By Rick Pangell
Hi there fellow Free Flighters!
The Nats is an experience. Much more than a model airplane contest, it’s a convention where like-minded people get together. It reminds me of the stories of the Mountain Men who would get together every year to renew friendships and trade stories and experiences. Of course, this is not just a male experience—many women are right in there competing and winning. That’s the beauty of FF… any and all.
Arriving on the field Sunday afternoon had all the camaraderie sessions in place at the RV campground. Many fliers had rented RVs and had them at the campground. A cookout was started by Dan Berry, using chicken parts (his words) and a cauldron of beans with all sorts of ingredients.
To be honest, the days before the contest did not bode well regarding weather. Some AMA tents had been blown down(!), but starting Monday morning, the weather gods smiled on us. Sure, the flightline moved as the drift changed but all in all, it was a gorgeous day for Free Flight flying. Thermals were aplenty, as well as models willing to take advantage of them.
The fliers were no less eager, and the engines started roaring. Gerald Brown drew first blood and posted a rubber flight! The board wasn’t populated for a while until the usual test-flying had been accomplished. Not all models are typically flown at local contests and come out of the old model box for the Nats, hence a couple of test-fights are needed to ensure their challenges.
Some of the Highlights
The NFFS has obtained a new NFFS Nats Headquarters trailer. Through the hard work of Patty Lorbiecki, aided by former NFFS president and Patty’s hubby, John, the “new and improved” trailer was ready for its inaugural Nats.
Tim Batiuk and others conducted a youth build on Sunday and I received reports that it was a huge success. Hopefully some photos of the activity will be posted. There were many taken on personal cellphones.
The RC sailplane Nats were upwind on the north end of the field and providing some great thermal indication. Speaking to them during the day, I thanked them for providing said thermal searching and they thought it was a blast to see 6 or 7 of their models flying in a pattern, only to have them be pierced by skyrocketing FF ships flying upwards through it. The RC Soaring pilots have been flying companion with us for many years and it’s fun to watch them, and hopefully they haven’t minded us too much.
An absolute legend in Free flight, Lee Hines … the “Leeper” in the conventional jargon, inventor of the Sweepette line of hand-launch gliders, many time National Champion, world team flier who flew just about every outdoor type of model and a huge promoter of Free Flight, passed a few months ago. Lee initiated what was called the “Beat the Vartanian” event after flying. This year, in Lee’s honor, the event was conducted via Tim Batiuk with Dan Berry running the flying event.
Coupled with it was a 12-inch glider competition. It was wonderful! The event was held on top of what was defined as “Glider Hill.” Why, I do not know, but it fit because it’s the highest point on the Muncie property.
The format of NatsNews has changed for this and subsequent reports. It has gone digital. Flightline scores are obtained by using the following web link: