By Gerry Garing
Conditions at the field couldn’t have been better this morning. Once again, the winds were light and the sky was clear. The static judging area was a busy place as Control Line (CL) and RC static judging took place at the same time. New this year were the FAI entries, both CL and RC, which are judged separately according to FAI rules.
It’s worth noting that, without good documentation, even a well-built model is not going to receive a high static score. Documentation is the criteria that judges will use to evaluate the model. Like most contests, the quality of the documentation varied. Static judges often give feedback on the score sheets to provide a few tips when possible.
Contest director John Boyko stressed the importance of keeping the flightlines moving, with 48 flights scheduled for the first round. Once these flights were completed, the four FAI entries flew their Round one flights, as the FAI rules dictate that these flights must be done one at a time. The air boss provided takeoff and landing clearance to keep airplanes safely separated. Outside of a few nose-overs, there were no serious mishaps during the nearly 100 flights today.
Fourteen-year-old Kaleb Spencer, from Mahomet, Illinois, had an impressive first-round flight with his big, electric-powered Spitfire. Good throttle management and smooth control inputs resulted in one of the most realistic warbird flights of the contest so far. His father Bill is calling for him and it is great to see such great family support. This is Kaleb’s third time competing in the Nats. He earned a third-place finish in his first and a first-place finish last year in Fun Scale Novice. No longer a novice, he will continue to challenge his competitors.
Once all of the AMA classes finished their first round, it was time for the FAI competitors to fly. First up was Ben Andrus with his 1/6-scale Ag Cat Crop Duster. Even though it was the smallest model entered, the Ag Cat was a solid flyer due in part to a realistic power-to-weight ratio. The more you looked at this airplane, the more the outstanding detail and craftsmanship became apparent.
Never underestimate Jack Buckley to show up with a surprise. He has been flying his designer Scale 36% Fairchild 24 for the past several years. It looks like he left it out in the rain, because his FAI entry is a shrunken 25% scale version to comply with the 33-pound weight limit. Tim Dickey entered a quarter-scale Cub and Mike Barbee a 33% Aeronca Grasshopper. Stay tuned to see which of these four make the three-plane cut to compete in Romania next year!
The weather forecast for Saturday is not as promising as the last few days, and the decision was made to fly a second round just in case. The second round concluded at about 7:30 p.m., after which Mike Barbee provided a variety of delicious pizzas to feed the hungry. Thank you, Mike! We’ll be back at the field by 8 a.m. tomorrow hoping the weather cooperates.