By Matt Neumann
On Monday, Control Line Aerobatics (Stunt) started off with processing and appearance judging. It is also a time for everyone to get together and start to catch up on things since we last met. For most of us, that was a year ago at the 2019 Nats. I am always amazed at the diverse backgrounds of our pilots. We have engineers, salespersons, mechanics in both cars and aircraft, professional pilots, and many more. Yet there is one thing that always brings us together— the love of model aircraft; Control Line aerobatic aircraft to be exact.
Overall, turnout is quite good. We have 54 contestants with 29 in the Open Class, the highest skill class, and 25 in Advanced, which is just below it.
This year was a little different for processing. In the past, we have had it in a local gym called the 180 Building. However, with everything going on, it was decided to put up a large tent or, in this case three, right next to each other at the field to hold processing and meetings. Instead of putting the airplanes in the gymnasium, they were put in rows next to the tents. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and there was not a lot of wind or rain, so it was easy to do.
In past years, we also handed over our airplanes and someone else took them into the gym; we never got to see the lineup until after everything was done. This time we signed in, weighed the planes, and then took them to a table with a soft cloth over it. We set the planes on the soft cloth for the judges to examine. They not only got a good look at the top, but also the bottom. Once they were done, the judges assigned a value between 1 and 20 points. These points would then be added to your score later in the week.
The judges were really sharp this as as we did not have any “perfect” 20 point planes. We only had two nineteen points which were awarded to Paul Walker and Steve Millets plane. These two flyers had the honor of being the only ones in the front row. Behind them we only had three 18 point planes. You really had to earn you points. The rest of us were split up from 12 to 17 points.
After we got through with the processing, Dave Trible, who is running the show, did the pilots’ meeting. Normally we have had some electronics with a projection screen to put on a nice presentation so everyone could easily hear. This time, we did things the old-fashioned way—a portable blowhorn. After his information, he turned it over to Wes Eakin who is stepping in for Mark Overmeir this year as head judge.
I understand it was a bit of a revolving door for volunteers this year. Many who thought they could make it, found out they couldn’t, so someone else had to be found. Fortunately, Dave and his crew found replacements, some of which were at the last minute. To Dave and the rest of the volunteers, and I am sure I can speak for the rest of the contestants, thank you!
Once Wes was finished with his presentation, we were free to get our models and wait to see who won the coveted Concours Award. This is an award that the pilots vote on to see who get Pilots’ Choice for the best-looking airplane. This year it went to Steve Millet with his 19-point plane. Well done Steve!
The rest of the day was spent catching up with old friends and doing some practice flying. I personally got three flights in after the meetings and am now charging batteries and resting for Tuesday’s practice sessions. Since this is a weeklong contest, it is considered a marathon and not a sprint. You have to pace yourself so you can peak when you need it.
It is certainly going to be interesting to see how this contest unfolds. There is a lot of talent on the field. You really need to be at your best if you want to place well. So, the heat is going to be turned up in more ways than one as the week goes on.