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The Nationals Reborn
November 1946 Air Trails

November 1946 Air Trails

November 1946 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and Rockets Table of Contents

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.

How can the Nationals be "reborn" in 1946? It seems like it would have just recently been born in the first place in 1946. Here is a passage from the Academy of Model Aeronautics' history page: "Before the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) came into existence, aeromodelers belonged to a variety of organizations, including the Junior Air League, the Junior Aviation League, and the Junior NAA (the aeromodeling branch of the National Aeronautic Association.) The Junior NAA, although sponsoring the first “National Aeromodeling Championships” (Nats) in 1923, struggled to be a true aeromodeling organization. The idea for the AMA began in 1935 (perhaps even before that) at the National Championships in Detroit, Michigan." Prior to the 1946 Nats reported on in this issue of Air Trails, the last Nats was held in 1941 - 5 years hence, evidently interrupted by WWII.

The Nationals Reborn

By Charles H. Grant

The Nationals Reborn, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

On Monday, August 26th, we passed through the welcome doors of the Hotel Allis, Wichita, Kansas, to start our great adventure at the 15th National Model Airplane Contest. The Allis was one of three hotels assigned to contestants, leaders, and representatives of the model events ; the Lassen Hotel was five blocks away, the Broadview about ten.

Early the following morning, contest officials greeted us warmly at the Wichita Forum, headquarters for the National Contest. They were rushing to complete the final organization details. Quiet, but efficient, Al Hummel, had managed the organization of the contest in record time. In less than six weeks he, with an efficient group of helpers, had completed and gotten together the thousands of details necessary to stage this great classic. Jim McClelland, director of the contest, was responsible for the technical details. The members of the two sponsoring organizations, the Wichita Y.M.C.A. and the Kiwanis Club, had worked under this leadership with zeal.


Jim Walker gives his Radio Control model a final check before a flight, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Jim Walker gives his Radio Control model a final check before a flight.

Dave Slagle, who amazed the expert with his fine stunt flying, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Dave Slagle, who amazed the expert with his fine stunt flying.

Berryloid Trophy went to Tex Russell. His model was as beautiful as it was different, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Berryloid Trophy went to Tex Russell. His model was as beautiful as it was different.

Milton Hugelot, National champion, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Milton Hugelot, National champion.

Jim Walker, winner of Radio Control Trophy, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Jim Walker, winner of Radio Control Trophy.

May, Dave, and H. Slagle. Dave was Flying Champ in all stunt classes, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

May, Dave, and H. Slagle. Dave was Flying Champ in all stunt classes.

Al Orthof presents Air Trails Pictorial Trophy to "Wally" Wallick, winner of Class VI Speed, Open, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Al Orthof presents Air Trails Pictorial Trophy to "Wally" Wallick, winner of Class VI Speed, Open.

Bop Tagle presents Micro Bilt Trophy to Frank Davis, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Bop Tagle presents Micro Bilt Trophy to Frank Davis.

Bill Atwood, manufacturer of Atwood Engine, wins indoor trophy, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Bill Atwood, manufacturer of Atwood Engine, wins indoor trophy.

David Wade receives Herkimer Trophy from Chas. Brebeck, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

David Wade receives Herkimer Trophy from Chas. Brebeck.

Besides the,hotels, a tourist camp was made available for housing contestants. Work shops were established in the spacious Wichita Forum building and at the nearby Y.M.C.A. The Y.M.C.A. also provided recreation facilities, and, for those who had time, interesting tours of the city were made available. Contest officials met for a final briefing at the Y.M.CA. on Tuesday evening. A gadget which they developed for measuring the wing area of models was unique. It consisted of a long rod with a knife blade at one end and a long, sharpened wire at the other, . A special room at another branch of the Y.M.C.A. housed the prizes, and resembled the store-room of some large hardware company, what with gleaming bright columns, globes, triangles, figures, airplanes, and other gilded fantasies on every hand. No other national contest offered so many awards (there were over five hundred).

On Wednesday, contestants, leaders, and industry members arrived in ever increasing numbers. It was a great moment for many who had not seen their buddies since the previous Nationals in 1941. In fact, the 1946 Nationals proved to be not only a contest but a great convention of the whole model field as well.

At noon, Thursday, the line of registrants extended through the Forum doors and far down the street, while volunteer workers recorded contestants' names, the events, the types of models, and other details. In the evening, contestants were briefed for their coming ordeals - in the Forum Arena where indoor ships were to compete; at Rawdon Field, seven miles east of Wichita, where the outdoor events were to take place; or at Boeing Ramp, a broad stretch of concrete nearly half a mile long, if they were flying control-line or radio control planes.

On Friday, indoor events started at 8:00 a.m. Ships were processed at the Arena and hand-launch gliders of every imaginable design filled the air for about three hours, which then were replaced by the hand-launch stick ROG, cabin and ROW cabin events, There was also an event for new types of aircraft: autogiros, helicopters, and ornithopters - or combinations of these,

On Friday afternoon, we "rattled" to the ROW contest in a hired car and finally arrived at the. contest site, Crestview Lake, about five miles out of town. Crowds lined the shore; whining motors gave the impression that a swarm of bees was descending for "the kill." Various designs were tuning up for flights. A twin-float "Zipper" was the first to leave the water after several unsuccessful trials by other contestants. Lack of experience in ROW flying was evident, but persistence on the part of the contestants, combined with power dives into the water, cartwheels, and low flights over the crowd provided a show equal to any previously staged. Planes with short floats and ample planing area were the most successful. Planes tripped by Father Neptune before taking off the water were retrieved by two Boy Scout helpers in a row boat. Flights continued until dark. Those who flew early were fortunate because later the air cooled and thermals died, resulting in much shorter flights. On this same afternoon the control-line stunt, control-line speed, and radio control events started at the Boeing Ramp. These were scheduled for the four clays of the contest.

