Top Gun 2018 – 30th Annual RC Scale Model Competition

THE BEST OF THE BEST IN RC SCALE

The Top Gun Invitational scale model competition is an event that I’ve been wanting to witness for a long time.  In fact, it’s an event I hope to compete in some year (once I have the right airplane!).  Many of the airplanes and pilots competing there represent some of the best in the world, so it’s hard not to want to try my hand in that setting.  So, every year when the event comes around, it just happens to get mentioned in my house.  So, when it was mentioned this year and met with a, “do you want to go?!”  I quickly responded, “YES!”  It wasn’t a trip to compete, and that was completely fine with me as I just wanted to witness the competition and the caliber of airplanes that are brought.  Plus, you know, it would be a scouting mission for next time… 😉

Held at Paradise Field in Lakeland, Florida, this year was the 30th annual for the competition and some of the models there were nothing short of spectacular.  Individuals and teams from all over the world came to fight for the title and represented themselves well.  For me, it was a trip to capture media and understand the competition and just take it all in.  To be able to witness some of the Continue reading

AMA West Expo 2018 RC Trade Show

Another year, and another AMA West Expo show! Catching up with old friends and seeing what’s new is always the name of the game and there was certainly plenty of that!  The big news this year was that the expo will be held in a new location next year (which will actually be this November), the Pomona Fair Grounds (promo vid at the end of this article).  This should be a nice change for the show as it will allow significantly more outdoor activities including flying, racing and all that other good stuff that we can only get limited doses of in Ontario.  For the show itself, there was a nice assortment of vendors as there always is, but there seems to be a bit of turnover in the hobby right now.  Some of the old stand-by vendors and shops don’t seem to be standing by as much as they used to and newer vendors seem to come and go.  Hopefully this new location will help re-invigorate things a bit and bring in some additional interest and vendors!

For me this year, I was only able to make it on the Saturday so I setup shop with a couple airplanes on display in the Scale Squadron booth.  I didn’t think the bring Lady Alice last year, so I brought it along with our kit bashed Kfir which fit well within the booth.  There was also on hand an absolutely gorgeously built F3D Skynight in work by Rob Han (his own design).  I’ve known Rob for a long time and he has always done some really ingenious work.  He actually plans to run the airplane with a geared glow engine driving two ducted fans.  I of course told him EDF would be far simpler! 😉

Some of the “new stuff” highlights included getting a sneak peak at Horizon Hobbies’ Continue reading

Best in the West RC Jet Rally 2017

5 straight days of nothing but jet time!

The Best in the West Jet Rally if I had to guess, is one of the largest RC Jet gatherings on the west coast.  Held at the Elk Hills-Buttonwillow airport with regularly over 100+ registered pilots, the result is 5 straight days of non-stop jet flying from a measly 3200+ ft long runway.  Plus, being held in early October in Southern California means that the weather is usually just about perfect (and it was this year!).

It had been a few years since my last visit to this event.  I had actually attempted to get there last year (even paid my entry), but wasn’t able to work it out based on the proximity of the dates to the US Scale Masters Championships.  So, when the event came around again this year, I knew that I wanted to get out there.  The cool thing was, my dad decided to come with me and so it was a great weekend spent flying jets with my hero!  That really made the weekend that much more memorable and fun.

There’s always a nice assortment of airplanes at the event ranging from sport jets to scale.  And they all typically have one common theme…BIG!  In years past, I remembered there being notably more sport jets than scale jets.  However, my observation this year was that sport jets were far less prevalent and scale jets reigned supreme!  For this scale geek, it was nice to see and there were some absolutely Continue reading

Warbirds & Classics 2017 RC Airshow

It’s hard to believe that the year is half over already!  It feels like since the US Scale Master’s Championships last year until now, I haven’t done all that much flying.  At least certainly not as much as I could hope for.  Between my kids getting into competitive travel sports added to having limited accessibility to our flying field here where I fly my large airplanes, it’s been a little difficult just getting to the field.  So when the Scale Squadron’s Warbirds & Classics event peeked around the corner, needless to say I was excited!  It was going to be 2 straight days of RC airplane goodness and some much needed flying!  Leading up to the event, I had been focusing my spare time in the shop trying to get our little kfir kit bash project finished up for the event and this was her debut outing!

Between the Scale Squadron’s hospitality, the picturesque back drop of OCMA’s Black Starr canyon flying site, and the incredible assortment of airplanes, this event is a must go for me.  I look forward to it every year and there’s always a ton of flying to be had.  Plus, it’s a chance to spend a weekend flying with my dad which I cherish deeply.  The beauty of the event is that there’s a great assortment of airplanes, but there’s never an issue with the flight line backing up causing much of a line.  Anytime anyone wants a flight, it usually happens straight away.

