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America's Modelplane Championships
Model Annual 1956 Air Trails

September 1949 Air Trails
September 1949 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable 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.


America's Modelplane Championships

Thanks to the United States Navy and Western A.M.A. leaders this big air-modeling contest was the best run Nationals competition in history!

Photos By John Schneider, Jackson Ingham, Jr. and Dick Everett

Reviewed by Dick Everett

Alex Schneider (r) receives Roberts R/C trophy from Keith Storey during victory "dance." Dodger Grotheer does the VTO.

Felix Toedter of the Costa Mesa, Calif. Cub Scout Pack and the Navy's Reserve Chief, Rear Admiral Dan V. Gallery.

Usual feverish scene at the hangar with modelers rebuilding or just finishing up models. Thunderbugs' trailer in center.

In our book, the 1955 National Model airplane Championships, the 24th such annual competition, were the best ever. Site of the meet was the Los Alamitos, Calif., Naval Air Station. Indoor events were run off in the airship hangar at the Marine Corps Air Station at Santa Ana, Calif.

For the comparatively few contestants indoor flying proved pretty disappointing; times were low in comparison with 1952, very low indeed. Only one man was able to top 20 minutes, Bill Atwood winning with 21:51. Winning time in hand-launched glider was 1:10 by Stuart Savage, 5th place being 1:03.8; top two men in senior both did 1:06 plus while in junior, only one guy, Larry Severson, did more than 50 seconds.

Biggest discussion was over Joe Bilgri's wood-covered prop which could be interpreted as being legal and on the other hand illegal; nevertheless, he did do 14:13 for first place. Joe also won indoor cabin with 13:03. Hal Cover was a big winner, topping all other seniors in the stick and cabin event and winning second in paper-he did some real good flying.

The second day of flying saw the outdoor events in full swing. Parnell Schoenky made it monotonous by winning the helicopter event again; no one has ever beaten him. Mike Burke topped all other juniors in combat, while the seniors followed Jim Levrett to the winner's circle. In free flight the mortality rate on C gas models was very high due to a lot of guys putting Torp .35s in old .32 ships; even so a lot of flyers posted sixes but only one, Ed Aikman, was good enough to post 3 sixes - then he joined the Flub Club with a 2:02.2 on his 4th. Don Geiler was top man in senior and Jack Linn an easy winner in junior.

Wakefield flying was real good although one by one most of the guys goofed on one flight or another. Models were smashed to many pieces as the boys tried to pack in one too many. Smartest operator was Woody Blanchard, who insisted on winding outside even though it meant going over to his car to wind, then carrying his fully wound ship back out to the takeoff area. Dick Baxter developed a power stall to ruin his chances, Gene Wright was seen to gather all the pieces in a shopping bag for a quick trip to the hangar and a repair job. He got it back in the air, too, for 6th place! Jerry Thomas put in an early 14:14 which stood up for 1st place. He was closely followed by Buster Allen's 13:51.

In Half-A speed the Mono-line team of Clem, Beasley and Kirn made it apparent that if you weren't using Mono-line you were going too slow, as they cracked that magic barrier of 100 with 100.89 mph; this ship was really moving, and so was Dale in getting around that pylon.

The third day found the guys going hot and heavy again. Woody Blanchard got off to an early lead in the International PAA-Load and held it to win with 13:18. Don Alberts had posted a total of 36:00 in Half-A before 9:30 which really stood up, Bill Fox joined the "Club" with 2:11 his 4th flight but no one else managed the 3 sixes. Second place in Half-A Senior was 19 minutes behind. Bobby Patchin topped Jr-Sr-International with a 7-minute margin. Unlimited rubber saw Gene Wright's market basket of pieces top time in open, Don Alberts had top time in senior and the highest time of the meet in rubber. In Jr Stunt Ed May Jr topped all other juniors with 319 points while William Cummings was high man in senior with 358.4.

David Arne, 14, of Yuba City. Calif., is awarded Junior National Champion plaque by Hillevi Rombin, Miss Universe of 1955.

Willard Blanchard. Jr., 31, Hampton, Val, gets Open Class and National Champion award from starlet Marla English.

Don Alberts, 20, of Albuquerque. N. M., is awarded Senior National Champion plaque by Vice-Admiral Harold M. Martin, USN.

A speed found more records broken, Torp .19's and Mono-Lines again going faster than ever before. Gayle Clement was tops in senior with 134.73, while ole man Wisniewski really chugged around that pylon in his winning 141.73. Mike O'Bryan was top man in junior with 126.40.

