Golden State Stunt Championships Turned 40!
By Brian Massey
The Golden State Stunt Championships has turned 40! It started in the late 70’s as a simple challenge of Northern California CLPA flyers vs. Southern California CLPA flyers, competing to see who was best. Now on a regular basis it draws flyers from Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Canada and of course, California. It has also enjoyed visits from flyers from as far away as Illinois and Florida. It is a great CLPA meet, in many ways rivaling the Nats with its quality and quantity of CLPA flyers.
For the past seven years, the GSSC has enjoyed the hospitality of the City of Madera, and the use of the Madera Airport as the contest site. This has allowed us to fly on a beautiful piece of tarmac about 700 feet long by 250 feet wide. The tarmac is rimmed with taxi ways and open fields; there are no buildings or trees to cause unnecessary wind turbulence. It also provides us ample room for three 170-foot circles along with three 70′ by 50′ pit boxes. It is a great place to hold this type of contest; if you don’t mind an occasional Lear Jet taxiing by about 50 feet from your circle’s edge.
On Thursday October 18th the host club, Fresno based PC Flyers, arrived at the airport to begin setup. And of course, there will be no snags . . . right? Well, sitting right in the middle of our site is a very very large helicopter. The crew had parked there thinking the contest was a weekend only event, so they were good to park. Thankfully the airport manager was able to reach the crew and they came out to fire the beast up and move it for us. We were warned not to set anything up before they moved due to the extreme prop wash they would generate lifting off. So, we waited.
Despite the late start setting up, we were able to have a practice circle opened by 1 pm. By 3 pm, all three circles were busy with practice flights taking place.
Friday dawned with clear skies and gentle breezes of 4-8 mph. This turned out to be the weather forecast for the entire weekend. Weather-wise, this was one of the best flying weekends the GSSC has enjoyed, at least in my seven-year tenure as CD.
After a full day of practice on Friday, everyone was happy to see Saturday morning dawn, and the beginning of the competition. Today belongs to the Old Time and Classic flyers.
Old Time had eight contestants vying for the win. And the flights were competitive, just 10 points separated the top three flyers. When it was all said and done, Jim Hoffman flying his B-40 powered Galloping Comedian walked off with 1st place with a score of 316; Bob Whitely and his DS 60 powered Humongous placed 2nd with a score of 314.5, while Lou Wolgast took 3rd with his DS 60 powered Madman 56, with an impressive 306.
Over in the Classic circle it got crowded as we had 20 flyers fighting for the top three spots. How would you like to fly both of your rounds with identical scores of 550.5 and not even be in the running? Just ask Warren Tiahrt, he did it. Or how about posting a score of 562.5 and still missing out; just ask Dennis Nunes how that feels. But, if you managed to score a 566 like Ray Firkins flew with his Aero 36 powered Heinz 57, then you get to take home 3rd place. Second place went to Lou Wolgast and his DS 60 powered Patriot with a flight of 580.5; while first place went to Bob Whitely and his ST 60 powered Hunter with an impressive 589.
Interestingly, Warren’s two rounds with identical scores of 550.5 wasn’t the only “double” we had. Ray Firkins’ two flights were both 566. Talk about being consistent!
The Saturday night banquet was festive as we were celebrating the GSSC’s 40th anniversary. We dined on prime rib and chicken, salad, rice, vegetables and of course “Concours Cake” for dessert. Concours Cake is our way of honoring the previous years Pilot’s Choice Concours winner. This year’s “dessert” featured Paul Walker and his beautiful P-47. While we all dined on a great dinner, our appearance judges labored over many planes to assign scores. But we did manage to save them a slab of prime rib, and they were able to join us as we presented the awards for the Old Time and Classic pilots.
Sunday morning dawned and saw our Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert flyers back at the field ready for their great battles. In Beginner, the PC Flyer’s very own 10-year-old Henry Feistel received back to back scores of 98.5 with his LA 40 powered Ringmaster to take 1st place. The Ringmaster is now VERY special to Henry . . . he asked, and Paul Walker happily agreed to autograph the plane for him. Henry spent the rest of the day carrying the plane around with him; it was great!
Up in Intermediate we had some real battles going for the win. When the second round was over David Short (No plane info listed) took top honors with his score of 413. Eliot Scott and his Irvine 39 powered Sequence took 2nd with a 401.5, while Joe Hoppa flying his AXI F2B powered Shark Ellipse 2 scored a 390 for 3rd place.
In the Advanced circle 13 flyers were ready to go. Walter Hicks broke the 500 barrier with his Evo 60 powered Imitation, garnering a score of 500.5 and took 3rd place. Second went to Gary Gingerich and his ST 60 powered Hawker Hunter, with a score of 504.5; and 1st place honors went to Dennis Nunes and his ST 60 powered Circulas 60 with a 521 score.
