Another Jet Hangar Hobbies Scale Masters Champion! I can’t even believe it! 🙂
Scale competition has been a big part of what I enjoy in this hobby. There’s just something about building and flying a model that you’ve created with so much effort to try and simulate and/or replicate a full scale aircraft. For me, it’s so much about flying an airplane that I never in my wildest dreams will have the chance to fly in full scale. That said, competition scale modelling hasn’t been a large focus for me the last couple years. Filming and writing these reviews and tutorials takes quite a bit of time, and I’ve been having a good time flying a number of different models in the process. However, when the Scale Masters Championships came back to California again this year (October 17-20, 2019), being hosted by the Clovis RC club, I got the bug and I knew that I wanted to give it another go. I could only hope to replicate the magic of my 2016 win with my Jet Hangar Mirage IIIRS. Truth be told, following 2016, I was inspired to get my big Mark Frankel Skyray built for the next championships. Well, strangely enough, you actually have to work on a model to get it done! Who knew?! Not to mention Elf labor has gotten so expensive in California these days. So, in the absence of a big Skyray, I wanted to give the championships a try with my Jet Hangar Hobbies A-7 Corsair II and I can’t even believe that I would be reporting a second time that I came out of the event as the “Grand National Champion” finishing 1st place in Expert for 2019!
40 YEARS OF COMPETITION
Organized by the U.S. Scale Masters Association, 2019 marked the 40th annual Championships event. Though the hobby has evolved, the technology has improved and new classes have been added to the competition mix, the goal of the Scale Masters has never changed which has been to highlight the best in RC scale modeling. And those 40 years have seen so many of the best scale modelers compete from the US and around the world. In fact, my dad competed in the very first Scale Masters championships in 1980 (as well as subsequent years) held out at Mile Square park with a gorgeous DayGlo orange F9F Cougar of his own design. The truth of the matter is that a weekend at the Scale Masters Championships is such an inspiring time with a camaraderie that can only be explained as a family gathering. It is such an incredible group of talented and supportive modelers that are there to have a great time while also put their skills up against the best around.
THE COMPETITION FORMAT
It’s been a few years since my last competition related article, so I thought it would be worth talking briefly about the format of the competition. The competition starts with static judging of each of the entries. The aircraft is judged to a maximum of 100 points for accuracy of outline, color and markings, and craftsmanship to a documentation book provided by the entrant. From there, 5 flight rounds are flown over the course of the weekend with each flight score out of a maximum of 100 points. Once completed, the top 3 flight scores are averaged together and then added to the static score for the final score for each entrant. There are 5 required maneuvers to be demonstrated during the flight (takeoff, landing, fly past, figure 8, realism) along with 5 optional maneuvers that are chosen by the contestant that are prototypical of the airplane. In fact, leading up to the competition, I put together a video discussion about it which is below:
Also, as noted in the video, there are a whole different array of categories to compete in, so it’s really open to any number of aircraft whether foam, ARF, composite, built up, etc. Here’s a quick summary of the categories to give an idea.
- Pro-Am Sportsman — Category for entry level competition pilots that focuses most of the points on the flying scores. Aircraft don’t require full documentation, only proof of the aircraft for a maximum of 5 static points allowing for virtually any type of aircraft to be entered.
- Pro-Am Pro — Category for more experienced competition pilots that focuses most of the points on the flying scores. Aircraft don’t require full documentation, only proof of the aircraft for a maximum of 5 static points allowing for virtually any type of aircraft to be entered.
- Advanced — Category for pilots who’ve not built their aircraft (ARF’s or purchased, etc.) or is part of a team. The entrant provides full documentation for static judging the same as the team and expert categories.
- Team — Category for a team of builder and pilot. The builder provides full documentation for static judging and the pilot flies the aircraft in competition.
- Expert — Category for the builder and pilot who both builds and flies the aircraft in competition.
In terms of the weekend itself, it all started Thursday with static judging and flight practice. For me personally, I always bring an airplane to practice with at the field during the static judging day. My goal is to get in as many flights as I can to get my bearings on the field. Every field is different and it’s important to understand the differences for maneuver placement and visual acuity, not to mention sorting out the approach to landing. I had with me my trusty Freewing F-4 Great Pumpkin and E-flite F-16 and hammered out at least half a dozen flights between the two, even in some pretty windy conditions.
As nice as Thursday was, Friday was met with some challenging wind conditions which made some of the takeoffs and landings a bit interesting for the day. Thankfully, that all settled down and Saturday and Sunday ended up being fantastic! Though, there was only one catastrophic crash that I recall, there was a considerable amount of attrition this year in the Expert category that I’d not seen the likes of before. It seemed to be mostly mechanical type of issues that unfortunately precluded some entrants from fully completing all of the flight rounds. Here’s the full round up of the scores (credit: US Scale Masters Association website).
Here are a few pictures and videos from the event. I still can’t believe the end result! Once again, being able to share the experience with my parents and compete with one of my dad’s designs yet again makes it all the more special to me. Now it’s time to get my next competition bird built!
A FEW PICTURES…
A FEW VIDEOS…
The following videos feature some of my favorite airplanes from the event. I was stoked to be able to finally see Chris Spangenberg’s masterfully crafted Hawker Typhoon fly. It is about the most perfectly built scale model I’ve seen!
Hawker Typhoon – This Hawker Typhoon was built by Chris Spangenberg from Vailencourt plans and is roughly 1/5 scale at 100″ wingspan. It weighs 53 lb and is powered by a DA85 swinging a 26×10 prop. Paints used were Testor’s enamels with a KlassKote clear over the entire model. The model finished first in team scale being flown by Bill Adams and is an incredible representation of the Typhoon.
Laird Turner Meteor – This LTR-14 was a really unique model that I’d not seen before. Flown by Robert Wagoner, he had done a complete overhaul on the stock ECOMRC ARF completely recovering the airplane and installing a Moki 150 into it. The airplane really looked good and I can imagine is a really fun airplane to fly.
A6M Zero – This Top RC A6M Zero is actually an ARF, however, the owner and pilot Adam Clement spent a year fully detailing and painting the airframe and it looked fantastic! It featured full rivet detail, nicely executed paint chipping and paint and a pretty incredible cockpit. To add to that, the model was powered by a Saito FG90 3-cylinder radial engine, so it sounded sweet!
Hawker Hunter – This Hawker Hunter was another Top RC Model airframe and it flew great! Powered by a KingTech k160-G2 turbine, it weighs 32 lb dry being able to hold up to 1 gallon of fuel and also features smoke (though not used for the competition routine). The model was an extremely nice flyer and finished up in 1st place of the Pro-Am Sportsman category flown by Jan Sundberg.
P-47 Thunderbolt – This CARF P-47 was entered in the Pro-Am Pro class by Bill Adams and it was such a great flying airplane. Combined with the Moki for power, it sounded so good! Bill finished 2nd in the class averaging 95.25 in his flight scores. The CARF P-47 Thunderbolt in any form is sweet, but add in a Moki 250 5-cylinder Radial Engine and you have something that is absolutely amazing!
A-7 Corsair II – I thought I’d go ahead and throw this in as this is a flight video of my A-7 from a couple years ago (prior to the gear mods). This is the airplane with JetFan90 installed using a 12s 5800mah battery (2x 6s packs connected in series).