Flying Aces Nationals

19th - 21st July 2012, Geneseo, NY

Part 1

Hard to believe the FAC Nats was here again already - surely two whole years hadn't passed since the last one? There was the usual last minute panic to try and get models finished. One made it - the Portsmouth Aerocar, and one didn't - the Brewster Buccaneer. Two more weeks and I might have made it, but I didn't want to rush it and spoil it.

Here is the now traditional model box shot. Just five models this time. I was relieved that the Aerocar fitted snugly over the Argosy, which was sitting in its usual spot in the bottom of the box. I squeezed in my old 1/24 scale Claude on top, plus the ancient Stearman 76 Comet dimer (13 years old I think) and the Peck peanut Druine Turbulent. The loose piece of polystyrene on the top is the prop release jig for the Argosy.

Ros kindly drove me to Heathrow airport on Monday lunchtime on a miserable overcast day in pouring rain with the slightly surreal feeing that in a few hours time I would be across the Atlantic and experiencing considerably warmer and sunnier weather.

After a trouble-free journey with Virgin Atlantic, it was a relief to find the model box (plus the less important suitcase with all my clothes in) on the baggage carousel at Logan Airport. My friend Clive was there to meet me as usual, and he gets a huge thank-you for looking after me during my stay, and doing all the driving. On the way back from the airport we stopped off at a shopping mall (as I believe they are called over there) to get a bite to eat and also, at my request, visit a craft store, where I was able to pick up such modelling related goodies as Crayola Model Magic, repositionable glue sticks and fine tipped Sharpie markers.

Back at Clive's it was time to open the model box and see if everything was OK. I discovered that this time I had made a packing error by getting the Stearman wingtips too close to one side of the box - the side walls are not very stiff and can move a bit, and two wingtips were damaged in transit. My own fault, so lesson learned, but the damage was easily fixed. Everything else survived the journey unscathed.

We aimed for an 8.00 am start this time, so relatively civilised compared to previous years. It's always a bit of a squeeze to fit everything in the car, but we managed it. There had been a heatwave in the US during the preceding weeks, and it was certainly baking during our long drive west. The car was registering an outside temperature of 101 deg.F at one point, and with the breeze, it was like stepping into a hairdryer when we got out of the car to make a dash for the air conditioned service area.

We arrived at Geneseo about 2.30 pm after a trouble-free run. As always, there was a thrill of anticipation as the field came into sight - four days of model flying to look forwards to on "the field of dreams". I couldn't wait to get down there! A small crowd were already assembled at the opposite side of the field to the hangars, putting up the HQ tents, and as the afternoon wore on, there was a contant stream of new arrivals. What I love is, it may have been two years since we last met, but you pick up with your friends like it was just yesterday, and you are really made to feel part of the FAC family.

There was much debate about the wind direction and the crops surrounding the field this year. The bad news was that corn had been planted round three sides of the field and it was very high - about 7 feet high and very densely planted. The chances of finding a model if it went in there would be virtually nil.

The wind was currently blowing directly towards the corm a few yards away, but the good news was that the wind was predicted to change overnight and blow towards the hangers away from the corn. As a result of the uncertainty, nobody put up their canopies until the next day.

It was too windy to fly, so having heard rumours of something interesting in the hangar, we walked over to have a look. Actually, there were quite a few interesting aircraft, including an Antonov An-2 and Douglas Havoc, but there, parked in a corner was a delightful Sopwith 1 1/2 strutter replica. Needless to say, I took a few photos, one of which is below.

After a baking walk back across the field, we just sat around and chatted for the rest of the afternoon before driving up to the university to check in to the dorms. On returning to the field, the wind began to settle down, and thanks to Chris Starleaf, a Barbeque was lit while some evening flights were made before it got too dark to see. As darkness descended, with a beer in hand and a full stomach, sitting round the fire in good company, life felt pretty good.

It was very hot in the dorms that night - thank goodness we had a fan, but I didn't sleep too well. Fortunately, the temperature dropped the next day, and we stayed around the mid 80's for most of the time, which was much more comfortable.

Wednesday dawned calm with damp grass, and much indecision about where to pitch camp. The light winds were blowing from the corn towards the hangers, which was most fortunate. I did some trimming flights with my Stearman dimer and the Claude. The Dimer looked pretty good, but I had trouble setting the rudder on the Claude in exactly the right place - it's rather twitchy. I decided not to risk trimming the Aerocar until after judging, which took place during the afternoon at the Quality inn.

