AMA National Champion in Peanut

After placing 3rd in Scale with a new model (Keith Rider R-2), 3rd in WWII with a new model (Peanut Barracuda), and 3rd in Old Time Cabin with a most unlikely model (14″ span Pacific Ace Jr), Friday was my day to try to excel.

Peanut Scale has always been a favorite to me; it is probably responsible for my entry into Free Flight, as I was inspired by the centerfold plans in Model Builder magazine, which were often Walt Mooney plans.  It was because of Model Builder and these plans that I shifted from r/c to FF.

On Friday morning, under a cloudless blue sky, I took out my Peanut Fairey Barracuda and tried to put in a time.  I figured it got a pretty good static score and I wanted to get some flights in on it before the winds came up (they were predicted to get up to 15 mph or so by early afternoon).  The Barracuda had flown 1 minute the day before in the WWII Mass Launch, so I expected a respectable time.  It was not to be.  I couldn’t get an official after a couple test flights and a couple of official attempts.  So I put it back in the box.

After a few minutes, I grabbed last year’s winning plane, my Pegna P.C.1 and decided to give it a shot.  I’ve been getting around a minute plus with it recently, but know it can catch air.  I wound it up, probably 1700 turns or so on the loop of 3/32″ rubber and called for a time.  I waited for a little until the air felt right and launched the little red plane.  It dutifully and purposefully climbed up in a left hand turn, getting higher and higher while I started chasing on my bike.

One problem with winds from the west in the early morning is that the model goes down wind and you are trying to follow it while it flies up by the sun – then you have to navigate the bumpy field on your chase bike.  Add to this a large swampy area in the middle of the flight path that must be skirted, sometimes by going north when you model is going south and you have a problematic situation.  My plane was getting higher and higher – into the sun and over the swamp.

But all’s well that ends well and my model finally came down after Hung teased it with a fly-away.  It cleared the swamp and eventually landed gently on the field.  My flight time was 1:51 – nearly the 2 minute max.  And that was just pulling the plane out of the box.  I got back and was happy.  I put the model down and sat back for the rest of the day, since there was a really good chance that the time would hold for the win – and this was around 9am or 9:30.

In the early afternoon, the AMA CD (Mike Fedor, I think) came over the the Flying Aces tent and showed us a trophy.  He said that it resides in the AMA museum and is the AMA’s Walt Mooney Memorial Perpetual Trophy to be awarded to the champion in the Peanut Event.  He said that AMA had allowed that several of the perpetual trophies be displayed on the field and the champions could have their photos taken with the trophy, but they would be returned to the museum.  He mentioned that past winners could also have their photos taken with the trophies.

I will settle for a single photo.  This is a proud moment for me.  I was unaware of the AMA Walt Mooney trophy, but I have seen many trophies in the museum.  I think the AMA has been lax in engraving the names – most of the trophies were not up-to-date.  Maybe someday my name will be on this trophy and if so, it will be on there at least three times, as I have now won this three consecutive years: 2013, 2014, and 2015.

2015 AMA Nats Peanut Champion(thanks to Don DeLoach for the phot0)

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VIDEO – the Biggest Phantom Flash You Ever Saw!

Over the winter, FAC Columnist, Vance Gilbert, proposed a new just-for-fun class of FAC flying for the non-Nats – MEGA Scale.  He defined that as greater than Giant (48″ monoplanes) and targeting 54″ span.  I like big planes, I’ve built a couple Jumbos, but never one that big.

I didn’t have time, even though Geneseo was months away.  I do work 40 plus run a business and had to build other planes.  But, as Geneseo got closer and closer, I got antsy.  I tried to let the clock slip past the time that I could possibly build a plane, however, with a week to go before our trip, I mentioned Mega to my son, Jack, once again – whining about how I wish I had built one.

Jack says “why don’t you build a Mega Phantom Flash – just for fun?”  Wow.  I could actually do that.  And I had just enough time!  So I did just that.  It took 4 days, but I got it done in time to go to New York.  I flew it every evening after the real flying and had a great time flying it.  Here are some photos, followed by a video.



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Free Flight into the Future

I just returned from 5 days of Flying Aces Club fun at the “non-Nats” (the FAC has a “Nationals” level contest every two years, however, they have a large contest yearly – alternate years are call the “non-Nats”).  This year there were 101 registered participants – roughly 10% of the FAC membership.

