Flying Aces Nationals

19th - 21st July 2018, Geneseo, NY

Part 1

I was a bit more organised than usual this year, and had finished my new Piper Cheyenne a couple of weeks before the trip - I even had time to do a few test hops at the club field. I had two peanuts that I knew flew OK, my reliable Seamew and a new Keil Kraft Achilles that was also trimmed. So I was reasonably optimistic that I would make a reasonable showing in the classes I was entering, however things didn't quite go as well as I hoped, as you will read below.

So, five models in the box this year. The Achilles was a doddle to pack as it came came completely to pieces. You may notice that I was only half an inch or so from the Cheyenne tailplane being too great a span for the box.

The flight to Boston was uneventful, and even the immigration queues were better than usual, so I didn't keep Clive waiting too long. So, did we go for a couple of beers before heading home? What do you think? Of course we did. Plus a full rack of ribs and very nice they were too.

Clive had downsized his car since my last visit so packing was a real challenge- very much a game of 3D Tetris. Eventually we managed it, but it has to be said that rearward visibility was somewhat compromised!

We ran into some heavy rain showers on the 400 mile trip west, but these cleared before we reached the university campus at Geneseo and we arrived in sunshine.

Checking into the dorms it was a bit disappointing to find we we back in the non air conditioned accomodation this time. Looking on the bright side however, this was the first trip I could remember where temperatures at Geneseo were actually lower than the ones I'd left behind at home in the UK heatwave.

Driving down to the field we could see big blocks of sweetcorn to the right and left of the track, otherwise it didn't look too bad. However, the beans planted at the far end of the field came into play due to the wind direction once the competition proper began on Thursday.

The wind dropped nicely for the hour before dark, as it usually does there, but I couldn't join in the flying as I'd stupidly left my props in my flight box in the dorm! Still, I suppose it stopped me breaking anything and it was nice to catch up with friends and watch the action.

After a gathering at the ice cream shop (which has become a traditional place for hanging out after darkness has rendered flying impossible) it was back to the dorms for a few beers before bed.


After a decent night's sleep we didn't rush straight down to field, but had a leisurely breakfast at Denny's on the way there. The weather at the field was a bit breezy but perfectly flyable.

I test flew the Seamew and both peanuts, all of which seemed to be performing fine. Nice shot above of my Waco C.7 by Clive Gamble (who took all the flying shots in this report).

As in 2016 the registration and static judging at 12.00 pm took place in the airfield hangar. I must make mention here of the excellent pre-registration system developed by the FAC IT team which made the judging and compliance checks much slicker than in 2016. Those who pre-registered before the event were emailed a complete time sheet with all their models listed, and models that had been entered at previous Nats or non-Nats events did not have to be scale judged or compliance checked again. If you thought your previous scale mark was a bit low, you had the option of getting it judged a second time, with the higher of the two figures then being used for subsequent events. I think this should significantly reduce the workload on the static judges in future years, as many models do get entered again and again at the Nats.

It's always fun to see what full size aircraft you may find in the hangar - this year's highlight was this Bell P-63 Kingcobra.

A first setback occurred when I was fitting the props to the Cheyenne for static judging. One of the nacelles flopped limply to one side revealing a broken main spar at the inner edge of the nacelle. This weak point presumably suffered damage during my trimming session back in the UK and I hadn't noticed. I'd have to cut away a lot of tissue under the wing to repair it, so just tacked the nacelle back into position temporarily and placed in on the table with a rather limp looking wing, hoping the judges wouldn't be too hard on me.

Below are some photos of models that caught my eye on the tables waiting to be judged.

Vance Gilbert's latest masterpiece was this Giant Scale Martin MB-1, which also qualified for the special U.S.Mail event being flown this year. The model featured motor sticks out of the back of the nacelles to get a usable length of rubber.

George Nunez, who usually flies indoor scale, brought along a fine collection of models to Geneseo, including this lovely Rumpler C.IV.

Another of George's models was this fine flying D.H.60 Moth on floats.

Doug Beardsworth built this great looking Grumman Widgeon from the Dumas kit, adding the motor sticks above the wing to increase rubber motor length. These are virtually invisible when the model is overhead.

Doug also brought this new Waco Taperwing of his own design. It proved a good flier, with a best competition flight of 84 seconds.

A neat pair of Gee Bees by Tom Nallen II. The blue and white one is a Gee Bee Model D and the green and yellow one a Gee Bee Model E. Both are really attractive model subjects.

Another great looking racer was this Wedell Williams built by Paul Boyanowski for the Thomson Air Race.

Dave Niedzielski built this neat Fairchild PT-19 from one of his own (Easy Built) kits. The model finished third in the Low Wing Military Trainer event. Behind you can see Vance Gilbert's long serving D.H.Flamingo which this year put in two maxes to win FAC Scale.

Ted Allebone built this Jumbo Scale model of the unflown Pegna PC.1 Schneider Trophy racer

This Ryan M-1 was built for the U.S.Mail Plane competition by Peter Kaiteris in which it finished third. I particularly liked the simulated turned finish on the cowling panels. In case you are wondering about the angle of the tailplane, the D/T has been popped in this photo.

Moving to some smaller models, this delightful Rose Parrakeet by Paul Boyanowski won the coveted Walt Mooney award for best peanut

A peanut twin is as challenging as it gets for free flight scale, but this didn't deter Tom Hallman who built this wonderful Mig DIS. The very short nose of this type allows you to use props of a sensible diameter, even at this small scale. The model placed second in the FAC Peanut class.

This neatly finished Fairey Barracuda peanut was by George Bredehoft.

New for this Nats was a class for Hi-Start (bungee launched) scale gliders, which had a varied selection of entries, both civil and military. This Waco CG-4 troop glider was by Wally Farrell.

The weather later in the aftenoon was too windy for trimming, so I spent the time repairing the spar in the Cheyenne, then tacked the tissue back in place. It looked fairly horrid from underneath, but at least the wing was rigid again.

As often happens at Geneseo, the wind dropped about an hour before sunset, leaving excellent flying conditions. Although I got one reasonable 20 second flight out of the Cheyenne cruising round right at about 10 feet or so, there was no consistency, as a subsequent flight turned left, and yet another went straight, resulting in a mushy stall (once the nose gets high, the T tail is blanked and you've had it).

At least the Achilles was flying well!

George Nunez showed me his Polikarpov I-16, enlarged from Richard Crossley's plan and finished in Spanish Civil War markings. It flew very far better than such a stubby, fat aeroplane should - a testament to Richard's design and Geroge's building skills.

Vance Gilbert was flying his Jumbo and Giant models and Clive captured this great shot of the Nene Viking in the evening light.

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