District 9
March 12, 2021

Hi gang! Welcome to our revamped communication format. As this is being written, the fine details are still being hashed out (We haven’t even decided whether or not this section of the website will be titled “Stunt News,” though I bet we will.), and I for one am truly excited at the prospect of our organization both improving and intensifying its interactions with the membership.

         One consequence of the format change is that the district report, such as we have traditionally understood it, is as thoroughly extinct as the dodo and the velociraptor. Instead, this “page” is more likely to operate like a blog, with content being added on a more or less continuous basis as it arrives. For a hobby whose participants have been used to coverage of major events coming six to nine months after the fact, we will for the first time as an organization have a vehicle for communicating information which actually qualifies as “news.” District directors will act as collectors of information from within their districts, and the material will be curated (The process is still being finalized.) to prevent the page from resembling the yarn-strewn bulletin board of an obsessed conspiracy theorist. CLPA is an overwhelmingly visual hobby/sport, so we dare not ignore that neatness counts

         There can be no doubt that PAMPA has suffered enormous attrition over the past decade or so. The prevailing theory among folks with whom I’ve discussed this is that most of this decline is due to the aging and passing of the membership. No doubt there’s an element of this involved, but I suspect that a bigger cause was the retirement of Bob Hunt from Stunt News, followed by a draconian reduction in page count and then the total elimination of the magazine. Admittedly, there had already been a loss in numbers prior to this, but the reduction in dues revenue made it economically infeasible to keep producing the hard copy version, and this has been repeatedly cited by ex-members as a major reason for no longer belonging, as they viewed SN as the primary benefit of membership. The fact that dues went up (necessary to balance the budget with a smaller head count) just as perceived benefits decreased did not in any way help the situation, and PAMPA entered what appeared to be a contractionary spiral.

         Personally, I’ve felt for some time that there’s an affirmative way of dealing with the demographic and economic challenges facing us. Most District 10 readers are aware that for five years and change I’ve been the newsletter editor for my local club. Using an e-mail based format, nearly 300 weekly issues (plus scattered “specials”) have been produced to date. Despite the pandemic situation and an FAA-mandated closure of our primary field for a chunk of the 2019 season, the Valley Circle Burners nearly doubled, and then maintained, its paid membership over that interval. Without doing a lot of breast-beating here, I honestly think that the frequent, repeated availability of actual news (plus sufficient photographs to maintain visual interest), is a significant portion of what keeps the membership involved in the club.

         Why shouldn’t that work on a national level, except using a website in place of an e-mailed ‘zine? Maintaining a fully digital format would minimize expense to the organization while simultaneously freeing SN (or whatever we ended up calling the new format) from the tyranny of cost-imposed length limitations—assuming, of course, that sufficient quantities of content could be obtained. The fly in the ointment was that given PAMPA’s reduced ranks, it wasn’t clear where the expertise for the necessary work would come from. From the perspective of a simple club newsletter editor, I knew that I wasn’t capable of pulling it off as a solo act, which is what the project seemed destined to be.

         Bob Hunt’s decision to come out of editorial retirement changed the picture completely. He’ll never admit it publicly, but no other single individual inside of PAMPA has the combination of publishing experience and deep understanding and affection for CLPA, to create a digital nexus to attract the discipline’s adherents—both past and present—into a common arena. This is not to diminish the importance of bulletin boards like Stunt Hangar, which currently dominate CLPA dialogue, but there is also a decided need for PAMPA to speak with a clear voice when advocating for the hobby/sport: something to which the cacophony common to many open sites does not lend itself.

         As soon as I found out about Bob’s commitment to the project, I resolved to help him in any way I could, as every Don Quixote (the man with the vision) deserves a Sancho Panza to provide reality checks and perform grunt labor. Bob’s enthusiasm is as contagious as Covid (Somehow that didn’t come out as complimentary as intended.), and logic suggests that a two-man team should accomplish more than could be done than one man alone.

         There are limits, however, to what I think I can realistically expect to get done without sacrificing either timeliness or quality, and I’ve maintained throughout that my primary responsibility is to my own local club (You know: the guys who guarantee that I have someplace to fly.) Bob has already promised to mercilessly abuse my “free” time, so I’ve decided to relinquish my position as District 10 Director at the end of my current term on March 31.

         Warren Walker of the Knights of the Round Circle, the Valley Circle Burners’ sister club in the southern L.A. County area, has agreed to take on the duties of the job. Warren’s “Man Cave” shop is legendary in the region, as are the barbecues he and wife Ramona put on in association with KOTRC-run contests. Warren is one of the better builders and pilots; the slick-looking Humongous pictured in my December column was his handiwork. As he is thus far running unopposed—a condition likely to persist—he is expected to take over this page on April 1: the same ironic joke I faced at the start of my own term. Until that date, however, please continue to send any content which you would like to see appear here to me at dognosticator@yahoo.com, or call me at 805-210-2011 and we can talk about it. Warren will introduce himself and provide contact information at the appropriate time.

         I won’t be disappearing from these pages. Bob is going to make me write something, it’s just that neither of us knows yet quite what that’s going to be.

         With competition at a virtual standstill across the district and Winter weather patterns (such as they might be) in full force, what we really need to give this page some zest is photos of your Winter builds. Modern “phones” (aka handheld microcomputers) make the taking of acceptable digital shots nearly effort-free, and neither thousands of dollars-worth of equipment nor any darkroom experience is needed, or at this point, even useful.

         Here’s a look at what’s come across my desk since my last column. Of necessity, it’s comprised of VCB contributions.  This is not to imply that I haven’t gotten anything from other clubs.  On the contrary, it’s largely contributions from outside the club that keep the newsletter interesting.  It’s just that none of these contributions since the start of December have been about current or just-completed builds.

