BMFA Indoor Scale Free Flight Nationals, 24th April 2022
The world seems a very different place to when we last got together in Walsall to fly our model aeroplanes.
After a three-year hiatus it was great to be back doing what we love. Especially pleasing was that entries had actually
gone up compared to 2019 (from 31 to 35). Also, I counted seven entrants who had never competed at the Nats before. We had a few
last minute withdrawals, but still started
the day with 31 competitors and no less than 76 models. The large increase compared to 2019 was due to the introduction of
two new classes, intermediate scale and starter No-Cal, both of which were well supported.
With so many flights to be made, it was a pretty full-on day, but people were generally good at looking out for their flying slots,
and we managed to finish only 10 minutes behind schedule. All in all, everything ran smoothly, the only major glitch being
that IT issues prevented the rolling scores and flying orders being shown on the plasma TV as had been planned. This will be sorted for next year.
As well as the challenges of running the event with a new team in the absence of long term scorer Gordon Warburton (who retired from the role in 2019), we
were also running the new 2020 indoor scale rules for the first time. The two open classes are virtually unchanged, but other classes now look significantly different.
Kit scale now has a factor of three applied to the flying scores, instead of two, making flying realism even more important.
The new intermediate class sits somewhere between the Open and Kit Scale - the model is judged against a 3-view and photos but the standard of documentation
required is less than for Open scale. The final score is made up of two times the best flight score plus the static score.
I see this class as offering a home for two groups of models. Firstly, kit models than have been improved, modified or had detail added and secondly open type models
where not enough photos or documentation exist to enter the model in the open class.
Remember that all the classes above are judged for flight realism rather than duration, but you need a minimum flight time to qualify.
For Open and Intermediate this is 15 seconds and for Kit Scale, 10 seconds. 15 seconds doesn't seem long until you try and do it!
Peanut and pistachio had the biggest shake-up, with the old ranking system for flight and static scores being thrown out
and replaced by a points system where the final score is determined by best flight time multiplied by three plus the static score.
In addition, a maximum flight time of 50 seconds is applied, plus a 10 second bonus for a take-off. We were all interested to see how this worked in practice.
The other new class flown was starter No-Cal - a duration class for profile scale models with the models being flown during the peanut and pistachio sessions.
If you would like to peruse the latest rules in detail, here is the
Scroll down to page 102 to reach indoor scale.
Being part of the organising team again meant that I was a bit distracted from my flying by constantly glancing
at the clock to see how we were doing for time, but despite this, did eventually get all three of my models flying OK. I was very grateful for the two hour
Saturday evening trimming session (as were many others).
We had 11 entries in Open Rubber, more than in both 2018 and 2019, which is encouraging. Eight of these managed a qualifying flight.
Undoubted star of the show and class winner was
Richard Crossley's new 1/20th scale Nakajima B5N "Kate". The simulation of weathering and severe paint loss was extremely convincing and the
patches of bare metal exactly matched the photos in the documentation.
Three of Richard's trademark carved foam crew members helped bring the model to life.
The aerial arrays were held on with tiny magnets.
The model had been trimmed to fly in a left hand circuit before the event, but had never done a take-off before Saturday evening. Needless to say, it performed flawlessly.
Here are a couple of flights from Sunday - sorry about the somewhat shaky camerawork!
I was delighted to finish second in class with my Curtiss SOC Seagull, which I had spent the fortnight before the competition repairing after a trimming crash. This involved
cutting through the lower stringers to fix the undercarriage mount and the removal of both left wings to repair broken ribs at both roots. I nearly didn't bother, but am glad
I got talked into it. Thanks to Nigel Monk for the photo above.
On Saturday evening, I couldn't get it to take off, regardless of any changes I made to the trim. The solution was to add another loop of 1/8" rubber, which made all the difference,
getting the model off the ground and into the cruise phase. My best flight was the first one on Sunday morning - it was a great feeling to get a qualifying
flight on the board straight away. Thanks to Danny Wynn-Fenton for the excellent flying shot.
Tim Horne took a video of the first competition flight, which you can see below. It felt longer watching the model, but was actually only 16 seconds. Good enough though!
Third in class was David Prior with this Steen Skybolt.
The complex colour scheme was very neatly done with super crisp edges everywhere (Nigel Monk photo).
You may remember that Peter Fardell's Consolidated PT-3 had been badly damaged at the 2019 Nats and he had worked hard to rebuild it
with a stronger nose for this year's event. Sorry to report that it was in the wars again this time! On Sunday morning the model got high and hit the wall
and did a vertical dive to the floor. This caved in the nose, knocked out the dummy engine cylinders, smashed the front former and broke the tail off.
