Flying Aces Nationals

14th - 16th July 2016, Geneseo, NY

Part 1

Another Nats and another last minute model - this time the Cessna 310, built in a rush due to the Beriev underperforming and getting damaged when I had last flown it. At least the King Air and Seamew had put in some decent flights before they were packed in the box for the trip.

Unfortunately my Waco peanut and Stearman dimer didn't get finished in time, so only the three models in the box this year.

By a pure coincidence, a good friend of mine in Newbury was flying out to Boston on the same flight as me, and as he was going "Upper Class" I was invited to share the trip to the airport in the Virgin Limo, got fast-tracked through security and had a very nice breakfast in the Virgin lounge. So, quite a treat and a very pleasant start to the trip!

After negotiating the expected immigration queues at Boston, I was relieved to see the model box travelling round the baggage carousel, together with the less important case with my clothes in.

So, it was off to the usual bar for an enormous burger and a couple of beers with Clive and Sue before heading on to Sudbury for an early night (though a very late one based on UK time).

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny as we loaded up the car and headed off just before 9am. Just 400 miles to go.....

Weather continued sunny and very hot, with light winds, and we arrived at the field at about 3.30 pm. First thing we always do on the drive down the track to the airfield is have a look at the crops growing around the field, and for the most part the potatoes, beans and corn looked rather smaller and less threatening than usual. One or two canopies had already been set up, so we parked in a convenient gap and spent the next hour and a half chatting and catching up with friends as they arrived.

When we drove up to university at 5pm, we were amazed to discover that the rumours we had heard were true - our dorms this year really were air conditioned!! In view of the temperatures we got later in the week, this turned out to make a huge diference to getting a good night's sleep.

So - then it was back down to the field, where conditions were now perfect for a bit of model trimming. Stupidly I'd left my rubber motors in the room, so Paul Morris very kindly gave me a lift back to collect them. This allowed me to put up the Seamew, which I'd got somewhere close at the May Old Warden meeting, but it had been pretty windy then. With a bit of extra noseweight, it was soon flying stably in right hand circuits. The final touch was to add a 1/16"sq. "Gurney strip" under the right hand wing trailing edge to keep the wing up in the turn. Thanks to Clive for the great photo.

The conditions were so good that nobody wanted to leave the field until it went completely dark, after which we retired to the Village Inn for a couple of beers and a very spicy Jambalaya (their mild one is as hot as I can handle!)


We got down to the field nice and early to put the canopy up - the wind direction meant that the corner of the field nearest the hangar was a good place to be, with the flightline running roughly parallel to the runway. Couldn't complain about the neighbours - we had Tom Hallman and Vance Gilbert on one side and Wally Farrell and Don Srull on the other. With such a wealth of experience on the doorstep, you couldn't help but pick up a few tips.

It was too windy to fly so Clive and I nipped down to Wallmart to buy a table and chair, then grabbed a quick breakfast. I spent the rest of the morning preparing braided motors for my twins.

In a change from all my previous visits, the registration and static judging in the afternoon took place in the airfield hangar, which was excellent from a convienience point of view, saving a trip back into town to the hotel. The only downside was the lack of air conditioning - it was baking hot all afternoon (about 97 degrees apparently).

There was plenty of space, and some interesting full size aircraft to have a look at as well, including the Mephis Belle, which was undergoing maintenance. Not often you get this close to a B.17.

Entries in peanut scale, FAC scale, jumbo scale, giant scale, power scale and pioneer scale are static judged against a supplied 3-view and photographs, with extra marks for detailing and workmanship. Other classes just have to be "compliance checked" for the events they are being entered in. This may be a comparison against the model plan (e.g. for Dime Scale), or a check for the necessary detailing on, for instance, WW1 and WW2 combat models.

Hats off to the judges who put in a long stint at the tables in uncomfortably warm conditions. FAC scale was particularly tough with over 50 entries to be examined. You are allowed to enter two models into the judged clases, but only the highest placed one will feature in the results. Here are Doug Beardsworth and Wally Farrell giving Tom Hallman's outstanding new Hodek HK-101 the once-over. This model went on to win the FAC scale class with a best time of 85 seconds.

There were plenty of other new models to admire and below are a selection, concentrating on ones I hadn't seen before.

One of the outstanding models for me was Doug Beardsworth's beautiful giant scale Mitsubishi Dinah for twin rubber. Doug got a best flight of 95 seconds and just pipped Vance Gilbert's Nene Viking for 1st place.

Another fine giant scale model was Mark Fineman's Fournier RF-4 which clocked a best time of 84 seconds.

Hard to believe this was the same Comet Taylorcraft that plunged vertically to earth two years ago after the wings folded, completely destroying the fuselage, but Matt King rebuilt her for this year's event. He was rewarded with a 120 second flight and fourth place in giant scale.

