Today started at 7:45 AM. We started the day by learning about a new airplane that Horizon will reveal on Thursday (and depending on where you are, it's already Thursday), as well as an in-depth look at the SAFE technology, which is equipped on the new aircraft. It was interesting, enlightening, and left us all wanting to fly it.
Update on 7/26/13: The new airplane is the now-announced Delta Ray.
Then they took us out to Eli Field (Horizon's flying field, named after the founder's father) and let us do just that.
We flew the Apprentice S and the new airplane, and both are amazing. I've learned a lot, intellectually, about the SAFE technology since it came out. But this was my first time experiencing it in person. I cannot believe how well this technology works. Whether you're flying with a club trainer using the Apprentice S, or teaching yourself to fly with this new airplane, the SAFE technology literally allows anyone to fly. Anyone. In fact, the best landing in our little group was by a car guy that had never flown before at all! And the panic button instantly levels out the airplane. I was in an inverted flat spin, hit the panic button, and immediately the airplane had flipped over and righted itself. It's like magic.
After that, we got some non-hands-on demos for some more brand-new products, like the Ultra Micro Habu 180, the UMX Yak 54, and a new ultra micro also being announced on Thursday. Following that, the fantastic pilots at Horizon put on a bit of an airshow, flying some huge Hanger 9 warbirds, including a F4U Corsair with drop tanks and a radial engine. It sounded just like a full size airplane (albeit quieter). The level of precision these pilots can achieve out of the aircraft is stunning.
Then the moment I had been waiting for: the reveal of the 350QX. Sadly, we weren't allowed to fly it, but it was demoed for us, and the tech is very impressive. I cannot wait to get my hands on one myself. A tentative release date of mid-September is more precise than the "Fall 2013" offered only a few weeks ago, but still isn't firm. But whenever it comes out, the feature set alone will help it be a hit - with GPS and altimeter sensors, 350QX is jam packed with more features than anything else similar on the market today, and will launch at a better price than most of its competitors. I am super excited to get my hands on this quad.
There wasn't much announced in the surface category that we didn't already know about, and I can't share the one announcement with you until next week anyway. But we did get a good rundown of the current offerings Horizon has as well as a vision on where the products lineup in their organization. It wasn't as bombastic as the aircraft demos, but important information nonetheless.
I did get some time to talk to one of my favorite "Horizonites", Mark Reed. He's now the Category Manager for Accessories, and as a product developer, he's always interesting and fun to talk to. I can't say anything about what we talked about (darn NDA). Suffice to say that I felt comfortable that the future of the Accessories Division at Horizon is in good hands - as if there was ever any doubt.
The day ended with a barbecue at Eli Field while Horizon's superb pilots put away the Horizon proprietary products and pulled out their own airplanes. Boy, did they put on a show. There were two turbine-powered airplanes flown, and by-God do they sound exactly like the real thing. And they were fast. You'll never catch me trying to fly one of those without the SAFE technology installed, I can tell you that much.
It was a wonderful way to end the day. Tomorrow, we head to Horizon's HQ, where we will tour the product support, service center, and sales teams' areas. After that, we're done and begin the long trek toward home.
The majority of my video and pictures, including a very informational demo video of the 350QX, will not be posted or put up until I get back in town to my much more powerful desktop computer to process the images and video. But look for it in the coming weeks!