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Written by Mark Fadley
As featured on page 20 in the June 2012 issue.
Read an abridged summary and online exclusive photos.

Each year there are significant events we look forward to, dream about, and plan for. We make room in our schedules for special happenings such as holidays, birthdays, and vacations.

There is an RC event that has taken on that same kind of annual, special-occasion status for several hundred avid pilots. It is called E-Fest and it is held indoors in the middle of the harsh Midwest winter.

There is nothing better than packing your park flyer-size electric airplanes and helicopters for a weekend of indoor flying in a huge arena with a 100-foot-high ceiling. The University of Illinois Track and Field Armory in Champaign, Illinois, provides that indoor airspace and better yet, it is conveniently located a couple of hours south of Chicago. This year, 2012, makes the seventh consecutive year E-Fest has been held at the Armory.

In the midst of all the fun and excitement created when everyone was flying high-performance, park-size, electric-powered aircraft, a wonderful thing happened that would profoundly impact the future of our hobby. The kids came back!

Yes, the youngsters started becoming interested in RC again because it was no longer about Uncle Bob’s large, noisy airplane that no one else was allowed to fly. Now there was finally an affordable entry point into RC with practically harmless, micro models that almost any kid could handle with ease.

Because of this, every E-Fest has attracted a large crowd of youngsters, from toddlers to teens. They love flying the models because it is fun. Most of the kids even said they preferred flying real RC to playing virtual games on their video consoles.

The large E-Fest floor space is separated into four separate zones: 3-D airplanes, helicopters, micros, and normal racetrack, pattern-flying craft. Many younger people could be found hanging out in the micro-flying area.

Youngsters are going to be the future of our hobby. From what I saw at E-Fest this year, it is safe to say that the most innovative and exciting times in RC lie ahead.

Make plans for the 2013 E-Fest fly-in so you can enjoy all of the fun to be had there, and maybe even help a younger person get a start in this great hobby.

Read the entire article on page 20 in the June 2012 issue of Model Aviation.

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