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Written by Jay Smith.
A weeklong celebration of electric flight.
Photos by Jay Smith. Video by Jay Smith and Jerry Smith.
As featured in the June 2014 issue of
Model Aviation.


The Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF), or SEFF Week, as the event has become to be known, was held April 7-13 in Andersonville, Georgia. Mac Hodges hosts the event, which is run by the Fayette Flyers.

This year, SEFF immediately followed the Toledo R/C Expo, which made it challenging to attend both as I did. I arrived at the SEFF venue in the middle of the week. The festival was hampered by heavy rains and some flooding early in the week, but when I arrived on Thursday, things had dried out and the field looked good.

It had been three years since I had attended SEFF and in that time many changes have taken place. Matt Klos has taken over as the event director, a pond was dug on the field to support float flying and model boating, and Mac Hodges closed his hobby shop in late 2013. The vacated hobby shop building was used for pilot registration and the raffle.

Another update was the addition of more bathrooms, equipped with showers. This certainly was an upgrade to the blue boxes often found at events.

Thursday saw the “Ric Vaughn No Excuses” Sailplane Limited Motor Run (LMR) Competition take place. Ric was an avid sailplane pilot and an integral part of the SEFF team. Sadly, cancer took Ric in September of 2012, but I was pleased to see the contest named in his honor.

The Fayette Flyers and SEFF family lost another member of its close-knit group last year. Event Director Matt Klos shared the following: “Each year we have our resident graphic artist, Dave Zeigler, create a new design for our shirts. This year the Corsair theme was selected to honor Dave McConnell, a very good friend and staff member who passed away last summer from complications from a brain tumor. Dave was well loved and respected by all who knew him. We all miss him very much!”

By Thursday afternoon, it became apparent that the pond was an excellent addition to the venue. A multitude of aircraft and a few boats enjoyed traversing above and on the waterway throughout the day.

I also noted the interest in FPV. The addition of a multirotor area allowed many aircraft—most carrying FPV equipment and/or cameras—to participate in the action. After the day’s flying began to wind down, a large group gathered to share their FPV experience with anyone who was interested. People huddled in front of LCD screens and goggles were passed around to provide the “in the cockpit” experience.

Another change I noticed since the last time I attended was that the vendor malls were set up at the Sport, 3-D, and park flyer flightlines instead of in a single common area. This allowed the vendors to be closest to the flying that their products most closely support.

The AMA flight simulator trailer was located near the registration building. Each day it was flooded with spectators interested in trying model flying in the virtual environment.


Seth Arnold and David Payne launch the new UMX Pitts S-1S during the noontime demonstration..





These are a few of John Morgan’s foam warbirds. The author took particular interest in the Helldiver on the right.





All Polaris owners were invited on Friday to a group flight off of the pond. Seven pilots and their aircraft participated.





Mac Hodges hosts SEFF each year and treats attendees with an impressive flight on his B-29. Buddy Curtis, standing just behind him, handles piloting the X-1 after it is dropped by the bomber.




Event Video Highlights

Video and photos by Jay Smith. Aerial footage by Jerry Smith






Friday and Saturday

Friday and Saturday are typically the largest two days of the entire event. They feature the noontime demonstrations and draw the largest number of spectators. Saturday evening is reserved for the awards presentation and traditional barbecue dinner. We were graced with fantastic weather on both days, although Friday was slightly cooler and windier.

Early mornings on both days were an excellent time for me to exercise my thumbs on the sticks. My thumbs have suffered long bouts of inactivity because of a brutal winter. Although I didn’t bring any of my own aircraft, I had the opportunity to fly a few models that others had brought, including the Great Planes new Kunai sport glider.

Several large RC companies, including Hobbico, Horizon Hobby, Hitec/Multiplex, and HobbyKing, had booths to showcase their latest products. This provided a nice opportunity to see some of the upcoming models take flight.

I was eager to track down John Morgan at the event. He always brings some fantastic, scratch-built foam models. One of his newest designs, a Curtiss Helldiver, was of special interest to me, because my great aunt built them during World War II. Not only did John have a foam version, but he also brought his 100-inch wingspan SB2C Helldiver built from Jerry Bates plans. It was still under construction, but is coming together nicely. John has a build thread on the aircraft on RCGroups.

