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It was a frigid 27 degrees Fahrenheit at 9 am, January 1, 2017, as the few brave souls began to gather on the frozen tundra of SLRCFA field. Cold hands assembled cold planes, flipped switches on transmitters, and pulled warm batteries from their LiPo bags to ready for their first flight at 9:30am. Coffee cups were de rigueur, streaming steam around the sippers’ heads as they stomped feet near the hastily-lit bonfire.
The moment of truth came -- lots were struck from the list of men assembled. Once again, Jim Henke agreed to be the first man in the air, powering up his CarbonZ Cub and quickly taxing for a burp of throttle in the air made thick by cold. In a moment, he was up, steadying his freezing hands while bringing it around for a touch-and-go. The soft tires, now stiff with cold, thudded a little louder than usual, signaling the moment when the first plane was “down” – the “all fly” signal.
As plane after plane lifted skyward, it was as if the heated electric motors and gasoline engines were churning the air and infusing some temperature. Now above freezing by 10 am, and the air was almost comfortable. A few stragglers showed up to renew and get their DA-70 raffle ticket privileges, or the new PRIME membership for 2017.
Amid the growing buzz of conversation, motors and engines, an all-too-familiar thud was heard. Like an upside-down Icarus story, one pilot had flown too low to the frozen grass while inverted and had reaped Icarus’ fate. Well, it’s New Year’s Day 2017, and there’s plenty of time to get new stuff ready by Spring.