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Celebrating the start of event season at Horizon RC Fest
Event coverage
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Watch AMA Air's coverage of Horizon RC Fest, and see why we think events like this are the perfect way to celebrate the hobby!


It’s June and winter has finally released its grip on the Midwest. For all of us north of the Ohio River, this means the beginning of the summer flying season! Attending an event is one of the best ways I know to enjoy our hobby; there’s something intangible about being part of the environment that’s just energizing, so I wanted to kick off my summer by getting to an event, and Horizon RC Fest was an awesome choice.

You know that energy I was talking about? I felt it as soon as I got to the field, taking my place in a line of cars inching across the edge of a farm field, with the white canopies and red-roofed hangar of Eli Field peaking out from the distance. After being greeted by the event staff and given a program, I extended a “good luck,” to the parking attendant charged with guiding the long line of drivers into order. We both knew it’s a brutal job, and she slapped me with her towel and told me to have fun. I probably deserved it.

It was relatively early in the morning, but already the air was filled with the sounds, and the smells, of nitro and gas engines. The tent I was under was filled with conversations: fellow pilots, some of whom had probably just met, showed off their aircraft and talked about problems. I overhear a diagnosis, “This wheel vibrates. The wheel clamps on here, and the wheel pants go on over it.” The two went on to critique the design.

Someone stops and asks me for a pen so he can jot down his telephone number, “I just met some new family and they’re going to help me set up a new airplane.” It was about then that I heard the rumble of something that was definitely not an airplane. Ah – it’s the Raminator, a Dodge Ram monster truck I followed in on a trailer. I’ll probably need to check that out.

As I walked around the field, it didn’t take long to realize one really special thing about the event -- there really is something for everyone. There’s the main flightline, of course, with filled pilot boxes and a busy runway. There’s an RC dirt track hosing an official Team Losi Racing event, rock crawling RC trucks, an RC truck pull (I didn’t even know that’s a “thing”). The Central Illinois Drone Racers were battling for the fastest lap on the FPV drone racing course and there were even a few model trains on display in Monticello Railway Museum next door.



The Central Illinois Drone Racers were in attendance. We might not all agree on drones, but I think we can all agree that holding your radio out toward your model improves performance!



Events are great for exposing us to new parts of the hobby. Apparently RC truck pulling is thing that’s out there – and it looks like a lot of fun.


With each discipline of RC, visitors could enjoy “Try Me” areas, where a combination of Horizon employees and volunteers helped newcomers enjoy their first experience. There was a circular RC truck track with ramps, a small rock crawling obstacle course, and of course, a wide-open flying area equipped with trainers, both of the aircraft and human variety.

Crystal and Chad were in attendance with their two children, Cadence and Davis. Chad, a long-time surface RC enthusiast came to indulge, and Crystal was excited to try model flying. “I can’t stand the cars – even at home,” she said with a laugh. She shook her head at Chad. “But this – this is what I love!” Young Davis agreed. “I really liked it!”



Chad, Cadence, Crystal, and Davis were all smiles after their first RC flying experience!



Attendees of all ages and skill levels participated in “Try Mes,” where people could try their hand at a new facet of RC! Bet you can’t tell what this person was trying.


At the main flightline, there was activity all-day. Different types of flying were demonstrated to the audience including 3D, soaring, and a warbird gaggle. There were foamies, turbine jets, sailplanes, and even a turbine-powered sailplane! In between the organized flights, there were product demonstrations and open flying when registered pilots could enjoy the perfect runway and beautiful field with their own aircraft.

Of course, no event is complete without RC combat. FliteTest spent the early part of the weekend helping attendees with purpose-built cardboard combat aircraft and on Saturday afternoon, they went to war! The combat was exciting and the emcee did a great job of keeping everyone low and close. Even better, there was a great message for the new and aspiring pilots. “Crashing is a big part of the hobby. Embrace it! Not only is it exciting, you learn a lot.”



FliteTest ran a great combat event with an awesome message for all pilots: Crashing is part of the hobby. It’s exciting, its how we learn, and getting that first one out of the way is just a relief!


I’ve never seen so many smiling faces after so many crashes! Come to think of it, it was hard to find a face that wasn’t smiling at Eli Field, even as the long summer day grew a little warm for early June. As the sun set, pilots and attendees settled into the bleachers and their lawn chairs and enjoyed night flying, fireworks, and each other’s company.

Horizon RC Fest was a fantastic example of what makes events awesome, and it was the perfect choice to kick off the summer events season for me. In a single day I witnessed families getting their first RC experiences, new friendships form, some incredible aircraft, phenomenal pilots, and even a facet of RC that I didn’t know existed. I smiled, I laughed, I saw some cool stuff, and I hung out with some good people who all had a common interest in RC.



There was no shortage of excited spectators taking in the sights and sounds of RC Fest. There was also no shortage of RC models for them to enjoy!



Attendees got to experience a full spectrum of models, from foam trainers to this beautiful Giant Scale Jenny.


Let’s face it – we all spent the day at a grown-up playground – and it was awesome. If you’ve never gone to an event, head over to www.modelaircraft.org, find an event in your area this summer, and make a commitment to attend. It will be one of the best hobby experiences you’ve ever had. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Chris Savage
chriss@modelaircraft.org




1 comments

Great show, some great flying by pilots. Really enjoyed the show and plan on being there next year. Got to meet many people from Horizon Hobby and other vendors. Amazing Airplanes and RC cars. Very easy to get to the show and pre ordering tickets was nice.

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