Event preview by Fred Cronenwett
(All photos taken at previous Nats.)
Welcome to the 2021 CL Scale Nats. I am excited that we can fly together once again. We will see what is new and what is the same. It seems like it has been a really long time since we have all flown together at the Nats because the 2020 CL Scale Nats was canceled due to COVID-19.
While the Nationals is a serious competition, it’s also a place discover new things and fly with new and old friends. Flying in competition takes a certain mindset to know what to do when it comes time to fly in front of the judges. If it’s your first Nats, you will make some mistakes, but you will come back stronger the next time to fly at the Nats. I learn something at every contest I attend, even after 33 years of flying CL Scale models.
The static judging for CL Scale will be held at Site 4, which is the RC flying site in the southern edge of the AMA’s International Modeling Center. The flying will be at Site 6, just northwest of the L-pad.
The first day is all about getting the models checked in, weighed, and doing the static judging. You will see everyone getting their models cleaned up and assembled with the static propeller(s) in preparation to show the judges. You won’t find out what your static score is until you complete your first flight on day 2. So, before you pack up after the static judging is done, prepare the model for the flying portion on day 2. We will be flying early in the morning on days 2 and 3.
Regardless of whether this is your first Nats or you have been coming for a while, you hope that you have everything you need to fix anything that breaks or does not work properly. The weather conditions and how prepared you are can make it look easy or difficult for those watching. Unlike a one-day contest, where you typically only fly once, here at the Nats you fly four times, with the best two flight scores used to determine your final score.
Typically, I recycle pictures from the Nats that was held the previous year, but because the 2020 CL Scale Nats was canceled due to the pandemic, I went through my Nats pictures from 2013 through 2019. There have been some old friends that have since passed or moved on that we haven’t seen in awhile. The one thing that I like about CL Scale is that you never know who or what will show up at the contest. There will be surprises that make you think about what is possible and it just might inspire you to build something different.
Since the 2019 Nats, we have lost Jeff Hitchcock, Jim Fruit, and John Brodak. They will all be missed but we will continue to fly to keep the spirit alive.
Despite the fact that we are all competing against each other, you will find that everyone is really quite helpful if you need a tool, some help, or maybe some CA. You will find pilots who have brought lots of spare parts that you wouldn’t normally bring to your local flying site. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t have everything you need.
Walt Brownell flew his A-26 Invader in profile scale at the 2001 Nationals to a first-place finish and also earned the top static award. Recently, he donated his models to the Lafayette Esquadrille club and I picked up his A-26 invader. He originally built the model using the down-the-line electronic controls using a Bill Young handle. Walt is no longer building or flying so he wanted his models to be flown by the Lafayette Esquadrille CL club members. So, to honor that request I got the model flying again and decided to bring it back to the Nationals to fly Fun Scale. This will be the 20th anniversary of this model flying at the Nats.
Because of the Builder the Model rule, I will be flying the model in CL Fun Scale. The model is outfitted with 2.4 GHz controls and features flaps and throttle control for the OS-52 four-stroke engines.
You will witness all types of engines being used: two-strokes, four-strokes, and electric power. The control system for the throttle control will also be very different from model to model. The traditional three-line controls will be used. Clancy Arnold down-the-line, Bill Young down-the-line, JR DSC down-the-line, single-channel servo driver, and even 2.4 GHz will be used. The rules were changed in 2013 to allow 2.4 GHz. This has changed what is possible with our CL Scale models. Having flown with all types of the throttle control systems, watching the evolution of this technology has been interesting.
As you walk around, ask the pilots about their models, why they fly what they do, and what were the challenges. Because there are so many possible projects out there that we can pick from., I find it interesting why the pilots choose what they are flying.
There is one picture of two pilots from the 1993 Nats. Take a look at that picture and see if you can figure out who they are. All three of the models and the pilots had never been flown at the Nats before.
Thursday night there will be CL Scale evening pilots’ meeting. Friday night will be the NASA banquet, where the Top Static awards and new inductees to the AMA CL Scale Hall of Fame will be announced. Then on Sunday, the final numbers are tabulated to see who took first place in multiple events.