World's Largest Air-Model Contest
November 1961 American Modeler

April 1960 American Modeler

April 1960 American Modeler 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.


World's Largest Air-Model Contest

Exclusive Photos ...

Once again came that annual trek to the National Model Airplane Championships - held this year at Willow Grove Naval Air Station just North of Philadelphia and an easy Turnpike drive from New York City. Little wonder its broke previous attendance records for contestants and spectators. Visitors on the final, seventh day not only witnessed a breath-taking aerial show by the Navy's famed Blue Angels, they saw Skippy the Chimp "flying" R/C and exhibition flights by C/L and R/C experts. While it rained heavily on two days, this discomfort was balanced by the absence of duststorms which plagued 1957's contestants.

Assuming you caught the "Flash News" report of Nats winners in Oct. AM, we'll make this an informal roundup. Unlike Carl Goldberg, your reporter hasn't been to everyone of the 30 Nats. But seeing the last eight, we can say with some assurance that if you have yet to experience one, you simply can't imagine what you've been missing!

Part of the atmosphere is provided by the colorful, eye-catching club emblems featured on contestant shirts. Many can compare favorably with anything carried as personal insignia on the cowlings of WW/2 warplanes! Perhaps the most outstanding thing one remembers about the post-war Nats is the presence of hundreds of Navy personnel. These men act as contest officials, control the crowds and generally make it possible for the AMA and its leader members to conduct such a tremendous undertaking.

This year, Dutch's Diner, across the road from NAS, welcomed visitors with wall paintings of models, contestants, even the Blue Angels' planes. Management doubled its staff for Nats-week - remembering the extra business they enjoyed during the last shindig.

Without the staunch efforts of Johnny Brodbeck and A. L. Strickland, something like 250 gas jobs would have been grounded. That was the number of engines put back into commission by this understandably popular pair at the K&B Repair Booth. Some real museum pieces are handed to Johnny and Strick for repair work; they dread the day when a modeler will turn in a badly mauled Morton M-5! S/Sgt Fred Salmon of the USAF Team presented the K&B'ers with a cardboard profile of a Series '61 29 - and offered to join the Navy if they could get it running!

World's Best Indoor Flyer

NATS PIX (above): Joe Bilgri, San Jose, Cal., scored highest duration at Lakehurst, N. J., NAS, with his Class D microfilm-covered "stick" plane. Rubber-power expert then flew to England and won world crown (see pg. 22 this issue).

Senior Champ Flew On Winning Club Team

NATS PIX: Senior age champion (16 to 21 years), Larry Miller, Cleveland, who flew on nation's best team from the Lakewood, Ohio, Flite Masters, gets Cox 02 powered , PAA-Load off to first place. USA's top flyer, Grand Champ Woody Blanchard (below) and wife Doris ready Nordic A-1. Champ looks a bit worried - could it be no thermals, or no timers available?

Grand Champ

NATS PIX (above): On ROW (rise-off-water) free flight day, how it did rain. looks like as much water outside the tank as inside! Peggy Lauderdale (Huntsville, Ala.) holds hubby Bob's Open Class speed jobs - Class A, first; "B", 4th; "C", first (respectively, Supre Tigre 15 Dizzymite, Fox 29X Dizzy-B, McCoy 60 Dizzy Boy). Below - Junior Combat champ Frank Pisz Jr., Union, N. J., with helper Dad; "Quicker," Torp 35.

NATS PIX (below): Best indoor glider builder-flinger in the country, Ron Wittman, Inglewood, Calif., winds up for a first place in Open class.

NATS PIX (center left): First in Jr. Wakefield, Greg Perryman, 10. Above, Miss Model Aviation, Nancy Nemeth, 19, of Levittown, Pa., with copy of USN's first plane. Left, welcomed "aboard" Willow Grove's Naval Air Station by Nancy Fleming, Miss America 1961, and Cdr. Fred Johnston, Executive Officer, are (lucky fellows!) Jim Stover, left, Penna. AYSC state champ, and Don Weitz, Nevada AYSC champion.

Speaking of engines, Fred Carter ("A" and "B" Sr. Speed Winner) posted a reward notice offering $50 for information leading to the recovery of the Super Tiger 3 stolen from his model box - or $25 and no questions asked to the thief himself.

Checking over results (the first five places in 93 age classes), we find Five-Time Grand Champ Woody Blanchard had 1 first and 1 fifth place; Senior Champ Larry Miller had 2 first, 2 second and 3 fifth places; Junior Champ Dennis Bronco had 3 first and 2 second places. With the exception of two C/L events entered by Miller, all Champ placings were in F/F categories! In spite of very high humidity, all of the winning indoor event times (other than Jr. Mike Stick) were well above those in at the previous Nats (larger flying area at Lakehurst, of course).

Contestants who repeated '60 wins were: Joe Bilgri (Op. Mike Stick, 33:16), James Baggi (Sr. Mike Stick, 20:56.6; Cabin, 13:50.9), and Ron Wittman (H/L Glider, 74.5). Richard Miller was a second behind Wittman. Both have outstanding designs and we have yet .to see anyone who can beat them when it comes to getting maximum altitude on launch. Jim Baggi also won Sr. H/L Glider and placed 2nd in Paper Stick - this made him top all-around man in Sr. events.