Friday evening, the contest board of the AM.A held a rules committee meeting at the Y.M.C.A while contestants repaired and prepared their models for the next clay's events. The class "A" Gas Free Flights started early at Rawdon Field, Saturday morning, in brilliant sunshine, while a strong wind blew models into the dim distance as fast as they were launched. Fortunately, in spite of the wind many thermals carried these little ships to considerable altitude. ROG rubber-powered models also provided an excellent show for the spectators and other contestants who lined the restraining ropes. An outstanding flight was made by a plane of unique design - a Canard pusher. This little plane outflew nearly every other cabin job on the field. The field was laid out in the usual manner. In the gas event, pylon types predominated but didn't necessarily excel in flight. The steadiest flights were made by non-pylon original designs, the Canard pusher being an outstanding example. At 7 :30 that evening, contestants flocked to the Berryloid finish and flying scale events at the Forum. The Berryloid event was won by Tex Russell with a model notable not only for its finish but for its unusual shape. It was a "tailless" control-line ship with tapered wings swept forward. Its glass-like finish and polished metal trimmings gave it the appearance of some brilliant jewel. It was selected as winner without question, though many other models of fine workmanship competed. The flying scale models appeared to be larger than usual with light delicate construction.

Sunday, at Rawdon Airport, Class "B" free-flight planes were chasing thermals all over the sky. Many stiff necks were caused by following one model which persisted in remaining aloft for over thirty minutes. Rubber-powered stick models also put on a show, and of the two classes the rubber jobs were much more stable and turned in better flights. Pylon gas models predominated, but there were a few original designs of interest. Pat Massey's plane with Vee-tail and gull wings pleased the crowd with its consistently steady flying. Autogiro, helicopter, and ornithopter events brought further fantastic designs which flew well. Kansas had voted dry, but the weatherman apparently objected to this decision because about 1:00 o'clock dark clouds appeared on the horizon and chased the sunshine to parts unknown. Almost before the model builders could get the models under cover and close their tool boxes the rain descended. We usually think of rain as dropping, but Kansas rain is different; it attacks from all directions - down, up, and sideways. The flying field was dry and sunbaked one minute; the next it was appropriate for row boats. Models were soaked, timers' tents leveled, and cars hopelessly mired in three inches of water. Fortunately, most of the contestants had cars at the field into which they ducked for cover. Believe it or not, one-half hour later the sun came out and models were in the air again. Many of the best times of the day were made later in the afternoon. At·Boeing Ramp, after the storm, control-line ships tore through the air from 90 to 116 mph. One of the outstanding contestants was Dave Slagle - a thirteen-year-old lad from Burbank, Calif. He put to shame all other contestants, some of whom were experts. In the stunt event he whipped his plane through every possible maneuver - s-dives, loops, rolls, and upside-down flights. His performance was largely due to graceful footwork and a sense of rhythm.

Dick Korda (holding trophy) and Walt Schroder, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Dick Korda (holding trophy) and Walt Schroder.

J. H. Brown holds Air Trails Pictorial-sponsored Kulick Memorial Trophy, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

J. H. Brown holds Air Trails Pictorial-sponsored Kulick Memorial Trophy.

The Air Trails Pictorial Trophy went to C. H. Wallick, of California, for winning the greatest number of points in the U-control speed events.

Monday, September 2nd, produced fine weather for class "C" jobs during the morning. Spectators saw many ships fly out of sight; others disappeared in puffy douds. Hand-launch and tow-line gliders provided fine shows. About noon, however. a strong, cool wind blew up that made flying difficult and hazardous. This continued until late in the day. Times were naturally low because models flew out of sight quickly.

Early in the morning, Jim Walker won the radio control event by putting his entry through some complex maneuvers, including take-offs, circles, figure eights, and spot landings.

The. Victory, Buffet supper at the forum contributed by the Wichita Women's Aeronautic Association, crowded the five days of activity. It was attended by contestants. officials, and others connected with the meet. Immediately afterward, everyone adjourned to the Forum Arena for the presentation of prizes and a few short talks by A.M.A. officials and contest sponsors. Before prizes were distributed, honors, including fellowships in the A.M.A., were bestowed upon several leaders and model flyers whose contributions have been outstanding to model aviation. They were Carl Goldberg, Dr. Walter Good, William Good, Irving Levy, Jim Walker. and Charles Grant.

After this, more than five hundred prizes were distributed. One junior flyer won so many trophies he required two assistants to carry them. At this final meeting, leaders and contestants had a chance to get together on a friendly basis and discuss their problems. Some of the old-timers present were Leo Rutledge; Frank Nekimken, director of former Nationals; Carl Goldberg; Walt Schroder; Ed Lidgard; Lewis Casale; Dick Korda; Milton Huguelet, who won the National Championship for the second time; Alan Orthof, Editor of Air Trails Pictorial, and other famous modelers. Mr. Al Lewis, Director of the A.M.A., directed the meeting with his usual grace and humor, without which no National competition would be complete. In attendance, was the only woman official, Miss Marjorie Thacker, who served as timer for three days. Her talents were made available through the courtesy of the Beech Aircraft Company for whom she serves as aerodynamist. The contest was enjoyed by everyone, in spite of the short time allowed for its preparation, and the sponsors are to be complimented on their untiring efforts in organizing and running it.







Nationals Winners List, November 1946 Air Trails - Airplanes & Rockets

Dick Korda and his record-holding Class "B" ship.

Mrs. Oldershaw holds friend hubby's dependable Class B.

Chuck Hollinger and his consistent Class "C" R.O.W.





Posted April 21, 2012

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