RCU Review: Aero Flakes R.I.T. Indoor Flying Festival

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: August 2005 | Views: 26729 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RIT Indoor Event

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Photos by "Papa" Jeff Ring and Shirley Hunter


    The long winter indoor flying season in upstate NY was concluded with an incredible indoor flying event on March 19th in Rochester, NY that combined many local R/C clubs and attracted several prominent sponsors. The Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) hosted the event in their brand new 60,000 sq. ft. Gordon Field House and Activities Center.

    The AMA-sanctioned R.I.T. Indoor Flying Festival was attended by over 200 people and had 45 registered flyers with three scheduled demonstrations. My event report will include the festival details and some surprising new trends emerging in the world of indoor R/C flying.

    Festival Highlights
    The R.I.T. Indoor Flying Festival was a cooperative effort between several local R/C clubs that shared a common desire to fly in a large facility. Since most of our indoor meets take place in smaller school-size gyms, the brand new Gordon Field House seemed to be a perfect spot to host the event with its 60,000 sq. ft. venue and state of the art facilities. The RIT Aero Design Team met with the local AeroFlakes Indoor Club several times to hash out a plan to make the event happen.

    Our first goal was to convince the facility director that we would not cause any damage to the Field House. As with most non-R/Cers, they typically vision a noisy .40-size glow plane flying by remote control. We calmed the director's fears with a combination of demonstration flying, a sensible set of rules that included frequency management with a 10 ounce weight limit, and, insurance coverage from an AMA sanction. The facility director was happy with our plan and a date for the event was set on March 19th, 2005. We solicited some sponsors to donate products to be raffled off to help pay for the facility fees. This worked out very well and we were all grateful to our many national sponsors as well as our local sponsor, Performance Hobbies in Webster, NY.

    Since the facility was so big, we decided to dedicate a third of the area for continuous helicopter flying. The other two thirds were time-shared between groups above and below 3 ounces in weight. If a plane weighed in at greater than 10oz, we made a judgment call to let it fly based upon the pilot's known flying skills and speed of the aircraft. The 72MHz. radio channel allocation was managed through a set of clothespins that each had a unique number on it from 11 to 60.

    Just before the event started, we were informed that the ceiling contained several infrared sensors to detect smoke in case of a fire. Since the alarm went directly to the local fire department, a costly charge was invoked if the alarm was tripped. The Event Director, Paul Weigand, promptly decided to eliminate any rubber-powered free flight since this type of flying is prone to reach the ceiling. Once the event started and the pilot meeting was held, everyone started to have fun including the many spectators.

    The modified Pat Trittle kit of the Wright Flyer built by the Event Director, Paul Weigand

    Wright Flyer Kit

    The Wright Flyer has two IPS-A drives, with 9-4.7 props cut down to 8.5 inches scale diameter. GWS R4-P with twoHS-55 servos

    The Wright Flyer also used a Castle Creations Pixie-7 ESC, and a 2S2P 340 pack (2P was used for balance)

    It draws 3.4 amps at 24 Watts full throttle…which is very seldom used.

    The 24 page manual is complete with photos and diagrams

    There were three demonstrations during the four hour event; one after each hour. The first demonstration was a highly-detailed and modified Pat Trittle kit of the Wright Flyer built by the Event Director, Paul Weigand. The scale model representing the birth of aviation flew beautifully!

    In the audience was Dr. Kevin Kochersberger who flew the full-scale Wright Flyer on national television for the 100 year anniversary celebration of aviation. Professor Kochersberger is also the RIT Aero Design Team's faculty advisor. The professor commented on how much better the R/C model flew than the original recreation of the full-scale model.

    The second demonstration was performed by the AMA's Model Aviation columnist, Ray Stacy, or so we thought. Ray started the impressive helicopter flying and almost immediately turned it over via buddy box to his nine year old son, Kyle. After the flight, everyone was amazed to learn that Kyle flew most of the demonstration! We expect to see him entering competition events soon!

    Our last demonstration was by two sixteen year old "hover masters"; Eric Powers and Devin McGrath. Eric and Devin stood back-to-back in the middle of the facility while hovering Shock Flyers close in and performing wild aerobatics on their own half of the gym. The younger pilots always make it look so easy!

