Mark grew up in sunny Orange County, California, and learned how to fly at the hands of several
great combat flyers including his father Chuck, Rich Lopez, Steve Hills, Pete Athans, and Don
Repp. Although F2D historically hasn't been the most popular combat event in the United States,
Mark was exposed to it from an early age as his father and Rich Lopez were perennial competitors
in the U.S. F2D Team Selection Program and several time members of the U.S. F2D Team. Mark attended
his first World Championships in 1990. Although he was just learning to fly at the time, the
excitement of the World Championships really fueled his interest in combat.
In 1994, Mark had his first opportunity to compete in the World Championships as the junior member of
the U.S. Team. This was only Mark's second F2D competition, but he flew hard and was fortunate enough to
come home with the junior gold medal -- and he was hooked for life.
Having flown and been successful at Fast combat and other incarnations of the control line dog-fighting motif,
Mark realized that his roots were really in F2D. While most of the American pilots of the previous generation grew
up with Fast combat and the notion of "kills," this concept didn't appeal to Mark as much as the finesse and
strategic elements at the heart of F2D. He always felt that he could perform more consistently at F2D, and that
the event was tailored in such a way as to more consistently determine the pilot with the best skills and training.
Currently, Mark is studying
Condensed Matter Theory
group at the
Massachussetts Institute of Technology.
After moving to the Boston area in the summer of 2004, Mark started a program to promote, to disseminate information about,
and to help train new pilots in F2D. While there was already a strong combat community in the area, represented by
the New England Combat Association, the focus of the group was mainly upon a version of 73 mph speed-limit combat named
Formula GX, and the members were largely unfamiliar with the internationally recognized form of control line combat.
Optimistic that once these fliers got a taste of his favorite event they would eagerly begin salivating for more, Mark flew
some demonstration flights with his F2D models at the Formula GX meets and began suggesting the idea of bringing some
F2D competitions to New England.
With the help of Neil Simpson,
the indefatigable leader of the New England Combat Association and producer of the
New England Combat News,
enough interest in F2D was generated to hold a trial competition at the Connecticut Ringer
Invitational at the end of October 2003. Despite the cold and rainy weather, the excitement and interest levels ran
high. At Neil's suggestion, Mark began writing a monthly column for the New England Combat News, focused on informing
readers about everything from the basic rules of F2D combat, to flying tips and the promotion of and reports on F2D
events in the New England area. The electronic version of the F2D News was launched soon after, and in August 2004
was revamped in an effort to make it more user friendly and helpful for its readers.
While this publication was started as a resource for flyers in the New England area, the interconnectedness of the
World Wide Web has brought us readers from all parts of the globe. The content of the monthly columns will continue
to draw examples from and promote the advancement of F2D in New England, but the ideas are always universal. With the
restructuring of the F2D News web page, we have tried to add more content and resources that will cater both to our local
and global readership. Please read on, and enjoy what we've set up for you!