2020 NATs Report
January 2, 2021
Arsenal VG 36 Semi Scale Stunt Machine
January 23, 2021

By Alan Hieger

This is being written at the front end of the holiday season, as the countdown toward the end of the year begins.  It’s traditional to cast eyes backward across the preceding months and attempt to frame them within broader contexts and/or apply a meaningful label to forever make sense of the experience.  It’s that spirit which motivates this column.

Overall, no one will seriously dispute that 2020 has not been a good year for CLPA.  As the current pandemic has left almost no aspect of our lives untouched, there’s no surprise that our hobby has taken a significant hit.  Although PAMPA and the AMA were able to successfully pull off the Nats competition almost as if everything were normal, the District l0/regional contest circuit was much more drastically affected.  After the Southwest Regional Championships at the end of January and the Vintage Stunt Championships in March, the rest of the annual schedule effectively evaporated under a slew of restrictions on organized gatherings and the better judgment of would-be organizers.

Sport and practice flying have continued, but evidence across the district is spotty.  As I’m located in the greater Los Angeles area, the most detailed information I’ve received covers Southern California.  Insofar as my club, the Valley Circle Burners (San Fernando Valley based, at Sepulveda Basin) and the Knights of the Round Circle (L.A. Basin, at Whittier Narrows) have what appears to be a healthy continuing turnout among the “hard cores,” who are flying under protocols which require flying from stooges and self-starting engines.  Other than the regulars, however, the more occasional or casual flyers seem conspicuous by their relative absence.  With the area’s CLPA activity split between the two sites, plus Wednesdays at Freedom Park in Ventura County, racing action seems to have gravitated to the Basin, whereas the combat guys exploit the grass circles at Whittier Narrows.

There doesn’t seem to be significant organized CLPA action in the San Diego (the state’s 2nd-largest city) area, but a smattering of former top-shelf competition pilots (which we suspect includes Dave Sabon) continue to fly on a sport basis and coach up-and-coming competitors like Charles Carter.

Perhaps naturally, I hear less from the northern end of the state.  I have only anecdotal evidence in hand, but the impression is that participation is down substantially, although I’m not sure whether this was meant to apply to the Woodland-Davis group, the gang up in Napa, or both.

Similarly, the impression made by correspondence from Arizona is of diminished activity in both the Phoenix and Tucson areas, but with documentary proof of significant building taking place of some nice stunt ships, all the better to be ready when competition conditions come back into being.

In Nevada, a small but highly dedicated group of CLPA flyers has been building an increasingly popular season-ending contest in Las Vegas for the past several years, only to be frustrated, like the rest of us, by this year’s developments.

All I’m aware of out in Utah is that a couple of ex-competition notables still fly for fun, but there’s no significant news coming in this direction.

As far as Hawaii and Guam go: not a peep in two years.  There is definite evidence of RC action in both places from Model Aviation, but CL, much less CLPA?  Nothing.

That’s kind of the state of the district as 2020 slumps its way to a close.  Looking forward to 2021, immediate prospects seem limited, but the future is more hopeful as you look farther out.  As this is written, the outlook for the early part of the contest season is doubtful.  With multiple covid vaccines in development simultaneously, the hope is that once one or more prove to be both effective and safe, the situation will improve to the point where sanctioned group activities become conceivable again during the back half of the year.  It’s a subjective judgment, but personally, I wouldn’t count on major changes from the current situation before then, at least insofar as District 10 is concerned.

It seems that there are fewer new ships being turned out these days.  It’s hard to tell whether this is simply a result of our diminished numbers or if this year’s relative dearth is due to reduced motivation stemming from the pandemic.  Nevertheless, some photos of recent builds have found there way in this direction and can be shared here.

Paul Wescott, who splits his weekend field visits between the Circle Burners’ and Knights’ sites in the Los Angeles area, sent us a couple of pix of Warren Walker’s latest, a Humongous.

“Warren’s new Humongous.  Warren Walker owned a sheet metal shop for years specializing in custom stainless steel for restaurant kitchens, and he’s quite innovative.  At one of the club meetings he used this Humongous (unfinished) to demonstrate his system for cutting squares out of blue painters’ tape to create a checkerboard mask that won’t drive you crazy.”

Warren is in many ways the social pivot of the Knights of the Round Circle club.  He and his wife Ramona routinely host club gatherings, many of which feature the Walkers’ legendary barbecues.  When asked for some tech details on the bird, Warren responded:

“The rest of the story is that it has an Enya .45 model 6001 swinging an 11-6 Rev-Up.  Paint is an all-butyrate mix of Brodak and Certified.  As Paul was saying, the squares are laid down one at a time.  Probably took about ten to fifteen hours.  As of now [This was mid-October], I have eight flights on it.  I’m adding nose weight each flight and I am sneaking up on it.”

Another ship which came off the bench recently, one which (in the words of the immortal Lilli Von Schtupp) came and went too soon, was this Time Machine 50 built by Bill Barber.

The Time Machine is Tom Dixon’s downsized re-imagining of the late “Big Jim” Greenaway’s Patternmaster design.  Perhaps the most notable feature of Tom’s redesign is the use of what he calls “kept foam” technology.  This is basically a foam wing which, instead of being covered with one of the heat-shrink films or fully balsa sheeted, uses cord-wise balsa strips to simulate the cap strips of a traditional built-up wing structure.

Bill, who was President of the Valley Circle Burners for over a decade earlier in the millenium, employed a Stalker .50 on the front end for power.  This engine is set up for the low- and zero-nitro fuels commonly used in Europe, and its care and feeding are somewhat different than the techniques used with the Japanese-origin, higher-nitro burning engines we more commonly use.  It took Bill a while to get precisely the run he wanted out of the Stalker, and even longer to get the Time Machine field trimmed and adjusted to his preferences.  Unfortunately, Bill didn’t get to enjoy the ship in its perfected form for long, as it was demolished not long afterward as the result of a reversed-controls error.  This always hurts, especially so when you haven’t had the chance to wear the “new” off a ship.

Finally, to close out what has inadvertently become an all-California photo spread, take a look at Larry Wong’s newest all-original design, his Zuriel.

The Zuriel is Larry’s original design for F2B.  The ship spans 60 inches, with a wing area of 630 squares.  No word on the overall weight, but Larry notes that power is supplied by a PA .61, modulated by a Randy Smith tuned pipe and turning a carbon fiber three-blader.

The finish is classic all-butyrate, but the substrate was left unspecified.

Overall, a beautiful “jet-style” design with modern moments,