The event took place Saturday June 9 thru Sunday June 11.  I was there Friday and Saturday with my A-7 Corsair II, ASM Tigercat, and newly finished Kfir.  Through those two days, I Continue reading

2017 AMA Expo West RC Airplane Trade Show

 It’s always a good time at the Expo!

When January rolls around, that always means it’s AMA Expo time!  It’s hard to believe that’s it’s actually been a year already since the last show.  Every year the expo is held at the Ontario Convention Center and features a bunch of vendors and manufacturers in the RC industry so it’s always an interesting show to head to.  It’s more than that though.  The RC community is like a family, so the show feels almost like a reunion as I get a chance to catch up with friends that I don’t get to see but just once or twice a year plus meeting new friends too.

This year, I was honored to be asked by the AMA to be one of the presenters for the show.  Truth be told, when the AMA asked me to speak at the show, I was humbled by the opportunity.  I’ve been coming to this show since I was a kid and as I mentioned in my article about this show last year, I even met my wife at this show 15 years ago if you can even believe that!  But, to share the presenters stage with so many amazing people is something I never imagined truthfully.  The AMA was cool enough to video and provide my presentation to post on my YouTube channel, so here it is in case you missed it! Continue reading

2016 Scale Masters Championships

Wait, what just happened?!

The road getting to the 2016 US Scale Masters Championships was not an easy one for me this year, that’s for sure.  Ever since crashing my Jet Hangar Mirage IIIRS last year, I had been plagued with mishaps and bugs throughout the year and truth be told, it got pretty discouraging…to the point that I contemplated not going multiple times.  But, the championships were at the Woodland-Davis Aeromodelers field which is where they were in 2013 and it was such a great event, I knew I had to get there in 2016.  With everything leading up to the event (I even had a mishap requiring repairs two weeks before I was due to leave!), I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be reporting that I came out of the event as the “Grand National Champion” finishing 1st place in Expert!  And to have my dad there calling for me while competing with an airframe that stemmed from the very first RC jet design he kitted back in the late ’70s was just such an honor for me.

champion-father-son

Organized by the US Scale Masters Association, the US Scale Masters Championships have been ongoing since 1980.  From the beginning, this national championship has hosted some of the best scale builders and pilots in the world and have continued to do so for more than two decades.  In order to attend the national championship, a competitor must qualify at a regional qualifier event (I covered the Gilman Springs Qualifier a few months ago).  The truth is, I remember attending numerous qualifiers and championships out at Mile Square Park (that flying site is sorely missed!) in Southern California as a kid with my dad and I have always remembered the caliber of  the airplanes being just incredible (I tried my first qualifier at 18 with a Royal Zero kit I built).  2016 was no exception as the airplanes in attendance were beautifully crafted and masterfully flown! Continue reading

Warbirds & Classics 2016 Scale RC Airplane Event

Mmmmm, Warbirds…

After attending the Warbirds & Classics Scale RC Airplane event last year, I couldn’t wait to come back!   Between the awesome assortment of airplanes, the fellowship with old and new friends, and the incredible backdrop you get from the flying site, it is a must attend for me.  It helps that it’s local enough for me that the drive getting there isn’t too bad and I get to have a fun weekend flying with my dad.  Needless to say, this year’s Warbirds & Classics did not disappoint!  The Scale Squadron hosted event had even more pilots and even more airplanes and it was a blast!  I was there Friday and Saturday and got my fill of all the flying I could handle and filled up my memory card with pics and videos…twice!  I had my trusty A-7, Mirage, and Tigercat in tow.  I was eager to get the Tigercat out to an event.  It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle to get them all packed into the back of my Sienna, but somehow it worked!  If you weren’t excited enough to see what was at the event, here’s a quick compilation video of some of the action at the event (more pics and video further down).

Located at the OCMA rc airplane field in Black Starr Canyon (next to Irvine Lake in Irvine, CA), the event has open flying for any scale aircraft (warbirds, civlian, jets, etc.) which Continue reading

Gilman Springs US Scale Masters RC Airplane Contest Qualifier 2016

All Hail Scale!

Obviously, I’m a scale nut!  I think it seriously runs in my blood.  I actually cut myself once and started bleeding Federal Standard color chips! 😉   In all seriousness, the big scale projects I build, I’m always building with scale contests in mind…it’s kind of a sickness.  When I found out that the US Scale Master’s (USSM) championships are once again being hosted by the Woodland-Davis Aeromodelers this year, I knew that this year was a contest year for me!  You see, I had attended the championships in 2013 at Woodland-Davis and had an absolute blast and have been hoping for a chance to go back and fly with them again!

static_judging

April 23-24, the Gilman Springs RC flyers hosted the USSM Western Regional Qualifier.  This is a new home for this event as years previously it had been hosted by the Hemet Model Masters.  The Gilman Springs venue is great for flying since it’s on private land and has minimal limitations for airspace and aircraft type that can fly out there (rare for sites Continue reading