The Denver RC Eagles was founded in 1960. Since its inception, the club has grown from a small group of RC enthusiasts to a group of about 100 members.
The Eagles flying site (Suhaka Field) is located at Cherry Creek State Park, approximately 9 miles southeast downtown Denver. There are two paved runways (400' & 275'), paved taxiways and pit area. Activities cover nearly every phase of R/C Aircraft building, flying, and Fun-Fly events. Club members have diverse interests in scale war birds, aerobatics, helicopters, ducted fan jets, electrics, and turbine powered aircraft. Beginners are always welcome and instructor pilots are available for flight training.
The Denver RC Eagles club maintains the runway facilities and field maintenance and your membership is encouraged to help support the facilities. Access to Cherry Creek State Park is via I-25 (exit Belleview) or South Parker Road. A Colorado State Park pass is required for entry. State Park annual pass is the most cost effective.
Message from the President
Spring has sprung, well almost. As I write this on May 11, the ground is covered with a thin layer of snow and temperatures are hovering around freezing. The forecast calls for another day of cold and snow, then progressively warmer days with temperatures reaching the high 60s by Friday, with very little wind.
This time of year the old adage that “if you don’t like the weather, just wait awhile”, applies in spades. Yesterday and Friday I was out at Suhaka Field for a couple of hours each day. The winds were not calm and pleasant, but neither were they unflyable. You just have to be ready for some turbulence, rapid shifts in wind direction, and the occasional wind gust into the mid-teens. These are typical spring conditions, they require good and quick piloting skills when the wind flips your plane up on its side.
The bad news is that March, April and May are the toughest time of year to fly on account of wind. By June, fortunately, we start to settle down in the summer pattern. Mornings in the summer are ideal with pleasant temperatures and mild winds. Late morning features strong thermals as the convection process takes hold. Last year I spent many rewarding hours with electric-launch and hand-launch sailplanes exploring the art of soaring. It is one of my absolute favorite RC activities.
By early afternoon, we frequently develop thunderstorm activity, with skies clouding over, wind picking up, and lightning and rain appearing in the sky. You most definitely do not want to be holding an RC transmitter when there is lightning in the sky. Lightning is Colorado’s number one killer as far as weather goes.
So, afternoons are best spent working on work or new planes in the summer. If you are like me, frequent flying leads to frequent repairs. There is always a queue of planes waiting for repairs in my hanger during the summer.
The evenings, however, can be absolutely magic. In the evenings after about 5:00 p.m. you will frequently see that the thunderstorm activity has abated, with a few big, puffy cumulo-nimbus clouds in the distance. These clouds are one of the finest examples of beauty in nature. As the sun recedes and the angle of refraction of sunlight increasingly favors the long-wavelength reds, pinks and oranges, these clouds become towering columns of color and form which make a spectacular backdrop for RC planes flying in the air. We have planned a number of afternoon and evening events during the summer months to take advantage of this “magic hour”. For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as watching one of my planes slowly motor through the calm evening air with nature’s canvas behind. Then, as the sun recedes behind the mountains, you can start to see LED lighting very clearly, and fly a long time into the twilight.
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
At the last Club meeting the membership approved the verbiage of various signs we have decided to post around the flying field. These signs were fabricated by Colorado Barricade and installed by Eric Sunderwirth and Bob Brelsford on the fencing surrounding the fixed wing and rotary wing pit and flight lines. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the Park has a specific requirement for the installation of signs. We were informed by our maintenance representative, Claudia Mead, that the signs cannot be mounted on the existing fences. Instead, we are to mount them on 4x4 treated wood posts with three feet of clearance from the bottom of the sign to the ground. Given the need to keep in the good graces of the Park during the next year, I immediately responded by email to Claudia saying we would comply. However, we did leave the signs in place over the weekend so everyone could see how nice they look.
This brings up a need for volunteers to procure eighteen 4x4 posts for mounting the signs on, drilling holes for the 4x4 posts with a post-hole auger, setting the posts, and mounting the signs. Joe Apice has already volunteered to bring the tractor-mounted hole auger his landscaping and remodeling company owns to the May 24 Maintenance Day. We will still need lots of help, so consider joining us for this fun and interesting project.
Enforcing our Rules
Posting our rules and the requirement that every pilot at Suhaka display a current AMA membership card is the first step towards enforcing our new rules. I personally believe these signs will have a very powerful impact on the behavior of visiting pilots. They will know what our rules are, and see that all the club members are complying with them. Most people do not want to stand out in a negative way, and not displaying AMA membership is going to make them stand out. I hope and expect that most of the compliance we are seeking will occur just by posting the signs and setting an example ourselves.
There will, however, be exceptions. I have had a number of discussions with Eric Sunderwirth, our Safety Officer, as to how we are doing to deal with the scofflaws. I look forward to a discussion on these ideas at our next Club meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, May 21 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Thanks to the Volunteers of April
I am pleased to report to you a very successful maintenance day was held on Saturday, April 19, 2014 at Suhaka Field. About twenty club members, and at least two non-club members, participated in some heavy lifting that began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Wielding shovels, wheelbarrows and rakes, these members transformed two mounds of rock weighing twenty-five tons into a smooth, graveled spectator area. There was sufficient material left over to apply gravel to certain areas of the pits that get muddy after rains.