At one time or another, every Free Flight-er asks the question, “is Free Flight dying?”  This is a legitimate question for our segment of the aeromodeling hobby since it is so tiny and nearly invisible in comparison to r/c.  Our companions always seem to be older and pass away with alarming regularity; it’s very sobering.  Time, which robs us of our flying buddies, also provides us with a new perspective.  When I started Free Flight, I was a young man and part of the “new blood”.  The ten years I took off went by in a blink of an eye and when I returned, I noticed several things:  my friends were so much older than I remembered, many were no longer around, and…there were new people to get to know.

Free Flight is not dead.  We continue to get new people in and they will pick up the torch.  As I observed the crowd in New York this week, it is evident that there are many flyers that are younger than me – this is the new “new blood” crowd.  It’s good to see the people in their late 20s through 40; they are likely becoming settled in their life and finding hobbies that interest them for the long haul.  Two such people I saw this weekend were Gerard Kondrat and John Jackson.  We see Gerard at the New York events; he is from Canada and cannot get to the contests farther away.  He has a young family and usually brings his daughter, Marie, to the events.  Gerard picked up his FIRST  Flying Aces win this week at a contest where it is difficult for anyone to win (because of the high level of competition);  John Jackson has been flying with the Cloudbusters for about three years now.  He was awarded his “Blue Max” for achieving 16 wins in his FAC “career”.  He also has a young family and, as I said earlier, it is great to see younger people discover this hobby.  I am confident these two will continue with Free Flight and carry it forward.

John Jackson and his Korda Victory

John Jackson and his Korda Victory

And there are young people, too.  Not only kids that come with parents, but kids that BRING their parents and kids that WIN.  It’s always great to see anyone under 20 participating, but you have to wonder if they will continue with the hobby after college and family and such, only our Dear Friend Time will tell.  However, I do need to mention two bright young stars in the FAC:  Marie Kondrat and Oliver Stone.  Both are in their early teens and have been mentioned here before, but they deserve mentioning again.

A year or so ago, Marie won her first kanone in WWII-Combat in a smaller contest that she attended.  Last year at the Nats, she placed 4th in the BLUR Race (flying in a straight line, consistently and quickly) and this year she won the event.  Her plane was first across the line in every heat she entered and was clearly the most consistent plane and pilot.  Her father, Gerard, said she had been practicing a lot and he was justifiably proud of her win.


Marie Kondrat, Gerard Kondrad, and Bernard Dion in the BLUR Race

Oliver is an interesting case – he discovered Free Flight on his own, without the traditional introduction from his father.  I met him last year and observed great potential in his flying.  Well, one year makes a difference.  This year he placed 3rd in Embryo (51 entries!) and was the only contestant in Embryo to record two max flights.  He also placed FIRST in Dime Scale.  In fact, he flew two planes in Dime, but the lower scoring plane is eliminated by rule – however, it scored high enough that it would have been 4th place.  Oliver has done an amazing job learning Free Flight and Stick & Tissue.  He has even brought his father, Michael, into the hobby and Michael has started building and flying.  It is my strong hope that we continue to see these two young people at Free Flight events for years and years to come.

Matt King, Oliver Sand, and Pete Kateris in the BLUR Race

Matt King, Oliver Sand, and Pete Kateris in the BLUR Race

While this has been focused on the Flying Aces Club (Rubber Scale Free Flight), I know that there are younger people finding NFFS and AMA Free Flight, also, whether it is Indoor, or Outdoor Rubber, Gas, Glider, or even FAI Team Selection.  Us old, older, and oldest fogies can breathe a small sigh of relief that Free Flight still has life and will continue into the future.  We can always clamor for more participation and more new blood, but let’s not forget to acknowledge that the next generation is seeping in.

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FAC Non-Nats – Day 1

This long day started out with a drizzle, but ended in perfection.  Today was the judging of planes (and selling for us vendors).

Jack and I had to scramble to get all of our planes logged to fly and then we spent the day until 5pm selling stuff to modelers in need.

Then we spent the evening test flying planes in weather that ended up as a cloudless and windless twilight with the sky filled with planes of all shapes and sizes.

Here are two friends’ planes.  The first is Campbell Blair from Ontario with his Chambermaid Dime Scale model from our Volare Products Short Kit.


And this model is a Keith Rider R-2 Peanut (from a Volare Products plan) by young Oliver Sand from Brooklyn


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2015 FAC Non-Nats – It’s Time!

Well, it’s 6:30 in the morning and I am still not packed.  There is product to load up, laundry in the dryer, and a few other things still left to do.  But it’s just an hour or two before we (Jack and I) start down the road for Geneseo, NY.

