Top Gun 2018 – 30th Annual RC Scale Model Competition


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 models that I’ve only really seen in magazine articles was inspiring.  The atmosphere was quite friendly as well, just like I’ve experienced at Scale Masters.  It’s a tough competition yes, but the atmosphere was supportive with competitors just trying to help keep their airplanes flying which is what scale competition is about.

The title of “Mr Top Gun” this year was awarded to Jack Diaz with his Avond’s Fouga Magister.  I’ve seen this airplane up close before and it’s beautiful and needless to say Jack flies it flawlessly.  In fact, Jack won Top Gun a couple years ago with this same airplane.

Lance Campbell finished first in the masters class with his scratch built SR-71.  The airplane was absolutely massive and featured all of the details of its full scale counterpart.  A nice touch was that the inside of the main hatch was autographed by all of the full scale Sled Drivers.

The Unlimted class was won by Ali Machinchy and Joe Castelao with a monstrous T-34 Mentor.  The airplane had a multi-cylinder inline engine and it sounded amazing!  Team scale was won by Mike Barbee (unsure of the builders name) with a big twin electric KingAir which looked like the real airplane flying around.  I’m unsure the results for the Pro-Am categories and I was unable to find them posted at the time of this writing.

I only had two days to spend at the event, but that was certainly enough.  I came home with over 100 gigs worth of media.  Needless to say, I think I’ll be sorting through that for the rest of the year…  In the meantime, I think it’s time to dust off the competition builds and get crackin’ because maybe the next trip will be to compete! 😉

Here’s an assortment of pictures followed by videos as well.  I will be posting more video on my channel ( as I process through it.


Lance Campbell’s SR-71 Blackbird (Amazing is what comes to mind!)

Jack Diaz’s Fouga Magister (Flown perfectly by Mr Top Gun!)

Trond Hammerstad’s ME-262 flown by Ali Machinchy (Complete with animatronic pilot!)

Brett Becker’s XB-70 Valkyrie EDF (One of the coolest EDFs out there!)

F4F Wildcat with Moki Radial Engine (crank up the sound, this thing sounds amazing!)

Giant Scale Frecce Tricolori G.91 (Unique model that looked and flew great!)

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