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Apr 01, 2016, 10:51 PM
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My experience with SVSS

I know I'm speaking on deaf ears here and most likely you might even delete the post because it is not a glowing endorsement of SVSS. We'll see if you choose censorship. From what I see there isn't much activity here anyway so what would it hurt?

Four years ago I came to SVSS to fly electric aircraft. The welcome was a bit tepid from my perspective; the majority of members flying un-powered gliders seemed to shun anyone that wasn't doing the same. Some members were great, though but there were more than a couple with less than welcoming attitudes.

I have a huge hanger of aircraft. Huge to me - 24 active aircraft and all of them are traditional line of sight electric aircraft: Park flyers, scale war birds, EDFs, sport flyers, balsa and foam, and even a powered glider. One of these is a plane you can fly "with goggles on"

So, during the weekday, not during a competition weekend I took this hated airplane out to the PUBLIC PARK that is SVSS to do some testing and tuning. The day before I also flew here and had a good experience, running into only 1 other member and I thought I'd re-join SVSS for the occasional flights out there but today, Friday, I experienced such a frustrating and prejudice encounter with an SVSS member.

Simply put, he confronted me telling me I cannot fly that thing there, threatened to call his Sheriff friend and then called Marty to complain about me. I heard "no, it is not a helicopter"..... "it is like a Bixler" and this Scott commented on its 31" wingspan, which, by the way Scott, it is 61" you were not even close, and then in closing he said something to the effect "but he is wearing goggles"

Oh the horror.. A fixed wing electric aircraft like so many of the others I've seen out there but this one you can fly through a camera if you want.

Scott got off the phone saying I could fly but by then my day was ruined, not being welcomed by your club and straight up threatened, (to call his sheriff friend and the comment "we'll see").

OK, how about this then, SVSS: instead of me flying hundreds of yards away in peace, out of your air space and minding my own business, I'll remove the camera from my plane and fly it line of sight only right over the airfield, its pusher propeller obnoxiously ripping up the air while you try to have your conversations and soar your aircraft? Would that be better? That's an honest question. How about I do that instead of stay out of your way and mind my own business? Will you call your sheriff friend then or in some other way try to run me off again? I'll join the club just to have a bigger voice in this issue, and do exactly what I just suggested.

I would like to add that you routinely fly above the 400' ceiling guideline as recommended by the AMA. What do you have to say about that? It is OK because it is your club? But I can't fly with you guys because I chose that day to fly FPV as opposed to LOS?

Being a fellow pilot I am disgusted at the way I was greeted by some of your members. One, really. Who might say something about simply having the club's best interests in mind....while he flies his glider one thousand feet in the sky in direct violation of AMA guidelines.

You have an opportunity to embrace new technology in our hobby and welcome in all the kids getting into the hobby. Or, you can continue to shun it and watch your member base dwindle. How many people did not renew their membership this year?

FWIW, I have been an AMA member since 1994. A six digit AMA number.
Last edited by Maj.Duty; Apr 01, 2016 at 10:56 PM.
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Apr 02, 2016, 09:35 AM
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nodlehs's Avatar

Hmmm...Speaking for myself, I'm more than a little surprised, as well as "shocked" at the reception you received at the SVSS field. I've been involved with SVSS for the past 6 years, and can honestly say that the treatment you received is "out of the ordinary" and certainly not what I've seen/experienced, and is the norm, while at the SVSS field. That however does not excuse it and I'm pretty sure it was a fairly unique encounter. I've found most, if not all, of the folks I've encountered to be outgoing and helpful to all who come to fly sailplanes or electrics. Possibly the reaction was due to a bit of "over sensitivity", as well as misunderstanding on the part of that SVSS member you encountered. I suspect that the "over sensitivity" may have been due to the County's restriction on "drone" flying at the site. While the plane you describe isn't a "drone" it is not flown by line-of-sight control and I "think" that's what the County is trying to stipulate...Maybe? Regardless, that doesn't excuse the behavior of the individual you encountered, and for myself, I apologize to you for what you experienced. The technology is here to stay and will, in fact, be further refined/developed and become much more commonplace, and we all need to strive to understand and "get along" with it. So again, I myself apologize for the way things were handled.