         First up is a Bi-Slob built by VCB club President Dave Hull.

         Powered by the iconic Fox .35, the Bi-Slob design isn’t one we would generally associate with the word “precision,” but certainly “stunt” is more than justified. Except for some Rustoleum over an epoxy undercoat on the nose, the finish is all Super MonoKote, including the checkerboard work on the bottom.

         Given the kind of knocking-around the average Bi-Slob endures, Dave’s work on the finish is admirable.

         Dave sent in the shots above, but we have no photographer credit available.

         Don Barrett sent us this pic of Chris Hedge with his new, kit-built Berkeley Lancer.

         The photo was taken at the Circle Burners’ secondary field, at Freedom Park in Camarillo.

         Another Circle Burner, Lou Bahrman, has this profile version of Tom Dixon’s Time Machine 50 in primer, ready for color.

         Lou’s plan to run a Stalker .51SE up front perfectly matches Dixon’s intentions for the design, which is essentially a scaled-down, re-engineered version of “Big Jim” Greenaway’s Patternmaster. Lou opted to fully sheet the TM50’s foam wing, but Dixon originally used simulated cap strips between leading and trailing edge sheeting to create the illusion of traditional balsa rib structure.

         Jerry Silver, who’s been competing in both Expert and Classic for the past few seasons with a Southwick Skylark, currently has a Jim Tichy-designed Colossus on the bench.

         The I-beam designs have such beautiful structures that they’re a shame to have to cover, but to the less-accomplished modeler they can seem daunting, particularly in details such as nose cowling, cooling air ducting, and wing-mounted, panted landing gear.

         The premature loss of his still incompletely-trimmed Time Machine 50 (full-fuselage variant) last Fall spurred VCB President Emeritus Bill Barber into a frenzy of building activity. First off the building board was a Nobler, Frankensteined together from both ARF and scratch-built subassemblies. With that available to fly (and with his formerly-beloved profile Roadrunner idled for a long, long time), Bill was able to complete a Charles Parrott-designed P-47 which he’d been working at, on and off, for the better part of three years.

         Even though he has more powerful, modern engines available, Bill chose to go with the period-appropriate SuperTigre .46 for power. Bill has had the boutique kit for years, and Tony Naccarato himself selected extra-light, fine-grained blocks to help him keep the project light. Bill went with a primarily silver finish to avoid the added weight of color coats.

         While trimming-out the P-47, Bill has two additional stunt ships in process. Here’s the story in his own words.

“Al, I enjoyed reading your memories of Mike’s [Ringrose] P-47. It was powered with an ST .46.

         “Interesting that you mentioned Mike’s next plane: the Charisma. When Mike moved North, he gave me a Charisma kit. Mike told me that the curved [elliptical plan form] wing is a challenge to build, so I got some building advice from Tom Dixon, the designer. Will start on my Charisma soon, and mine will be powered by a Tom Lay ST .51.

         “I need to finish Tony Naccarato’s Ares, [which] he started many years ago. Because of his battle with cancer, he left it on the field so someone would complete it. I took it, and will finish it honor Tony’s memory. The Ares will be powered by a Brodak .40 with a shaft extension. The Ares is ready for a blocking coat.

         “My other project is a modified Buccaneer that I bought unfinished from Lou Bahrman. The original wing parts were missing, so Lou asked Tom Dixon for advice. Tom suggested putting in a Time Machine 50 foam wing. The TM50 wing has a thicker airfoil, and Tom thought it would improve the Buccaneer’s flying ability. Since it’s modified, I call it ‘Bucking Time.’ It’s also ready for a blocking coat.

         “Then, I will start on my Charisma kit! – Bill”

         No word from Bill on power for the Bucking Time, but the probable choice might be the Stalker .51 which Bill used in his recently departed Time Machine 50. As the two ships share a common wing, performance should be roughly comparable.

         We have Dennis Nunes to thank for putting us in touch with a modeler we’d never met, and for providing the photos which make up the following photo spread.  We’ll let Dennis tell the story.

“I thought I would send you a couple of photos of a Profile TrivEal Pursuit by James Dean. And no, this is not the same James Dean from the movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. 

         “James brought the plane out to Napa for its maiden flight on February 9, 2021. I had seen photos of it on Facebook, but now we were seeing the plane ‘up close and personal’ for the first time. The paint scheme and colors are truly unique and impressive.

         “James is a custom motorcycle builder and painter (artist if you ask me) by trade. Interestingly, he had almost abandoned the project during the painting process as it wasn’t turning out as he expected, but he stuck with it and got it done. I’m sure that painting motorcycles is one thing; painting a model airplane is a little different. I’m glad he stuck with it, as the results are spectacular!

         “After pulling almost an ‘all-nighter,’ he got to the flying field a little later than the rest of us. When he pulled the plane out of his car — this yellow, green and gray plane could have been seen from five miles away! As he got closer, the colors seemed to get brighter and brighter. Though the plane is a tad on the heavy side, James did a marvelous job on blending all the lines and edges of the plane together, and has a beautiful looking airplane. 

         “As far as the size of the plane, it has the same dimensions as Ted Fancher’s Trivial Pursuit, but with a profile fuselage. It is powered by a BadAss 3515-710 Kv motor connected to Jeti Spin 66 Pro ESC and a Fiorotti Active Timer. James is working on getting the settings and trimming this beautiful plane. There are a lot of details that these pictures did not pick up. One thing is for certain, you won’t miss this one in the pits. 

         “Stay safe – Dennis Nunes”

         That’ll do it for a first post. Be sure to check in frequently. The intention is for us to put up information much more often than in the past, and many (maybe even most) additions to the page will be shorter than this one. Our goal is to keep you informed and motivated: not to create literature. We’ll learn as we go. – Al