A report on the 2001
Northeast Electric Aircraft Technology Fair
presented by SEFLI (Silent Electric Flyers of Long Island)
include "../footer.htm" ?>As the terrorists struck the WTC, the Pentagon and brave Americans fought off more attackers over the skies of Pennsylvania, the NEAT Fair organizers, were putting on the final touches for this year's show.
Before 8:45 a.m. on Sept 11th, all we were looking for good model flying weather.
After seeing the news we all stood or sat around in disbelief on that Tuesday morning. We could not have ever imagined that an event such as this could possible ruin this now yearly gathering of quiet eagles. Hurricanes, forest fires or other such things maybe, but lower Manhattan and our nation's capital under attack? It was not until much later that evening that the organizers realized they had a decision to make: Should we continue on with our plans to hold the show, or cancel it?
The DecisionTwo things contributed to our decision to carry on: President Bush made it quite clear in the first hours of the tragedy that we should continue with our lives whenever and wherever possible or the terrorists will have won. Secondly, lots of emails and lots of phone calls came pouring in asking if the fair was still being held. Lots of people were very encouraging that we decide to go on. By Wednesday we realized that many people were still interested in coming and if we could only ensure that the SEFLI crew could get off the Island (many bridges and tunnels were closed) to help run the events then we could go on with the Fair. At the same time we also decided to donate all proceeds after expenses to disaster relief for WTC victim's families. (As of this writing, the actual amount and organization receiving the donation has not been determined. We will post it on the NEAT news section of this website when it is decided.)
Set-up DayOn Thursday members of SEFLI, the Connecticut Silent Flyers and others pitched in to set up fences, flightlines, signs and banners. It was a very nice day, but by the time we finished and went out to dinner fast-moving thunderstorms reached the area and it rained steadily throughout the night.
Friday - Day 1It was still raining lightly when I woke but by the time I got to Peaceful Valley, the rain was diminishing and the fog was clearing. By 7 a.m. the rain stopped completely, modelers began to fly their park flyers and we began accepting pilots for registration. By 10 a.m. the sun shone through the clouds, the ceiling was lifting and, surprisingly, the winds were still very low.
Both pre-registered and walk-in pilots came in a steady stream and by the end of the day we recorded 138 pilots and 187 "official" flights. Because of the low winds, the "park and slow flyers" dominated the airspace. "Heavy Iron" seemed only to be present at the lunchtime demos and later in the day. We had our share of midairs on Friday (I can remember 3 compared to last year when we only had a single one for all three days!). The Peaceful Valley field is long and narrow which contributes to limited airspace, though many of the mid-airs throughout the weekend were between the "smaller" aircraft which stay close anyway. Is 12 flight stations too many? What do you think? Dave Grife, Keith Shaw, Chris True, Jim Ryan and "Turbo" D'antonio flew models during the lunchtime demonstrations. With the exception of Jim Ryan's A4D Skyray, all were "heavy iron" ships, many of them with 32+ cells on board. Pilots' raffle prizes were awarded throughout the day and at 4 p.m. a 3-pack of Modelair-Tech kits were raffled off at the "paid" raffle. Although SEFLI closed the Tx Impound at 6 p.m., many flew well after that on the "casual" frequency board. Many pilots even stayed late enough for darkness and night-flying as the weather was quite pleasant (for mid-September).
Saturday - Day 2It started out with the usual thick valley fog, but the ceiling was still a couple of hundred feet as the sun rose. As soon as there was enough light, the park and slow flyers were out in force flying on the "casual" frequency board again. After the impound opened more pre-registered and walk-in pilots showed up, as were spectators. It got so busy that at times it was hard to find a spot on the front line near show center!
Both the hobby vendors were busy selling their wares as were the food vendors whose lines sometimes stretched out 1/2hr or more! By the end of the day pilot count was a little over 200 with 446 "official" flights in only 7 hours! (that's 64 flights each hour or about one new flight every minute! YEOW! now I really know how busy we were!)
At lunchtime we had demo flights from Dave Baron flying his Joe Beshar-built 10 ft / 20 lbs B-17 and Gary Wright (a world-class helicopter pilot from Florida) flew the E3D, a large, but lightweight "freestyle" type aerobatic ship utilizing powered with inexpensive drive components. Dave Grife and Keith Shaw also put on a great show with their beautiful, large scale and sport ships. Nick Ziroli contributed to the demos with his Kyosho Learjet and I flew the X-sounder (first electric model seaplane to cross Long Island Sound).
A calm but cool Saturday night saw quite a bit of flying after the impound closed at 5 p.m. More than 200 people walked to the nearby Dinner Pavilion for the BBQ dinner of chicken, ribs, beans, salads and sodas. Two lucky people walked off with "gender-tailored" raffle prizes after the dinner: the men's dinner tickets were separated from the ladies tickets and the men had a chance of winning a HiTec Focus 3Ss radio and extra 555 Rx while the women a large silk flower arrangement created and donated by Eileen Hunt. To be honest, I do not remember the winners, but I do remember the first name drawn on the men's side was Fred Marks! I doubt owner of FMA wanted to win a competitor's radio, so we pulled another name! I believe it was Walter Bub's wife that won the arrangement.
Sunday - Day 3The morning again started with the low fog ceiling, but, again, this didn't stop the slow/park flyers from chewing it up! Many times I saw them test the visibility and climb into the fog just in front of the flight line and then spin down shortly till they could see the planes again. Sunday was a "light" day with "only" 136 flights. For the lunchtime demos Dave Baron again flew Steve Stratt's Junkers J2 and John Symborski's RWD-8 Polish trainer. Keith Shaw, Dave Grife, "Turbo" D'antonio, Don Belfort, Jim Ryan, Chris True, and Gary Wright also returned with their planes. By 2 p.m. most people were tuckered out so the impound was closed but a few hardy souls still continued to fly on the "casual" board until about 4:30 p.m. when I had to take it away from them to close up the trailer and go home myself. As usual, all I had to do was ask and many pilots jumped to help break down the field and police the grounds. By the time I left there were still about 10 cars on the flightline as well as the HQ tent, snow fence and the Bergen County Silent Flyers tent.
ConclusionIt seems the diversion from the Sept 11th disaster had worked. I personally had never seen so many airplanes in the air and on the ground at any show (as well as some being built in the pits!). We now look forward to an even better show next year. Please keep an eye on this website for updates to the opening of pilot pre-registration and other pertinent news.
Thanks again to all those who attended and helped make this show a tremendous success. Also, to help our preparations for next year please take a moment to send us your Comments and Suggestions about NEAT.
Here is a list of everybody who helped make this year's NEAT Fair a success:
SEFLI/Wingnutz members supporting the show:
Bob Aberle (Event Director)
Gabe Baltaian (webmaster)
Bob Bohrer (SEFLI treasurer)
Nick Dannenhoffer (SEFLI Secretary)
Frank Dellamura (SEFLI newsletter editor)
Mario DiDiego (pilots raffle prize collector)
Clyde Geist (SEFLI VP and sign maker)
Tom Hunt (Event Director/Grumman Wingnutz Pres)
Eileen Hunt (tremendous supporter of above event director and great raffle ticket seller)
Connecticut Silent Flyers:
Dave Jackson (Tom's Limo service!)
Keith Shaw (impound)
Vendors donating Raffle prizes and/or unused Vendor fees to the WTC disaster:
Vinyl Graphics by Greg
Model Electronics Corp
Flying Models Magazine
Dymond Models Sports
New Creations R/C
R/C International Enterprises
Models by John
Electro Aero Modeling USA (EAM)