Wednesday, July 26, 2023 - We started the day by hooking up the RV and taking it into Middlebury to the Monteith's Auto Service Center to have the wet bolts on the RV suspension greased. It worked out great since the technician was able to force grease into each of the wet bolt bushings which made me feel very good. Sometimes the "zerks" will not take grease, but you cannot just let them go. You have to replace the zerks or in some cases remove the wet bolt to lubricate it. The bottom line is that we have all freshly lubricated wet bolts and it only cost us $67. That is a very good price to have this done.
We then drove for three hours to Muncie, Indiana to the site of the AMA National Model Aircraft Championships. We were at the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC) for the IMAC or the RC Scale Aerobatics Championships that would begin in two days. We encountered some rain along the way, but most of the trip was on good roads and with good weather. When we arrived, we were supposed to check in with registration to confirm our parking site, but there was no one at the facility who could help us out. We went to the main AMA Headquarters and they said to just begin using the site, and we will argue about it later, if there is a problem? I also was able to re-new my AMA membership for another two years. After completing the registration, we went to the site where we were scheduled to be and took it over. Today, the RC Aerobatics flyers are competing and they finish tomorrow. There is a difference between RC Aerobatics and "Scale" RC Aerobatics. The scale flyers are required to fly planes that are scale replicas of actual full-scale aerobatic aircraft being used in international competitions. Most of the scale planes are either 30% to 43% of the size of the actual plane that they are replicating and the are required to deviate form the original design by no more than 10%. The RC Pattern flyers planes do not have to be a replica of any other airplane. Their main building desire is for flying excellence. Any modifications that can make them fly better is allowed. My son Will and I flew RC Pattern in the 70s and 80s in the mid-west using nitro fuel engines. Now all of the RC Pattern planes are powered by electric motors.
After set up, we decided to drive into Muncie to get haircuts. We called and were able to get right in and the hair cutters were very nice. They gave us some great ideas on things to see in the area.
Thursday, July 27, 2023 - Today is the day that most flyers will likely arrive for the event. Many of the pilots have arrived several days early and are practicing at flying facilities in the surrounding area. There is a meeting for all the pilots today at 5:00 pm to go over the event and to also work on some scoring training. Then, scored flying starts tomorrow the 28th at 7:00 am and runs for four days until Monday, August 1. We are currently scheduled to leave on Sunday, but we plan to see if we can stay for another day or two. We were able to extend until Thursday of next week giving us time to relax after the Nats and to ride bikes in the local area on the Cardinal Greenbelt Trail.
Lisa does a great job of searching for things to do in each town that we visit. One of the interesting aspects of Muncie, Indiana is the impact on the town made by the Ball Brothers. The Ball Family, initially, became world famous for making glassware including Ball canning jars. They built a large factory in the town and contributed extensively to Muncie. They also built five large homes for each of the five brothers along the river right in the center of Muncie. A large portion of land was set aside for a small museum and meeting center with extensive gardens surrounding it called "Minnetrista." This means meeting place. There is a beautiful large sculpture in from of the community center/museum and several acres of gardens to visit around the complex. The brothers expanded the business into making aluminum cans and high-tech circuit boards for computers and machines. They made quite a bit of money and eventually move part of their business to Colorado. It was fun to see the homes and the community meeting area, buy for me, the flowers surrounding the facility were lots of fun. Be sure to see the photo gallery on this location.
One of the flyers told us that there is a museum about 30 minutes out of Muncie built around the birth home of Wilbur Wright. He said that it was a nice museum, so we made plans to drive over there after our visit to Minnetrista. It turned out to be a very nice museum and we did not know that Wilbur had been born near Muncie. As we pulled up to the museum, I noticed a "full-scale" aerobatic aircraft performing maneuvers near the museum. Then I saw a second plane. I then realized that right next to the museum was a wonderful flying field for model aircraft and most of the Tucson flyers were at this field practicing for the Nats. We went in and toured the museum and childhood home of Wilbur Wright, and then went out to the field to watch the flyers. What a beautiful flying field. Well maintained and manicured by a local flyer who has a camera mounted near the field and can see when someone is flying. He then comes over to visit and talk to the flyers. Anyone can fly at this field. I hope to get back into flying when we get to Tucson and the field where we would likely be flying is where all of these flyers are based. It would be a lot of fun to watch these guys fly and to ask them for assistance, when I need it to get my plane into the air. We will see. After watching the practice for a while, we drove back to the Nats flying facility where our RV was parked.
