BMFA Indoor Scale Free Flight Nationals, 23rd April 2023
Where does the time go? It doesn't seem 12 months since we last met at Walsall for the Scale Indoor Nats. As last time, the RC and free flight events were held on the
same weekend and having a two-day competition encouraged even more overseas modellers to enter. As well as the UK, we had flyers from The Netherlands, Sweden, The Czech Republic, Greece and the USA. Eight flyers entered in both RC on Saturday and free flight on Sunday.
Entries were up on last year - 42 compared to 35, though we did have several people drop out for various reasons, and on the Sunday we ended up with 35 flyers, four more than in 2022.
Despite the high number of models entered, everything ran smoothly and we managed to keep to time. I was very grateful to Paul Rich for taking on the CD role on Sunday so I could concentrate on flying my models.
There had been some tweaks to the rules since last year, mainly in peanut and pistachio. Total score had changed from being three times the best flight time plus the static mark to the best two flights added together, then added to the static score. So, more emphasis on the static score this time. Also, the 60 second maximum could now be made in two ways - 60 seconds from a hand launch or 50 seconds plus a 10 second bonus from a take-off. Last year, aircraft without an undercarriage were penalised because they could only ever get a maximum flight time of 50 seconds. The ROG bonus was dropped for pistachio.
The intermediate class had its second outing as it proved popular last year. The class sits somewhere between Open and Kit Scale - the model is judged against a 3-view and photos, rather than a kit plan, 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.
The class would typically be for kit models than have been improved, modified or had detail added and for open type models
where not enough photos or documentation exist to enter the model in the open class. Minimum flight time required to get a qualifying flight is 15 seconds.
In kit scale the requirement for the model to only use the power source shown on the plan was dropped, but this made no difference at all this year - all entries were rubber-powered apart from Doug Hunt's electric D.H.2 built from a Microaces kit (where of course an electric motor was specified).
If you would like to peruse the latest rules in detail, here is the
Scroll down to page 112 to reach indoor scale.
We had 11 entries in Open Rubber, the same as last year, of which eight managed a qualifying flight.
Antonin Alfery made the trip over from the Czech Republic and won the class with his amazing Vought V-173. As you can
see from the photo above, no fancy gears are used, just two separate rubber motors with vertical motor pegs positioned close to the
stars and bars.
Vladimir Alfery took this video from the balcony of one of the flights giving an unusual perspective. I still can't quite believe how well it flies - I
wouldn't know where to start trimming such an unusual design.
Second in class was Richard Crossley's Nakajima B5N "Kate", a very consistent and realistic flyer. Thanks to Danny Wynn-Fenton for the fantastic flying shots I've been able to use here, including this one of the Kate.
After a very good test flight on Saturday evening, My Curtiss SOC Seagull refused to behave properly on Sunday - it
was very inconsistent, maybe due to rubber bunching around the prop hook. I somehow managed to come away with third place though, which came as a complete surprise when it was announced. Danny Wynn-Fenrton photo.
After it had flown so well at Nijmegen last November, it was no surprise that Pete Smart chose his venerable Pitts Special as his open rubber entry.
The model placed fifth in class. Danny Wynn-Fenton photo.
Robert Hauk made the trip over from the USA again with a completely new collection of models this time. His open rubber entry was this very neat Fokker D.VIII.
Pete Fardell entered his Bleriot XI which has a nice slow flying speed, as befits the prototype. Danny Wynn-Fenton photo.
Dave Crompton entered this new and really well finished Miles Sparrowhawk - the model was completely untrimmed and despite Dave's best efforts on Sunday
it failed to make the
15 seconds required for a qualifying flight. It's such a pretty model I hope we will see it again next year.
In CO2/electric there were nine entries this year - much better than the four we had last time - of these six managed a qualifying flight. One of the models that didn't
manage 15 seconds was my new Airco D.H.5 as the Voodoo 15 motor didn't have enough power to get the model above head height from a hand launch. This was my fault for overshooting the 30 gram target weight. The model now has a Voodoo 25 motor on board and I'll try again at Nijmegen.