On the other hand, you brought up the 400' ceiling, and you are not completely correct in that. That AMA Safety Code states: "Not fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator". In fact, we are allowed to fly above 400' (and as you know we do <G>). Also, the 400' "restriction" was removed the recent FAA registration as well. Paraphrased, it states that we will follow the guidelines of the local CBO (community based organization), and IMO we are indeed complying.

Our "sandbox" is pretty big, and I'm sure we can all "play well together", if we just try to understand and respect one another...


Sandy Smith
Apr 02, 2016, 12:13 PM
Registered User
Thank you fot the reply, Sandy.

I've met some really nice folks there and fly with a couple of them regularly in other locations.

Please excuse my over-sensitivity. Was just trying to pursue an innocent hobby with like minded people. I knew at some point I would encounter resistance because of the stigma associated with some types of aircraft. I was just a little surprised it came days after a maiden flight.

I understand you need to protect your relationship with the county.
Apr 03, 2016, 01:12 AM
Registered User
I agree with everything Sheldon has said here. We are at an impass here with new technology and it will take a little time to figure everything out. I can also agree that my reception when I joined SVSS was very positive after a 20 year layoff from sailplanes. That being said, anytime you have a group setting there will always be some friction at one point or another. We just all have to remember that and shrug some things off.

I would like to thank Sheldon for pointing out the facts about the 400' altitude thing. There have been many misconceptions on that one. As you have brought up AMA guidelines, I may be mistaken here but I think one of the guidelines is that when flying FPV a spotter is required. Please correct me if I am wrong. That being said, I feel that you were a victim of some over reaction but some concern was justified.
Apr 03, 2016, 12:57 PM


several comments about your version of the events Friday.
You were asks if you were an AMA member. That's it. Truth is you let your AMA membership laspe as of last year. AMA membership is a key safety requirement for flying at our field.
Also you were not following AMA FPV guidelines.
In short you were endangering yourself and others at the field.
Safety is everyone's responsibility and SVSS takes it seariuosly.
Apr 04, 2016, 10:53 AM
Registered User
Not quite that simple, Marty.

He was aggressive, abrasive and threatening. His attitude went far beyond concern and that was obvious and that is my main complaint.

Approach someone calmly, introduce yourself and have a civil discussion that doesn't include calling the cops if you don't pack up and get out of there. Kindly educate the individual and encourage them join up and maybe even help them with something.

90% of the problem was I was flying something different.
Apr 05, 2016, 10:12 AM
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jtlsf5's Avatar
Originally Posted by Maj.Duty
Not quite that simple, Marty.
90% of the problem was I was flying something different.
Let's get down to the heart of the matter. Put the people stuff aside for a minute. Were you or were you not a current AMA member at the time this incident and your previous uncontested maiden flight occurred? If you are current, then you have a case. If you are not current you were breaking SVSS and Yolo County requirements to fly at the Davis site.

I won't get into nor challenge the people stuff, that's always open to interpretation and personal bias regarding what/how something is said. However, the rules we are required to follow by Yolo County and protecting our access to this wonderful flying site is front and center in the minds of all SVSS members.

So please put it on the table, were you there legally or not.

Apr 07, 2016, 09:18 AM
Registered User
Was I there legally? Yes.

I'll probably be there tomorrow. You can come harass me there.

I'm done here
Apr 07, 2016, 01:24 PM
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jtlsf5's Avatar
No intent to harass as long as you follow the site rules. With SVSS now being the official lease-holder you are obligated to follow site rules determined by SVSS, which have been reviewed with the county. If you don't, expect to be called on it and asked to leave.

And please be sure to bring your proof of insurance, either current AMA or other. That is one absolute requirement to operate any site-legal model aircraft at the flying site. You are obligated to show it to any SVSS member on demand unless you are a current year, card carrying SVSS member. And if you still are not an SVSS member with an SVSS-issued parking pass, please be sure to purchase a day use permit, that's a county rule.

If you feel this impinges on your fun or your rights, welcome to the modern world. You are of course welcome to have your fun and play as you choose somewhere else.


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