Friday, July 28, 2023 - Start of the RC Scale National Championships at Muncie, Indiana. One of the things that becomes clear is that the Scale RC National Championships is not set up to be a spectator sport. There are not bleachers of places to set up chairs, except way to the sides of the event. This event is mostly for the flyers since is it hard for entire families to travel to Muncie. There were some family members who set up chairs under their pop-up tents and shades. We set up on the side and began to watch the flying. Alex Dreiling, the Contest Director, (the person in charge of the entire event) stopped by to say "Hi." He was very gracious and and asked if I would like to judge some of the event. I declined since I had not been to a judging school in a while and I was not aware of recent changes in scoring. I did offer to scribe which is about the most harmless thing a person can do at the event. The write down the scores directed by the judges. This gets me right up front where I can watch the flying and also compare my "perceived" scores with those of the judges. It is a lot of fun and I get to meet the flyers who are judging other flyers. The judges and scribes were already established for today, so I was able to get involved later in the competition.
At about 10:00 am I mentioned to Lisa to look at the weather front line that was moving towards the field from north to south. I knew that the competition was about to come to a quick stop. Within just a few minutes, the winds picked up to about 25 knots and the flying stopped. People were disassembling their planes and putting them into their trailers. Sun shades were blowing over and people were scurrying around to protect the planes and equipment. After about fifteen minutes, the flight line was empty of airplanes and people were bracing for rain. Luckily, we did not get much rain out of this event; just wind. After about and hour and a half, the storm passed and the winds died down. This is when Alex made the decision to get the competition moving again. After about another half hour, the planes were out and the flying was going again. As it turns out, this was the only weather issue for the entire competition. The rest of this day and the remaining three days were excellent flying days with excellent weather.
Saturday, July 29, 2023 - Day 2 of the RC Scale National Aerobatic Championships at Muncie, Indiana. On this day, I took photos of the people on the flight line and of the aircraft scattered all about. I had my 200mm to 500mm zoom lens mounted the camera, so I was able to get some closeup shots without being intrusive. My plan was to make all the photos available to Alex Dreiling after the competition. So, for me, this was a photo day and a great day to watch the competition. It also gave me an opportunity to give a "re-birth" to my desire to fly IMAC planes again. I have renewed my membership in the IMAC organization which I allowed to lapse while we have been traveling. I am also making plans to get my Sukoi 3.1 IMAC airplane into the air again later this fall and to begin to practice the maneuvers. A lot depends upon where we decide to set up out new home. Right now it looks like Tucson, Arizona is the lead contender and that would be perfect for IMAC flying. There is an excellent flying field in Tucson and lots of great flyers to offer assistance when I need it (you notice that I did not "if" I need it).
Sunday, July 30, 2023 - Day 3 of the RC Scale National Aerobatic Championships at Muncie, Indiana. I took photos of the flyers, but primarily the Unlimited flyers. I can only be on one of the judging positions at a time taking photos, so I chose the Unlimited guys for this round. I took photos as the pilot and his caller started their aircraft, and then I took photos of the pair while they were calling and flying the round. It is pretty nice since I can stand-off by about 100 feet and get closeup photos with my 200mm to 500mm zoom lens.
Alex Dreiling, the Contest Director, and a good friend from Phoenix, Arizona invited Lisa and I to attend the contest banquet being held that evening at the AMA Museum Banquet Room. The Banquet was a lot of fun and we were afforded the opportunity to mingle with some of the best RC flyers in the world. I even had a chance to meet Frank Noll who was a top-line pilot in pattern back in the early 1970s when my son Will and I were flying. It was a great couple of hours of socialization that came to a rather abrupt end when they handed out the Aresti flight patterns for tomorrow's two unknown rounds. The Unknown flight patterns are new to the pilot, so they have to study them and be prepared to fly them tomorrow with not actual flying practice. You cannot use a simulator or any other method to actually "fly" the unknowns until you fly in the competition. I hate unknowns because I can never remember the sequence and they have to be flown exactly as they are depicted on the Aresti flight sequences. Those poor Unlimited class flyers have very complex patterns to fly. After the banquet, Lisa and I returned to the RV to relax while all the flyers would look for their "stick planes" and return to their rooms where they could try to memorize the patterns. Lucky for us, we did not have to do any memorization. There is some merit to not flying in the competition.
