By Rick Pangell (email@example.com)
I guess that when you come to the Nats, there is a growing anticipation of energy in the crowd. Plus, it’s an excitement that comes from seeing all of the “usual suspects” of fellow fliers from last year. And then seeing the new fliers come into the ranks, and this is their first Nats and they make great showing.
The total entries seem a bit down from last year, but that did not stop the competition from being top notch. And those newcomers did rather well. There was great flying by seniors Robert Maier and Roman Stalick too.
The weather was exceptional—probably the best I have seen at the International Aeromodeling Center. The temps were in the mid-80s, the wind nil, and the thermals plenty. Monday was a wonderful day for flying Free Flight.
D-Gas is a great event. It features large gas models with belch-fire engines. Last year, Guy Menanno dominated the gas events, but this year in D, Ronnie Thompson did the wonders for first … over eight maxes!
Watching Payload was fun. Denny Dock, the winner, hit a beautiful thermal on his first flight. The first flight turned out to be what put him out front and was hard to beat.
1/2A gas is probably the longest-running glow power gas event at the Nats. A total of 15 fliers tested their models in the slight humidity and little drift. Craig Greening bested 14 others with a score of 574, which was a sufficient enough score. The 2nd through 4th-place fliers were within 10 seconds. One needed to fly three maxes to get into the top six.
A/B Classic was heavily contested, even more so than traditional 1/2A gas with 19 fliers (!) which was surprising. It took 11 maxes to win the event and five just to make the top six. Joe Mollendorf was up for the challenge, flying for a score of 1,350!
1/2A NOS is always a good event too. These older designs, created before all of the carbon and hot engines, still are very competitive as shown by the 15 fliers posting flights. Craig Greening’s flight topped the crowd with 574, beating out Bobby Hanford by nearly 2 minutes and Doug Marsh in 3rd by a bit over 2 minutes.
OT Replica hosted eight fliers. OT is a fun event and many pilots love the event. A lot of folks would say it’s a very difficult event getting those old designs to be competitive and that may be true, but it still indeed is an event worthy of effort. Bill Schlarb fell one second short of three maxes to win the event and the top four fliers each had two maxes to place.
The perennial Moffett fliers are Bud Romak and Herb Kothe. Those two men are usually trading places on the podium, but this year Bob Marier, a senior, blew the socks off all the competition with a score of 1,575! What makes Moffett a challenge is the flight time increases with each consecutive “max” and the max time increase,s and some of those fights can get extremely long. Model retrieval is a big issue, but they keep on flying! Way to go Bob!
Tim Batiuk monitored the OT HLG pen. Tim was pretty lonely early on but that changed. Ten fliers posted times, with Andy Ringlien of Minnesota besting the pack and winning with more than a minute to spare, 71 seconds! Andy’s son, Larson Ringlien, took 4th.
Electric is becoming a very popular event and B Electric is no exception. A total of 22 fliers posted times with the champion of champions, Bob Sifleet, putting up six maxes. Bob is a world champ in many events and most recently F1E. He has flown about every event on the AMA list. His score of 818 is an achievement because former electric event winners, Jack Murphy and Stan Buddenbohm, were hot on his tail.
Andrade Rubber was won by a relative newcomer to the sport, Mark Vancil. Mark came to the Nats a real rookie with his father’s old Gollywock, wondering if he could get it to fly. With some mentoring and coaching, it flew fairly well. So, it seems that he decided to step in whole hog and built a beautiful Betty’s Baby and won the event … huge … with a score of 1,260! Almost double the 2nd-place entry of Bud Romak with 651.
Wrapping up with F1A showed some great flying. Young Roman Stalick, a senior, topped the other seven fliers, winning after seven rounds by a mere 26 seconds—beating some well-seasoned fliers. It came down to the last round of flying to determine the winner.
Great flying and a great way to start this year’s Nats!
See more photos from the 2019 Outdoor Free Flight Nats in our Flickr album!