By Jim Quinn
AMA has published the “official” dates for this year’s Nats. The real question, however, is when did the Nats begin for the pilots?
Yes, they had to register before the deadline, they made transportation and living arrangements, they coordinated with friends, and many other things.
Many traffic delays caused my arrival at AMA’s IAC to be much later than was the plan. On arrival, the sun was setting, but that didn’t stop pilots from one extra trim flight. Bryan Hebert was flying his biplane on Site 3. Check out the setting sun.
With Brandon Landry, it began with a move back home from several years of working on the west coast and dusting of his aerobatic airplane stored at his parents’ home.
With Bryan Hebert, it began with a baby. For many years, Bryan was the backbone of Brett Wickizer’s Nats and World Championship flying. This year, Brett is taking a year off to enjoy his new baby, so Bryan thought to come to fly himself. Luckily for all of us, Bryan brought his beautiful wife, Almira, with him.
Another airplane was taking off at Site 1. The sun was even closer to the horizon, but that didn’t stop Joseph Szczur from a final trim flight. In 2008, Joseph was our national champion in Intermediate. In the years following, he has become a regular member of our World Championship team and became a World Champion himself!
Jerry Budd and Chris Fitzsimmons were packing up on site 1. Chris and Jerry made the long journey to AMA’s IAC from California.
At a local contest earlier in the season, Jerry tried flying Jim Woodward’s EDF jet. Jim also had Jerry try his newest aerobatic airplane, the Cuantic. The Cuantic is a far cry from Jerry’s airplane that he flew at his first Nats in 1979.
With the tragic death of Jim Woodward, Jerry sold his other aerobatic airplanes and bought Jim’s Cuantic, which he will be flying this week in honor and in memory of one of our favorite aerobatics pilots, Jim Woodward. Thanks also to Jerry as a co-sponsor for this year’s ice cream bonanza. Check out Jerry’s van.
Or did this year’s aerobatic NATS start with a simple search for an aerobatic-friendly club for a place to practice? Chris Gigi called around to his friends and found the Mohawk Valley Firebirds in upstate New York for his Proteus III and himself.
Now for the rest of the story, stay tuned to this blog page.