FREE FLIGHT NATS ... By comparison with the strictly defined circles of the C/L fraternity, F/F events always seem to be a somewhat disorganized picnic. There's a tendency to relax at first, but after a few minutes you realize you'd better rotate like a radar-scope and be ready to dodge those falling objects. Judging by all the towlines which had us by the throat several times, there's a mighty big increase in glider interest - especially in A-1. Open A-1 winner Warren Kurth having no easy time of it, finally came out tops with his Jetstream (Nov. '60 AM) for the third successive year. The Perrymans of Georgia made a good showing in rubber events - with poppa George getting 2nd in Open Unlimited, sons Steve and Greg taking Junior 1st and 5th in same event. Greg also won Junior Wakefield. Momma Tina helped wind motors and launch the much-dihedralled Perryman towline gliders. Frank Parmenter captured Open Un-'limited Rubber and set a National Record (22 :49.5) with his well-proven Wakefield (he added more rubber for "Unlimited").

In Free Flight Gas this year, they seemed to be getting upstairs faster than ever - and splattering over a larger portion of the landscape when the trim was off! One of those which kept on going up and up was W. R. Bell's Cox TD .149 powered Javelin; it took first in Open FAI. This winner spanned 60 1/2" , had elliptical pointed tips, thin 8% flat undersurfaces wing and stab surfaces. Harry Murphy won "B" Gas with 27:23.2 - almost double the second place time. Harry's "Sunbuster" was a medium hi-thrust type (Fox .201), with the pod mounted halfway up the pylon. Flying surfaces were squared off at the tips, sections were flat-undersurfaced, Plenty of fine flying at the four PAA-Load events, with Woody Blanchard winning .020 Clipper Cargo, Henry Struck taking .020 PAA-Load.

Helicopter just doesn't attract entries, this event once again stayed at the bottom of the interest ladder. Yet the winning whirlybird (125 points) by Lee Taylor was a big step forward; it employed an effective original gyro-cyclic pitch control on the rotors (patent pending). Power was one of those lovely old Arden .09's with an 8x3 1/2 prop; 4-blade rotor (33 3/4" dia.) turned at 500 rpm. On its first contest flight, this 11-ouncer grabbed so much altitude on a 3 minute motor run, it required 2 minutes to make its autorotation descent.

CONTROL LINE NATS ... Not only did the winners in the three Stunt age classes put up some of the finest flying performances ever seen, their entries were just about as gorgeous as they come. Open and Grand Champ was. Lew McFarland, making his second Nats appearance flying his BIG 700 sq. in. wing area "Shark" (Oct. '61 AM). Lew originally dubbed this K&B .45 beauty "Humbler", but earlier this year he rechristened it. "Shark" seems more in keeping with the design's aggressive look. Bill Werwage flew the same Fox .35 powered "Ares" (May '60 AM) he had in the previous 3 Nats to win once again in Senior Stunt (he was Grand Stunt Champ in '59). Top Junior Stunter Jim Vornholt's "Airon" (Fox .35) was somewhat similar to "Ares" with close wing and control surface areas (except lower A/R stab), fin shape, elongated sheel spats, very slender bubble-canopied fuselage - but longer tail moment. Jim took Jr. Stunt at the Dallas Nats with his unusual twin-boomed Carrousel (March '61 AM).

When the dust finally settled over the FAI Team Racing finals, Bill Ayer (builder and mechanic), and Bert Wittebort (pilot) had triumphed with their sleek high-A/R elliptical-wing original. Power was an Oliver Tiger 3 running on Hi-Fire diesel fuel. Second went to Darrel Dolgner's ETA .15 powered original (Joe Harris, pilot), so it turned out to be a great day for British engine manufacturers and visiting Londoner Henry J. Nicholls, who helped run the event.

Rain played havoc with AMA Team Racing eliminations on Saturday, the 6th day of the meet. The finals scheduled for the following morning could not be run off until after the Blue Angel's show, the crowning of Miss Model Aviation and National Champs' Trophy awards!

The winners-after a well disciplined, accident-free race - were a Maryland group who called themselves "The Rebels" and even had a Confederate flag in their pit to prove it! Bob Huffer (builder and pilot) won with an original medium A/R ("W" wing rib spacing), power was an upright '59 Fox .29.

Proto Speed (Op.) went to Larry Grogan, with 124.95 mph, which was a little faster than his '59 winning time. Larry also won "B" Speed (Op.) with a creditable 152.35. 1/2A Speed (Op.) was taken by Warren Kurth's latest "Peanut" at 102.46 (see Oct. '61 AM). Jet Speed (Op.) captured by a team, Harry Nash and Bill Pardue, at 164.02 (National Record remains in hands of Jim Summerset, 169.23). Bob Lauderdale won both remaining Open Speed events: "A" at 132.69; "C" at 163.57. Except for Open "A" Speed (Nash and Pardue hold the mark with 145.10) all prevailing piston-engine Jr.-Sr.-Op. AMA speed records were shattered at Willow Grove.