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July 18, 2019: CL Precision Aerobatics (Stunt)

By Matt Neumann (mrstuka@cinergymetro.net)

Wednesday morning greeted the contestants with clouds and light wind. It had rained fairly hard at 4 to 5 in the morning, so the area was wet, but at least the sky was not falling at the time that the contestants got to the field.

The L pad that we fly off of is a hard asphalt surface surrounded by grass. Through about midmorning, the grass was very wet and had some puddles. Walking through it meant wet shoes and socks. I hate wet socks, along with a lot of other people, so walking on the asphalt was certainly preferable to wet socks. Flying is not allowed until 7 a.m., while actual official flights do not start until 8. So, if you want to get a practice flight in, you have to get to the field early.

Wednesday marked the first day of official flights for CLPA (Control Line Precision Aerobatics). The Open and Advanced groups were split into four separate groups. Each group then flew two flights in front of two sets of judges—one set of judges Wednesday and a different set of judges Thursday. The best flight from each day will then be added together to see who makes the cut to fly on Friday.

The top five from each group in the Open skill class and the top four from the Advanced class will move on to Friday’s flying. These two days, you at least have a flight that you can mess up and recover from. Friday is a different story. More on that day later.

Wednesday started out with complete cloud cover. We could tell that there were rain showers in the area, but we were fortunate that those did not come over us. As the day went on, the clouds broke up but fortunately, the wind did not pick up. From what I can tell, most people were at least pleased with the conditions. Yes, it could have been a little cooler or stayed cloudy all day long to make it easier to fly, but it sure beats some of the weather we had the previous couple of days. So, I am one who won’t complain … much.

Some of the notable things that happened was we had a flyby not once, but twice, by FIFI. This is the Confederate Air Force’s B-29. It has been at the local airport for a couple of days and this is the first time we actually got to see her fly. She did a low enough pass each time that we could certainly tell it was FIFI and get a good look at her as she passed overhead. I felt sorry for the pilots who were flying and the judges. They had to pay attention to their flights and could not watch as she flew overhead. I am sure someone will have some videos of it and post them somewhere on social media so they can catch up on what happened.

Other than a few nervous jitters and a small problem with a plug not connecting right in an electric plane, nobody really had any issues that I am aware of. I know one flier who is at his first Nats accidentally did too many inside loops. This caused him to lose 25 pattern points for not doing the pattern the correct way. We can chalk that up to nerves.

Another incident happened when Paul Walker went up for his first official flight. Just as he made the first hard turn into the first maneuver, his motor sputtered and then quit. This is highly unusual for an electric-powered model. Fortunately, he had enough momentum to carry him until he could get the plane level and land safely. The way things went down, the rules stated that he did not officially start the pattern yet, so he got to do an attempt instead of the flight counting as an official. You get three attempts to fly two official flights. So, he used up his “free” attempt. He quickly diagnosed the problem as a loose connection and fixed it and was then able to make another attempt in short order, and this time he completed the pattern.

Scoring was the only real hiccup of the day—as in the slowness of scores being posted. In this case, it probably is a good problem to have. In the past few years, we have gotten barely enough judges to judge all four circles. This year we have 14, which is almost double what we had the past couple of years. This is a good problem to have. Unfortunately, this means that the fliers will have to wait to see what their scores are. This will determine who is on the bubble for Thursday, who is sitting pretty, and who does not have much of a chance.

So, after Wednesday, the rubber really starts to hit the road. For those who are well in, it is an easy day. Just put in a normal flight and relax until Friday. For those who don’t have a chance, they are there to fly and have fun talking with the rest of the pilots.

Now for the ones on the bubble, it can be very nerve-wracking. Because you are nervous before you fly and then once you do fly, all you can do is wait. And wait.

No pressure.

Thursday’s flights are always some of the more interesting to watch. I can’t wait to see what the day will bring.

Circle 1 judges Mike Eber, Doug Patterson, and Steve Smith.

Circle 2 judges Dale Barry, brothers Jim and Wayne Smith, and John Simpson.

Circle 4 judges Joan Cox, Joe Daly Jr., Jim Vigani, and Wes Eakin.

Circle 3 judges Mark Hughes, Mark Overmeir, and Joe Otto.

We have some youngsters with us competing. Steven Daly is flying while his father Joe coaches.

Todd Lee getting ready for an official. He is pull testing his airplane. This is to ensure that it is safe to fly after everything is hooked up. Pilots hate this test by the way.

Another youngster is Luca Alimov and he is putting his plane through its paces.

The Nats can be a real family affair. Here we have the Alimov family. Father Michael and sons Luca and Gabriel.

Some of what it looked like when we got to the field today. Sorry for the bad pictures. My camera does not like low light.

Planes and pilots awaiting their turn for an official flight.

Paul Walker heading out for an official flight. Chris Cox holding ready to launch when told.

Early morning line up. Need to get here early or you won't have time for a practice flight.

Howard Rush signals to start an official flight while Chris Cox does the launching.

A plane that really does not need any introduction. The B-29 Fifi in one of her flybys.


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