By Rick Pangell (email@example.com)
One word to describe the day: windy! Well maybe another for the last part: stormy.
The flightlines were all on the west road, north and south, centered around the beanfield on the west. Free Flighters are not ones to be deterred by a little wind, and a lot of flying took place. A 2-minute max went to the farmhouse on the east, and that was a good landing. Many flights crossed the road and into the raggedy beanfield on the east side. I don’t want to give the impression that it was too windy to fly, just breezy. The smaller models got tossed about.
The wind held pretty consistent during the day with a short lull, wind, short lull, etc. The only break is that the wind would either be 10 mph or 20 mph, and that is only an estimate. Later in the day, it did indeed pick up. I ran across Todd Reynolds’ (from Denver) model near the pavilion and his time was about 90 seconds!
Thermals were plentiful, but spotty. You had to be quick to catch them and there were some strong ones. Those who flew east of the beanfield across the road on the west got a treat in that the sun on the beans generated some pretty good thermals as the breeze came across. Reading it wasn’t too hard when you paid attention to the surface of the beans. The thermals would toss the leaves every which way if it was a thermal, and in a straight line if just plain windy. And, the wind made them break in short effective bubbles, if only small.
As usual, the gas pilots took advantage of the early morning wind and saved the big flights for later when the wind picked up. But enough of that … events!
In A Gas, a dozen fliers made a good showing, even with the conditions a bit uncooperative. Guy Menanno put in consistent flying with a score of 900 seconds. That’s over seven maxes, but close on his heels was Scott Batz, just seven seconds behind. Joe Mollendorf was about 3 minutes behind for third.
One Design, Shocer/Maverick had very close scores with less than a minute separating first and fifth places. Surprisingly, there was not a max-out, but then again, picking thermals was tricky. Thomas Fox headed the pack, which was a good showing of 337 seconds.
Of the 10 fliers in C NOS, Larry Davidson did his magic and scored 480 seconds, 4 maxes to win. Robert Marier tried his best but fell short of Larry’s four maxes by less than a minute. The rest of the crew members were within 45 seconds of each other.
There were only two fliers in OT ABC Pylon. Bud Romak bested Richard Kacmarsky 284 to 180. Richard even had a Kerswap signed by Gil Morris, the model’s designer, but alas that was not enough.
FAI F1P Gas had two Seniors, Hayden Ashworth and Roman Stalick, pushing Mike Fedor’s 591 at 571 and 562 respectively. It was a good showing by both, but Mike is a consistent contender in F1P an had the edge.
FAI F1G Rubber had eight Adults and two Junior entrants. Chris Matsuno headed the pack with 564 and Ross Jahnke followed with 555 seconds. It was pretty close for five rounds. Notice that these times were nearly consistent with the F1P times. Both models are high performers and comparable. The two Junior fliers, William Reuter and Kiley DeLoach, scored 75 and 73 seconds respectively for first and second places.
Large NOS Rubber only had two fliers, Ed Sneed with 448 seconds and Bobby Hanford with 355.
Now for some heavily contested events. Electric A had 14 entrants. Electric events are gaining popularity and rightfully so. Models are relatively inexpensive and still head-to-head competitive. A max-out was required to get into the placings, with six fliers doing so, but the master, Bob Sifleet, put in four-plus to take the honors. Dropping one of your first three flights can be a bit discouraging and a few fliers chose not to put in the third, yours truly included.
Now for the grunt and groan event, Hand Launch Glider. A total of 15 adults, 2 Seniors, and 4 Juniors competed. Juniors did well with Wes Reuter posting 50 seconds, William Reuter posting 43, Beckham Reuter posting 16 seconds, and Kiley DeLoach posting 15 seconds.
The two Seniors held their own. Larson Ringlien, from Minnesota, posted a 317, which would have placed him in third in the Adult entries. Roman Stalick flew a 62 and I would suspect that the wind was a bit discouraging.
On the Adult side, Stan Buddenbohm did it again with 347 seconds—5 seconds over Jan Langelius and 51 seconds over Don DeLoach who placed third. This event was hampered by the wind and the pen was attended mostly all day by the dedicated fliers waiting for that one spot in the day to fly. Thermals were spotty and chases could be long, plus the gliders are hard to see because of their size.
Wrapping up the day was the annual “bean feed,” only this time we were treated to some very fine barbecue ribs cooked by Carol Kane, wife of Dan Kane, a Free Flighter. She looked as though she was really enjoying slathering the sauce on those ribs for the attendees and taking pleasure in the deserved compliments. They were good and there was plenty for everyone.
One of the big events was the awarding of the Connie Perry Memorial Award. It is given to the person who gives the most of themselves to make the Nats successful. The very first person to receive the award 10 years ago, Mary Sheuttler, was on hand too. There are many hard-working folks and one could make a case for each of them.
There was one person identified for unselfishly giving of his time and abilities to just about everyone needing help and being the go-to person at this Nats and in the past Nats that I have attended, with this year being no exception. This year, the award was presented to Mr. Daniel Berry.
For all of us who have had the good fortune of being around Dan, this was indeed a surprise to him. For the very first time in all the years that I have been around him, he was indeed speechless. And Dan is never speechless. Congratulations. Dan. It is your well-deserved honor.
The afternoon was completed with our annual raffle held during a huge rainstorm, making so much noise on the canopy of the tent that it was near impossible to hear the tickets called out. However, all of the items were awarded, and everyone had a great time.
One comment that was said to me at the end, “I never knew about Free Flight until a few years ago, but Free Flighters, you are the most friendly people. It’s like a brotherhood.” And so it is.
That’s what happened Thursday folks. More tomorrow!