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Written by Dave Garwood
RC Slope Soaring
As seen in the October 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

This video originally appeared in the July 1 edition of AMA's webcast: AMA Air. Find more episodes at

No person in the history of Slope Soaring was likely more beloved than Katie Martin. Unfortunately, she died before her time. Her husband, Bob Martin, has led a memorial Slope Soaring flying event in her memory for the past seven years.

The event runs with the support of the Torrey Pines Gulls, a well-known and active Soaring club in California. This coverage of the 7th Annual Katie Martin International Tribute Fly-In, held June 3, 2017, was written by Dale Gottdank, the Torrey Pines Gulls newsletter editor, and was photographed by Ian Cummings, vice president of the Torrey Pines Gulls.

Pilots and sailplanes gather around the RC mound at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Cummings photo.

For the past seven years, Bob Martin and the Torrey Pines Gulls RC Soaring Society have sponsored the Katie Martin International Tribute Fly-In at the historic Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla, California. It’s called the “International” Tribute because Slope fliers in far-flung places such as Spain, Germany, England, and Venezuela pay tribute too, adding their own local events to the home event here in San Diego. Some attendees travel hundreds of miles to participate.

Most Slope Soaring pilots know Bob from the cutting-edge kits that he and his wife, Katie, designed and produced, including the Bobcat, Talon, Katie II, SR-7, and Coyote, to name a few.

Bob Martin and his friends with the Hobie Hawk and SuperHawk sailplanes. Cummings photo.

In 1979, Bob and Katie purchased the tooling for the well-known Hobie Hawk sailplane, producing kits from 1980 to 1986. In fact, Katie’s favorite sailplane was a beautiful blue and white Hobie Hawk, but more about that later. Earlier this year, Bob shared this summary of Katie’s achievements and the fly-in:

“For more than 25 years, she was well known in our industry for her enthusiasm and charm at events and trade shows throughout the country. She also holds the distinction of being the first woman to fly RC in Costa Rica. She served as [an] AMA club president for two consecutive years, and secured a flying site for her club in the Santa Fe Dam area.

“She worked hard for various clubs in many roles, including newsletter editor, and in 1988 [she] was named the AMA National Newsletter Editor of the Year. She also was awarded the Hawk of the Year, an honor going to the member of the Desert Hawks Club [who] made the most impact on the club that year.

Bob Martin ran the charity raffle. The grand prize, a Hobie Hawk, is in the foreground. Raffle proceeds of $1,000 were donated to the American Heart Association. Cummings photo.

“She was also the inspiration who led to the formation of Bob Martin RC Models in the mid-1970s when she asked for and received a Hobie Hawk. That same Hobie Hawk is flown in the Katie Martin Tribute with a small amount of her ashes epoxied into the nose.

“Katie was all about having fun and enjoying the sport. Therefore, in line with that attitude, this event is open to all sailplanes regardless of manufacturer or type. It is an open fly-in; the only rules are those of safety. I look forward to meeting and talking with those who join us in celebrating the legacy of a great lady.”

Katie passed away in December 2010. The following year, the Katie Martin Tribute Fly-in was born. For more about how this came to be, read Bob’s January 2015 post on RCGroups. The link is listed in “Sources.”

Bob Martin launches Katie’s Hobie Hawk, piloted by Brent Daly. Cummings photo.

This year’s fly-in had a great turnout, with more than 100 aircraft and almost as many pilots! Most pilots brought at least one of their Bob Martin RC Models sailplanes and many brought several. Of course, there was a large contingent of Hobie Hawks and SuperHawks.

As in previous years, Bob welcomed everyone to the event and gave his dedication speech about Katie, followed by a moment of silence. Afterward, Bob launched Katie’s original Hobie Hawk, piloted by Brent Daly.

Next, a one-of-a-kind SuperHawk, donated in Katie’s honor by Tony Johnson of Synergy Composites, was launched by Paul Anderson and piloted by Gregg Bolton. Both sailplanes are identically finished in blue and white and shared the sky over the Gliderport for all to see.

Various Bob Martin RC Models sailplanes were brought to the event. Cummings photo.

Following some fun flying, it was time for the raffle. Donated prizes included several sailplane kits, ARFs, accessories, modeling tools, and a computer flight simulator package. The grand prize was a beautiful orange and white Hobie Hawk donated by John Cole.

The rest of the day was filled with fun flying and chatting with friends. Delicious sandwiches were available from the Cliffhanger Café at the Gliderport. It was a great day of Slope Soaring camaraderie, with everyone looking forward to next year’s Katie Martin International Tribute Fly-In.

-Dave Garwood


Katie Martin International Tribute Fly-In RCGroups threads

Torrey Pines Gulls

League of Silent Flight (LSF)

Bob Martin

Dale Gottdank

Ian Cummings

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