This is an off year for the Flying Aces Club – the big contest isn’t the bi-annual “Nats”, hence the name “non-Nats”, but there still should be upwards of 100 contestants registered and flying.  Jack and I are bringing TWENTY-TWO models to fly over the three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).  Now, a couple of those are back-ups, so they may not get flown, and I usually run out of time or can’t get a particular model to fly like I want it to, but – we will do a lot of flying. (We still have repairing to do, also – and we have models that haven’t flown more than a test-hop!)

I will try to post photos from the contest.  My phone can load straight to Facebook, but my digital camera requires downloading and uploading.  And of course, if I am taking pictures, I’m not flying!

Time to get back to work and on the road – SEE YOU THERE!



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PRE-ORDER NOW for Geneseo and Muncie!

Yesterday was my birthday, and my birthday wish is that all of my customers that know what they want and plan to pick something up at the FAC Non-Nats in Geneseo or the AMA Nats in Muncie (both in July) – my wish is that you PRE-ORDER NOW.

Pre-ordering will make my life easier; yours, too.  I will pre-package and have the orders ready for you at these events.  I plan on doing MORE FLYING and less on-field selling during contest hours this year.  I like to consider myself a flyer/competitor first and a salesman second.  Last year, my flying was hampered because I was trying to be a good salesman.  The low point last year was a customer asking about product as I was removing a wound model from my stooge.  I talked with him for 10 minutes or so with the wound model in my hand.  So, help me and I will be glad to help you – pre-order.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t be selling at the flying field – just don’t expect much during flying hours – after hours, I will be on the field until late in the evening.  And at Geneseo, we will be selling Wednesday at the judging.

A note on birthdays – if you can choose the time of year to be born in, definitely choose late June, if you’re a male.  Summer is starting, the weather is getting nice.  Besides that, as you get older, it’s like a 3-week holiday – mid-June is Father’s Day, my birthday comes a week or so later – then another week later is 4th of July.  It’s a great time!

I spent yesterday packing several orders and I even built a model.  I’ve been having issues with my two current NoCals – I can’t seem to get competitive performance out of them.  SO – I decided to build another.  This was about 5 hours, start to first test flight, with plenty of breaks tossed in there (its an easy build!)  The model literally leaped from my hand and climbed to about 20 feet on 400 turns on a loop of 1/16″ rubber – NO ADJUSTMENTS.  I imagine that someone might find this someday after an OOS flight.  It’s the Cessna 210 Centurion from my laser-cut short kit.  Here’s a photo from a similar test flight this morning.


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CONTEST REPORT – McCook @ Muncie – 20 June 2015

(several photos below)

This weekend, some of us braved the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill and hoped to get some flying in as Dayton McCook Field Squadron scrambled to their annual contest at the Muncie flying site.  Many decided to stay away because of the forecast.

It seems Indiana has been getting a LOT of rain.  My first indication was 45 minutes north of Muncie as I exited the highway at my normal exit and found the Wabash river over its banks blocking my way.  That delayed my arrival Friday night.  Saturday morning broke with full overcast and a 10 -15 mph wind blowing from the northeast.  Since the Sunday forecast called for 25mph winds with higher gusts, we decided to compress the two-day event into one day.

The Muncie flying site is now populated by many rain-fed lakes and all but the highest ground was squishy with water or even hiding an inch or two of standing water.  Boots were the order of the day, although sometimes, even those were useless.

We all set up on the road near the cemetery on the eastern side. This was the lake a couple hundred yards west of our base.


That is an AMA power ship from the group that was to our north.  Unfortunately, Pat Murray and Jim Bair both laded in that puddle at least once.

The half a dozen or so of us that showed up made a valiant stand.  I had planned to fly 16 out of 19 scheduled events over two days, but that was reduced.  I only flew in 10 events and 3 of those that I declined were not flown at all.  Pat Murray and I really pressed forward and we battled our friendly battles all day long.

Here is Pat launching his 2-Bit entry to first place – Erie Daily Times.  I took second and Lee Campbell took third.



I was first out of WWII, the fault of a too-long motor.  Here is a shot of Jim Bair’s 3rd place MiG.  Marty Richey (Focke-Wulf 190 Dora) was second and Pat Murray (Boulton Paul Defiant) took the win.


I also took 4th in Jet Catapult, with Jim Bair and Pat Murray trailing behind Elvin Bueschle.  Elvin also placed 3rd in Jimmie Allen (in the photo), Pat Murray took second and I flew my JA Special to first place.  Elvin and Pat were flying Skokies.