Here's a general view of the function room where the judging takes place. As usual, a fantastic collection of the Aeromodeller's art was on display and there were plenty of new models to admire. Below are some models that particularly took my eye.

This is Doug Beardsworth's beautiful jumbo scale Messerschmitt M 29.

Dave Mitchell entered this immaculate Waco QDC in FAC scale.

Gorgeous Jumbo scale Bestetti Nardi BN.1 by Mark Fineman which took fourth in class. Look out for a video of this one later on.

one of three beautiful new twins entered by Chris Starleaf - this is a Breda Ba. 88. Like the others, this one flew amazingly well.

Here is Chris's Jumbo scale Grumman G-159 Gulfstream - another great flyer which finished second in class.

And finally his very lightweight Cessna 310 - a great example of capturing the shape and charactor of an aircraft using the minimum amount of sticks. This model won the FAC scale class with 35 bonus points and three flights around a minute.

Stunning Nielson & Winther Type A by Mike Isermann which won the Earl Stahl award. The quality of finish and level of detail on this model would have graced any BMFA scale contest

Power scale entry from Doug Beardsworth was this immaculately finished Curtiss BF2-2 Hawk from the Diels Engineering kit. Doug used an Atomic Workshop Voodoo motor plus Zombie controller. Model finished fifth in the power scale class.

Tom Nallen II entered this ambitious Curtiss model D flying boat.

Vance Gilbert usually turns up with something special - this year it was a jumbo scale Curtiss twin Jenny. Carbon fibre motor sticks were used to carry the rubber motors. It was a splendid sight in the air, and flew for over 40 seconds.

Octavian Aldea made the trip from Canada and brought this Tupolev Tu-2 - an excellent flyer as you will see later in a video. As you have probably gathered, there were a lot of twins entered this year!

Tom Hallman had a new jumbo model this time - a Mig DIS, which due to the huge wing area and light weight flew in a very slow and majestic fashion. I videoed one flight of over 2 minutes - look out for that later. Model finished third in class.

Another new model from Tom was this IAe 27 Pulqui I - A little known Argentinian jet from the 1940's. It finished second in the FAC scale class - very impressive for a single engined plane with only 10 bonus points, achieving a fantastic three flight average of 110 seconds.

Peter Kaiteris built this Messerschmitt BF 109Z for FAC scale, and was rewarded with fifth place.

This P-47N Thunderbolt won Doug Beardsworth the Earl Van Gorder Memorial Award for the best WW2 model. It was built from the Diels Engineering kit and flies well.

Clive Gamble's Piper Vagabond was much admired for its neat chalked finish and excellent detailing. It was built from the Thomas Designs kit reviewed elsewhere on this site and put in a five minute flight during the competion, having to be retrieved from a tree - fortunately with only minor damage.

This is Don DeLoach's impressive Dewoitine D.338 - a great choice of subject.

Mike Isermanns exquisite Lemberger LD20b peanut was very well detailed. You can see my peanut Druine Turbulent from the Peck kit behind.

North American Savage by Wally Farrell and ......

a North American Super Savage by Tom Arnold.

Very pretty American Eaglet by Ara Dedekian made me want to have another look at the Golden Age Reproductions kit I have stashed away.

This is Don DeLoach's Vought Corsair which was victorious in the WW2 combat mass launch.

Matt King entered this fine Avro Triplane in the Pioneer class - certainly lots of rigging to do on this one. Nice prop too.

Unusual entry in power scale was this Westland Pterodactyl VII flying boat by Don Srull - a paper project which certainly clocked up a few bonus points! Behind you can see Tom Hallman's D.H.2.

Gorgeous jumbo scale Miles Sparrowhawk by Wally Farrell. I've got the plan for this one.........

After popping back to the university dorms for an evening meal, there was plenty of time to enjoy the calm, sunny evening conditions down at the field before it went dark. I started trimming the Aerocar, which was looking promising after adding some lead shot and clay into the box I had cut into the bottom of the noseblock. I only took it up to 600 winds, but the climb out with two loops of 1/8" rubber in each boom looked pretty impressive. A bit stally on the glide, but not bad for a first outing. Here is a video of Vance Gilbert launching Mike Isermann's Nielson & Winther Type A for a test flight in the calm evening air.

The Barbeque was on again, but flying conditions were so good, it was hard to get people back from the field to eat the food. Most were eventually driven in by darkness, and it ended up being another late night sat round the fire.

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