[Headline: Quique Somenzini—then and now]
We likely all have RC heroes. Mine is Quique Somenzini. The fire for RC ignited in me after I watched him fly around a horse-racing track in Argentina.
I was lucky enough to meet Quique at the first large RC event that I attended. He earned my respect as I watched him graciously talk with everyone who approached him. People like to discuss ambassadors of the hobby, and I think Quique is up there with the best of them.
He has been out of the RC Aerobatics spotlight for a while and I’m excited to be able to write this column—not only about his past, but also about his future in the hobby!
Jim Graham: How did you get into the RC hobby?
Quique Somenzini: My father was an active RC flier and very involved in flying. When he taught me to fly he was the F3A Argentina National Champion. This was back in 1976. One day he asked me if I wanted to try. Well, that was one of the best questions ever! I was hooked!
JG: When did you realize you were good at flying?
QS: I think my dad realized sooner than I did. I was a kid who, basically, was playing with model airplanes. He saw my potential and because he was passionate about the hobby and loved competition, [he] began to train me. He tried to make me the best pilot/modeler possible. Later, when I was a teenager, I realized that I could be a good pilot and that was the day I felt like I was starting to master the use of the rudder.
JG: When did you begin designing airplanes?
QS: My father was my mentor as a pilot and also as a designer. At the age of 10, I was scratch-building FF models. Later, I designed and built my own U-Control (CL) models. As I grew up, I continued to design and build RC models.
The interesting part was that the more I flew, I became a better designer because I was better at interpreting the flying. At an early age, I had a good understanding of what was needed to make an airplane. My dad was always there to teach me and explain things to me. He was a great mentor who gave me the foundations of my knowledge.
JG: When did you start competing?
QS: Competition was part of our life at home. My dad raced cars, motorcycles, and go-karts at regional and national levels. Then he started to fly RC and competed in that as well. I guess it was in my genes and also [because of] the influence of my father.
I started to compete only three months after I learned how to fly. It went very fast for me. From learning to fly to competing in F3A only took three months. I was nine years old. From then until now, I continued competing nonstop until I was 42 years old!
JG: Did RC bring you to the US?
QS: Yes, it did. Sandra and I got married and lived in Chile. A few months later we decided to move to the US. It has been a great journey and we are very thankful to this amazing country.
JG: How did you turn your hobby into a career?
QS: It was sort of a natural transition. My parents strongly supported me and I was able to travel and have decent equipment to compete. Through competing, I met great people who supported me and believed in what I could do.
I started as a sponsored pilot at the beginning for one company and then for different manufacturers. Later, I became a little bit more involved in the designing aspect. I stopped competing to work full time in the RC industry.
JG: What is it like traveling the world as a top RC pilot?
QS: I was a top pilot … not anymore. No question, it was one of the best parts that the hobby/job offered me. Traveling around the globe taught me a lot, and made me a better person. Meeting people and experiencing the different cultures makes you value who you are, what you have, and what you are missing! Meeting people is the best part of traveling.
JG: Tell us about your latest venture.
QS: It is called Flex Innovations Inc. Through previous questions you can judge that I’ve been “born and bred” to be around model airplanes. RC is the only job I have ever had! I am very passionate about this hobby and I love to share what I have learned and my experiences. I found that one of the best ways I can do that is by sharing my designs and ideas (through products) with other people who have the same passion for models that I do.
JG: What is your favorite airplane to fly?
QS: I like all of them—from trainers to advanced jets! Lately, all of my flying time is dedicated to the development program of Flex Innovations designs, so I’m not doing much leisure flying.
For the last few years, it has been on my list to fly jets, but time has been a struggle. It seems that now, with the direction of our company, I will be able to do more jet flying.
At the end of the day, I enjoy flying all aircraft—no matter the size or cost. They all make me smile.
JG: If you had one thing to pass along to a new RC pilot, what would it be?
QS: If [you] have kids, take them to the flying field with you and share flying! New RC pilots are the most precious part of our hobby.
My best advice is to try to get with people who can offer good guidance. Local hobby shops and local model airplane clubs are great places where [you] can find knowledgeable people with good advice—which can greatly impact your first experience. It is a crucial factor that can make people stay in or leave the hobby![dingbat]