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Written by Barry Vaught
Lakeland is the place to be in March for jet pilots
Event coverage
Photos by the author
As seen in the August 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.

Bonus Photos

Model Aviation - Florida Jets 2016

Bonus video:

Event coverage

Florida Jets week, held March 7-12, 2016, started Florida’s RC air show season with two great events, 165 pilots, more than 200 jets, highly skilled talent, thrilling entertainment, and lots of fun in the sun. The Red Flag event, which was covered in the July 2016 issue of Model Aviation, took place the first three days, followed by Florida Jets.

Some of the pilots who participated in the Red Flag RC Jet Aerobatic Competition were ready to simply fly their jets in a fun, noncompetitive manner and burn a lot of fuel. Florida Jets has a large following and is a “jet-together,” where electric and turbine pilots can safely fly their jets almost as many times as they want.

Mark Petrak’s Tomahawk Design Alabtros L-39 XXXL is 1:2.7 scale. Its 12-foot wingspan can carry more than 100 pounds of weight. The model, built by Joseph Kager, received the Critics’ Choice Award.

Greg Foushi and Bill Freeland display their F-16s. Greg and Bill are members of the Remote Control Association of Central Florida in Apopka FL.

Barry Hou, Greg Foushi, and Kristopher Gunter, standing in the front of their tent, are enjoying this year’s Florida Jets!

Surprises come early when Ali Machinchy is attending an airplane event. Ali is a magician with airplanes and it is always fun to see what he is flying at the events because he prefers to fly a variety of airplanes. He brought a one-of-a-kind Turbo Spitfire, an Avanti Viper XXL, and an F-86 Tomahawk Sabre.

Ali Machinchy’s impressive, custom Turbo Spitfire has a 91-inch wingspan, 32-pound flying weight, and is powered by a turboprop.

Ali Machinchy’s F-86 Tomahawk Sabre is an all-composite, 1/3-scale, 128-inch wingspan jet that weighs 45 pounds. It received the Best Scale Jet Performance award.

The Turbo Spitfire is an ongoing custom project that flew and sounded great. It needed a little help while taxiing because of the crosswinds. Ali’s 1/3-scale Avanti Viper XXL is a beautiful jet and flies smoothly. We mounted a GoPro HERO4 camera on the elevator stabilizer to chronicle the flight. I was concerned about mounting a camera on his aircraft, but the flat adhesive GoPro mount was easily removed by simply twisting the camera. Ali’s 1/3-scale Tomahawk Sabre is beautiful and flew as nicely as the Viper.

Barry Hou brought an unusual English Electric Lightning that has the turbines mounted vertically, one above the other. Full-scale pilots have described flying the aircraft as “being saddled to a skyrocket.”

A less expensive way to start flying turbine jets is to build your own. Dana Thrasher’s Turbinator was built from a kit. He purchased a used turbine and has approximately $4,500 invested in the jet. The Turbinator flew well and looked great in its Marine Corps color scheme.

Barry Hou’s rare English Electric Lightning relies on two KingTech 160 turbines. One jet turbine is situated above the other.

Dana Thrasher’s Turbinator has a 76-inch wingspan. The 26-pound model is powered by a P-140X turbine.

Jeff Stubbs’s BAE Hawk on final approach in a stiff crosswind.

It is always heartwarming to see a father and son enjoying our great hobby together. Joey Tamez and his son, Joshua, traveled from Texas with their yellow Navy Shockwave.

Kristopher Gunter brought an F-15 Eagle, which has a special “Let’s Roll” symbol on the fuselage in the spirit of 9/11. This symbol is displayed on various full-scale aircraft throughout the Air Force as a way of recognizing the heroes and victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The halftime shows included some of the best ever at Florida Jets, with demonstration flights from some of the Red Flag RC Jet Aerobatics pilots and formation teams.

Father and son, Joey and Joshua Tamaz, display their Shockwave. The 80-inch wingspan model received the Best Sport Jet award.

Kristopher Gunter and his F-15 Eagle with “Let’s Roll” painted on the fuselage.

The flightline was filled with spectators on the west side of the field at the start of the halftime show.

The Florida Jets runway walk allowed the spectators to see the aircraft up close and meet the pilots.

Many people are involved in RC airplane events to make them safe, entertaining, and successful. Sam Wright has been announcing Frank Tiano’s RC events for 29 years.

John Walsh is a former air traffic controller and serves as the onsite air boss. He monitors full-scale air traffic while the RC event is in progress. If there is a full-scale aircraft emergency, the RC models will be grounded until the emergency is over. The Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is extremely cooperative and this is a good example of how full-scale aircraft and RC aircraft can work together for the benefit of everyone.

Congratulations to Frank Tiano and everyone involved for another exciting, memorable Florida Jets.
—Barry Vaught

Florida Jets Special Awards

Award Sponsor Pilot Model
Best Military Jet Model Airplane News Greg Wright F-86 (Canadian)
Runner-up Zap Glue Pete Goldsmith F-104 (Luftwaffe)
Best Sport Jet Horizon Hobby Joey Tamaz Ultra Bandit
Best Sport Jet Runner-up Global Jet Club Bob Violett Ultra Bandit
Best Sport Color Scheme JetCat USA Azza Stephens Rebel Pro
Best Civilian Jet Ray & Robin’s Hobby Center Ali Machinchy Viper Jet
Best Sport Jet Performance Dreamworks Model Products Pablo Fernandez Rebel Pro
Best Scale Jet Performance Elite Aerosports Ali Machinchy F-86 (Luftwaffe)
Best Electric Jet Performance Hobbico RJ Gonzalez MiG 15
Best Multi Jet Performance Fly RC Jim Martin F-14
Best Craftsmanship Bob Violett Models Jack Diaz F-86
Most Outstanding Jet Flight KingTech Turbines Sebastiano Silvestri Avanti
Runner-up Jet Central Azza Stephens Rebel Pro
Just Plane Crazy Best in the West Jets Ali Machinchy Turbo Spitfire
Special Recognition RC Sport Flyer Mike Adams Viper Jet
Special Recognition Frank Tiano Enterprises Ken McSpadden Viper Jet
Special Recognition Spektrum Radio Rei Gonzalez T-2 Buckeye
Special Recognition EZ Balancer Dustin Buescher BVM F-16
Special Recognition Florida Jets Fly Girls Scott Harris T-2 Buckeye
Special Recognition PowerBox Systems Kristopher Gunter F-16
Special Recognition JR Americas Jose Melendez Avanti “Frozen”
Critics’ Choice Zap Glue and Model Airplane News Mark Petrak L-39
Runner-up Frank Tiano Enterprises Greg Wright F-86


Florida Jets
Frank Tiano Enterprises

Jet Pilots’ Organization

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