Rather than his Coronado flying boat, Richard Crossley chose to enter his lovely Piper Tri-Pacer in the class this time, a decision that paid off as he won the class
comfortably - the Piper got top marks in both static and flying. Thanks to Danny Wynn-Fenton for the photo - you can see the Piper has a family of three on board and there is also a dog in the back! The video below shows how well it flies.
Antonin Alfery entered his new North American FJ-1 Fury powered by an electric ducted fan. The flaps are modelled extended to increase wing area and lift - a really clever idea. The model flew as if it was on rails, as you can see in the video below and it was an extremely consistent performer, finishing second in class.
Gerard Brinks finished third in class with his new Fairchild F.71 - the complex and colourful scheme was very well reproduced. Vladimir Alfery took the video below from the balcony showing how well the model flew.
Fourth in class was Graham Banham with this pretty Porterfield Collegiate (Danny Wynn-Fenton photo).
Here is Derek Knight's beautifully detailed D.H.82 Tiger Moth.
George Kandylakis here working on his marvellously detailed D.H.9 which obtained the highest static score but sadly didn't manage a qualifying flight on the day.
The Intermediate Scale Class was run for the second time with entries slightly down on last year at nine. Five of these managed the 15 second qualifying time.
Winner was Chris Blanch with his peanut scale Bowers Bi-Baby. Despite its small size it got the highest flying score in the class and placed second in static.
Second was John Bowerman's Howard DGA 8 which is the Earl Stahl design as kitted by Flyline Models. It's a fine flyer as you
can see in the video below - a couple of feet more on the hall width would have meant a perfect landing!
Chris Brainwood placed third with this CO2 powered Sopwith Camel in its unusual and attractive blue colour scheme. The model got the highest
static score in the class.
Martin Pike entered this Ganagobie homebuilt which I think is based on the Peck Polymers peanut scale kit. Martin achieved two qualifying flights and placed fifth in class.
Dave Crompton brought along a newly finished Piper L-4 Grasshopper which looked great but sadly couldn't be trimmed well enough in
the time available to get the required 15 second qualifying time.
The kit scale class remains very popular and we had 24 entries. There were a couple of withdrawals and the usual trimming dramas, so we ended up with
19 models that achieved the 10 second qualifying time - exactly the same as last year.
Gerard Brinks won the class with this Bowers Fly-Baby, built from a Hummingbird Models kit, which he also entered in the open rubber class, where it finished sixth. In both classes the model got the
highest flight score of the day. The video below was taken during one of the kit scale rounds.
John Cooper finished second with this Rearwin Speedster from the old Flyline kit. The model was very well trimmed with a nice flying speed.
Dave Crompton brought along his Frog Cessna Bird Dog again and came away with third place. Video below was taken by Vladimir Alfery.
In fourth place was John Bowerman was this Fiesler Storch from the Guillows kit - not a manufacturer we see often in kit scale unless its a Fairchild 24, as their designs tend to be
rather heavy. The coloured tissue desert scheme was very neatly done.
Pete Fardell's Herr Fokker D.VII in Dutch markings placed fifth - I managed to capture a flight on video below.
Finishing all of half a point behind Pete was Paul Hoey's Auster built from the Aerographics kit - the current re-issue from the Vintage Model Company I think.
There were three Veron Tru-Flite models entered in Kit Scale, with both Chris Blanch and myself hoping to give Gary Flack's Aeronca Champ some competition for the Tru-Flite Trophy. I entered my Nieuport 27 and Chris this new Harvard. We finished in a row in 7th, 8th and 9th place with Gary victorious and taking home the trophy again.
Tim Horne had a new Sopwith Triplane built from the Vintage Model Company kit - untrimmed before the competition it achieved four
qualifying flights, during one of which a wheel fell off with surprisingly little effect on the flying performance! Danny Wynn-Fenton photo.
Ben Pallister chose the Dumas D.H.C. Beaver Floatplane for his kit scale entry. I really liked the Harbour Air livery - all the red parts were cut from tissue. Apparently the maple leaves were the hardest to do. The model was completely untrimmed before the meeting and the floats proved rather vulnerable to heavy landings.
Ben persevered though and after several repairs managed two qualifying flights.
