NEFI 2019


Written by Rachelle Haughn
A good opportunity for quality family time.
As seen in the Fall 2019 issue of Park Pilot



(L-R): Barry Prince spots as his daughter, Chloe Prince, and James Burulcich, marketing director for Motion RC, fly. Motion RC created an overview video of NEFI that can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHtYdeWfsAE&t=12s.


Quality family time can be hard to find these days. Watching movies, playing video games, and going on vacations are a few popular activities for families.

In June 2019, a handful of families chose to think outside of the box, break out of the mold, and participate in a family activity that others outside of the hobby might consider unconventional. They attended and participated in NEFI (National Electric Fly-In; nefi.modelaircraft.org), which offered plenty of opportunities for family bonding.

Held in Muncie, Indiana, at the International Aeromodeling Center, NEFI is a fun-fly for pilots who enjoy flying all types of electric-powered aircraft. This year, those aircraft included kites, an experimental airplane, a drone, warbirds, and jets.

Among those at this year’s event were the Prince family. Chloe Prince and her father, Barry Prince, traveled from Ohio with Chloe’s two sons and her nephew to the June 21-23 fly-in. Chloe taught herself to fly after watching her father do it, then she taught her sons and nephew.



Part of the fun of attending NEFI is seeing and learning about new aircraft. When Gavin Trussell, a sponsored sailplane pilot, launched his hand-launch glider, several pilots stopped to watch. At least a few had never seen a hand-launched glider. Here, Gavin (far L) talks to (L-R) Robert “Captain Mavic” Gough, “Captain Mike” Smith, and Art Conner.


“She’s a natural,” Barry said of his daughter. “She saw me building and didn’t want to go that route.”
When Barry first got into the hobby, he built and flew Control Line and Free Flight aircraft. After Chloe became interested in flying, he switched to scratch-building RC airplanes. He later began flying RC foamies with Chloe. Although Barry has been a pilot longer, “She’s still way better than me,” he said.



A Flightline B-24 Liberator Witchcraft, flown by Chloe, makes a level pass by the flightline.


Also flying with family members this year at NEFI were grandfathers Roger Seward and Mike Fuller. Roger could be seen buddy-box flying with his grandson, Eli Howatt, and Mike took a more hands-off approach with his three grandsons, Ethan, Tanner, and Riley Fuller.

The Fuller boys clearly did not need their grandpa’s help. Tanner, age 12, could easily school some grownups with his 3D flying, while Riley, age 9, was enjoying flying small foamies, and Ethan, age 15, was zooming around with a flying wing. “They robbed my hobby from me,” Mike joked.

The RV that he drove to Muncie, and the family camped in on-site, pulled a trailer full of airplanes and a unique battery-charging system that could charge several batteries at the same time. Apparently, like most pilots who fly electric-powered aircraft, the boys don’t like to wait long for batteries to charge.

“Their grandma taught them how to fly,” Mike said about his grandsons.

He added that his wife gave the boys an RC helicopter at an early age and put rubber bands on the transmitter sticks so they wouldn’t overcorrect. From there, they learned how to fly quadcopters then moved on to small foamies. “They’re basically self-taught,” Mike added.



Tony Mataitis enjoys building and flying unusual aircraft, including this Facetmobile, based on a full-scale homebuilt aircraft. This was the Illinois resident’s first time attending NEFI and he said he enjoyed the event’s relaxed atmosphere.




Mike Fuller watches his grandson, Tanner, fly 3D with a foamie.




Tony carries his dragon kite that he adapted to be an airplane. He added a motor, V-tail control, and ailerons to make the hand-launched aircraft.




Gavin’s German J-188 makes a low pass. The aircraft was made with foam and construction paper that was glued on. It weighs 27 pounds and the wingspan is roughly 15 feet. Gavin built it at a Flite Test fun-fly.


The boys’ father is a full-scale airplane pilot. Ethan and Tanner have already logged some full-scale flying hours. “I teach them field etiquette,” Mike commented. This was his third time attending NEFI.

Roger’s grandson, Eli, age 10, is at a different stage of learning how to fly than the Fuller boys. “He’s still learning,” Roger explained. “He can do left and right but hasn’t learned to take off or land yet.”

While at NEFI, Roger was hoping to teach his grandson more about flight, but the propeller on the airplane he was using broke. Regardless, Eli said he was having fun.

Roger added that Eli is good at flying drones indoors. He said being able to share the hobby that he loves with his grandson is “rewarding.” Roger regularly volunteers for the annual fun-fly.

This year was Chloe’s second year to attend NEFI. She also came in 2018 after Motion RC (motionrc.com) invited her. For the first time, the company sponsored the event this year. Some of its employees came to show off products, donate items for the raffle, answer pilots’ questions, and fly. Marketing director James Burulcich was frequently on the flightline and appeared to be having a ball.

Flying was clearly also on the agenda for Chloe. “I like to go see real pilots and learn from them and ask questions,” Chloe shared as to why she returned to NEFI. “You’ve got so much space to let planes loose [here]. It’s really laid-back.” Chloe and her family have a YouTube channel about RC aircraft called RC Safari (https://bit.ly/2LD6MvP) and a Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/1249558471851988).

Chloe was one of roughly 55 pilots who attended NEFI this year. Proceeds from the event went to the National Model Aviation Museum, the AMA Foundation, and the Animal Rescue Fund, a local animal rescue. The funds donated to charity were generated through a raffle and pilot registration fees.

Editor’s note: 2019 was the final year for this event. Thanks to all who attended and supported it throughout the years.



Tanner Fuller, age 12, flew plenty of 3D with his brothers and grandfather during NEFI. This Twisted Hobbies Crack Yak 55 was frequently flown throughout the three-day event.




Nathan Hodges came to NEFI with his dad, Steve Hodges (aka RC Jet Dude), who represented Motion RC at the event. Nathan is carrying his F4U Corsair away from the flightline.




Roger Seward helps his grandson, Eli Howatt, fly via buddy box Saturday morning before the flightline got busy. Pilots awoke to a rainy forecast Saturday, which scared some away. Fortunately, the weather stayed dry.


National Electric Fly-In (NEFI) 2019

NEFI 2019 Flickr Album










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