The Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF) was held again this year at Hodges Hobbies in Americus, Georgia. Mac Hodges has a wonderful facility in the heart of South Georgia - a fully stocked hobby store located in the middle of a 1,700 foot bermuda runway, surrounded by wide open fields. There is sufficient land for hundreds of pilots, and hundreds more spectators. Jeff Meyers and several of the officers of the Fayette Flyers do an outstanding job of organizing this event, and together with a large volunteer staff put on what has to be THE showcase electric radio control modeling event in the country.
In addition to the three scheduled days of open flying, Ric Vaughn and Ernie Schlumberger hosted an additional day (Thursday) of LMR Sailplane competition. The events were NEAC Sport Sailplane and AMA Class B Sailplane. About 25 pilots came to Mac's field a day early to compete, but what was even more surprising was that many more people came just to watch! Many of the sailplane competitors and spectators arrived on Wednesday, and there was plenty of flying and sailpalane practice that afternoon and evening (with a brief pause while a pretty good rain show moved through the area).
Thursday morning saw the pilots meeting at 8:30, and the competition ran most of the day. Some parkflyer activity was allowed at the end of the field during the contest, but the field was opened to general flying at 3pm, and many took advantage of this and flew until sunset. Many more pilots arrived that afternoon, and the registration area was opened once the contest was complete. More than half of the registered pilots had already collected their registration materials by the time the sign-in was closed at 5:30.
Friday kicked off the first full day of open flying, and the flight line was buzzing from sunrise to sunset! The sound of high-power aerobatic models often overwhelmed the whine of the smaller parkflyers, but the variety of models present was astounding. Many small 3D models loitered in the parkflyer zone, while their larger brothers performed mind-boggling manuevers at the opposite end of the field. The center stage was reserved for larger, faster models that flew more traditional "racetrack" patterns. The sky was filled with high performance aerobatic ships, the occasional high-speed ducted fan or scale model, and a smaller number of hotliners, pylon and F5B ships than has been seen in previous years.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday each allotted an hour at noon to demonstration flights by top pilots and vendors. Many amazing models were showcased during this time - a large scale aerobatic model towing a monsterous scale glider, followed by a graceful aerobatic performance by both the glider and the "tow plane". Top pilots from around the country were present to showcase their models and skills - Quique Somenzini, Peter Goldsmith and Steve Rojecki flew for Team JR. Jason Shulman and Gary Wright were flying for Futaba and Hacker brushless.
Horizon Hobby and Hobby Lobby had many new exciting models to show, and everyone enjoyed the show. Saturday and Sunday also provided for some friendly competition - the World Class Soarstar/Wingo races and Zagi combat were held as is tradition. There was more contact in the racing than in combat! Saturday and Sunday were topped off with flights from other areas of radio-control modeling.
Mac flew his awesome B29 (video below), and the dropping of, and subsequent firing of, the rocket motor on his X1 always draws a cheer! He seems to be mastering the tail slide - a pretty impressive sight with a model of this size!
And finally - on Saturday only - a couple of scale turbine models dropped in for a demo. This was a first for many attendees, and they put on a good show.
Saturday also saw the annual BBQ cookout - Grillmasters Team of GA catered to the hundreds of hungry pilots, and the legal age pre-registered pilots were treated to a "special treat" - a bottle of SEFF Ale, brewed especially for the event by Fast Freddie! These are sure to become collectors items!
I interviewed a great many pilots to find out what impressed them most (you'll find a video link in the gallery area).
Besides the comments about the brutal heat and killer gnats, everyone was most impressed by the overall quality of the event. I personally feel that having the opportunity to get together with many of the people we all know through RCGroups, but had never met, was the most enjoyable aspect. We can all fly at our local fields, many of us have seen impressive models, but the opportunity to share stories over a suitable beverage does not come along often.
It was certainly a great event, and I'm looking forward to next year!
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