By Matt Neumann
Tuesday the day started at 7 a.m. for those who got up early for some practice on the L-pad. Contestants were greeted with zero wind and lots of fog. Lots and lots of fog. I could hardly find the entrance to the parking lot for the L-pad. One person missed the first entrance and almost missed the second.
For those who are unfamiliar with the flying site, the L-pad is an asphalt surface that is in the shape of, you guessed it, an L. There are three places to fly along the long side and one other in the L portion of the pad.
This is the day for those who are not flying in Classic, OTS (Old Time Stunt), or Nostalgia 30 to do some last-minute fine-tuning before the Advanced and Open classes start flying on Wednesday, July 20, for actual competition flying.
In previous years, the OTS, Classic, and Nostalgia 30 were flown on the grass circles next to the L-pad. However, Muncie has received a tremendous amount of rain in the last few days. I heard that around 5 inches of rain fell on Sunday alone.
While the circles (the places that we fly) are in good shape, the drive down to them is not. The ground is extremely soft, and the fear was that many cars would get stuck in the mud. This happened one other year and let’s just say, lesson learned.
The judges also got their warmup flights on another circle at 7 a.m. This is when the judges all get together and critique a volunteer flyer together. This way they can all be, hopefully, on the same page as it were. I “saw” the first flight. Or should I say did not see the first flight due to the dense fog. I heard the plane but could not see it or the pilot even though I was only a couple hundred feet away. The fog was that dense at that time.
So instead of the grass circles, the events held Tuesday were being flown on two circles at the L-pad. The other two circles are open for practice for those who would like to do so. Tuesday we had 10 OTS pilots, 13 Classic pilots, and 5 in Nostalgia 30. The Classic and Nostalgia are flown with the current pattern and flown on one circle while the OTS is being flown with the pattern these planes were originally flown in, commonly called the OTS pattern.
OTS are planes that were kitted or the plans for them were published in a magazine before 1953. Classic planes where planes kitted or the plans published in a magazine before 1970 ,and Nostalgia 30 are planes kitted or published 30 years ago or older. These planes are supposed to be built to the same outside dimensions as the original, but you can use modern engines and hardware and modify internal structure if you so choose. However, some pilots go to great lengths to get period-accurate parts to make their planes as authentic as possible. Some pilots scour magazines after magazines of the time to find a good design that not many people know about just to be different. I applaud this type of thinking. It makes things more interesting.
Just because this can be a more “fun” event does not mean that there is not a competition going on. No, quite the contrary. It is an honor to win these events at the Nationals.
Our Nats would not be possible if it were not for all the volunteers who put a lot of time and effort into running these events for everyone else. This year I would like to thank Mike Schmidt for taking the reins and running these events. I would also like to thank his staff of Coleen Gilbert and Kathleen Patterson for doing the tabulating of scores and all of the paperwork that has to be done. Also, the judges are of great importance as well. I would like to thank them. They are Steve Smith, Dave Trible, John Paris, and Doug Patterson. Without them, this would not have been possible.
Once the fog lifted, the sun came out and the heat rose. Not only temperature-wise but also with the competition. In the end, Vince Bodde came out the winner in OTS, beating out Dan Banjock by 5.5 points. The Classic winner was John Simpson beating out second-place finisher Tom Dixon by 4 points. Finally, the Nostalgia 30 winner was Leonard Bourel from Canada. He won by 40 points over second-place finisher George Waters.
Wednesday starts a new chapter for this year’s Nats. It will be the first day of qualifying for the Advanced and Open classes. This is the day that everyone wants to really get out and get started, and hopefully ahead of the nearest rivals so they can move on to the semifinals on Friday. Time will tell what happens. Considering the quality and quantity of fliers here, it should be a real shootout. Stay tuned.
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