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November 1954 Air Trails
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These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

These are some really great action photos from the 23rd Annual National Modelplane Championships held in Chicago. Considering it was from a time when auto-focus, auto-exposure, auto-f-stop, auto-shutter-speed, and other modern features were not available on cameras, photographer John W. Schneider did an incredible job of obtaining shots with one one chance of getting each instance. The F4U Corsair take-off is a prime example. Most events were held at Chicago's Glenview Naval Air Station, compliments of the U.S. Navy. Some free flight events were held at the Chicagoland Airport, while indoor flying took place in Chicago's 132nd Infantry Armory. The quality of construction and finishing is apparent, even in the grainy, black and white photos. Note that what we now term "ducted fan" used to be called "shrouded." Coverage of the event appeared in the November 1954 issue of Air Trails magazine. Do you recognize any of the names and/or faces here?

Photo Report from Chicago on the 23rd Annual Event

National Champion: Willard S. Blanchard, Jr., 30, Hampton, Va., also won Open class (over 21) honors in '53. "Woody," an aeronautical research scientist, is well-known contest flyer.

Pictured by John W. Schneider

Ranking first in size, number of events and interest, the 23rd annual running of the American air-model championships drew more than 1,500 entrants to Chicago's Glenview Naval Air Station. The 1954 "Nats" were sponsored by the National Exchange Club with the U.S. Navy acting as host. Events were sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics and run off under the supervision of AMA personnel. When the last of the 78 different age-and-category events had been concluded the new National champ was Langley Field's "Woody" Blanchard. Junior championship honors went to Joe White of Sacramento (brother of last year's champ, William White); the senior champ crown was awarded to William Gelvin of Topeka. Some free flight events were conducted at the Chicagoland Airport; indoor flying took place in Chicago's 132nd Infantry Armory. For the first time the big competition was compressed into a 4-day schedule. An estimated crowd of 200,000 attended the contest on its final day to see an air show which included Navy's famed Blue Angels jet team.

The first air-model Nationals to be held in Chicago since the 1940 and 1941 championships, this year's competition produced its usual quota of unusual designs and innovations. Even though a good many top models were those that had appeared before, original designs still were noticeable enough to make an impression on any observer. Radio control flying drew its biggest entry list ever; this produced some difficulties because the R/C flyers, like everyone else, had less time in which to establish official flights. As is its annual wont, the question arose as to whether or not the contest has become too cumbersome because of its large number of events. But as long as a sponsor and a suitable flying area are available any suggestion to trim the categories does not get very far. Again this year leader members of the A.M.A pitched in to conduct events. Among those most active were Pete Vacco, Leon Shulman, Ernie Kratzet, Warren Bartlett, Carl Goldberg, Al Davis, John Hillegas, Keith Storey, plus countless others. Technical details will be reported in Air Trails Model Annual.

Bob Hodges' Vought Corsair is racked up in a steep climb in Navy carrier event; 2-speed (exhaust choke) K&B .35 toot 5th in Senior. Senior man Dave Domazi scored top points, 417.4.

PAA-Load event was run off in drizzle. Unusual 700 sq. in. wing entry by Dick Burges had plug-in wings. In Clipper Cargo Herbert Kothe, first PAA-Load champ, lifted 25 1/2 oz. to win.

Most unusual radio entry: Ed Sieh's 60 deg. delta with span of 42 inches. Area is 764 sq. in. Good tone receiver; 3 1/4 lbs.

Duplicating his 1st at the '54 Mirror meet, Bob Yeomans of W. Haven, Conn., scored highest (329) points in C/L Scale with 5' span, 1/20th size P2V-2 Neptune. Uses two Torp .29's.

No. 1 nominee for any young-in-heart award, C.O. Wright, ex AMA proxy and Topeka's most famous modeler, was 5th in Open class free flight Half-A scale with .049 Atwood Taylorcraft.

New national junior champ Joe White of Sacramento launches his Torp .19 powered "Whogit" Class A free flight entry. This model was designed by brother Bill, last year's National Champion.

Young Greg Wilson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. had Half-A free flight delta modeled along lines of Ed Sieh's R/C job (see pg. 45). Powered by a Thermal Hopper running backwards.

Ten-foot, 13 1/2┬Ěpound Bull Bull Pup flying scale radio control by Hubert B. Lacey, Columbus, Ohio. O.K. Twin motor, 18/9 prop. Five channel Schmidt; rudder, elevator, motor control.

Best of indoor cabin contenders was Bob Bienendein, Detroit, with 14 minutes, 25.2 seconds. This more than tripled the highest Jr.-Sr. time, indicating "indoor" flying is on wane.

Winning team race trio was (from left): Bill Hallenbach, mechanic; George Moir, designer-builder; Bob Huffer, pilot. Re-worked Fox .29. Huffer, Annapolis, Md., won last year.

For second year in row Parnell Schoenty, Kirtwood, Mo., flew off with Hiller Helicopter event. This original design used a Cub .14 engine. Canadians Graves & Stefani placed second.


Tops in Junior stunt: Rodney Pharis, Detroit, with 346.5 pts. His magnificent original precision aerobatics entry had Fox .35. Top points scored by C. Hill Hutchins as a senior - 352 .

Repeating his '52 victory, Alex Schneider, San Francisco, won radio control with modified Piper Cub, 7' span, 8 lbs., 18 oz. loading, Spitfire .60 ignition. Rockwood 5-channel reed rig.

Shrouded K&B Torp .15 powered this dart. That's Ed's missus Catherine; both beauties. At moment only rudder control used.

Renowned patience of indoor flyer is exemplified by Carl Oakland, as he repairs large hand-launched stick model. Hightest in event was Richard Obarski who totaled 20 min., 45 sec.

All-balsawood construction utilized by Dick Burger, Piedmont, Cal., for McCoy .049 diesel free flight. High thrust line Half-A weighed 5 oz. Sparless 1/32" sheet wing, ribs 5" apart.

First place in Combined Class A-B PAA-Load went to Bruno Markiewicz of Detroit who flew this Torp .32 powered original design' "Polywoa" to total time of 13 minutes, 48.4 seconds.

Nordic towline glider crown was won by James A. Patterson of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, who flew as Air Force team member. His total time was 13 minutes, 36.1 seconds.

Duplicating his 1953 victory with the same model, Ed Stoll of Detroit placed 1st in open class Half-A free flight scale. This is a Fairchild 24 powered by Wasp .049. Total, 344.5 pts.

Rise-off-water free flight saw top time of 16 minutes, 50 seconds racked up by Sherman Kachenberg. Here, Robert Stucker, St. Louis, 5th in senior, demonstrates real "sincere" launch.



Posted March 27, 2021

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