And over in circle #1 we have the experts; all 25 of them! I pity the judges in Expert as they are having to judge minor nuances of corners and bottoms along with the vertical and horizontal legs. And we did have competition. After the first round we had a point spread of fewer than 10 points from 1st to 4th. Howard Rush put in a great flight of 596.5 with his Plettenberg 20-16 powered Impact, Chris Cox from up yonder in Canadaland scored a 597.5 with his Plettenberg 15-22 powered Hellcat, Dave Fitzgerald hit 605 with his trusty PA75 powered Thundergazer, but was bested by Paul Walker with a 606 flying his Plettenberg 20-16 powered Predator. Dave and Paul have been in this situation many times after the first round, and we’ve learned that the second round will provide us with some surprises.
And surprises we got! First up in the second round was Howard Rush, and he flew an incredible flight scoring 607.5 putting him atop the field. But we only had to wait till the fourth flight to find out how long that would last. Flying fourth was Dave Fitzgerald who did what he is so good at, upping his score to 610; Howard’s now in 2nd place.
Paul Walker didn’t have long to wait as he drew 7th in the second round. All eyes were on Paul as he launched and began his flight. His corners were crisp, bottoms were right where they should be, and the flight was making Dave a little nervous. When the score was posted, Dave was able to breath easy . . . Paul upped his score, but only to 608.5 . . . 1.5 points short; Howard’s now in 3rd place. Well, I guess that’s it, nobody of any real consequence remaining to fly. Well, there is Chris Cox . . . but what could he possibly do? I mean he’s a Canuck for heaven’s sake. Ho hum, Chris Cox, he’ll be up 17th in the round, no biggie.
Well, his turn came and by golly, he put in a decent flight! His score was posted and we all just about sh*t! 610! The little Canuckie did it, he’s in a tie with Dave. In my seven years as CD of the GSSC, this was the first tie I had seen. It was decided to use the first round score as the tie breaker, so that gave Dave the win, and Chris 2nd place. That left Paul Walker with that great 608.5 humbly taking 3rd place. And Howard’s 607.5 only earned him a place in the crowd to watch the awards being handed out. Poor Howard.
While Chris had to settle for 2nd place, he nonetheless is sharing the coveted Gilbert Rodriquez Memorial Award for top score of the meet with Dave. Each will have their name engraved on the trophy and share it equally; six months of “ownership” each.
But wait, there’s more! We now get to announce the Pilot’s Choice Concours Award winner. And that goes to . . . Chris Cox with his immaculate Hellcat. It was a 20 point winner in the appearance judging on Saturday night, and evidently all the pilots agreed with that score. Congratulations to Chris, he will adorn the 2019 Concours Cake!
Well that’s it for me; after seven years of being the CD for the GSSC, I’m getting to turn the reins over to Elk Grove, CA’s very own Brian Moore. But before I go, allow me this . . . It has been a pleasure and honor to be the CD of such a great contest. For 40 years this tradition has been carried on and I’m pleased to have been a part of it. Over the past seven years many have thanked me and congratulated me on a job well done. But I did not do this by myself; not by a long shot. I cannot begin to thank everyone, but I must mention a few who really went over and above. First off, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Swan family. Bob, his wife Barbara and his brother Bill. Bob and Bill ran the GSSC for many years before I came along, and it was their expertise, advice, help and friendship that got me through the learning curve and beyond. They were the “behind the scenes” crew that carried the heavy water that I got to drink. Thank you Bill, Bob and Barb! Second, my brother Mike who drove down from Oregon for seven years to ramrod the Pit Boss positions and be the safety officer; thanks bro.
But the list is much deeper; Thanks to all the PC Flyers (No, not “Politically Correct” Flyers; the club is sponsored by People’s Church of Fresno thank you very much) who turned out in force every year to help setup, run score sheets, run to the store for more spicy brown mustard, and of course the tear down and reloading the trailer. A great bunch of guys that I have the pleasure of flying with every week. I do have to give a special thanks to one of our members, Charles Milsap. Chuck hunkered over the BBQ all three days; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for all seven years, churning out hot dogs and hamburgers for our participants. This was an extremely important and necessary position since the airport has no close by eateries. Chuck did a fantastic job of feeding 60 or 70 people everyday; great job Chuck, and thank you very much!
And I want to thank everyone who were there to help in other ways; those who stepped up to the plate and judged, some year after year, others who generously donated raffle prizes, sponsored trophies or made other donations to help the event meet expenses and stay alive (model airplane contests are not exactly money makers). I appreciate all the kudos, but a successful contest is the product of a larger group of people willing to work, even though they might be in the background. I have been extremely fortunate to have such a great and generous support staff.
Well, I guess that’s it for me . . . Brian Moore, it is now all yours!