Flying Aces Nationals
14th - 16th July 2006, Geneseo, NY
The first day of competition dawned sunny and calm, with ideal flying conditions. The main problem was the heat (in the high 80's) and humidity which sapped the energy and made long retrieves tiring (not that I had many of those to do!)
I spent most of the day flying jets for fun and trimming out the Brown B2 to get a time posted for the Shell Speed Dash, which decides qualification for the Greve and Thompson races (both mass launches). I managed 60 seconds as a best
flight, which I would normally have been delighted with for a new model, but this was a different league and I was a long way off making the cut. To give an idea of the standard, two 90 second flights might just have given you a chance of qualifying!
I also gave the Dash 8 a test flight to check it still flew with the wings glued back on. Thanks to Rich Weber for the photo. The wearing of a hat was mandatory given the prevailing weather conditions!
Events flown on Friday included WW1 and Fairchild 24 mass launches, golden age civil, and modern military.
The mass launch events are very popular at Geneseo, though can be hard work if you survive the first two rounds and get into the final.
Long retrieves are part and parcel of the events, and you have to remember to save your motor,
and only wind on enough turns to stay up long enough to get through the heats.
In the final, you wind all the way (but break the motor and you are out!)
These events are not the easiest to film, as models are going everywhere, but to give you a feel, here is a video of the first round the WW1 Combat event.
You can hear the mechanics calling out the names of their pilots when their planes hit the ground.
There was also plenty of jumbo and giant scale activity (both of which can be flown on any of the three days)
including Chris Starleaf getting some air under the wings of his enormous rubber powered Consoloidated B24
Click here to see the video (3.5 MB)
Chris also put up a very impressive flight in power scale with his Lockheed L-188 Electra.
Click here for the (rather long) video (12 MB)
Another power flyer in action was Bob Bojanowski with his well detailed electric powered Martin Mariner.
Bob had the misfortune to have an excellent flight terminated by the FAC rental truck.
Click here to see the video (3.5 MB - not for the squeamish!)
Vance Gilbert had a bad day on Friday, and as well as running over his peanut Anec III he badly damaged his Avia BH 25 and Letov trimotor.
To cheer himself up (and entertain the rest of us) he flew some of the other aircraft from his fleet later in the day.
Here is Vance with his twin rubber powered D.H.Mosquito, finished in wartime BOAC markings.
Click here to see it flying (4.1 MB)
He also flew his D.H.Flamingo rubber twin, a lovely light floaty model with a 35" wingspan and a weight of just 54 grams.
Click here for the video (3.9 MB)
And then there was his Westland Limousine, which flies much better than its portly appearance would suggest!
Click here to see the video (3.6 MB)
Friday was also the day on which the Blur race was held, which is basically a speed dash over a measured course, held in heats, with the first models across the line qualifying.
There is a motor weight limit, and successful models tend to have very short, fat motors.
To give a taste of the event, I have edited together some of the rounds in this video (5.1 MB)
After the official flying was over, it was back to the university restaurant for an evening meal,
returning to the field afterwards for some low key fun flying and trimming until it got dark.
One event of note on Friday evening was a tribute to Hurst Bowers, a designer of many sucessful scale models, and by all accounts a true gentleman.
After some memories had been shared, and a toast made, one of his old models, an General Aristocrat built many years previously, was brought out for one last and final flight. It had been fitted with an
electric motor and a battery pack good for 25 minutes, so pretty well guaranteed to fly out of sight.
Don Srull launched the model and it climbed steadily away into the evening sky. Then, slowly at first, it began to get into a stalling flight pattern, with each swoop getting closer to the ground.
Wally Farrell set off after it to collect the model after its inevitable landing, but remarkably, its potentially final dip finished with the wheels brushing the ground, after which the model
climbed away in perfect trim again! This was greeted with much applause and laughter by the assembled crowd, who then all
watched in amazement as the model slowly drifted out of sight.
That was not the end of the story, as apparently later that evening a local farmer found the model
and delivered it back to the flying field, wanting to return the lost model. The final act was for some unnamed individuals to place the returned model outside Don Srull's hotel room door, knock and beat a hasty retreat!
What happens next is a good question. Will another attempt be made to persuade the model to fly away for good? We shall see.....
This looked like it was going to be the busiest day of the contest, with FAC Scale being flown,
plus amongst others, Dime Scale, fiction flyers, high wing Peanut and the Greve, AT-6 and WW2 mass launches.
Overnight rain was still persisting at breakfast time, but had stopped by the time we got down to the field. Hindsight would show that there was a window of
only a half an hour or so when the field was drying off and before the wind got up, to get in a timed flight. Clive Gamble and Vance Gilbert were amongst
those who took advantage and got in competitive times. The rest of us did not realise that
once the wind had got up, it would stay in for the day.