At this point, most of us would have given up, but not Pete! He spent the first peanut/pistachio session repairing the model to the standard
shown here - a considerable achievement. Even better, the second competition flight achieved the qualifying time of 15 seconds and a very
respectible score of 1600. This was good enough for fourth place overall.
Pete Smart brought his old RE8 out of retirement and managed a qualifying flight on his last attempt, finishing fifth in class (Danny Wynn-Fenton photo).
Graham Banham's new open rubber model was this charming Botali P.A.M.I (no, I hadn't heard of it either!)
The model flew very well, achieving the second best flight score behind the winning Kate. Thanks to Tim Horne for the video below.
Gary Dickens was a first time visitor to the Indoor Nats and entered Open Rubber with this very well-finished and detailed Vought OS2U Kingfisher. The
model is basically an enlarged version of my peanut scale design and I so wanted it to fly well. Sadly it could not be tamed in the trimming time available
so a qualifying flight was not achieved. I am however confident that once a problem with differential wing incidence in the model is sorted, it will fly
Chris Strachan entered his pretty Gee Bee X which put in four solid qualifying flights (Alan Jux photo).
Robert Hauk from Portland, Oregon was another first time attendee, who had arranged his holiday to coincide with the event. He entered this gorgeous peanut sized
P-38 Lightning in open rubber. Getting a 13" span twin to fly at all seems a major challenge to me, but Robert managed
two 15 second qualifying flights. The lack of an undercarriage affected the flight scores of course, because it was not possible to get any take-off marks (Nigel Monk photo).
Rich Moore spent the week before the Nats trying to get his new Westland Wallace open rubber model finished in time, which he just about managed.
Trying to trim a new model from scratch at a competition is always going to be a challenge and sadly Rich couldn't get the model to behave in the time available.
The model survived unscathed
though, so hopefully we will see it again next year, complete with the extra details that Rich didn't have time to add.
Tim Horne's Douglas World Cruiser is a stunning model that got very close to making the qualifying time with its final flight - it's only a matter of time
before it does, at which point the model will be a real contender. It's static mark was second only to Richard Crossley's Kate.
In CO2/electric there were just four entries, the lowest I can remember. Hopefully this is just a blip - I probably ought to have a go at one myself for next year.
Deserved winner of the class was Richard Crossley's beautifully finished Consolidated PB2Y Coronado powered by four electric motors.
It looks so good in the air, as you can see from this great photo by Danny Wynne-Fenton. On one flight the model
straightened up when the power ran down and headed directly for the pit wall - disaster was avoided due to an excellent catch from a spectator.
Pete Smart's Fokker F.XXXVI was second in class and provided plenty of entertainment (in fact winning Pete the new "Most Entertaining" trophy!) One of the early competition flights flew straight as a die
from the take-off roll, over the pits area and smack into the far wall right, disturbingly close to the peanut static judging table. Fortunately
it fell to the floor just next to the table
rather than on top of it! Undeterred, Pete got the model repaired, and put in two solid qualifying flights in the final session (Nigel Monk photo).
Third in class was Graham Banham with his Cessna C.34 (Alan Jux photo).
Chris Brainwood entered this delightful Grahame-White GWE6 Bantam, powered by a Telco CO2 motor. I know this model flies well
because I have seen it go at our Newbury indoor meetings, but unfortunately Chris was frustrated by a fractured pipe on the motor. All attempts
at a repair using materials at hand proved fruitless, so the model failed to make a qualifying flight (Nigel monk photo).
The new Intermediate Scale Class had a healthy 11 entries, of which 10 flew on the day and 8 made the 15 second qualifying time.
Winner was Jonathan Markovitz with the electric powered Bristol Scout that had won the Kit scale class back in 2019. The model is built from a Lee's Hobbies
Peanut Scale kit and flies in a most realistic fashion - see video below.
Second in class was John Bowerman with this beautifully finished Howard DGA.8, built from the old Flyline kit (Nigel Monk photo).
The Howard flew very well as you can see in Tim Horne's video below.
Here is Pete Smart's WW1 fleet (Chris Brainwood photo). The model which placed third in Intermediate scale is the Be2c at the left. The model is only about 16" wingspan and
is remarkably stable - it circles without any issues in our small school hall in Newbury, so the Wolverhampton University Hall posed no problems at all.
