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Written by Jay Smith
As seen in the April 2018 issue of Model Aviation.


About Us

Flex Innovations was founded in March 2014 by Quique Somenzini and David Ribbe. The pair had worked together at Horizon Hobby and decided to combine their skills and start their own company. Each brings a wealth of experience in aircraft development and design, and both are champion pilots.

Quique is an F3A World Champion, Tournament of Champions winner, Extreme Flight Championships titleholder, and has won several other championships. David has won Top Gun and the U.S. Scale Masters, as well as other Scale events.

Quique shared with me that the name Flex Innovations came from wanting to be flexible and cover all aspects of the hobby. The vision for the company was to develop products that they and their customers would enjoy by creating true high-performance aircraft that provide quality and value.




Members of the Flex Innovations staff (L to R) include Al Spinelli, Josh Schiff, Sandra Somenzini, Quique Somenzini, David Ribbe, and Seth Arnold.


Beyond the aircraft and gear, the goal was also to provide excellent customer service and support. This is done by having a team of RC professionals who answer calls and emails and attend events and trade shows.

The company, headquartered in Venice, Florida, developed its first airplane, the Ventique 60E. This .60-size balsa model, constructed with lightweight balsa, plywood, and carbon fiber, was a success and nearly four years later is still available for purchase. At a time when several RC aircraft have a life cycle of a year or less, the Ventique’s four-year run speaks to the aircraft’s versatility and popularity.

Another company goal was to release finely tuned aircraft so that the model you receive is set up and flies exactly as the designer intended. Quique shared that when he began flying in competition, he would have liked to have flown the top pilots’ aircraft to get a feel for the handling of the models.

Flex Innovations provides that opportunity with its aircraft. This is done by carefully selecting all of the components used in the model and by extensive testing. Another key is the development of the Aura 8 advanced flight control system that is compatible with major radio brands. Joseph Burch, who helped develop SAFE technology at Horizon Hobby, is part of the Flex Innovations team. With the help of Quique and David, he is responsible for making the Aura 8 a reality.




Flex Innovations founders Quique Somenzini (L) and David Ribbe.


Although the first aircraft that Flex Innovations released was constructed from balsa, foam aircraft form the core of the company’s product offerings. The QQ Extra 300 was the company’s first foam-constructed release and it introduced the Super PNP concept that provides everything needed to become airborne except for the transmitter/receiver, battery, and charger.

Customers enjoy the convenience that the Super PNP provides and they often already have the other required support equipment. This also ensures a finely tuned aircraft, providing pilots with an airplane that should fly well and instill confidence as they continue to push their flying skills to the next level.

While discussing Flex Innovations’ past releases, I inquired about its process of aircraft development. The team discusses a potential aircraft and a developer leads the project with the team’s continued help and input. The timeline for an aircraft takes longer than what people might think. It starts with an idea then on to drawings, and next a CNC sample for test flying. Electronics are selected, modifications are made, and the Aura is finely tuned. After all of the work and testing, roughly 14 to 16 months later, a new aircraft is available for purchase.

During my conversation with Quique, I inquired whether he felt that there were any limitations in designing aircraft? He told me that aircraft design was filled with challenges that include developing an airplane that provides the best performance, while also meeting a price point. Advancements in technology such as lightweight batteries, with more capacity and higher C ratings, allow Flex Innovations to continue to push the performance envelope.




Joseph Burch is another member of the Flex Innovations team.


I asked Quique what he was most proud of when thinking of Flex Innovations. He responded with forming the company with David. “I am doing what I like and I can follow my vision,” he said. “Trying to do the best you can and put the products in the hand of people and they are very happy—you can’t ask for more. It makes you want to take each new product to the next level.”

When asked about his goals for the company, Quique shared that it would be to maintain the goals that started Flex Innovations. “To be able to do more projects and continue to grow with the foundation we have, doing the best we can do. We want to try to bring more young people into the hobby. If we enjoy the products, the customer will also enjoy the products, and [we are] trying to keep that smile of the people with our products.”

Quique finished our conversation by sharing that teaching is important for our hobby and it is a way to say thank you to the customer. That is one of the main reasons that members of the Flex Innovations team visit model flying fields, put on demonstrations, and allow pilots to fly the company’s aircraft.
“We want to say thank you very much to our customers for their support. We cannot wait to keep growing and bringing new ideas to market,” he said.

—Jay Smith
jays@modelaircraft.org


Sources:

Flex Innovations
(866) 310-3539
www.flexinnovations.com

Jay Smith
jays@modelaircraft.org

AMA
5161 E. Memorial Dr.
Muncie IN 47302
(765) 287-1256
www.modelaircraft.org






4 comments

2 color schemes

Hi Michael! There is a button above that says Submit Your Entry that you need to click on to enter the contest. Good luck!

Hope I win never won anything in 58 years of life

Good luck Mike!

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