The noontime shows are always entertaining and this year didn’t disappoint. Pilots such as Joe Smith, Daniel Holman, and Seth Arnold were on hand to perform their aerial ballets. On Friday, Daniel and Joe flew their routine together and demonstrated close formation hovering while only inches off of the green grass. Joe even dunked his rudder into the pond while hovering.

Horizon Hobby again showed us it is possible to fly more than 50 aircraft in less than 20 minutes. It required plenty of work, but the company’s team of pilots and employees made it look easy.

Each year the closer is Mac Hodges flying his big B-29 with the X-1 in tow. The routine is always a crowd pleaser, leaving many in disbelief at the repertoire of maneuvers that Mac performs.



Matt Putnam’s Bumble Bee weighs 15 pounds and has a 39.5-inch wingspan. Matt wanted a biplane that would fit in his SUV without removing the wings, and this fits the bill.





Mike Mayberry and Shawn Spiker from Hitec share a laugh after Mike piloted the Zipper during the paintball shoot. Mike lost his vertical fin/rudder and right aileron and was still able to successfully pilot the model.





Daniel Holman and Joe Smith provided an entertaining aerobatic duet that culminated in a joint hover.





Seth Arnold and David Payne launch the new UMX Pitts S-1S during the noontime demonstration..





Event organizers allowed five registered pilots, who were randomly selected as the paintball shooters, try to score hits on aircraft that were flown in front of them.





Both days also saw a pairing of two of my hobbies—paintball and model aircraft. Five registered pilots were randomly selected as shooters, while other pilots flew their aircraft in front of them. The goal was to be the aircraft with the most hits. If the laughter was any evidence, it seemed to be popular with the pilots and the shooters. If they have the event next year, I hope that the spectator line will be moved further back from those who are participating.

Dan Malone again stepped up to run the full-contact combat, which was called Ultimate Destruction Combat. The only thing more fun than watching it is flying in it and many pilots took part.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a respectable group of Discuss Launch Glider pilots enjoying an evening of flying on the corner of the property. In fact, Bill Greet even provided me with a little instruction and some test flights on his Labelle!

Although some events shut down as darkness looms, SEFF is not one of them. At SEFF, darkness merely means it’s time to switch to your light-equipped night flier. Several events provided evening entertainment into late into the night such as night flying, night combat, and night bowling.


It’s Over Already?

SEFF Week 2014 drew 353 pilots, several vendors, and a sizable contingent of spectators to Andersonville, Georgia, to enjoy a week of electric flight. The addition of the pond, support for helicopters, multirotors, and FPV made it a well-rounded event. The staff did an excellent job and the event was as enjoyable as always. My only complaint was it was over too quickly!

I asked Matt Klos if he would like to make any comments about this year’s event and this is what he shared with me:

“We are grateful to and wish to acknowledge Mac Hodges for allowing us the use of his field. SEFF is and will always be a pilot event and we welcome all types of aircraft. It was great to see the level of participation from the FPV and mulitrotor community. We wish to thank Jessy Symmes for bringing the AMA simulator trailer again this year.

The Fayette Flyers are extremely proud to hold an event such as SEFF, and could not do so without the help of our dedicated staff. Most have been with us for many years and some are new, but all deserve recognition for their contributions: Mark Terrick, Ernie Schlumberger, Phill Roey, Emma Roey, Mike DeBoer, Stew Moore, Dave Keller, Katherine Keller, Dave Zeigler, Eileen Zeigler, LaVerne Jones, Dave Mason, Tommy Vinci, Bob Barnard, Steve Kubit, Fred Francis, Rockwell Smith, Jay Skinner, Mark Murdock, Nigel Harman, Den Harman, Esther McConnell, and Alan Taylor.”
—Jay Smith
jays@modelaircraft.org



Sources

SEFF
www.seffweek.com

RCGroups Helldiver build thread
www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2033785&highlight=helldiv

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