I took second in OT Stick (behind Pat Murray) and OT Fuselage (behind Pat Murray), but I only got second because Stu Cummins and Lee Campbell only put in single flights, not wanting to chase across the wet marshes of the National Flying Site.

Here are two of the three Greve/Thompson Racers: my Caudron (2nd) and Jim Bair’s GeeBee (3rd).  There is no photo of Pat Murray’s Mr Smoothie whose erratic and acrobatic flight stole first from my stable flying Caudron (stole, I say!)


I am sad to report that no one besides myself attempted flights in the McCook Watson Challenge.  In this, you can fly any plane in any manner you like as long as it is powered by the CD-provided 24″ strand of 1/8 rubber (you can even use it as a catapult) – best two out of three flights.  I powered my Pacific Ace Jr to 50-60 second flights.

I also eeked out a win over Pat Murray and Jim Bair (I think?) in Phantom Flash – that was a new and untested model that took the win.  Another brand new model from me was my “Bad Axe” embryo.  This plane put in the last three flights of the contest, finally ending at 8:10 pm.  We had switched sides of the field and we were now on the west side flying east-north-east towards more lakes.  Stu Cummins had logged a flight or two in Embryo earlier,  and I had watched Pat Murray put up some pretty good times with his Big Cat.  Rather than throw up a concessionary flight on my Sky Rocket, I decided to go for the win with the Bad Axe.  A few test flights and then a new motor.  I put in flights in the 70-second range, 80-second range, and the 90 second range – and took home first place.


I logged 30 official flights on Saturday with an untold number of test flights.  Pat placed similarly high number, he also took home first place in Scale, NoCal, and (I think) Golden Age.  We sat around and chatted all Sunday morning under sunny skies, but ever-increasing wind.  We probably could have flown, but we had decided to fly the day before and this let us get home early.

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Next Up – Peanut Fairey Barracuda

Back in 1998, I built a little Barracuda Peanut.  The plan appeared in the Cleveland Free Flight Society’s “Crosswinds” newsletter.  It was a great flyer right off the board; my records show that I won 7 kanones with it that year, in Peanut and WWII, before it was lost OOS in Flint.

After my previous post about my Stuka and how I really should build another – better performing – WWII plane, I dug out the old plans, modified them and laser cut some parts out of 1/32″ sheet and 1/20″ sheet.  The largest dimensional wood in this model is 1/16″ square for the leading edges.

With a bit of trimming, this should be a great flyer; it already does about 3 left-hand circuits on 500 turns of a single loop of 1/16″ rubber.  With a bit of LUCK, I’ll keep it around for awhile, but I expect it will also go OOS before the end of the year.

It is 10 grams without rubber, and still needs a tail wheel and radio antenna and wire.  All color and decoration was printed onto white Esaki.  Laser cutting started on 30 May and the test flights were yesterday (but I did wait about 3 days to make a canopy).

See the full gallery here:


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TONS of RARE TOOLS Available in the Basement!

I’ve been gathering rare Free Flight tools from several estates.  I have now uploaded them to the Basement.  There are winders, winders, and more winders.  Also rubber strippers, torque meters, CO2 motors and more.

Check them out here:

ChainGang WilderLRG Wilder20-04 Thermik Telco TanII StripperCZ Sidewinder-4 Oppegard-03 Modela27 Jones-03 GG-03 winder131 WilderTorque30 BlazF1G BlazF1B-2

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TWO NEW Volare Products KITS!

Finally, I can release two new NoCal kits that I’ve been working on.  As you might know, one of my “production requirements” is that the design must prove to be fly-able.  This is a carry-over from my days of selling plans – nothing gets sold if it can’t fly.

Within the last month, we have been able to test and fly these two NoCals:  The Cessna Centurion and the Aircraft Designs Turbo Stallion.  When I look for a subject for NoCal, I look for a few things and some of these are:  High Wing (for stability), Retract Landing Gear, and no Wing Struts (both for simplicity and weight savings).

Both the Centurion and the Turbo Stallion meet these requirements.  I’ve designed laser-cut parts for all of the “curvy” parts.  This leads to rapid construction.  And both kits have proven to be stable fliers.  They are designed for Outdoor flying – that is, they should be strong enough to take out into a little bit of a breeze.

They are $10 each; you get full sized plans, a laser cut parts sheet, and you can find them in the Basement.




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