As the afternoon wore on, many models were prepared in case the 15 to 20 mph winds dropped in
time to beat the 5.00 pm deadline, but it just did not happen. Builders of new models specially for the event, such as Rich Weber with his Bristol Scout, and Tom Hallman with his Dornier Do X
were especially frustrated. I was undergoing similar feelings with the Dash 8, as it had made the trip across the Atlantic to participate, and I had new motors
fitted and ready to go, but in the end I just thought I could not risk piling it in. I did get a flight in with the Brown B2 during the afternoon (it being much less vulnerable with its knock-off
wing) and at least got onto the results table with a 35 second flight. It would have been longer, but half way through the flight the rear motor peg slipped out
and joined the prop at the nose of the aircraft, precipitatng a vertical dive into the ground. I fortunately escaped with just some torn tissue on the rear fuselage.
It was a shame that Saturday was the day chosen for the Jet Scale event, as these models always put on a better show in calm conditions. Both Marty Richey (BV P.212) and Chris Starleaf (Mig 15)
managed flights over 40 seconds, which was very good considering the wind. Marty got the better time (45 seconds) but when the bonus points and scale marks were factored in, Chris came out the winner.
I ended up in a fly off for 3rd place with Danny Kane, in which he comprehensively beat my Fiat G.91 with his BV P.215.
It goes without saying that the conditions were also rather challenging for the mass launch events, and I saw several models get badly damaged as they crashed straight after launch.
I got some first hand experience acting as Clive's mechanic in the AT-6 event. This is much easier than being the pilot, because all you have to do is hold the model
while it is being wound, and shout out your pilot's name when the plane touches down. The pilot, of course, has to walk to the other end of the field and get the model back!
I cannot remember who won the event, but we made it through to the last round.
If the flying had been a bit disappointing during the day, the evening more than made up for it.
Tom Hallman was celebrating his birthday, and all were invited to gather around for a beer
in the evening sunshine. Nobody seemed very keen to stop chatting and head back to the campus, so the suggestion was made to order in some Pizzas from town.
This idea received unanimous approval, so that's what we did.
The wind gradually fell away, and it was not long before conditions were just about ideal for some jet flying.
Paul Morris had made the trip from Canada with his scale jets, so he, Marty and I had some fun flying in front of
an appreciative audience, who "ooooohed" and "aaaaaahed" their way through most of the flights.
I am almost sure the alcohol had nothing to do with it! We even managed a mini mass launch of
three models simultaneously, which looked rather impressive in the fading light. I was flying the F-105
and at the end of its flight it performed its patented impression of a lawn dart into the hardened earth,
to much amusement.
Here are a couple of videos of Marty Richey's models in action on Saturday.
Firstly the Blohm und Voss BV P.215 (2.8 MB)
And secondly the Blohm und Voss BV P.212 (2.8 MB)
The weather for the final day was very hot, with a stiff breeze until about 10 am, when it fell away,
and we got a couple of hours of calm weather before the wind picked up again later.
Classes being flown included
FAC Peanut, Golden age military, Jimmie Allen, modern civil and the Thompson trophy,
low wing trainer and Goodyear/Formula racer mass launch events.
There are no bonus points on offer for the modern civil class, which is usually won by high wing cabin types,
but as the Dash 8 was eligible, I entered it so at least it could compete in something, having failed to fly the day before. My best
flight was a modest 47 seconds, but it looked very pretty against the blue sky.
Click here to see a video of one of the Thompson Trophy heats (the first one I think) (2.6 MB)
I am pretty sure this photo of Tom Nallen II launching his jumbo scale Westland Pterodactyl Mk.IV was taken on Sunday.
Its best flight was a very impressive 88 seconds, especially considering the relatively short fuselage.
Many thanks to Tom Nallen I for sending me such a great picture.
Unable to fly it on Saturday because of the wind, Tom Hallman gave his Dornier Do-X a go on Sunday,
and as you can see from the video here it flew very nicely.
The photo above gives an idea of just how far these guys stretch their motors whilst winding!
The event closed with an excellent banquet and prizegiving on Sunday evening. As you can imagine,
there were an awful lot of awards to give out after the meal, especially as plaques are given down to fifth place.
The organisers have it down to a fine art though, and it all went more quickly than I expected.
Most people stay over and drive home on Monday, so there was plenty of time afterwards to hang around for a final chat,
and to admire the various trophies.
At this stage in a contest report I would normally be documenting all the class winners and their scores, but in this case I
freely admit I cannot remember anything except that Vance Gilbert won FAC scale with his D.H.Flamingo and Tom Hallman came away with the grand champion award.
I thus eagerly await the forthcoming issue of FAC News where everything will be detailed!
So what impressions have I brought back with me from my first trip to Geneseo?
Well, it was certainly a very well organised event at a marvellous flying field.
Did I mention that it is next to an active airfield where AT-6's fly in and out all day?
If I didn't, I should have done, because it definitely adds to the atmosphere!
The trimming skills on display by the guys who win things are of the highest order,
especially with the powerful rubber motors often used. It is basically doing rubber duration flying
with scale models, mostly with types that are considerably less stable than the average duration model.
I met a great crowd of friendly people, with even the leading lights taking time to chat and answer questions.
Would I like to go again? Well, let's put it this way; there was plenty of time on Monday's drive back to Boston
to chat and reflect on a great few days and it has to be said that quite a lot of the time was spent discussing potential projects for the 2008 event!
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