Who would have thought that a Sunday afternoon drive to a local RC club with my brother, Joe, and my Dad would lead me to where I am today?
I began flying at the age of 7, after my father and brother began flying a year before. I remember it clearly as if it happened yesterday. Because I was not a pilot, I could not be on the flightline so I had to stay behind the fence and watch the fliers.
A gentlemen walked up to me and asked me if I knew my left from my right, I told him yes, and he then asked if I would like to fly. I, of course, said yes! This would be the conversation that changed my life. This gentlemen’s name was Dave George, and I cannot thank him enough.
I actually learned to fly by looking at the radio and just giving inputs as he would tell them to me. This way I would not worry about the airplane heading toward the ground when I first began flying. I did this for the first couple flights. When I began to look at the airplane, I would still listen to Dave and give the inputs as he told me to. He and another member of the club, Paul Flocarri, took me under their wings. About six months later I was signed off to fly on my own and was having a ball flying.
A few years later at our local field, one of our friends, Bob Kane, asked my Dad if he could take me to a Pattern contest in Florence, Kentucky. I had been watching Bob and practicing the Pattern sequence. It was my first contest and I finished dead last in Novice, but did I have fun. From that day on, I was hooked.
I was fortunate that my dad and brother were interested in Pattern and we traveled all around our district flying in contests. When the first season was completed I knew this is what I wanted to do and decided we would get a bit more serious about flying Pattern and my dad got me a USA Star to fly. The airplane looked so cool and was just such a good-flying model.
I continued to fly Pattern and entered my first Nationals in 1998 in Sportsman, now Intermediate class. I didn’t do all that well but it was fun and I got to meet people from across the country. I stayed in Sportsman for another Nats and then I moved up to Advanced. I stayed in Advanced and in 2001, I won my first National championship.
All of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for many people, but especially my parents and Verne Koester. My parents would drive me out to the field where Vern would coach me. He really helped put the polish on my flying. In 2002, I flew Masters and was lucky enough to win the Nats against some really great pilots.
In 2003 it was my first year flying in F3A against the likes of all of my heroes. It was a treat in itself just to be able to fly with these guys! I won my first F3A National Championship in 2009 and this has always been a goal of mine since starting to fly Pattern. I won the F3A National Championship in 2010 as well as 2012. All of this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the amazing support group I have.
Another goal I had set for myself was to be able to compete for our country in F3A flying. Another dream came true. In 2007, I was able to take part in my first F3A World Championship. It was a special year for me because I got to fly with Jason Shulman and Quique Somenzini. I would call both these guys very good friends and to watch Quique win in the finals was just awesome. The team finished second in this contest. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
I have since been able to compete in the 2009 and 2011 worlds with my best finish being third individual which took place in Muncie, Indiana, at the 2011 worlds. We were also able to win the Team Championship in 2011 as well. It was such a great experience to have that happen among the US supporters at the event.
In 2013, Jason Shulman, Brett Wickizer, and I will be heading to South Africa for the worlds and I’m really looking forward to competing there.
I have been fortunate to be able to compete in some great events, and to be able to do well in them, but the main thing I do is make sure I set goals for myself and work toward those goals. If you set goals for yourself and work toward them, they will happen.
Sometimes it takes a lot of sweat to make them happen but it is a must if you want them to come true. There is no getting around it; you must sacrifice things, and work hard in order to make goals happen. Many people do not know, but I usually fly six or seven days a week during the summer, six flights a day. This all takes place after work so that does not leave much time for anything else, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make because of different goals I have set for myself.
I currently work as a UAV operator for AAI Corp out of Dugway, Utah. I live with my amazing girlfriend, Heather Kaluf, who was born and raised in the RC community with her father, Steve. We have two Labs, Maizy and Jewel, who have fun out at the flying field with us. My workshop is always a disaster because I’m always down in it working on a project or two at the same time. Heather is big into crafting and her craft room looks just like my shop most of the time.
I enjoy watching and playing hockey—Go Wings! When I was younger, I played the position of defenseman from the age of 8 to 18 and I have the scars to prove it. I broke my wrist on my first check and have approximately 75 stitches on my knees from hockey.
I also used to play baseball. I remember times where my mom and dad would drive me from a baseball game to a hockey game all in the same day, and boy was I tired after that. Heather says I have ADD as I never sit around to relax; I always like to be doing something.
I would like to thank all of those who have helped me in this hobby; without them I know I would not be where I am today and cannot thank them enough.
Remember there is nothing you can’t do. It just takes work and dedication, but just remember to have fun while you are doing it.