Remembering Matt Landers
By Vince Cesario, Jr.
On the evening of March 4, 2008, TRAC lost one of its dear members in Matt Landers after a bout with cancer. Matt not only was an avid RC aviation enthusiast but more importantly, a hero.
Six days after our troops invaded Iraq, Matt sat proud in one of Saddam Hussein’s many mansions/castles in Baghdad. Matt took the time to take many a picture of the “tough life” the former dictator lived in during his days of tyrannical reign over the Iraqi people. As a US Navy communications technician, Matt’s job during the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom was incredibly risky yet essential. It was important that our troops were able to easily communicate electronically after the initial setup of different bases in the Baghdad area.
Before wiring up Baghdad, Matt spent some time on the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier where his love of aviation grew leaps and bounds. With any extra minute Matt had, he spent watching the Tomcats, Hornets, Hawkeyes, and Vikings being hooked up to a catapult and launched off the deck that stretched longer than a football field.
The Cesario family was blessed to meet Matt and his wife, Jessica, a couple years back during a hot, summer morning at the TRAC flying field. Matt had been just getting his feet wet with the hobby after purchasing some planes and equipment from one of our fellow members, Steve Watson. After watching my dad and I fly one of our scale birds, Matt was interested to find out more about the scale aspect of the hobby. From that point on, Matt and my family developed a memorable and long-lasting friendship. Matt and Jessica spent many days during the week and weekends in my dad’s garage as Matt learned the tools of the trade from one of the experts in the hobby.
My dad and I will always cherish the days we spent flying together at TRAC, whether it was watching Matt sacrifice himself, several onlookers, and/or his X700 during a limbo attempt or getting our P-47 Thunderbolts together so we could eventually fly in many warbird events.
Many of you never had the chance to meet Matt Landers. For those who did, I request that you share your finer moments of Matt with others. People of Matt’s caliber are few and far between so it is our duty to remember how special they were. Also, please take a moment of your time to remember Jessica Landers as she goes through the hardest period of time imaginable in her life.