By Matt Neumann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gray skies, nothing but gray skies … at least for most of the morning.
Friday is traditionally called top 20 day. It is the day that the top 20 from the Open skill class flyoff to find the top five who will move on to Saturday’s event. It is also the day that, in this case, the top 16 from the Advanced class flyoff to find out who will be crowned the Advanced Class National Champion.
Contestants was greeted Friday morning with gray skies and moderate wind. We would get a peek at the sun now and again throughout the morning, but it would get covered up again. The wind was moderate at probably close to 10 mph all morning.
After flying was done, the wind started to pick up more and more. The moderate wind that we had was flyable but made things rather interesting for the fliers. They certainly had to be on their toes when doing their “tricks.” Placement of a maneuver was crucial in order to fly it well.
Friday is the most nerve-wracking day of them all. Contestants fly two flights, one flight each in front of two different sets of judges. Then both flights are added together to determine the high score. There are no goofs allowed. No second chances. The best five added scores go on to fly in the coveted top 5 day on Saturday in the Open class, while the best score in Advanced wins.
The scoring Friday was quite close for the most part. We had few very high scores, but not many. Most were within a 20-point range—in the 530’s and 540’s. A perfect score, if I remember right, is 645. It was a real shootout for the most part. We really did not know who was going to be in the coveted top five until the last scores went up. With this scoring, just a couple of points can move you up or down quite a few places. As it turns out, the difference between fifth place and sixth place was a quarter of a point.
How do you get a quarter of a point? We had four judges on that circle. Each judge’s score is added together and then the average is taken to find the contestant’s score. So, divide something by 4 and you could get one quarter. Likewise, there were three judges on another circle. So, you could get a score of 1/3.
Anyway, the one contestant beat out another contestant because one judge on the one circle gave one more point to one flier over the other. Now that is scoring things close!
I am also happy to report that there were no incidents, mechanical or otherwise, with any of the contestants’ aircraft that I am aware of. So, everyone’s equipment worked the way it is supposed to, which is good because that means everyone got a fair shot at everything. Even the weather stayed consistent. That is, everyone had the same amount of wind. Yes, it did go up and down, but it did so for everyone.
In the end, David Fitzgerald, Paul Walker, Chris Rud, Orestes Hernandez, and Derek Barry all got in to the top five for Saturday’s flying. William Demaru won Advanced class. Congratulations to William for a job well done. He was on the verge of winning last year, but encountered motor difficulties in one of his flights, knocking him out of first place. This year everything worked for him, and he even did this on a fairly new plane with very few flights on it before heading to the Nats. This is extremely difficult to do because you do not “know” your airplane. It normally takes many flights with a specific plane to get to know its habits and to get it trimmed out. So, my hat is off to William for a difficult job well done.
Saturday’s flying would consist of the previously mentioned five Open fliers flying three flights each with only the top two flights counting. Those two top flights will then be added together to find the overall Open Nats Champion for 2019.
We will also have the Junior and Senior flyoffs Saturday as well. The Junior is a kid who is 13 years old or younger, while the Senior is a kid who is 14 to 18 years old. The kids are fun to watch because they are the future of our event. They also usually have to have parents along helping, which is a good thing. This is how some families spend quality time together. And working on and flying model airplanes is a good quality family time activity.
If Saturday is anything like Friday, the scores are going to be close. This means it will be a sight to watch because fractions of a point can make a big difference. It is going to be a real nail-biter Saturday and I can’t wait to watch.