Flying Aces Nationals

17th - 19th July 2008, Geneseo, NY

Part 1

With two years between every FAC Nats, there is really no excuse for last minute panic building to get a model finished in time, but as usual in the Stuart household, that is exactly what happened. It was a race against time to get the Argosy and Focke Wulf 190 finished, and they ended up getting completed the day before the trip. Thus no time for even a test glide before packing them up in the model box (the same one I built for the last trip)

As you can see here, the packing was even more convoluted that last time. The Argosy had to go in first, then everything else was manoeuvred in around it. As before I used expanded polystyrene nests to cradle the models, held together with cocktail sticks or sections of kebab skewer, plus the odd rubber band where needed. To get the XB-51 in the box, the wings had to be cut off, then glued back in when I got there (just like the Dash 8 last time). Also in there are the Focke Wulf 190, Gotha 145 peanut, Laird Speedwing Junior peanut and the Fiat G91 retained in its nests in the box lid by a rubber band.

I flew into Boston with Virgin Atlantic again, and all credit to them, because the model box duly appeared on the baggage carousel with my other bag, and all the models survived the trip completely undamaged.

Thanks again are due to my good friend Clive Gamble, who picked me up from the airport, put me up for the night either end of the trip, and did all the driving to Geneseo and back.

After an all too short nightís sleep, we set off bright and early heading 400 miles West along Interstate 90. In contrast to two years ago when it poured down, the weather was hot and sunny and we made good time (well as good as the speed limits would allow). After a break for lunch we got to the field about 3.15 pm. Several cars had already arrived, and some models already been unpacked and let loose in the excellent flying conditions. Time for a first beer, a chance to say hello to some familiar faces, as well as meet some new ones. Also a chance to open up the model boxes and catch up on what people had been building since the last Nats.

Eventually we nipped back to the hotel to check in, then returned to the field, where Vance Gilbert and Chris Starleaf, both of whom were camping out that night had set up a barbeque. They were never going to eat all that meat by themselves, so we did what we could to help. That made a pretty good start to proceedings, sitting by the museumís B-17 relaxing with good company, watching the flames die down as the sun set. The temptation to fly something was irrestistable in the calm conditions, and here is a video of Mike Isermannís lovely Boeing 306B flying wing (file size 4.8 MB). This was Mikeís first attempt at a flying wing, and he says it was surprisingly easy to trim. It certainly looks a treat in the air.

When darkness fell, it was back to the air conditioned comfort of the Quality Inn, and a lesson from Clive on how to braid single loop motors. Actually not so difficult, you just wind the motor up before tying the knot. I do not always braid my motors, but I felt it was essential for the relatively short outer nacelles of the Argosy.

Next morning, after a (large) American breakfast at the Omega Grill, we checked out of the hotel and found ourselves a pitch on the flightline at the airfield. Everybody tends to bring a tent (gazebo) with them, and they are generally lined up in an orderly fashion along one edge of the field.

This was our home for the next four days, nice and central, next door to Shortyís Basement and close to most of the action.

We narrowly missed a thunderstorm after we had set up, but it passed us by and we only caught a little rain on the fringes. In the wake of the storm, the air was very still, and there were very good trimming conditions before the wind picked up a bit later on.

Clive was trimming his brand new Sopwith Camel (seen above at the evening judging), a 22 inch span version based on the old Peerless plan. The really innovative thing about this model was use of a very short peg to hook distance, with a heavily braided long motor. The fuselage in the Camel is so wide that if you use a loose sleeve over the rear peg, bunching at the rear is just not an issue. The rear peg is actually positioned in front of the trailing edge of the lower wing, so that you can change the rubber motor size without upsetting the centre of gravity. If you thought a short nosed subject such as a Camel would have limited potential as a rubber powered subject, just have a look at the trimming flight here (file size 5.8 MB). Later in the week I timed this model on a 130 second flight into the potatoes!

Thanks to Dick Gorman for the above photo. I decided not to test the Argosy until after the scale judging, in case I wrecked it. I did however start to give the new Focke Wulf a few tentative flights. It proved to need a lot of noseweight, but after increasing the incidence angle of the tailplane it began to show promise.

Scale judging takes place at the hotel from 2 pm until all the models are done, which in the case of some of the most heavily subscribed classes was rather late in the evening. The array of models on the tables was very impressive, with some fantastic examples of stick and tissue scale modelling on display. Hopefully the following photos will give a flavour.

Feature model in this shot of a table of FAC scale entries is Dave Mitchell's beautifully finished Lockheed Orion, built from the Dave Rees plan. I think this model unfortunately ended up lost in the potato field during the competition.