The fourth day saw the hand-launched gliders filling the sky, lots of them being lost. Quite a few lads managed at least one. six, but very few got in the second six. Highest time was in senior where Eddie Schmutz had 14:11.3. Hank Cole won open with 12:04, while Ernie Prosch won junior with 8:49.6.

America Class PAA or the old Half-A saw some very good times, Richard Epstein totaling 15:22 in Jr-Sr, L. T. Everett 14:25 for open. As in glider there were a lot of six-minute flights, very few got 2 sixes and none of them 3 sixes. Class A free flight was also low in total time-only one man, John Nogy, managed 3 sixes, and he didn't take his 4th. Marty Wolff won senior with 16:36, David Arne junior with 14:00.

Bob Palmer won his first Nationals stunt first place with a fine 362 points, followed very closely by Jose Sadurni of Mexico City with a really original stunt model. In B speed that team of Clem, Beasley and Kirn got off to a roaring 143.08, followed by Bob Lauderdale with 141.17. Senior was won by Daniel Berry with 127.75, while Clifton Medlock won Jr with 129.77.

The fifth day of flying produced some fast and furious action in the V-control circles. Open combat ended up in a three-way tie. Don Smith, Joseph Freeman and Jack Obleness all totaled 540 points, which quite naturally ended up in a fly-off; when the smoke and dust had cleared they ended in the above order. Meanwhile in proto speed those three Texans, Clem, Beasley and Kirn were really moving. They averaged 113.85 from a standing start, doing a lot of laps at 121 to 122 mph, which could place high in a lot of B speed contests. Karl Caldwell was the only other entrant to top 100 mph. Dennis Schaver won senior and Richard Rehwald junior with team racers.

Just one circle down from the proto activity the C speed ships were going faster than ever before. Bob Lauderdale and the Clem, Beasley and Kirn combination had a down to the wire fight all to themselves, the second-place team going more than 10 mph faster than the 3rd place winner. Bob won this event with an unprecedented 168.47 mph! Dick Bradford topped 154 in senior for first, while Mike O'Bryan topped 149 for first in junior.

Down free flightway, B free flight ended up in more of a race than C speed. Four guys had 3 sixes in the open class - Harry Gould, Toshi Matsuda, Earl Anderson and Mike Kostich. On their 4th flights Harry did 11:25 for first, the rest following in order. Senior Bob Gelvin totaled 16:56 to nose out Lee Hines; a similar close race in junior found Bob Johnson nosing out Alan Fleming. .

In Half-A flying scale Bob Gelvin posted the winning Jr-Sr points for his 2nd first place of the day, while in the open division Bob Hill won his umpteenth in a row, nosing out R. Petro and Dick Baxter.

The Nordic glider event was most joyous for YM's Dick Everett, it really gladdened his heart, because there were so many entrants. Dick Sladek became the first man in this country to total 53's in competition, then he went on to do 8 minutes plus for a real record. There were more than 20 contestants who totaled over 12 minutes for their 5 flights, which is an average of 2:24 plus, some real good flying. Fred Wells won senior with 14:02 and David Arne, junior with 13:13.

The sixth and last day, Sunday, found close to 100 contestants down at "Lake Los Alamitos" for the hydro activity. Ed Mates got off to an early start and posted 16:30 in open, which looked like a sure thing until Manny Andrade came up and posted 36's with a Half-A job and then 2:48 for a booming 20:48 and the winning time. Jack Thomas put in a last-minute 58-second flight to total 12:58 for the senior event, while Jack Moreland put in an early 12:51 to easily win junior.

Limited glider also had a lot of entrants. Don Tune posted the high time to win senior with 13:25, Ralph Harmon totaled 9:11 for junior and James Scarborough posted the highest time of the day to take open.

In control line flying scale that experts' expert, Tom Dean, topped John Tatone to win first again. Jimmy McCroskey repeated his last year's victory by capturing senior honors; Gary Cummings Jr flew off with junior honors. Dean had a new model under construction, a Luscombe, which prompted Tatone to remark "what's the use" - the model has scale rivets in every spot where the real plane uses one.

In Clipper Cargo, favorite Jim Lang lifted an early 41 ounces for what looked like a sure winner only to have that grand old man of model flying, C. O. Wright, lift 41 3/4 ounces to nose him out. Subsequent flights by Lang ended up in disaster when the wind flipped him upside down, smashing his wing. This 41 3/4 is a new record.

In the U-control circles the team race event was won by that very consistent Senior, Ron Schauer. This lad is only 18 and is whipping everyone with this very fast ship. Navy Carrier was real close; R. M. Post nosed out Russ Beattie by 9 points, his 391.93 being a very good total.