The effect of this collective effort is dramatic and will send a message to any visitor that the members of the Denver R/C Eagles care about their facility.
Heavy Traffic in the Pattern
One of the reasons I joined the Denver RC Eagles Club was to have a facility where I could fly big, fast, powerful planes. These include gas and glow warbirds and aerobats.
Weekend mornings at Suhaka Field are often very crowded. Sometimes we will have the maximum of five planes in the air already, with a couple of guys ready to take off as soon as planes land and free up flying slots. We also have a real mixture of aircraft in the air, from slow foamy trainers, to faster aerobats, and fast warbirds. As I drive up to the field I can often see a myriad of planes in the air, it is really quite impressive.
The volume of traffic, however, poses its owns set of problems. The guys in trainers are just trying to stay aloft, and often quite nervous about the bigger, faster planes. The aerobatic fliers are often working on their aerobatic maneuvers, which usually involve a great deal of vertical travel (think big looks, barrels rolls, and the like) and demand intense concentration. The warbird pilots generally want to go fast, and often will team up with other warbirds to do formation flying. This formation flying is a real thrill, requiring enormous concentration, very smooth flying skills, and the ability to react quickly if you need to avoid trouble.
Craig Settles and I enjoy this form of warbird formation flying and have done it on numerous occasions with the winds out of the north and planes using the north-south runway.
Yesterday, the wind was out of the east resulting in a very cramped airspace north of the east-west runway. So, we decided to fly the airspace south of the runway. This went on for awhile until Doc Hamilton said that this was making him and his student nervous, as they could not see the aircraft in the air. Craig and I then flew back to the north side of the runway and kept lots of altitude as we finished our flight so that we did not pose a hazard for any of the lower and slower planes.
The point of all this discussion is that Craig and I thought we were doing the right thing, but it turned out not to be the case. A fellow member gave us feedback that caused us to stop what we were doing.
I bring this example up to suggest that we all do things from time-to-time with good intent that create a problem for other fliers, especially in the congested airspace on weekends at Suhaka. I encourage everyone to communicate problems as they see them, and maintain a friendly, cooperative attitude to working out the issues and differences that may arise.
Flight Training for Rob
My son, Rob, is in his mid-twenties. After spending four years attending university in Southern California, graduating with a degree in Acting for Film, getting a lead role in a movie that has had national circulation, and working for over a year for one of the most famous producers in Hollywood (Mario Kassar), Rob had an abrupt change of heart about his career path. In a call home last August he announced that he had decided to join the Navy and become a military aviator.
Now this may seem a somewhat abrupt and dramatic change of career path, but when Rob explained his rationale I found it to be very sound. I have always taken the attitude with my children that the most important choice they will make as far as career is finding a path that they can get really passionate about. If you love your work, you will have a good life.
The first step for Rob was to get some corrective surgery for his vision. This was done in September of last year and had the intended result. In January, Rob moved home so that he could devote more time and focus to preparing for the naval aviator entrance exam. This entrance exam is the primary basis by which candidates are evaluated for their knowledge in such subjects as math and physics, and tested for hand-eye coordination. In late March he took the exam and was told by his recruiter that he had scored “as high as anyone else they had seen take the test.” Good job Rob!
At this point Rob will likely enter Officer Candidate School in October, and commence flight training once finished with OCS. The Navy flight training program takes two years. During this time he will do basic flight training, graduate to advance fixed-wing trainers, then chose a specialty, and pursue the appropriate training. Of course, Rob is hopeful of getting some exciting fighter jet to fly, like the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. However, the reality is that any aircraft the Navy has in its inventory is likely to be fascinating to learn proficiency in.
My contribution to Rob’s preparation for Navy flight training has been to get him through a crash program in RC flight training. Since he has a summer job lined up from June through August, our time for training is limited. Fortunately I have an excellent intermediate trainer: the Super Sportster EP. This plane has a flat wing, so it is truly a four-channel plane. It also has a light wing loading, and forgiving landing gear.
To date, Rob and I have had about twenty flights with the Super Sportster. I have my DX-18 set up to buddy box with my DX-8, so I can get Rob into the air and take over whenever needed. Since I don’t really do any instructing, I found that I had to break down the process of flying into bite-size chunks that I could have Rob repeat again and again until he became confident and sure in his flying. We developed checklists for take-off and landing that were adjusted as training progressed. I asked Rob to describe out loud what he was doing as he went through his takeoffs, flights, approaches and landings. Last week, we had a series of solo flights where I was still on the buddy box, but there was no need to intervene. Now, we are working on building time so the process of flying becomes more automatic, and he can recover from situations and attitudes that would have previously led to a crash.
I plan to build Rob a little foamy aerobat that he can fly on his own without concern for crashing. One good crash with the Super Sportster and it is done; but, the foamies have the virtue of being easily repaired with glue gun and bamboo BBQ skewers.
I hope to see you all at the meeting on Wednesday, May 21, at the Club Maintenance Day on Saturday, May 24, and at the field when the weather is nice.
Denver R/C Eagles Club President
Next DRCE Monthly Meeting
1915 South Havana, Aurora, CO 80014
2014 DRCE OFFICERS
Director - Airfield Maintenance
Director – Flight Training
Chief Flight Instructor