By Don DeLoach
Monday was the first day of official flying at the centennial Free Flight (FF) Nats. It’s hard to believe that 100 years have passed since the very first NAA Nationals, which predated the existence of the AMA by a full 13 years. Back in 1924, model aircraft competition was still a very new concept, often held at full-scale air shows and air races.
The weather on Monday at the Nats was typically challenging for Muncie—hazy and few thermals down low with weak lift until later in the afternoon. Winds were fairly light most of the day, though a few off-site chases occurred. The rain did hold off until after the awards.
Monday featured two of the premier FF events at the Nats: Moffett and F1A Glider. The former is a throwback event for stick-and-tissue rubber models of about 160 square inches. Power is not limited, so the models are rocket climbers, but they must rise off of a tabletop unassisted. The latter is the world championship class for roughly six-foot wingspan towline gliders. Both feature historic Nats perpetual trophies housed under glass at AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum.
In Moffett, the legendary Bob Sifleet prevailed over Josh Finn who was second. There were ten fliers. Shockingly, there were no triple maxes in Moffett, so no one got beyond the third flight. Sifleet’s winning score was 527 seconds (540 is a max-out).
In F1A, the field of nine fliers featured elite competitors like Jim Parker, Steve Spence, and former world champion Mike McKeever. No flyoff was needed for Brian Van Nest to earn the win with 810 seconds. Gene Ulm was close behind him with 772.
David Sechrist has emerged as an elite AMA and FAI electric flier in recent years. He topped the field of 15 fliers in B Electric with an impressive 1320-second total. That’s eleven maxes.
Dan Berry topped the field of 12 in AB Classic Gas with his distinctive red/blue Marval 560. After that winning feat, Dan helped retrieve Chuck Powell’s winning Andrade Rubber flight which landed about two miles off the field about 35 feet up a tree. Typical selflessness from Dan on day one … this won’t be the last flier that he helps.
Other winners from Monday: D Gas, Ronnie Thompson; Payload, Mike Fedor; Golden Age 1/2A, Denny Dock; A Nos Gas, Denny Dock; Old Time Hand-Launch Glider (HLG), Jan Langelius; .020 Replica, Roger Erridge; and Vintage Wakefield, John Seymour.