The Black Hawk RC Flyers of Cedar Rapids Iowa put on an indoor fly in at the UNI Dome each winter. It is billed as the largest indoor fly in of the Mid West. The UNI Dome is a great venue for this type of fly in as there is ample space and a high ceiling at 162 feet with few obstructions. The air is calm and the temperature is a warm relief in what is normally the dead of winter in the midwest.
I traveled the 3 hours to the UNI dome with a couple of friends. We left early in the day so we could be there before the 9am pilots meeting. We made it there with time to spare so we got setup in the pits. The club did a nice job of laying out the pits to fit many people in without crowding everyone together. Tables were required to be lined up perpendicular to the walkway for ease of access. The setup allows for well over 100 pilots and a handful of vendors. AC power was readily available as well as some folding chairs. The only thing pilots needed to bring were tables if they felt the need. The flying area was divided into 3 areas. The largest being sport flyers which had about 65% of the field area. The next largest area was for 3D flying and helicopters. Finally a small corner was set aside for the ultra micro slow flyers such as vapors and micro coaxial helicopters. Each area had a good number of pilot stations. Some might argue that there were too many pilot stations and during the busy part of the day the air did get a little crowded. This did mean there were the inevitable mid-air collisions of aircraft but I have yet to be to any indoor fly in where there were not aircraft trying to occupy the same airspace. Of the few collisions I witnessed the pilots were understanding and quite often laughing over the situation. But enough about crashing more about flying.
There were all types of airplanes flying in the UNI dome. Everything from ARF’s to bluecor foam to balsa scratch builds were in the air at some time or another. There were slow flying trainers up to micro EDF jets zipping by. There were all ages there including the boy scouts helping kids of all ages to build FPG9’s (Foam Plate Glider). It was great to see the diversity of models from “strange flying things” to scale airplanes. They even had a flying pig! Down on the 3D end of the field the plane of choice appeared to be the West Michigan ParkFlyers Yak and MXS EPP airplanes. All skill levels were out there flying no real pattern but seeming to do quite well at avoiding each other. I enjoyed some time down there with a Micro DC Plus extra that a friend of mine has been working on as a replacement airframe for the E-flite Extra 300 UMX.
At 1pm the club puts on an airshow for the public to come see. They invite all pilots to join in the fun by doing a demonstration flight of airplanes in different categories such as Warbirds, Commercial aircraft, strange flying things, tri copters and helicopters. The airshow is capped off with two rounds of combat. The first is a 5 minute streamer combat where pilots attach 25 feet of cray paper streamer to their airplane and score points by cutting other streamer. The was followed up by a no holds barred all contact combat. The incentive was raised by having each pilot put $5 in the pot with the winner taking it all home. The point of this round was to be the last survivor. You had to stay in the pack otherwise you’d be disqualified. This was also capped at 5 min and at the end the winnings were split 3 ways.
Following the airshow the club drew the tickets from the raffle. Each pilot was given a ticket and they sold more tickets at $5 a piece. This money was to help offset the cost of renting the dome which was reported to be $5000 for the weekend. Most pilots seemed willing to help out and purchased more tickets. The club was able to gather over 150 prizes from an impressive number of donors. The prizes ranged from airplane kits and radios, to batteries, glue and gift certificates. The raffle went very smoothly with all the winners announced over the PA system and the numbers posted at the registration tent.
Overall I felt the club did a great job with the event. Most everyone working the event seemed very cheerful and helpful. After 11 years of hosting the Expo at the UNI Dome they seem to have the details down and kept things running smoothly. I hope to go back in the future and enjoy more mid winter flying in the calm warm arena.
Below you will find some photo and video highlights from the saturday portion of the event that I was able to attend.