and are content with putting around the sky. It may sound silly, but the aircraft is an extension of the pilot, and each piece is chosen and laid out in accordance with what they think (and know) will work for their style of flying. Take a look at the below aircraft and you'll see no two planes setup in the same manner.
If you thought the aircraft were unique, just check out some of the ground support equipment. From groundstations to antenna arrays, almost everything is cobbled together from sourced parts and assembled into a system designed around the pilot's mission. On the flightline, you'll see everything from high-tech GPS trackers to a friend pointing a homemade antenna at the plane as it passes (it works suprisingly well).
Even though fpv has been around for years, the industry is still young; there's quite a few companies making parts, but very few making complete systems. But thats ok, because there's something to be said about how many electronic components you can cram onto a tripod!
The fpv crowd is just as diverse as any other niche in model aviation. If you found yourself strolling the flight line at the Southeastern FPV Fly-In, you would have met genuine rc enthusiasts; some full-scale pilots, some students, and some professionals in their respective industries, with the sole purpose of having a great time with new and old friends.
The 2nd Annual Southeastern FPV Fly-In was twice as big as the previous year's event, and I'm sure the number of registered pilots will continue to grow as the years progress. From a safety standpoint, it could not have gone any smoother; there were no accidents or injuries, and even though one foam airplane was lost due to a dropped video signal, the event was an overall success on every level.
On Saturday, we had the AMA's own Rich Hanson spend the day talking shop, taking fpv rides and even piloting an airplane on the buddy box. Judging from the amount of pictures and video he shot, I'm sure he went home with alot of information to assist the AMA in successfully reintegrating first-person-view into the rulebook. Thanks Rich for coming out.
We had a few winners in the crowning achievements category and a gift certificate give away from ReadyMadeRC.
Matt Gunn - Best Technical achievement (Logo 600SE).
Kenton Tomlinson - Furthest travelled from WI (The Pecan Pie Award).
Andrew Carre' - Winner of ReadyMadeRC $50 gift certificate.
In closing, I would like to say that it was an honor to cover this event and be a part of such an exciting, fast growing segment of radio-controlled aviation. Even if you've never flown fpv, or just thought about getting into it, I highly recommend coming out to next year's event. For those of you that do your best thinking under the goggles, the 3rd Annual Southeastern FPV Fly-In will be expecting you.
A big thanks goes out to Mark Murdock and his wife for having us all to The Pecan Patch.
Thanks to dzone for allowing me to use some of his photos in this article.
Goldcraft, thanks for manning the frequency board and making the flights run smoothly.
Thanks to pecanpatch, Kevin Hines, IBCrazy, and Ho-Jazz for letting me use their videos.
Excellent reporting Matt and congrats on your Technical Achievment award. That Helicopter was too cool. I would like to try and schedule next years event as close to a full moon as possible for more night op's.
Thanks to Greg Burke for running the board and letting me play.
I felt pretty Special Having Rich from the AMA there and I hope he came away with good things to say about the FPV brotherhood.
Special thanks to ReadyMade RC, Urban Drones and Bad to the Foam.
Everyone gobbled up the awesome shirts and stickers you guys donated.
C'yall next year.
We also hosted RC combat, LOS night flying, and Golf cart Flying endorsements. Next year plan accordingly
Great job Matt....you represented FPV very well. I love your description of the Pecan Patch....It is truly a privilege that Marko allows us to fly there. His wife and family are golden for opening this place up to us.
Thanks to all involved with this event....its the people that make it special!
I got a call Yesterday from one of my neighbors who found a plane in the high grass next to his lot. It's Rick's Easystar that he lost video contact with.
I have called his number and left a message.... Does anyone know his screen name?
The fuselage is pretty tore up but Gorilla glue works wonders...
United States, VA, Madison Heights
Joined Aug 2011
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