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Written by Jennifer Orebaugh.
Event coverage of XFC 2013
Read complete coverage in the November 2013 digital edition issue of Model Aviation.



To be a competitive 3-D model airplane pilot, you need precision, knowledge, creativity, originality, talent, choreography, and nerves of steel. To be an extreme 3-D pilot, you just need to be the best of the best.

This year’s Extreme Flight Championships (XFC) marked the 11th year of the annual invitational. Held June 14-16 at the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC) in Muncie, Indiana, 22 of the top airplane and helicopter pilots from around the globe were invited to compete for the chance to be called champion.

Pilots competing in the XFC are required to perform two different programs. One program includes a set of required elements called Known maneuvers, while the other program is deemed as Freestyle, with maneuvers of the pilot’s choice. Both programs are choreographed and synced to music.

The Known maneuvers are changed each year. This year, helicopter pilots were required to perform a Big Ben Reversal, Vertical Rolling Figure Eight with Roll Reversal, and Pirouetting Flipping Reversal Loops. Airplane pilots were required to perform the Humpty Bump, a Torque-Roll Sequence, and Horizontal Rolling Circle.

Judges based their scores on Technical Merit, Artistic Impression, and Overall Positioning, with the lowest score of Knowns and Freestyle dropped at the end of the second day of flying. The two remaining scores (the best of each program) were averaged and normalized into one score, and the top seven airplane and top seven helicopter pilots would advance to the finals.

The 22 invitees were not the only pilots wanting to be the best of the best. On Thursday, before the actual contest began, “Last Chance Qualifiers” battled it out to take the remaining slots. All that was required of interested pilots was to submit a registration form and show up to perform in front of the judges.

Each was required to fly one 4-minute Freestyle routine choreographed to music that included at least one of the required Known maneuvers. Because there were so few qualifiers for the helicopter side, William Ramsey and Jordan Horowitz were automatically entered into the competition. Chris Hass, Chris Gini, Jonathan Jennings, James Winstead, and Ben Batts all qualified for the airplane portion.




Let the Competition Begin
Friday marked the beginning of the competition, with flight order randomly drawn the night before during the pilots’ meeting. Four airplane pilots would go first, then four heli pilots, and so on, flying one round of Knowns in the morning, then one round of Freestyle in the afternoon.

The air was thick with concentration and competition. Looking around, one would see airplane competitors wearing headphones, listening to their flight music, and using their hands as “stick airplanes” to map out their maneuvers. Helicopter pilots watched their competition intently, looking for mistakes in the execution and timing and wondering how they could make their routines better.

Manuel Santos added extra excitement Friday afternoon during his Freestyle routine when his airplane wing broke off during flight. Being the class act that he is and staying composed under this added pressure, Manuel safely guided the airplane back to the ground, with a perfect one-wing landing. Spectators cheered and applauded, as many of the airplane competitors ran out onto the field to congratulate him on a job well done.

At the end of the day, Seth Arnold led the standings for airplanes, followed by Daniel Holman, while Jamie Robertson was in first place in helicopters by just a couple of points in front of Kyle Dahl.

Every pilot stepped up his game on Saturday; this was the day that counted to get into the finals. Only seven from each discipline would continue on for a chance to be crowned champion. The day wasn’t without incident, though. Jonathon Bossian, who along with his brother, Dunkan were the only helicopter participants from overseas, crashed in his Freestyle round, as did Last Chance Qualifier Jordan Horowitz.

Manuel Santos again captured the hearts of spectators with his Freestyle routine on Saturday afternoon. The oldest competitor and a 10-year XFC veteran, Manuel used his flight as his stepping stone to retirement and passed the baton to the next generation, his son, Manuel Jr. When he landed, there wasn’t a dry eye at Site 4. (Editor’s note: see the sidebar for more of the story about Manuel’s last flight in the November 2013 digital edition. Learn more about the digital edition at www.ModelAviation.com/digital.)

Sportsmanship
That spirit of the XFC was shown in the sharing nature and sportsmanship of many of the contestants throughout the entire weekend. When Australian competitor Aaron Garle lost his airplane earlier in the week during practice, Manuel Santos offered to let Aaron share his primary airplane. After the wing broke off of his airplane, Manuel used his son’s airplane as a backup. But that still left Aaron without an aircraft. Chris Hinson, owner of Extreme Flight RC, stepped up and loaned Aaron his own airplane.

Hugo Garib, an airplane competitor from Brazil, crashed his aircraft during practice as well. Although several competitors offered him their airplanes to use including Terry Hahn (who would later compete in the night-fly competition), Seth Arnold made a phone call to have his Horizon Hobby co-worker Mike McConville’s airplane shipped in from Champaign, Illinois, for Hugo to fly. Hugo initially had an engine fail when he arrived at AMA. While it was being fixed, Chris Hass let Hugo use his airplane.

Nicolas Pinzon crashed during his final Known round on Sunday. Last Chance Qualifier Chris Gini immediately brought out his own airplane so that Nicolas could finish the finals in the Freestyle round.

Friday and Saturday in between rounds, spectators were entertained with demonstrations by some of the current competitors, as well as Jerry Smith with his looping aerobatic fun-fly airplane, and a trio helicopter flight routine with XFC helicopter judges Todd Bennett and Matt Botos, and last year’s XFC helicopter champion, Nick Maxwell.

Before the dust settled and dusk fell on Saturday, competitors knew where they stood in the rankings. Seven airplane and seven helicopter pilot names were listed for the finals on Sunday, and pilot order was randomly drawn during the evening pilots’ meeting.




Night Fly
Before the finals, there was one more competition for Saturday: the all-important night-fly competition. This extravaganza of lights and fireworks draws many people from Muncie and its surrounding communities out to AMA, and has become a tradition, kicking off AMA’s summer activities.

Joe Smith, Terry Hahn, Jase Dussia, and Chris Hass wowed the crowd on the airplane side, with bright lights on the wings and even fireworks shooting from the wingtips. Colin Bell, James Haley, and Nick Maxwell left the spectators awestruck with brightly lit, flashing LEDs on their helicopters and even spinning blades that lit up with images and words.

Audience approval brought the title of night-fly champion down to two pilots: Jase and Nick. Nick’s Night Magic image blades won them over, and he came away as the winner with $500 in prize money. The night was capped off by amazing fireworks that lit up the sky.















And Then There Were 14
Seven airplane pilots and seven helicopter pilots, each vying for the top prize and spot, took to the air on Sunday with outstanding and impressive flights. They knew that they would have to pull out all the stops in order to come out as the best of the best.

With only a few points separating the standings, Seth Arnold was once again crowned as the XFC airplane champion. This was his third year in a row to stand in the winner’s circle. Daniel Holman took second place and Gabriel Altuz placed third.

Jamie Robertson proved why he is one of the world’s best 3-D helicopter pilots and took first place on the helicopter side of competition. This was Jamie’s third XFC title as well, winning in 2009 and 2011. Kyle Dahl came in second place, with Kyle Stacy in third.

When all was said and done, each of the competitors could be considered the “best of the world’s best.” They all poured their heart and soul into outstanding performances, with 3-D maneuvers that wowed all spectators and left them wanting more.

The bar gets raised higher and higher each year; that’s why it’s called the Extreme Flight Championships. We’re never disappointed in what these world-class pilots bring to the air and to the hobby/sport of model aviation. Congratulations to all the winners!

Will you be at AMA and the IAC to witness the extreme next year?










Read the entire article and see additional photos in the November 2013 digital issue of Model Aviation. Learn more at www.ModelAviation.com/digital.


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