Website visitor Doug H. wrote to ask that I post this article
on the AMA's 1970 Radio Control Nationals. He is collecting information on Don Coleman's
accomplishments in the modeling world. If you have any information to that extent, please send it to
me and I will see that Doug gets it. Don Coleman designed the
Sweettater RC pattern aircraft.
Lots of familiar names appear in the winners list.
AMA 1970 RC Nationals
By Don Lowe
THE NATIONALS ARE like nothing else on earth. To the modeler it's Utopia-heaven - you name it! Where
else can you witness every facet of aeromodeling known to man? The Nats are so big and so complex that
those who compete must confine themselves to their specialties and then read about everything else that
The Nats RC '70 included every AMA-sanctioned RC event except Class C Pattern. Even an unsanctioned
RC glider meet was held during Nats week for those with that particular inclination.
Kirkland dominated Class D Expert, although others' points were close.
Scale event winner was Ed Ellis with much-modified kit of Spirit of St. Louis.
Points Champ Larry Leonard flew colorful Liberty Bell. Won Formula II also.
Don Lowe flew Phoenix 5, latest in design series. Citizen-Ship and Max engine.
It's hard to imagine the flying ability of one B-36, but two were at the Nats! Here
Drummond's takes off.
Second-placer in Scale, magnificent flying and rocket-firing P-47D by Frank Nosen.
Ed Keck used deBolt-designed Caudron to place second in Formula II. Speedy plane.
Family effort, Ernie Weiss and sons made 4th place, Class B. He's mighty happy.
Fast fixing by Dick Allen on Formula II ship which turned 1 :52 in prelim heats!
Everything in life is a compromise, unfortunately, and Nats RC scheduling this year was designed
for maximum flight activity per event. It accomplished that goal admirably but, darn it, too much going
on to see everything!
RC activities ran all week, with Pylon Formula I and II qualification flights on Monday and Tuesday;
Class D qualifying flights on Wednesday and Thursday; Class D Expert finals, Scale and Formula II Pylon
finals on Friday; D Expert finals, Scale and Formula I Pylon finals on Saturday; and Classes A and B
and Pattern on Sunday morning.
How They Finished
Class D fliers were allowed eight qualification attempts using a short pattern. In two days, that's
enough flying for anybody to determine the finalists. The short pattern flights also determined the
D Novice and Jr., Sr. winners. Twenty D expert fliers were advanced to the finals where a complete Class
D pattern was flown.
Class D finals and Scale were flown Friday and Saturday mornings on a frequency time share basis.
Half the Scale fliers put in their flights on a separate two-flight line complex, using half the available
frequencies, while Class D fliers did the same at the other complex at the same time. As it worked out,
Class D finalists flew three flights in rapid succession and then turned the complex over to the other
ten finalists. Scale fliers did the same. Classes A and B were flown on four flight lines using the
full A and B patterns. These fel-lows received five flights each and seemed to have a fair share of
the time available.
Pylon fliers had three qualification attempts each, with the top twenty in each class selected for
the finals. Finals were flown in four-ship heats with each flier getting five rounds.
Pattern prelims were flown in high (hot and humid) crosswinds blowing straight across the runway,
so all maneuvers were flown crosswind or slightly quartered in order to avoid the crowd. For those who
hadn't worked on cross-wind maneuvers, this was difficult, but it did not handicap the practiced expert.
At least it was equal for all. Finals were flown under gorgeous conditions with little or no wind.
This was the year of the retracts.
Most of the top fliers were sucking them up. Eleven of the twenty Class D finalists had them and
eight of the top ten finishers had retracts. Discussions with a number of these fliers in regard to
the value of retracts prompted comments ranging from "nah, they only have judge appeal," to "you better
believe they help, particularly on the top of some of the big looping maneuvers or in the Top Hat."
My observation is that they do help in the technical execution of the maneuvers. At this point, their
weakness is mechanical in that crosswinds are tough on their fragile construction and in-flight failures
occur too often. What is needed is more competition and development in this, line of equipment.
Mufflers were in wide use, with most top fliers using them. Not only do they take out the savage
bark of the engine, but the model seems to fly better! The smoke trail that they generate is also of
benefit to the judge and pilot in tracking maneuvers. Will smoke generators become a standard competition
item? Could be. The maneuvers certainly are prettier with a smoke trail.
Jim Kirkland dominated the Class D Expert prelims but received a strong challenge from Doc Edwards,
Phil Kraft and others in the finals. There was about
a 5% point spread between the first and tenth places in the finals, so you can see that it was tight
competition. You never saw a more excited guy than Jim when he finally realized he had won it. Jim says
this was the year that he wanted to prove that former champs can come back (he won in '63). He certainly
did it-with outstanding steady flying. Of course, he only practiced four times a week for six months
and every day for a month to do it! The quality of flying was exceptional at this Nats and indicates
that a lot of others have been doing their homework too! The added impetus of the FAI Internats team
selection in September might have had something to do with it.
Formula I and II Pylon was strictly something else-with the fastest qualifying and final times ever
posted at a Nats. Would you believe qualifying times in the 1:40's for Formula II and the 1:30's for
Formula I? Well, it happened and less than two min. was required to qualify for Formula 1. In fact,
I squeezed into Formula II with a 2:07! Dave Keats posted a time of 2:08 in Formula II and decided not
to fly his remaining qualification attempts since he thought his time would surely be good enough-he
almost didn't make it since he was 19th qualifier!
Formula I finalists were almost exclusively Minnows, making it mighty tough on the flaggers! The
ship is fast and has outstanding turning capability. Formula II had more variety and eye appeal. K&B
dominance in the field received a strong challenge from the new ST 40 ABC's, with many of the fliers
using the new engines. Again-viva competition! Best finals time in Formula I was 1:36.9 for Al Sager
of the S.O.B.'s, using a K&B-powered Minnow, and 1:38 for Vern Smith, using an ST-powered Minnow.
With the times that are now being turned in Formula II, it's logical to ask where we go from here.
There seems to be strong sentiment to adopt FAI rules for Formula II and use zero nitro fuel. Formula
I finals saw a mighty close fly-off between eventual winner Bob Smith and Al Sager. Terrific competition
and a spectator treat was to see H. Goldclank coaching Al Sager around the pylons-TOIN!!!
Is there an end or limit to the lavish detail that scale enthusiasts strive for? Dario Brisighela
probably wishes that he had backed off slightly on his gorgeous Hornet, which garnered top scale points
but never flew.
Would you believe two B-36's in the same contest, and they flew just great? Ken Drummond received
a special award for the flying of his six-engined (and flaps) B-36. Coincidentally, Ken also received
a special achievement award for the same airplane at the Wright Brothers Memorial Meet in Dayton, Ohio.
Since I was unable to witness the scale flying, my appreciation goes to Bev Smith of Pettit Products
for the pictures included in this report. I also want to thank Dave Corven and Bill Welker for their
assistance in picture snapping.
Jim Wilmot's Pegasus MK IV in Class B. Two-wheel gear handicap in crosswinds.
Just released, Al Sager's Minnow. This one aircraft type dominated the Formula I
George Hill's brand-new midwinger, known as Virginian, used retracts too. Half of
top 20 had them!'
Posted December 18, 2016