Another of Dave's models was this delightful Aero A-10 airliner.

Vance Gilbert can usually be relied on to produce something spectacular for the Nats, and this time he brought along this twin rubber Shorts S.26 Golden Hind flying boat. To get a reasonable motor run, the rear pegs are located under the wing trailing edge and the rubber motors extend through the rear of the nacelles. In flight you hardly notice them, and it makes an impossible rubber subject possible. Flight times were limited to around 35 seconds, but it was a very impressive sight in the air.

There are always plenty of racers at the FAC Nats, and this is Roscoe Turner's LTR-14 which won the Thompson Trophy in 1939. Jack Kacian was the builder of this excellently finished model.

This is Mike Isermann's Boeing 306B, an audacious fighter project from the mid 1930's. The full size one never got to fly, but as you have already seen, Mike's 26" span version is an excellent performer.

FAC fly two jet classes at the Nats, one for Rapier and one for rubber power. I think I am right in saying that everything on this table apart from the Comet airliner is Rapier powered. There was a lot more Rapier flying going on this time compared to two years ago, and the Rapier Jet scale class was hotly contested.

Here is Bernard Dion's winning model, the amazing PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor agricultural jet biplane.

Here is the alternative way of flying an FAC jet - Tom Arnold's rubber powered Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. This model was based on the Rapier plan elsewhere on this site, but enlarged slightly and with built-up tail surfaces substituted for the all-sheet ones.

There were plenty of rubber twins on display, this wonderfully finished Arado 440 being the work of Andrew Ricci. This is an ideal subject for rubber scale, just look at the length of those nacelles!

Nice Cessna Loadmaster by Dave Stott.

Tom Arnold made this great looking rubber powered Bristol Beaufighter for the FAC scale class. Flight trails were going well until one motor seized during a flight, causing the model to crash heavily.

Doug Beardsworth brought along this unusual Kawanishi N1K1 Kyufo (Rex), built from his own design. Very neatly finished and I saw the model make several good flights.

John Regalbuto built this rubber powered Henschel P.75, a German WW2 paper project, and fitted one of his contra-prop gearboxes. The model put in some impressive flights over the next few days.

Very neat peanut scale Culver Dart by Jack Kacian I guess I should have engaged macro mode for the small models, sorry for slight fuzziness.

Winner of the Walt Mooney award for best Peanut scale entry was this delightful Potez 29-2 by Rich Weber. The model coped very well with the wind on Friday, and put in some excellent flights to finish 5th in the FAC peanut class.

At the larger end of the scale, Rich also turned up with this brand new jumbo scale Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus. It was built lightly for such a large model (even the rear booms were balsa) and the braided rubber motor was entirely contained in the short fueslage. The rotary engine was free to rotate on the propellor shaft, which added to the realism.

Tom Hallman's latest masterpiece was this Giant Scale Junkers J.1. Unfortunately the photo does not do justice to the model, which was immaculately finished and detailed.

This is Vance Gilbert's Jumbo scale Avro Lancaster testbed, used to develop the Rolls Royce Dart turboprop. Those four freewheeling scale props gain useful bonus points. The model flew very well in the competition.

I was rather taken by the scheme of this Jumbo scale Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk by Mark Fineman.

Outstanding electric powered Vickers Supermarine Walrus by Ted Allebone which would have graced the judging table at any BMFA competition. Apparently this is Ted's third one, after the other two flew way. This one has a dethermaliser fitted!

Dave Rees entered this splendid Plage Court Torpedo in the Pioneer scale class, complete with well modelled pilot and "ordinance operative"!

John Regalbuto brought along this very ambitious Jumbo scale Northrop XB-35 with four rubber powered contra-rotating prop units. Model was unflown before the event so trimming was attempted during the calm evening sessions.

After admiring all the models, and spending some money with the traders, it was time to register at the university dorms, and grab a bite to eat. When we got back to the hotel later, the judges were still hard at it, due to the large number of entries. By the Time Clive's Camel and my Fiat had been judged, it was 8 pm, which only gave about an hour's flying back on the field before it went dark. I got some reasonable looking flights with the FW 190, then went out to join Rich Weber and Tom Hallman who were doing trimming flights in the middle of the field. Tom ended up using a head mounted torch to help him find his models in the dark, but eventually we had to give up and head for the dorms. This year we had been asked not to drink alcohol in any of the common rooms, which was a bit of a blow, so gatherings now happened in the rooms instead. Ours was one of the chosen rooms the first night, which was a bit of a squeeze, but a great opportunity to have a few drinks and natter about models until the early hours.

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