By Matt Neumann
Monday started out cool with calm winds. Today is practice for those not entering the Old Time Stunt (OTS), Classic, or Nostalgia 30 events taking place on the grass circles. The L-pad was open for practice all day today. I got in a few flights bright and early and then headed down to the grass circles to watch the action.
There were 10 OTS contestants, 14 Classic contestants, and 11 Nostalgia 30 contestants. OTS is for airplanes built before 1952, and they must use the old pattern. Nostalgia is for airplanes built before 1970, and Nostalgia 30 is for airplanes built at least 30 years ago; they must use the current pattern which came into existence in 1953, hence the reason for the 1952 cutoff.
Now let me clarify this: When I say built, I don't mean exiting airplanes that are 30-plus years old. I mean replicated airplanes that were either kitted or had plans drawn up before the respective cut off year. The rules state that you can change the internal structure and use modern engines and hardware, but the exterior is supposed to be dimensionally correct to the kit or plans. You can go as far as putting electric power plants in them if you wish. Some have, to the irritation of the purists, but that is another story. There are others that go to great lengths to replicate the airplane as exactly as possible to the original. The use of cloth hinges, period engines, propellers, spinners, and wheels are common for pilots to find and put on their airplanes to replicate them as closely as possible.
Because of this, there are two awards that are given out to recognize this extraordinary effort. One of these awards is the Spirit of ‘52 award. This is given to the pilot who builds an OTS airplane as closely to the original as possible using period engines and other hardware. The Spirit of ‘67 is also given to the pilot who builds a classic airplane as closely to the original as possible using period building techniques and hardware, etc. This year’s winners are Jim Lee, who received the Spirit of ‘52 award for his Victory in OTS, and Mark Gerber, who received the Spirit of ‘67 award for his Al Rabe-designed Bearcat. A very scalelike airplane indeed.
The winners of OTS are Dan Banjock (first), Vince Bodde (second), and Wayne Smith (third). The winners in Classic are John Simpson (first), Steve Moon (second), and Tom Dixon (third). In Nostalgia 30, first place went to Vince Bodde, second place to Bruce Jennings, and third place to Joel Constanino.
The weather stayed enjoyable all day long. I heard no complaints about too much wind and such. This was a rarity, it seems. Hats off to Mike Schmitt and his team who kept things going smoothly throughout the day. On a side note, the Combat guys fly in circles next to us. In between flights, we got to have some extra entertainment watching them “duke it out.”
After the competition, contestants took a break from the heat. Later on, those who were entering the Advanced or Open events tomorrow came back with their airplanes to put in a practice flight or two on the L-pad. It was quite crowded after supper since the weather held all day long. I wound up going to the grass circles to practice since I could get in many more flights in the same amount of time.
Tomorrow starts the first day of qualifying for the Advanced and Open contestants. We will fly two flights tomorrow and two flights on Wednesday. The best flight from each day will be added together to determine the rankings. The Open contestants are divided into four groups, and the top five from each group will move on to Thursday's top 20 day. The lower-attended Advanced group is divided into three groups, and the top four from each group will move on to the top 12 on Friday. Thursday, the top five in Open will move on to the finals on Friday, while the winner in Advanced will be determined on Thursday.
Tomorrow, the “main event,” as I call it, starts. This is the start of the flying portion of how we determine our next Nats champion. In this case, the champion of the 100th anniversary of the first Nats. A milestone, for sure.