The National Indoor Remote Control Aircraft Council (NIRAC) hosted the Third Annual NIRAC Indoor Championships October 7th, 8th, and 9th at the Oakland Yard Sports Dome in Waterford Michigan. I returned to this cavernous facility early Saturday morning. Most of the contestants and vendors had already staked out pit and display space during the Friday evening portion of the festivities.
Dave Robelen was again the event CD. Dave decided to only CD and not compete this year. Fortunately, he did bring along an assortment of his fine models and could be caught sport flying throughout the weekend. Anyone familiar with indoor flying or micro RC planes knows (at least by reputation) Mr. Robelen. One of the pioneers of the sport, he was flying micro and indoor size planes long before current technology made it easy.
Conspicuously absent this year was indoor pioneer John Worth. John has been kept busy running the new online micro flight newsletter Cloud 9 RC Micro World . The high quality of the content reflects John's hard work. I hope that John will have time to attend future events.
Dynamic Web Enterprises (DWE) had an extensive display of micro planes and the new Microbatics gear that included a seven channel RX, 3.7g brushless out runner motor, and .45g brushless speed control. Nearly everything on display had brushless power, including a Super Skeeter and a Widget. Clarence and Dan Hurd keep very busy innovating in the micro R/C field. They always seem to have something new.
Scott Christensen of Sig Manufacturing brought an array of Sig's scale slow flyers built from kits and foam ARFs. Each and every one was extremely well done. Scott competed with two of the scale slow flyers and won with both.
The Cargo event was dropped this year and a Fun Scale event from the first Champs was brought back for 2005. Duration, Old Timer Climb and Glide, RC Glider, Sport Scale, and Pylon Racing were the other events on the agenda. Details and rules of each event can be found on the NIRAC web site .
Batteries were limited to three 50 mAH Ni-Cad cells this year. Very majestic slow-flying purpose built models powered by three 50mAh Ni-Cad batteries. Picture a gigantic Free Flight Penny Plane and you will have an idea of what they looked like. Some of these models used to twist severely in the air due to the torque generated by huge slowly turning props and looked as if they could literally explode should any part of the structure fail. Sadly, that sense of style was absent this year. But, it was replaced with very solid and capable models. Henry Pasquet, Del Ogrin, and Cindy Malinchak each flew very competent duration models. All three were very light and all used a tractor propeller configuration. All three could be seen flying simultaneously during the Duration event.
Models designed prior to 1943, limited to 42 inches of wingspan, and weighing a minimum of 5 ounces. A maximum of 30 second motor run followed by gliding back down. Some of these designs were familiar to me as I have some experience with old timers flown in S.A.M (Society of Antique Modelers) events. New this year was the addition of a spot landing task to the Old Timer event. Flyers had to balance a few seconds of flight time with bonus points for landing within a designated area of the runway.
Gliders were limited to 30 inches of wingspan and had to weigh at least 30 grams. The launch method was restricted to hi-start, towline, or throwing the model this year. All the contestants used hand towing as a launch method. All managed to launch consistently before the competition rounds ended making for a tight field.
These planes, powered by GWS IPS-A power systems and weighing from six to eight ounces, flew ten laps on a course around two pylons spaced seventy-five feet apart. Indoor Racing featured semi scale models of Reno racing planes. All of the racing entries were constructed from foam. The most popular being the Flying Styro Strega P-51 taking all of the top three places. The lone FanTastic Models AT-6 was flown by Kevin Matney. Henry Pasquet also flew a Flying Stryo Rare Bear in the later heats.
I chose to compete in the Pylon event for the first time this year and had a blast. Three heat races of five planes were flown Saturday and four on Sunday. A seventy-five foot course sounded big until I actually stood next to it. It got even smaller when five airplanes tried to race on it. My P-51 survived one mid-air and did a touch-n-go in the back straight. Not bad for a plane with no landing gear.
The NIRAC Pylon rules make a lot of sense from both a competitive and financial standpoint. All the planes fly relativity slow and the skill of the flyer is paramount to success. The equipment specifications prevent the event from becoming a fiduciary black hole. The airframes, power systems, and radio gear could all be had for a reasonable amount. Much of it could be found in planes like the GWS Tiger Moth that many electric pilots learned to fly with. Iíd like to see Indoor Pylon racing of this type expand beyond the NIRAC meet. It would be refreshing to see something other than sport flying at regular indoor sessions.
Models limited to 12 ounces in weight and a wing loading of no more than 6 ounces per square foot. Scott Christensen flew his 1909 Antoinette to another Sport Scale win this year. Scott stated that the Antoinette was going to be retired this year and will not be flown in NIRAC competition again. Joe Malinchakís Piper L-4 finished second and is another scale model that is retiring following this yearís Indoor Champs. Both the Antoinette and Piper L-4 are amazing models and Scott and Joe have certainly earned admiration with how well they are flown. Joe Malinchakís Piper L-4 also took the Highest Scale Point award for models weighing less than 1.5 ounces for the third consecutive year. Bill Smeadís Fokker D-VII placed third despite some difficulty with the flying portion of the competition. Bill was very tenacious and made countless adjustments and repairs to the model. If there was a durability award in Sport Scale, Billís plane would have won hands down. We can all admire his perseverance.
The Fun Scale event was back from the first NIRAC Indoor Champs. Static points for Fun Scale were simply a matter of five points for documentation of the color and markings of the subject. A color photo or color 3-view for example. Flight scores weighed heavily. All three top finishers flew impressive aircraft. Scott Christensen flew a 1910 Deperdussin. It looked as if it would be right at home in Sport Scale too. Joe Malinchak piloted a profile B-17 with working bomb drop. Watch for it in the video clip below. Ken Coleman flew a micro brushless powered Waco UPF-7. Ken had the only micro plane in Fun Scale.
