2015 Scale Nationals

Scale Nationals 13 September 2015. By Steve Elster

Photos form this event are on the photo gallery.

Will enough people turn up to compete? What if too many people turn up to compete? What if one of the judges comes down with the flu? What will the weather do? Will the new rules and classes work? Hope the portaloo arrives as promised. What will the weather do? What if the club barbeque breaks (again)? Back to the weather.

These are a few of the thoughts going through my mind over the few days leading up to the Scale Nationals.

This was to be the first competition under the new rules, the first to be held on a Sunday, and the first (in my memory at least) that had panel of judges that were not also competitors. It was also the first Scale Nationals for 2 years, since this event did not take place in 2014. In fact it was the first Scale Competition of any kind for quite some time and it was important to get this one right.

No doubt about it, I was an anxious man for a while and I became almost obsessed with weather forecasts, of which there were so many, all telling different stories, that it was almost impossible to predict what would happen.

Some time on the Saturday morning I decided that we should go ahead with the event as planned. The most recent weather forecast wasn't too bad, although I knew we would have to fly between the showers to some extent. The alternative was to hold off for a fortnight and use the backup date that was put in the calendar in case of a postponement, but the long range weather forecast for the 27th was not much better, so that was it, decision made and we would try to make the best of it.

Just after 10 a.m the event was up and running. Just about the right number of competitors had arrived, all of the judges were in good health, and it had stopped raining. We had 6 entries in the Flying Only class (this is what used to be called Clubman, with no static judging component) and 3 entries in F4C. We started with the Flying Only class, Fergus O'Reilly having the somewhat dubious pleasure of going first, having been selected by the random function in an Excel spreadsheet.

The first few flights passed without incident and I was just beginning to relax when the rain started, at first just a light drizzle, but becoming more persistent. Assuming this would be just a passing shower, we called a temporary halt in flying, everyone headed for the clubhouse and a large amount of tea was consumed. Half an hour later, we were still inside, and the rain didn't seem to know that it was supposed to only be a passing shower. At this point I was quite worried that we would have to abandon the event, which would be a pity having come this far, but we stuck it out and eventually the rain did stop (or at least it went back to lighter rain that we could fly in.

We got going again, albeit in less than perfect conditions, completed round one in the Flying Only class and also did the static judging on the three F4C models presented. Time then for the first F4C flying round, and by this time the train had almost stopped, but we could see threatening looking clouds over the Slieve Bloom Mountains and heavy rain was not far away.

Since more rain was forecast, we pressed on in an attempt to get as much done as possible before weather shut us down again. By now everyone was getting hungry, so time to get the barbeque on (thankfully it worked ok). We got another full round of Flying Only completed while the burgers were cooking, then a complete break from flying so that lunch could be enjoyed by all. At this point, we only needed the weather to hold up for another 3 flights and we would have completed 2 rounds and that would be enough to give us a result. The weather gods realised what was happening and visited another bout of rain upon us, dampening both the spirit and the burger.

Then it (the rain) eased off just a bit, and John Byrne, brave man that he is said "I don't mind flying in that", so we were off again.

No other type of model flying competition has as much variety as a scale competition. We had ARTFs, models built from kits and models built from scratch. We had a mix of petrol and glow fuel motors (electric power scale models do exist but none were used at this event). There were 9 different types of aircraft on display, a mix of military and civilian, some aerobatic and some non-aerobatic. Add to this the fact that competitors pick their flying manoeuvres from a list and may perform them in any order (although take-off and landing have to be first and last!) and you have an interesting and varied spectacle.

The second round of F4C was completed without any further deluges and in fact the weather now improved (which wasn't due to happen according to any of the forecasts I had seen).

With 2 full flying rounds under the belt, we decided by mutual consent not to tempt fate by going for a third round. I was more than slightly relieved to have got through the competition despite the weather, no accidents and no damaged models.

The results were all added up, prizes given out and speeches (short ones) made. Everyone present agreed that the event had been thoroughly enjoyable, and that next year we should aim to hold a few more competitions. The Nationals was the only competitive scale event this year and there should be 3 or 4 such events in the calendar.

In wrapping up the day, I had the pleasure of thanking the following:

The competitors, many of whom had travelled a long distance to attend.

Throughout the competition all the flying scores were quite close, with all pilots demonstrating a high level of skill and a good understanding of the manoeuvres and how to present them to the judges to best effect. The models presented for static judging were also of a high standard, and the points awarded here were similarly very close to each other. More static points are available for more complex types, and this is often the differentiating factor in a close fought competition.

Paul Byrne is F4C National Champion, for the second time in a row, and was presented with the Aer Rianta trophy that seems to have taken up residence in his home. This trophy is a real piece of aeromodelling history, and it is fascinating to look at the plaques and see the names of previous winners going back to the early days when the trophy was awarded for free flight competitions, radio control being a more recent invention.

Robert Kirkpatrick was the worthy winner in the Flying Only class, flying a very impressive looking hurricane. Robert will be presented with the cup at the next available opportunity (due to unforeseen circumstances it wasn't available for presentation on the day).

The event was judged by the following people, all duly qualified scale judges that have completed the necessary judging course:

In summary, it all went very well, let's have some more like it, and thanks are due to the MACI council for supporting the event.

Name Model Class Round 1 Round 2 Flight Static Total Place
Robert Kirkpatrick Hurricane Flying Only 1612.5 1723.5 1668.0 0.0 1668.0 1
Joe O'Sullivan Cub Flying Only 1451.5 1622.5 1537.0 0.0 1537.0 2
Fergus O'Reilly Fokker Eindecker Flying Only 1459.5 1598.5 1529.0 0.0 1529.0 3
Liam Butler Extra 300 Flying Only 1333.5 1647.0 1490.3 0.0 1490.3 4
Sam Kirkpatrick Space Walker Flying Only 1197.9 1644.5 1421.2 0.0 1421.2 5
Gary Brahon PC9 Flying Only 1520.0 1256.5 1388.3 0.0 1388.3 6
Paul Byrne Extra F4C 1487.5 1615.0 1551.3 1650.0 3201.3 1
John Byrne Fly Baby F4C 1183.5 1319.0 1251.3 1708.0 2959.3 2
Joe O'Sullivan Fokker D7 F4C 1258.0 1468.5 1363.3 1534.0 2897.3 3

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