As well as the Vickers Nene Viking, Vance Gilbert also entered this new Focke-Wulf A.21 Moewe airliner in Giant scale. Although he didn't put up an official flight with it, he put up a memorable unofficial evening flight which was beautiful to watch. I don't think I've ever seen a rubber scale model fly so slowly before! It was really majestic.

I got a real kick out of seeing Bob Martin's Jumbo scale King Air, built from the plan elsewhere on this site. It arrived untrimmed, but initial hops apparently looked very promising. A fault with one of the propellers meant final trimming had to be postponed until after the contest.

Charming Macchi M.16 Idro by Tom Nallan finished 5th in FAC Scale - a biplane floatplane gets you 25 bonus points, and the best flight time was 64 seconds. Behind you can see Tom's Wight Quadriplane, his second FAC scale entry.

The one-model event this year was for the Stout 2-AT, and there was a mass launch scheduled for Saturday. Nothing to stop you entering it in FAC Scale as well though, which is what David Krammes did.

Another of David's models was this attractive Vultee Valiant.

Plenty of twins on show this year including this fine Martin B-26 Maurauder by Tom Arnold.

Another new model from Vance Gilbert was this lovely Fokker Universal on floats. It flew a treat with a best flight of 89 seconds.

There are not too many Diesel powered scale models to be seen at Geneseo, but Fernando Ramos brought along this splendid Bristol M-1D.

Another Diesel powered entry was this Fokker DR.1 by Matt King. I saw this flying around quite happily on the Saturday despite the lack of dihedral as per the original (I think DR.1's with dihedral look rather odd).

Greg Thomas won the Earl Stahl award, though whether it was for his new Bleriot or familiar Cessna Bird Dog I'm not sure. Both are fantastically detailed models. The undercarriage suspension on the Bleriot actually worked.

I confess I'd never heard of the Avionette de Pischopff before Tom Nallen built a model of it - it's a quirky thing, with the lower wing to undercarriage fixing in particular being something of a challenge to model. Power was provided by a CO2 motor.

Neat Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter by Paul Boyanowski entered in FAC Scale.

The D.H.108 Swallow is quite a challenging subject for free flight, especially with a prop on the front, but Dave Mitchell had his flying very well.

Another of Dave's models was this exquisite peanut scale Aviatik Berg C.1. The wood grain effect on the fuselage was done by printing tissue with a scan of real wood grain. To make the tissue more opaque, chalk was applied to the back of the tissue. The model managed an impressive 56 second flight (remember this is outdoor peanut - something we just don't do in the UK).

Steve Blanchard brought this Jumbo scale Curtiss XP-55 Ascender - not an easy free flight subject. I saw this model put in a really good flight, but it can't have been an official because it didn't show up in the results. I believe the model was damaged in a subsequent flight.

Really nice Albatros D.V by Ara Dedekian - I thought the five colour lozenge looked particualrly good on the lower wings and tailplane.

Another WW1 model that caught my eye was this neatly finished Breguet 14 by F.S.Gilbert.

This view of judged models waiting to be collected by their owners shows another hanger resident - an Antonov AN-2. When you get up close to one of these they seem extremely large for a biplane. Nice free flight subject too.

As is often the case at Geneseo, the wind dropped completely about an hour before the sun went down, so all thought of getting a bite to eat went out of the window, and it was a chance to check the trim of the newly judged models.

The King Air with fresh motors (a loop of 3/16" plus a loop of 1/8" in each nacelle) was doing reasonable right circuits until the power ran down, when the turn tightened up to a gentle spiral. Probably due to bunching in one nacelle, but I added another 1/16" Gurney strip under the right wing trailing edge plus a touch of left trim tab on the rudder, and that sorted things out - the next flight was close to a minute.

Clive captured this nice shot of the model during one of its flights that evening.

For the smaller Cessna 310 I was using a loop of 3/32" plus a loop of 1/8" in each nacelle. It needed some noseweight and then some downthrust to control the power burst, but it looked pretty stable from the off. I added a small acetate trim tab to the rear of the fin to coax it into a left turn, then found I needed a 1/16" sq. Gurney strip under the left wing trailing edge to keep it up and avoid losing height in the turn. I have to say I now much prefer these strips to acetate trim tabs glued to the trailing edge, as once glued on they can't move. To make them less effective, just shorten them, or to give more lift, add an extra length of strip - so much more controllable than bending an acetate tab up and down.

Here's another of Clive's great photos. Note the Gurney strip under the left wing trailing edge. Looking at this photo, it's a real shame I ran out of time to put on the undercarriage outlines - the model looks rather bare underneath.

By 9.30 it was going dark and the models were getting rather limp, so it was time to give up and head for the Village Inn again for sustenance and a couple of beers.

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