PAA-Load endurance saw only 3 entrants, but Dick Heist's 1:08:14 winning time was a new record for this event. Jet found the guys really going fast again and again with Clem, Beasley and Kirn as the winning combination with their 162.83 mph plus nosing out Jim Summersett by 0.5 mph - this was mighty close and is another new record.

Hot as the competition was in most events, hottest by far were the championship races. Only one age champion won by Saturday, David Arne of Yuba City. Hal Cover and Don Alberts were very close, Don winning by gaining points in ROW after smashing his ship up three times, then putting it back together. Don was 16 points behind Hal when the Sunday flying started.

Woody Blanchard landed a ship on the Carrier Deck for the first time in his life to nose out Karl Caldwell by 10 points. Woody did some real thinking in winning his second straight National and Open Championship, picking events he was sure to get points in and then spotting the weakness in the point system to garner the points he so sorely needed.

The Thermal Thumbers in winning the team championships entered those events in which they love to build and fly models, all free flight events and mostly the non gas powered events. They got off to an early lead on Indoor day and increased their points every day. They saw their margin decrease as the days went on, but they held on to total 2373 points and win. Second place was Air Force #1 team's 1738 and the San Francisco Vultures' 1630.

The comment of some speed flyers was that the guys who fly "Biline" should be allowed 10 mph to catch the Mono-Line models... The really amazing percentage of successful speed flights, very few attempts that did not get off.

The team flying of two B-29s by the San Diego Eurekas sure stopped the crowd, as did five guys in one team race or rat race, as so many called it.

Another model building first can be chalked up-the first vertical rise-off-water model. Charles A. Lindley put blown-up penny balloons over 3/8" balsa dowels on his stab tips with a retractable tripod foot on the fuselage similarly equipped to make a lot ask questions about legality. Some went so far as to state that it would ruin ROW events. What was really good is that this same guy flies VTO all the time - is there a difference as long as the plane will ROW and pass the float test? Charley didn't hook into any thermals but his 3-minute average with a long flight of 3:17 sure speaks for itself. One of the Navy timers was heard to say, "It looks like a flying pawnshop."

Pop Robbers was awarded the Flying 8 Ball trophy and immediately became worried with what he could do with it. The thing wouldn't fit in his car, maybe he'd award it to someone else - at last count he was talking to Mom and to himself.

The free flight system as used for the first time kept the take-off area clear of all obstructions. This was suggested by June Dyer at the '52 Nats and used experimentally on the last day. It consisted of a 100-foot circle laid out on the runway. All flyers were required and monitored by the timers and judges to start their engines up outside the circle; after the engine was started they disconnected their boosters, picked up their ship, moved it into this take-off circle and let it ROG. It worked fine, too - much better than the lack of system used at most contests where one must try to pick up a space between boosters and gas cans which is large enough to allow your ship to take off.

All in all this contest was by far the best organized ever. The Navy personnel was superb, they had been taught to do a job, so they did it better than the teachers could have. Accommodations were excellent. V.I.P.'s for autographs were all over the place. Secretary of the Navy Thomas presented the Grand Championship award.

Analyses of National Modelplane Winners

Through the cooperation of America's top-place competition flyers you see here the most detailed listing ever to appear in "ATMA"

United States Aero Championships of 1955

Example of Milwaukee indoor glider design is displayed by don Kintzele. Good pitching arm helps in this competition!

Bakersfield, Calif., leans to polyhedral wing as demonstrated by John Wertz. Note that offset rudder for tight circling.

Top man in 1955 indoor hand-launched glider flying. Air Force's Stewart Savage of Wright-Patterson , won with 1:10.

Curtis Stevens of Stockton, Calif., set new record while winning first in senior indoor hand launched event with 1:06.6.

Bob Patchin Hawthorne, Calif., shows standard launching grip with forefinger of right hand against wing and body.

Only feminine entrant in Nordic towline glider contest was Dorothy Conover of Oxford, Iowa. Neat reel for towline.

Henry Cole's Nordic featured "Fireball" type wing construction with balsa sheet covering top, bottom. he won open H/L.

Michael Roberts, 10, of Orange County, Calif., gets assistance from a friendly spectator as he repairs broken fuselage.

Thermal Thumber Jack Block (l) of Los Angeles was close on Savage's heels with 1 minute, 9.4 seconds to take 2nd.

(Right) Fifth place in junior control line flying scale went to Sharen Mahnke, Grand Junction, Colo., with Triplane.

Ready for take-off on flight which netted 4th place in carrier is Robert Clemens' Guardian. Bill Kleinhaus holds.

