E-Fest Dates for 2014


The next E-Fest (electric festival) will be held at the University of Illinois indoor track and field house on February 15 and 16, 2014.  E-Fest is held every year at this location in late January/early February.  E-Fest is, in my opinion, the premier indoor electric model airplane show in the country.  E-Fest is well organized with a large number of interesting attendees.  You really need to keep this show on your list of modeling events.

 

Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

There are a wide range of indoor electric RC models at E-Fest.  Scale, ready to fly, acrobatic and special interest (such as a flying aircraft carrier) can be seen.  Numerous major vendors set up booths.  There are also a variety of smaller companies and individuals offering model airplane kits, plans, motors and other accessories.

The University of Illinois Armory and field house is an ideal venue for RC flying.  There is a huge, sunlit open space with easily a dozen or more models flying at any one time.  With the advent of 2.4 GHz radio technology there are no delays with obtaining a frequency pin, let along the worry of getting accidentally downed by someone else using your radio channel as in the old days.

 

Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

The part I really enjoy with attending an E-Fest is a chance to view the incredible selection of models and have a chance to chat with the pilots and designers.  Many of the major mail order companies, such as Horizon Hobby and Tower Hobbies have their plant locations just a few miles from the E-Fest site.  Their presence and informed staff members add a lot to the event.

Electric RC opens the door to a range of aircraft subjects that could not reasonably be attempted with gas engines.  As you know from this website, I enjoy the aircraft designed and flown during the first decade of flight.  E-Fest has all sorts of examples of Wright Flyers, Antoinettes and Bleriots to list a few.  These aircraft have the lightweight, open frame structures that lend themselves so well to vibration-free electric power.

 

Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

As I wander around the flying areas, I learn a lot regarding construction techniques, scale detailing and tricks of the trade that assist with my model design and building efforts. 

For example, one modeler used foam to replace normal balsa parts for a smaller biplane, which he named the Ghost.  I had not thought of this approach, making ribs and formers from foam, while maintaining balsa for a few key structural components such as the main wing spar. 

If nothing else, E-Fest is a great source of inspiration for future projects.  It’s amazing the new design approaches you can devise as you review the photos taken at the event.

One area of electric indoor flight that I need to further develop remains my foam building skills.  There are numerous examples of foam model aircraft, from ducted fan F-117s to four rotor tilt-wing hovercraft.  Foam is a quick and easy way to build and fly a prototype of a new design.  This is a smart way to sort out wing incidence, center of gravity and motor mount settings before going to a final version.  At the 2013 E-Fest, there was a great example of a 1909 Antoinette made completely from foam.

 

Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

E-Fest also has a remarkable collection of one of a kind flying models.  The 2012 show had a flying radio controlled aircraft carrier.  This unique aircraft had a set of four vertically mounted electric motors in a quad-copter arrangement put around a hull of a carrier.  The model took off, hovered and allowed smaller micro-models to take off from the air. 

Other originals include a Spiderman superhero with moveable feet and hands for control surfaces, and a motor and prop cleverly installed in the head region.  Plus, Spiderman looked great looping around in the air.

E-Fest is fun for the entire family.  Kids get to build and fly hand launched models.  And there is always something going on in the air to entertain the younger crowd.  Getting new blood into the RC modeling scene remains a top priority for all of us, and we should embrace events such as this to help meet this goal.

Champaign, Illinois is easy to get to if you are in the Chicago area, just about a two hour drive south from Chicago.  As I mentioned earlier, E-Fest is well worth a trip from wherever your location might be.  Don’t miss it!

Author:  Gordon McKay