Monday, July 31, 2023 - Day 4 (last day) of the RC Scale National Aerobatic Championships at Muncie, Indiana. I started at 0800 hours as a scribe and then scribed for about four rounds during the course of the day. It is very interesting to watch the flyers and judges interact and to compare my scores with the highly qualified judges at the Nats. At IMAC competitions, there are five flying categories based from entry-level maneuvers to the most challenging gyrations. The categories are Basic, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, and, the most challenging, Unlimited. At most invitational events, the Basic category is not flown since it is primarily an entry-level category with very basic (hence the name) maneuvers. The Nats is the same. The first category of flying, based on difficulty of the maneuvers, is Sportsman. Sportsman was dominated by a young 15-year old from Tucson, Arizona named Cody Donath. Cody is a 3D or Freestyle flyer who did not even fly the IMAC sequence until just a few weeks before the Nats. With the help of several friends from the flying field in Tucson, he was able to borrow a plane and get some help on the maneuvers. At the Nats, he went on to win every round including the unknowns. He also won the Bill Bennett Trophy and the Schroeder Cup Trophy. tTis is the first time that this has ever happened that someone outside of Unlimited category has won these trophies. Pretty cooool!! This young flyer has clearly got a modeling future ahead of him. Lisa went for a walk while I tried to get caught up with the blog and the photos. I went for a short (15 miles) ride around the complex in the early evening when the temperatures were cooling down. We also made plans to go ride the Cardinal Greenbelt Trail tomorrow to the south of Muncie.
Tuesday, August 1, 2023 - First day after the Nats! It was kind of a sad situation to see the flying site empty and all the flyers and planes gone. Very quiet with a feeling of abandonment. A typical let-down after a major, excellent event. We worked for a little while to clean up the RV which does not take long since it is only about 350 square feet. It can be messed up quickly, but it can be cleaned up quickly too.
After the trailer was clean, we decided to take the bikes and ride the Cardinal Greenway Trail that is about 60 miles long with Muncie in about the exact middle of the trail. If you go north from Muncie, there is a gap section of the trail that requires that you ride on streets. We decided not to ride that portion and went to the south. We rode 21 miles out on the trial and then 21 miles back to the truck for a total of 42 miles. The trail is a pretty flat ride along an abandoned railroad track that has been converted into a Rails-to-Trails ride. It is all paved and it has been voted into the national Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame. There are facilities along the route with restrooms, bicycle tools (many damaged or stolen), picnic tables, and parking spaces. It is a very nice trail that is deteriorating somewhat. I sure hope that they on top of the maintenance for the trail.
Wednesday, August 2, 2023 - We started the day by taking some kites back to the main toy store in Muncie. The kites we bought previously did not meet our needs. They only had two, and one appeared to be more of a girls kite. We plan to mail them to the Bontrager Family in Shishewana for their four boys. The Bontrager Family invited us over for a day to visit with them and it was such a special day for us that we wanted to do something to show our appreciation for their efforts. We will likely have to order from the Kitty Hawk Kite Company or at Amazon.
We also needed to get some exercise, so we planned to head over to the Cardinal Greenbelt Rail Trail for another bike ride. We did not want to take the trail through Muncie because there are too many roads to cross to get through town. We also heard that there is a section of town with a homeless problem, and it may not be safe to ride in this area. We took the truck and drove to the same place where we started our ride yesterday and this time set out to ride just 30 miles; 15 miles out and back. We rode this distance and must have felt pretty fit, since we increased our average speed by two miles per hour up to an average of 16.7 mph. That is a pretty impressive speed for us.
We returned to the RV where we began the preparation for our departure tomorrow for Ohio. I had to put all the bikes and gear back into its proper place in the RV and then tie it all down for the ride. we had a nice, relaxing afternoon at the RV. We also began the route planning for the trip to Berlin, Ohio.