Unusual entry in stunt was this twin-boom affair by Hoyt Jeffers, Santa Barbara, Calif. "Ring Kings" is his club.

Marva Grove holds husband Bill's Go Devil precision aerobatic model. Anderson Spitfire power. They're from Burbank, Calif.

Neat scale-like F-86 Sabre stunt model is helf by builder, Don Benson, Bellflower, Cal. Power is a K&B .29.

Original design stunter named "Gold Brick" by its designer, Bill Netzeband, Kirkwood, Mo. Note scimitar prop.

No winner, but mighty nice looking: Gypsy Tiger Moth flown in free flight scale by Bob Evans, Jr. Cub .074 diesel.

Tremendous speed of over 168 mph was racked up by Tulsa's Bob Lauderdale (l) in Class C for new record.

Top junior flyer in Rise-Off-Water competition was Jack Moreland of Long Beach, Calif. Plane design by Jack Oxley.

Rod Echenburg (4th, Open Class) waits (l) as Navy judge observes flotation test. All entries had to float 30 seconds.

Indiana entrant Earl H. Anderson was 3rd in Class C free flight event. He won B in '54. Original design, Torp. .23.

You don't hardly see this type of thing at all. Half-A powered original design canard by Russ Ryand, Tempe, Arizona.

James Lang (r) placed second in PAA's Clipper Cargo event with 40 oz. payload, used tremendous span, 3-wheel gear.

Everything in Clipper Cargo seemed unusual and interesting. I. G. Aker, Los Angeles, entered this OK Cub .048 power job.

First in Half-A open free fliqht went to Bill Fox of Long Beach, Calif., with this VTO (vertical take off original.

This is the one that caused all the talk! Charles Lindley's VROW model gets off with absolutely no assist. FAI design.

Only man to top 20 minutes indoors was motor mamufacturer Bill Atwood (1) here recovering wing. Joe Bilqri watches.

Charles Dorsett of San Francisco displays fine traveling box for indoor microfilm models. Wally Reale (r) looks on.

Everybody hold his breath! Glen Cunningham, Phoenix, lifts sheet of microfilm from improvised tank at indoor site.

Third in open cabin and stick, Warren Williams of L. A. Thermal Thumbers helped team with with this cabin craft.

Lt. Georqe Matsumoto, USAF, (l) weighs in C free flight. He took 1st in Far East AF Eliminations to win U.S. trip.

Great guy and the new weight-lifting champ, C. O. Wright! CO's model, an original design, lifted 41 3/4 oz. to win.

Second place in helicopters went to Larry Crissman with this 2┬ĚJetex powered entry. Larry used Jetex 150's.

Indoor site (I) at Santa Ana was blimp hangar which is 200 feet wide, 1,100 feet long and 200 feet high!

C. A. Schuchmann's amazing "flying lampshade." Ruled not a helicopter; he took 4th in Hiller with conventional copter.

Gayle Clement, Lynwood. Cal., first in Senior A speed and set new national record of 134.73 mph, K&B-Allyn Torp .19.

Gene Wright wrecked Wakefield while testing, repaired it same day, won 6th. Next day took Unlimited Open, 14:13.

No helicopter this. National Champion Woody Blanchard as he winds Wakefield rubber outside fuselage (like Red Everitt).

You, too, can fly Mono-Line, declare this happy trio. From left: Dale Kirn, Jim Clem and Sam Beasley with their speed awards.

Mickey Tuttle and Chris Peterson (2nd in indoor H/L junior glider) wait for better flying conditions. Ron Tuttle looks on.

Class A speed entry by Clem-Beasley-Kirn team, typical of their Mono-Line craft. Bill Wisniewski topped A with 141.73 mph.

Jim Hazard of Canogo Park, Cal., takes his Ford Trimotor off in C /L scale flying. Fine model, but underpowered.

Flying more than 13 mph faster than next place, Clem-Beasley-Kirn Proto Speedster (Dooling .29) did 113.85 mph.

Fairchild C-119 flown by Bryant Thompson, member of USAF team, weighs 7 1/2 lbs., powered by two O&R 29's on ignition.

Isometric speed design by Bob Miller, Pasadena, uses Fox .59 and is held here by Chuck Schuette of Santa Monica, Cal.

Bab Palmer, open class stunt champ (lt.) and Edwin J. May, Jr., junior stunt champ (rt.), with Carl Goldberg.

Les McBrayer of F. A. S. T. club with free flight scale entry, a Berkeley Fairchild 24 ready for take-off.

Magnificent F4U5-N by Noal Hess of Salt Lake City spanned 52", weighed 7 3/4 lbs., had Orwick 60. Cracked up.




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