I found it interesting that the top three placings in Intermediate Scale were taken by models
that had a predominantly coloured tissue finish.
David Prior placed fourth with this very neatly made Regianne Re.2000, built from the Bluebottle kit (Nigel Monk photo). The flying prop
can be seen in the box.
Peter Fardell entered this Avro 534 Water Baby. The model proved reluctant to take-off from its wheeled dolly, but
flew very nicely from a hand launch. Another great in-flight shot by Danny Wynne-Fenton.
The video below was taken by Tim Horne.
This Pilatus Turbo Porter by Ben Pallister started life as a Guillows kit, but has been modified and many extra details added. Ben wanted to model the
aircraft in the film Air America flown by Mel Gibson, which had a completely different nose, so he cut the model in front of the windscreen and
constructed a new one. The finish and subtle weathering on this model was brilliantly done - just look at the exhaust treatment -
and it got the highest static mark in the class. The model had not flown before the event, so Ben was delighted to get a qualifying flight with his final attempt..
Kit scale was as usual the most strongly supported class with 23 entries this year of which 19 flew on the day.
Here Chris Blanch holds Richard Crossley's class winning Aeronca Chief as Richard winds (Chris Brainwood photo). A 54" wingspan model may seem very large to
fly indoors, but these old Comet designs build into very light and docile models. Richard's model features an immaculately applied
coloured tissue finish. The video below shows the slow flying speed well.
To show you don't need to build an enormous model to do well, here is Gary Flack's second placed Aeronca Champ, build from the Veron
Tru-Flite design (Chris Brainwood photo).
This model also won the Veron Tru-Flite Trophy.
Jonathan Markovitz went even smaller for his third placed Halberstadt D.II, which is built from the Lee Hobbies Peanut Scale kit. It flies
amazingly smoothly for its size, as you can see in Tim Horne's video below.
Graham Banham finished fourth with his ever reliable Heinkel He 100 from the Flyline kit plan (Alan Jux photo).
One of two Vintage Model Company Cessna Bird Dogs entered in the class was this red and white one by Paul Hoey.
Quite a complex scheme to do in coloured tissue and very neatly done - the judges gave it the highest static mark in Kit Scale. (Chris Brainwood photo).
As well as the two VMC Cessna Bird Dogs, we also had this Frog version entered by Dave Crompton (Danny Wynne-Fenton photo). Thanks to Tim Horne
for the video below.
Robert Hauk finished in a very respectible seventh place with this Andreasson BA-4B built from the Peck peanut scale kit (Alan Jux photo).
As always we were grateful for the efforts of all the judges, both in static and flying. Ian Melville and Ian Pallister
perhaps drew the short straw with kit scale and had a very busy day. The model nearest the camera is John Bowerman's DHC Beaver from the Guillows kit,
which placed fifth (Chris Brainwood photo).
Nick Peppiatt kindly acting as a stooge while I wound my big Taylorcraft (Alan Jux photo). The model
was not its usual relaible self and only managed a decent flight with my last attempt - I think the problem was that one of the ailerons had
been moved so I didn't have enough "up" on the right hand wing to keep the left wing up in the turn.
This was Rich Moore's second Westland Wallace entry, this time built from the old pre-war Comet design. The model
was only finished just before the event and despite valiant trimming efforts, the required qualifying time could not be achieved. I
really like this model so hope that Rich will persevere with it and we will see it again next year.
Martin Pike entered this Howard "Mr Mulligan" built from the Dumas kit (Alan Jux photo).
Chris Brainwood built this Peck peanut scale Piper Cub for the class and finished a place above my 54" Taylorcraft in 10th. It goes to show again that
you don't have to build a big model to be competitive in Kit Scale (Danny Wynne-Fenton photo).
Chris Blanch winding his SE5, built from a pre-war Megow plan.
Peanut numbers were up compared to 2019 with 16 entries on the day. With the sweeping new rules changes this was a bit of
a voyage into the unknown for both the organisers and competitors. The new rules give more importance to duration rather than static score
and the addition of a 50 second max added another twist.
In the event, only one competitor
managed a maximum 50 second flight from a take-off and this was Nick Peppiatt with his Nesmith Cougar (Chris Brainwood photo). The new rules give flight
time a weighting of three compared to just one in static. What this meant in practice was that Mike Hadland had a lead of 11 points
over Nick in static judging, but Nick flew for 5 seconds more, which when multiplied by three was enough to take first place.
Mike Hadland's immaculately finished Bucker Jungmann which finished second in class (Nigel Monk photo).