    Eric Powers hovers the authors Tensor 4D which was powered by an Esskay 400XT motor, 10x4.7 SF prop, and a 3-cell Kokam 640mAh pack.

      AXI 2204/54
    Jeti 4-amp ESC
    Kokam 2-cell 340mah
    FMA M5 Rx.
    PS-20 Servos
    GWS 9x4.7 SF
    AUW - 5.4oz
    Devin McGrath hovers his ShockFlyer Yak only inches off the ground.
    The author prepares one of the few micro-flight planes at the event for flying. The 0.9oz Icara Hangar Rat was originally a bit-charger conversion and later changed to proportional rudder and throttle control using a DWE RFFS100 module.
    The Hangar Rat flies very slow using throttle level to control altitude. The KP-00 geared motor is powered by a single Kokam 145mAh Lithium cell and uses a U80 prop.
    The RIT Aero Design Team poses under their blimp used during school sporting events. The blimp made a debut at the beginning of the flying event.




    3D Planes Ruled the Event
    The last season of indoor flying has revealed some very distinct trends in the hobby. Years ago, the dominant type of indoor plane was a GWS slowflyer like the Lite Stik and Tiger Moth. Although micro-flight planes also enjoyed a surge in growth from new technology advances in recent years, the expense of micro receivers and small power systems combined with the difficulty of using magnetic actuators has limited its popularity.

    Micro-flight is still considered a specialized market segment by larger vendors and it often gets muddled with the toy market. Senior hobbyists have problems seeing very small micro-sized components and their declining hand dexterity makes tiny components hard to work with. Young hobbyists shy away from the complexity and expense. Our newest pilots in the hobby greatly prefer 3D-style planes and they adapt very quickly to the required skills needed to fly them. Indoor 3D and freestyle flying competitions are becoming hugely popular and attract some of the biggest name pilots in the hobby. Most foam profile 3D planes are very inexpensive.

    One of the more experience modelers readies his scratch built design at the pilot line.
    The author describes the back-to-back demo to the hover masters; Eric and Devin.
    John Gardner brought his "Blue Core Army" of planes made from inexpensive sheet foam.


    The two large growth areas in indoor flying have been micro helicopters and Shock Flyer-like flat-airfoil 3D planes. The introduction (if not flooding) of smaller brushless outrunner motors and Lithium cells has created an abundance of power system options at very reasonable prices. Smaller micro-helis are being sold in Ready-To-Fly packages that are all set up to fly right from the box. The introduction of counter-rotating blade helicopters has created stabile "hover machines" that allow for entry-level pilots to be successful on their very first attempt! It was clearly evident at the RIT Indoor Flying Festival that these two categories dominated the venue.

    One the registered pilots assembled a tiny paper free-flight give-away of the Fliton Infinity and then gave it to a kid after test flying it.


    The modified Lipol-One from Hobby Lobby used a LensRC 17t motor, 8x4 SF prop, and a 2-cell Kokam 1320mAh pack
    Greg Covey was assisted by DWE owner, Dan Hurd, on the micro P-38 setup and launch
    The micro P-38 had a good toss from Dan but wanted to bank left in descending circles


    The AMA-sanctioned R.I.T. Indoor Flying Festival was a complete success. It was accomplished through multi-club teamwork and some experienced hobbyists that were dedicated to seeing people have a good time with a safe format.

    In the four hour long event, we only had one inverted helicopter crash and one mid-air collision between two 3D planes. In the last half hour of the event, we relaxed the rules a bit and had over 10 planes and several helicopters in the air all at once! With this event, people knew that the indoor season had come to an end and we looked forward to the upcoming outdoor summer season. Our hope is to make this an annual event which not only allows for existing hobbyists to enjoy themselves but also attracts new enthusiasts to the exciting world of R/C!


    Event Sponsors & Hosts

    Comments on RCU Review: Aero Flakes R.I.T. Indoor Flying Festival

    Posted by: roflmcwaffle on 01/11/2011
    thanks greg for that coverage! i know this is an old one, but im looking for some info. Is this event still going on? I just got into RC over the past year and am loving it, thanks!!
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