Florida Jet Week
Scale, aerobatics, freestyle, and formation—something for everyone!
Florida Jet Week is a combination of the annual 22-yearold Florida Jets fly-in and the newer Red Flag competition. Promoter and Top Gun originator Frank Tiano conceived it as a means of bringing together RC enthusiasts with a love of sport and of scale jet models for an exchange of ideas and to provide an event that is truly exciting for spectators, even those not involved in the hobby. For the “fun fly” Florida
Jets portion, there is no judging or scoring, just pure jetting around a near-perfect Florida sky. The Red Flag component, however, is hotly contested with cash prizes and is based on participating fliers performing a series of maneuvers within different categories. The freestyle category had some exceptional fliers putting their monster jets through amazingly precise and sometimes dramatic maneuvers, all choreographed to music. Some of these fliers came from overseas and faraway places to provide a visual basis for comparison among the skills of fliers from other parts of the world. All were exceptional. The
Team category really captured my interest, with five teams entered; watching them battle it out for top honors was truly an experience. When the smoke cleared (literally), Team Viper bested the group, followed by Team Nobody and Team Elite.
Although it was initially chilly for the event, those coming from northern climes and overseas were already acclimated and those of us native transplants suffered a bit. The breeze was steady and not always right down the runway, challenging the fliers on hand. Clearly, the new breed of large “sport” jets have an advantage, with the heavier models seemingly touching down at just above walking speed. And these large jets dominated the event in virtually all categories. Elite Aerosports Havocs and CARF Mephistos seemed to be everywhere, along with a good mix of Leonardos, Vipers, and Dolphins among the sport jets.
One thing was evident to me as a wandered around the weeklong event: Jet modeling, at this level, is not for the faint of heart or shallow of pocket. Making a rough cost estimate of the “typical” jet on hand, I came up with $7,000 to $8,000 as an average. That’s on the ramp, ready to go. Think I’m kidding? Do the math: “kit,” turbine system, retracts, radio, and other goodies... the number is easy to determine. Now, some guys prefer to have someone else, with perhaps more experience, put all those components together to produce a ready-to-fly package. Add $$ for this service and 10 grand becomes a realistic number. Talking with a lot of the participants, however, I concluded that cost is rarely part of the conversation. It’s not used as a yardstick by which anything is measured. In spite of the costs involved, the people who pursue this segment of the hobby enjoy their pursuits just like the folks who fly their foamie F-4 on the weekends. And that’s as it should be, right?
The thrust-vectoring, 102-inch-span, 52-pound CARF Mephisto flown by Markus Rummer has a unique paint scheme.
Not all turbine-powered machines need be aerial hot rods; scale sailplanes work well also. This is one of two on hand for graceful, quiet aerobatics.