Flite Fest 2016 – Recap and World Record
Well, it’s over. Flite Fest 2016 has come and gone and I am left with sore feet, hay fever, and the knowledge that I helped break a FREAKING GUINNESS WORLD RECORD!
Three hundred-some pilots attempted to break a world record set at SEFF for most RC planes flying simultaneously. The previous record was 99. Out of all the pilots registered, many failed to take off due and even more crashed due to RC interference. In the end a whopping 175 pilots remained in the air for the full sixty seconds, setting a new world record! You can view the chaos in my raw video feed below:
It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, and a ton of fun too.
Flite Fest was different this year. Much more family oriented, with live music and a “Family” tent with games and activities for children. It was nice, since my wife and son came along this year, but of course part of me missed the grass-roots feel of last year – a true “festival of flight” and not much else. I can see the direction they are taking Flite Fest, and it isn’t bad it’s just different. A family festival event that includes flying vs. an RC flying event. Maybe not for everyone, but in line with what Flite Test is trying to do these days.
I heard a lot of people saying it has become “too commercial”, and I feel like it’s a bit early for that. This is only year three, and while the event has surely grown it hasn’t sold out by a long run. It was a lot of fun, I got to enjoy it with my family, and I’ll probably be back next year.
Maybe it is the nature of the beast, but my biggest complaint was FPV frequency management. Chris and Michael at MultiGP did their best, but there were plenty of folks stomping on other people’s channel time. There was no way to register for a frequency ahead of time which would have been nice (say, a 15 minute slot at 2pm on Saturday), and there was little to no enforcement along the flight line. It was bad enough that I snagged some face time with Josh Bixler just to ask him to make an announcement before Friday’s “Beginner” race (a sad affair with some total noobs calling themselves “Rotor Riot”). There was a brief announcement later, but on Saturday the issues were back. I decided not to race all weekend as I like my aircraft in one piece, thank you very much.
FPV issues aside, it really was a fun event. Nearly everyone you met was friendly and full of joy. These are the people that fly because they love it. I did run into one guy who thought he was Jesus when I asked to bum some tape, but screw that guy because everyone else was cool. I met a lot of good people, had a lot of fun flying, and ate some good Thai food.
I wish the Flite Test crew nothing but success, and hope that Flite Fest continues to grow and prosper. I can’t say I’ll go every year, especially as I lean more towards FPV flight, but I’ll probably go next year and have a ton of fun as usual!