Here is Tony Rushby winding his Frog Auster with the aid of a neat electric winder.
Peanut scale entries were up compared to 2022 at 18 models, but only 12 posted flights on the day.
One of only three competitors to post two 60 second max flights was Antonin Alfery with this lovely Albatros W.4. This model
also came top in static, so was a well deserved class winner.
Here are Mike Hadland's pair of Bucker Jungmanns - he entered the white one in the competition. Despite not quite achieving the magic 60 seconds, Mike finished second,
beating Nick Peppiatt's double maxing Nesmith Cougar (below) by just two points.
I managed to improve my best flight time with my Vought Kingfisher compared to last year by 10 seconds, up to 44 seconds plus the 10 second take-off bonus - just six seconds off a max. I was happy to place fourth.
John Cooper entered this new Clutton FRED peanut which achieved two maxes and finished fifth.
Mats Johansson from Sweden got the second highest static mark with his very well detailed Bristol Scout
Spectacular paint job on John Valiant's foam Morane Saulnier M.S.406.
This is Robert Hauk's peanut scale entry - a D.H. Cirrus Moth.
Of the nine Pistachio entries, eight registered flights - one more than in 2022.
As well as winning in Peanut, Antonin Alfery also won Pistachio scale with his amazing Curtiss-Cox Cactus Kitten triplane racer.
As well as placing top in static judging, his best two flights were 51 and 52 seconds, which I find remarkable! See video below taken by Vladimir Alfery
Richard Crossley's Martin Baker M.B.5, above, and Nick Peppiatt's B.A.T.Baboon, below, nicely illustrate two completely different approaches to
building a pistachio scale model. The M.B.5 is completely carved from foam whereas the Baboon is balsa and tissue with the flying surfaces only
covered on top. Remarkably both models got identical best and second best flights. Richard took second place because of his higher static score.
This is Tim Horne's neat Waco SRE.
The Starter No-Cal class proved popular enough last year for it to be run again this time, with flights being made during the peanut/pistachio sessions. Models are limited to 16" wingspan with a minimum weight of 6 g and final score is the sum of the best two flights out of six (in seconds). We had a very healthy 13 entries compared to 9 last time, but quite a few models never actually made it to the event due to construction or trimming breakages and some that did make it didn't record any flights. In the end only 6 models posted scores, which was actually one less than 2022.
Chris Blanch won again with his with his Cessna 195 turbo (see last year's report for a photo) - he was the only person to break the two and a
half minute barrier with a flight. Richard Crossley placed second with this Fletcher FL-23, achieving two 2 minute flights.
Roel Lucassen came third with this Mitsubishi Zero.
In fourth place was Bernard Bruins with this Kawasaki Ki.61 Hien. I know this is the Paul Bradley design because I have an identical one in my cupboard. Paul's site is a great place to start if you fancy trying a No-Cal - his designs are free to download and include patterns for the printed tissue. Follow
this link to Paul's No-Cal page.
Gert Brendel had built a new Vought Kingfisher for the class - a pretty model, but judging by the flight scores I would venture to say that the model was proving rather tricky to trim.
Racers generally make good No-Cal subjects, especially where there is a wingspan limit as you can have a relatively long motor stick. This is Luis Bautista's Marcoux-Bromberg R3.
The final event of the day was the air race, made all the more entertaining by Pete Smart's commentary. Winner was Nick Peppiatt (again)
with a Mr. Smoothie racer (22 laps) helped by Gerard Moore, second was Gary Flack's
R1 Suzy racer (19 laps) with John Wynn helping and
Derek Knight was third with a Keil Kraft Piper Family Cruiser (16 laps) assisted by Mike Hadland.
On behalf of the organising team I'd like to thank everyone who helped make the event such a success - the static and flying judges, timekeepers,
scorers, IT wizards and the door team/raffle sellers all gave up their time to help out and we are very grateful. Also of course, to all those who entered - for the second Nats running we had an increase in competitors, which kept the event financially viable and bodes well for the future. The hall has been provisionally booked for the same weekend next year, so 20th and 21st April 2024 - again RC on the Saturday and free flight on
Sunday - I suggest you put the dates in your diary.