Brodak's 20th annual control line fly-in was held at its customary location in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, from June 13 through 18, 2016. This was to be the final time for the fly-in due to health issues by owner and founder John Brodak, but thankfully recovery has been such that he has decided to continue beyond this year. That is news everyone involved was glad to hear.
Although I have lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, since 2008, this is the first year for my attendance (spectator only). In fact, it was because this was originally slated as the last Brodak Fly-In that I made plans early in the year to be there. Melanie has been trying to get me to take the time and visit, but I always had an excuse for why I was too busy. We drove the 180 miles southward on Tuesday, June 14, which was the second day of the event. It was an absolutely perfect day for flying, with light winds, a blue sky, and not a drop of rain in sight. The only thing posing a hazard for flyers was the large number of cicadas filling the air. They were everywhere. Fortunately, they are harmless except when one lands on your back or head and you nearly give yourself whiplash trying to get it off.
With only a few hours carved out to visit the flying field, the hobby shop, and the manufacturing operations, we only spent about 90 minutes at the field. Getting to the field involves a drive through a nondescript residential area with a mish-mash of old houses while following signs painted with the profile of a stunter type model. Drive with your car windows open to listen for the engine drones to help give confidence that indeed you are headed in the right direction. Spectator parking is on the hill at the entrance to the property, and contestants can park near the flying circles. A lot of people bring event tents and set up shop under them. Here are the final results.
After snapping the customary photo of Melanie by the event sign, we followed a high pitched engine scream to the Speed flying circle. Speed events were not scheduled for Tuesday, so maybe these were practice rounds for later in the week. Hearing the engines break from 4-cycle into 2-cycle runs as they gain speed is always an awesome sound to behold. Adjacent to the speed circle was the Carrier event circle. The main Carrier was on Monday, with Tuesday being for run-over flights. I never saw anyone actually hook an arrestor line on the deck, so it must be much more difficult that the YouTube videos make it out to be. There were a lot of really nicely built carrier models sitting under the tent in the pit area. Being a big DC-3 fan, I was pleased to see a profile version amongst the assortment.
Three flying circles on the other side of the parking area had stunt flyers putting models through their paces. One guy, I don't know who it was or what kind of plane he was flying, had the most incredibly graceful and precise pattern I have ever seen flown. It seems to be doing a slow motion version of the entire routine. Maybe it seemed so slow because it appeared to be a large model (almost pure white). He was in the circle farthest from the pit area, and I never did find out who it was. These panoramic shots give a feel for the spirit in the stunt circle areas.
Models were lined up to the side of the circle awaiting their turn to fly. I got a few photos of the ones near to the spectator side, and I didn't want to be obnoxious by going inside the perimeter, so the pictures below are what I managed. The one Chipmunk has what appears to be a for-real stuffed chipmunk in the cockpit as the pilot - too funny! The painted finishes on these airplanes are to be envied. I love that Sig Super Chipmunk with the red, white, and blue paint job!
A really nice feature on the hillside between the flying areas is a memorial to many of our most accomplished control line champions. An American flag is flown north of the markers. I made sure to get good enough images that names can be easily read. Ham radio operators who have passed on are referred to in reverence as "Silent Keys;' I wonder what similar title would be fitting for these gentlemen?
One tent was set up for vendors of used modeling items, and another had a sampling of the many high quality items offered for sale at Brodak Hobby Shop, located just a mile or so down the road. I have a separate page covering the incredible adventure that is a visit to the hobby shop. There are more control line (and some radio control and free flight) models, hardware, and other paraphernalia there than I recall seeing anywhere. The photos that will be presented don't do justice to the experience you get perusing the display racks and shelves of Brodak's Hobby Shop. Everything you have seen listed on their website is there, from the tiniest flat washer to adjustable line lead-out assemblies and stacks of kits. Fully built models densely populate the ceiling area.
But wait, there's more. The highlight by far of the trip was an opportunity to tour Brodak's manufacturing operation. If you were under the impression that nowadays everything is made my machines and or workers in some factory on the other side of the world, you will be amazed and impressed at what a handful of dedicated and highly talented people do for Mr. Brodak.
Posted July 2, 2016