Some of the most compelling models were not entered in the events. Sport flying was permitted when airspace was available. Therefore, there were usually planes in the air. Many of the contestants were test flying or sport flying when they were not involved in official competition flights. The pictures and video showcase only some of the sport models that were flown at the event.
Once again, John Gardner demonstrated the viability of foam as a construction material. His Playboy Old Timer and RC Glider both used foam for the primary components and helped John earn second and third place in those events. John had an entire arsenal of foam planes. It is inspiring to see what can be done with blue foam when one takes the time to remove the ďDOWĒ logo and attacks the medium with hot wire cutter and sandpaper. The flexibility of foam wings really pays off during the towing portion of a glider flight where the wings provided plenty of deflection to let one know that they are pulling too hard. Henry Pasquetís Old Timer model utilized a foam wing as well.
There were a number of Living Room Flyers in attendance. Models this light were once strictly the domain of the very skilled in both electronics and model airplanes. Thanks to the new light 900 MHz radio gear from Plantraco, building a four gram airplane is easily within the reach of most modelers. Joe Malinchak flew a Plantraco Butterfly . This micro flyer comes ready to fly. Complete with plane, battery, and transmitter with integrated charger. Joe also had his almost ridiculously small ďhalf-scaleĒ Butterfly--thatís a four and a half inch wingspan! Also using the Plantraco gear was a Square 9 . The Square 9 was designed by Billy Stillner for infrared control, but it fit the flight gear of the Butterfly like a glove. Flying the Square 9 near the ceiling of the dome was akin to thermal soaring as it quickly got even smaller at altitude.
Speaking of tiny planes, Joe Malinchak brought some amazingly small war birds on about 7 inch wings. A 1/72 scale Corsair and two Hellcats. These were made from very thin foam. Joe flew one of the Hellcats on the lightweight Plantraco airborne electronics and power. The model flew well for a model more than twice its size. Even more amazing when you consider that it was throttle and rudder control only (no elevator). It was a very smooth flyer and did not have the ďguided missileĒ flight envelope one might expect from a very small war bird. Joe mentioned that the Hellcat is slated to be kitted. Iíd like two!
Joe also had a tiny Micron Helicopter. The complexity was amazing. The Micron used Didel servos, the lightest true servos that Iím aware of. I didnít get to see this wonder fly, but I know that Joe has posted some shots in the Indoor Forum.
Dave Robelen brought his Evans VP-1 Volksplane and micro flying wing and was caught flying both very well. Look for the Volksplane and some of Daveís other fine micro designs in a major R/C print publication.
Regulars in the Indoor and Micro Models forum have probably seen pictures of Scott Christensenís micro Waco SRE models. Scott flew the red and yellow Waco on Sunday. Itís really something to see in the air and puts a grin on Scottís face while he pilots it around. It flies every bit as well as it looks. The Waco was, to me, the most compelling model of the event. It has classic good looks and precise flying characteristics. The Waco used sheet balsa construction and was finished with Delta Stencil Magic Top Coat Satin Spray stencil sealer and acrylic craft paint.
Funding events like the NIRAC Championships would be very difficult, if not impossible without the support of generous sponsors. Most of them donated a great number of raffle prizes and made the Sunday afternoon raffle a very memorable portion of the event. Please accept a sincere thanks from everyone associated with the NIRAC Indoor R/C Championships. Readers, please reward their support of our hobby by taking the opportunity to do business with them whenever possible.
Competition rounds were wrapped up Sunday afternoon and followed by the awards presentation.
Henry Pasquet (1st place in four events)
Henry Pasquet Joe Malinchak
Henry Pasquet (for his Duration model)
Joe Malinchak with his Piper L-4
1st - Henry Pasquet
2nd - Dell Ogren
3rd - Cindy Malinchak
1st - Henry Pasquet ( )
2nd - John Gardner (Playboy)
3rd - Joe Malinchak (Quaker Flash)
1st - Henry Pasquet
2nd - Del Ogren
3rd - John Gardner
1st - Henry Pasquet (P-51)
2nd - Tim Wolff (P-51)
3rd - Joe Malinchak (P-51)
1st - Scott Christensen (1909 Antoinette)
2nd - Joe Malinchak (Piper L-4)
3rd - Bill Smead (Fokker D-VII)
1st - Scott Christensen (1910 Deperdussin)
2nd - Joe Malinchak (B-17)
3rd - Ken Coleman (Waco UPF-7)
Cindy joins some very familiar names in the indoor world with her induction. Congratulations Cindy! The Hall of Fame Induction took place at the Saturday evening banquet. The banquet provided an excellent chance to dine and converse with old friends and make some new ones.
First and foremost, the NIRAC Indoor Championships is a gathering of modelers, modelers that still take the time to build their airplanes and derive a great deal of pleasure doing so. Itís more about meeting up with a group of friends who gather to fly together once a year than the competition. I encourage anyone with small models or an interest in same to attend future events. The competition format was very relaxed and unhurried. There was a wealth of information to be obtained and a great bunch of flyers to meet and talk with. Even if you do not wish to compete, you will have a great time simply sport flying or watching in the spacious facility.
This segment of remote control flying is quickly evolving as technical advances make possible planes that were inconceivable only a short time ago. It will be interesting to see what happens between now and the next NIRAC Indoor R/C Championships.
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