22nd Annual London Bridge Seaplane Classic
Photos and story by Rick Mattie
What better way to enjoy the cooler temps in Lake Havasu City, AZ than an annual Float Fly event? The Desert Hawks R/C Club hosted their 22nd annual event called the London Bridge Seaplane Classic. This is a prime annual event that is dedicated to float planes and some pure, wet fun.
The Seaplane Classic was held at the Windsor Beach State Park, which is in “walking distance” to the famous London Bridge. With its clean, smooth beaches and shade areas, not to mention the beautiful Colorado River, the state park is the perfect place for this event. In November, the weather is normally in the mid 70s and the wind is just a light breeze coming from the north.
This year’s event drew 67 contestants and close to 85 floatplanes that came from California, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. Some participants are snowbirds that come down from the north and make Havasu City their home during the cold season. Vendors are always welcome, and this year brought Peak Electronics, (EMS) Electronic Model Systems, E-Power, Extreme Power Systems, as well as many others.
As I rolled in to Windsor Beach on Friday morning, I stepped out of my RV to feel the wind blowing at about 10 to 15 mph. The high winds were generating white caps and waves that crashed on the beach. Of course, no one was flying at the time, but after an hour had passed, someone decided to give it a shot. At first, it looked like there was no way the seaplane would get past the waves breaking on the beach but after a couple of tries, it was airborne. Later in the day, others made an attempt, but the wind was not giving in.
Saturday morning brought a smile to everyone’s face — crisp blue skies, temp in the 70s and the wind was a light breeze coming from the north. I walked over to George Field who was the Beach Master of the event and said, “It doesn’t get better than this.” George agreed with me and got back on the PA and told everyone to come on out and fly. The flying area had seven flightlines and George, along with his Desert Hawks working crew, kept the lines full and moving all day.
Seaplanes came in all shapes and sizes, from a Sig’s Lil’ Rascal Electric to a DA-1000 powered 1/3-scale Piper Cub. Everyone was having a great time. Well, most were. Some planes discovered that dragging a wingtip in water doesn’t work the same as on dry land. If you give it a chance, water will pull you in and yes, we had a few get pulled in that day. Lucky for them, the Desert Hawks provided a full-size pontoon boat staffed with members that kept a close eye out for disabled planes and pulled them up onto the boat. My hats off for the boat team, they did a great job recovering disabled and crashed seaplanes!
During the Saturday lunch break, we were all entertained by Dave Sullivan flying his World Models 1/3-scale Piper Cub and by 14-year-old Dominic Grasso with his DW foamies, BAF Gen-X electric. Dave started the show with his Cub and did some nice maneuvers that you would normally see a real Cub do, complete with some scale-like fly-bys and gentle touch-and-go’s. He got into some total chaos stuff that only a good pilot can pull off — low-altitude snaps, knife-edges, inverted flat spins and oh, did I forget, torque rolls below water level? Yep, Dave and his DA-1000-powered, 1/3-scale Piper Cub “with floats” did a great job wowing the crowd by dipping the rudder in the water several times. Next up was 14-year-old Dominic Grasso demonstrating what foamies do best just inches off the water. Not to be outdone by Dave, Dominic flew half of his routine with his transmitter behind him. Dominic also tested the waters with his rudder below the water line. Both did a great job entertaining the crowd just doing what they love to do.
After the break, George got back on the PA and got everyone fired up to start flying. It didn’t take long before all the flightlines were full and planes were in the air. The weather had not changed at all during the day and the only indicator that time had passed was that the sun was slowly traveling to the west.
At 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, George the Beach Master called for the last flights of the day. They then gave out the Best of Show award and the raffle prizes. During the day, the Desert Hawks assigned a group of members to judge not only the looks of the seaplane, but also how the pilot flew it. This year’s winner was David Sullivan and his 1/3-scale Piper Cub.
The London Bridge Classic is a great event to both participate in and attend. As a club, the Desert Hawks not only hosts this event, but also enters a float in the annual Christmas boat parade and participates in as many city and local school events to help promote model aviation. I have attended this event many times and still find it fun and relaxing and I enjoy seeing many friends. I hope the Desert Hawks continue doing what they do and wish them all the best in all their future events.
Fox Manufacturing Co.
Arrowspace Composite Prod
Ernest Mfg. Inc.
Sig Mfg. Co.
J&Z Products Inc.
Havasu Boat Club
Bob Smith Ind.
Tru Turn/Romco Mfg. Inc.
Troy Built Models
Peak Electronics Inc.