First time entrant John Cooper finished third with this Bristol Scout. The model didn't score particularly highly in static, but managed a best flight
just five seconds below the max.
David Prior's Zlin 50M peanut finished fourth with a best flight score of 50 seconds (Nigel Monk photo)
I was pleased with how my new Vought Kingfisher did first time out - as well as coming second in static it also proved to be a stable flyer
and takes off with no problem (Nigel Monk photo).
Best flight I managed was 34 seconds plus the extra 10 for a take-off on a loop of 3/32" rubber.
I think I will try a longer loop next time to see if I can get some more winds on it.
Gary Dickens entered this smart Comper Swift which flew very nicely, finishing sixth in class.
Jonathan Markovitz brought along this really nice D.H.80 Puss Moth (Nigel Monk photo).
John Valiant usually turns up at the Nats with a new, immaculately finished foam Peanut model and this year was no exception.
This is an Aichi A6M1-K "Nanzan", a training version of the submarine launched attack aircraft, hence the attractive orange scheme
(Nigel Monk photo).
Paul Hoey chose the Salta Fossi as his peanut subject, an aircraft I had never heard of. Proportions are very good
for a free flight model and you certainly couldn't ask for
a simpler colour scheme! (Chris Brainwood photo).
Bernard Bruins and Gert Brendel very kindly stepped in to do the peanut and pistachio judging at short notice.
Models on the table, from left to right, are Gary Dickens's Comper Swift, Richard Crossley's pistachio Martin Baker M.B.5,
Tim Horne's pistachio Beechcraft Staggerwing, Peter Fardell's Bristol Scout, Pete Smart's Flitzer and Gary Flack's Hawker Tempest.
Pistachio entries were one down compared to 2019 with seven models competing.
Richard Crossley won with this foam Martin Baker MB.5 (Chris Brainwood photo). It amazes me that a model which looks like a very well made plastic kit can fly for
Nick Peppiatt came second with his familiar B.A.T. Baboon and Chris Blanch third with this Bowers Fly Baby (Nigel Monk photo).
As well as his P-38, Robert Hauk also brought this newly finished foam P-47 Thunderbolt to enter into pistachio (Tim Horne photo). A really lovely little model
but it proved rather a handful when it came to trimming.
The Westland Wyvern has a reputation for being a tricky free flight subject, so hats off to Gary Flack for building a pistachio one out of foam
and getting it to fly for 29 seconds! Nice neat finish too (Nigel Monk photo). The model finished fourth in class.
The second new class this year was Starter No-Cal. Models were limited to 16" wingspan and a minimum weight of 6 g.
Final score was the sum of the best two flights out of six (in seconds).
Clear winner was Chris Blanch with a combined total of 320 seconds with this Cessna 195 turbo - getting
two flights over two and a half minutes was very impressive!
Tim Horne's Chambermaid placed second in class with two flights breaking the two minute barrier (Danny Wynne-Fenton photo).
Choosing a racer like this gives you a relatively large model for 16" wingspan.
This is Graham Banham's third placed Dayton Wright RB-1 racer viewed from the "wrong" side, showing the rubber motor and the stick which
takes the load of the wound motor (Alan Jux photo).
Richard Crossley built this new Douglas Destroyer especially for the event and finished fourth in class (Alan Jux photo).
Smart P-51D Mustang entered by Paul Hoey.
The final event of the day was the always entertaining air race, made all the more fun by Pete Smart's commentary. Winner was Nick Peppiatt
with a Chambermaid, helped by David Prior, Gordon Hannah was second with a Nesmith Cougar assisted by Richard Crossley and third Tim Horne's
Floyd Bean racer with Dave Crompton helping.
A few final thoughts before the complete results listing:
Firstly, a big thank-you to the large number of willing volunteers without whom the Nationals wouldn't happen.
With the static and flying judges, timekeepers, scorers, tech support and door teams you are looking at about 30 people -
about equal to the number of competitors!
Secondly, thanks to all the competitors who came to support the event - it is fair to say the organising team were a bit nervous
as to just how many entrants we would get after our enforced break, so to see an increase on the 2019 number was very encouraging.
Thirdly I am pleased to say that because the two-day event broke even financially, we will definitely be running a similar format for next year,
with RC on the Saturday and free flight on the Sunday. The date has not been confirmed by the sports centre yet, but the aim is to book
the same weekend in 2023 if we can get it. The same organising team will be in place and we are keen to build on the success of this year's event.
As always, constructive suggestions for improvements are welcome.