Gary Oulds, of Crawley DMAC, describes how the Area's Free Flighters faired at the 2005 NATS

FREE FLIGHT NATS

Barkston Heath May 28 29 30 2005

Saturday

Saturday, to put it mildly, could have been a complete disaster, if no one had flown at all. But this is rarely the case. The forecast of broken sunshine and 20 gusting to 30 plus mph south westerly winds unfortunately appeared to be fairly accurate for most of the days flying.
A few still braved the conditions in each class to put up a show of it. Most retreated to a safe deck chair distance to watch the action. It didn’t inspire much confidence when top flyer Phil Ball’s hi-tech carbon and mylar Open Rubber model plunged into the ground, reducing it to a splintered carbon and balsa mess, most of which was now mangled up in a rubber ball. I decided now was probably a good time to head for the burger van, then take a look at what Flite Hook and NATS organiser Mike (Goody house) Woodhouse of Free Flight Supplies had on offer. Whilst keeping a hopeful eye for any sign of an improvement in the weather.

Only 9 people entered any sort of score in Open Rubber, including Brindley Taylor (J) who ended up with a 1st place in Frog Junior. Ken Taylor had a go in Catapult Glider, which attracted most entries on the day with 15, but finished, well down the field.

East Grinstead’s Neil Allen was one of the few that coped well in the conditions, maxing out to win Open Power, without the need for a fly-off.

In Open Electric, Maidstone’s Trevor Grey seems to have got this class pretty cooked at the moment, almost maxing out again, this time dropping only 14 seconds on his last flight, to triumph over Maidstone's Peter Lang.

Crawley’s model boxes had been shut tight for over 6 hours and we’d been sitting outside the van in the shade, watching models winging over and listening to the sound of cracking wings folding. This doesn’t tend to make you that eager to do the same. There were lots of one-flight wonders. However, Peter Cameron and I did eventually venture out towards the end of the competition, to put in a very late challenge in Open Glider, which almost came off.

Thankfully the winds finally blew out Saturday evening. This allowed both John Oulds and Brindley Taylor to carry out vital check flights with their bunt gliders.

Super Sunday

Near perfect flying conditions greeted everyone on Sunday, with only a light westerly wind and broken cloud, which was a much-welcomed contrast to the Wild West winds of the previous day.

F1B Rubber

The Area's top Wakefield men just missed out this time round. Trevor Grey finishing in 10th, Geoff Stringer 7th and Mike Woolner 6th.

F1A Glider (approx 30 entries)

In F1A Glider there was a lot to shout about for the SE Area.
Brindley Taylor (J) and John Oulds had flown brilliantly all day maxing out to reach the five-man fly-off, along with Stuart Darman, Phill Ball, and John Cooper.
Alex Cameron was unlucky, just dropping one flight by 5 seconds to finish high in 7th place.
New model man John Richardson was in 17th, Mike Cook 20th and Ken Taylor 29th.

The F1A fly-off

The F1A fly off was a 15 minute slot, set back to 6.35pm to allow F1B to be flown first with a five minute break between the two.
As is normally the case, the CD set a first round fly-off target of 5 minutes. At this time of day the general ideal situation would be for very little thermal activity and the competition to be concluded without the need for any further fly-off flights, this proved to be the case in F1A.
At the start of the fly-off round five finalists lined up side by side across the runway, launchers holding the models ready for the off.

When the hooter sounded, Dangerman John Cooper towed to one side, to get well away from everyone else, launching his model into what looked to be a reasonable patch of air. The model seemed to hop over a row of trees running along side the peri track, eventually dropping down into the airfield campsite, somewhere behind the control tower. Stuart Darman couldn’t match it. And Phil Ball's flight developed a stall, which was to cost him precious seconds in the fairly dead air conditions. John Oulds launched with about 7 minutes to go and although not the highest, his model probably had the best glide. This left only superboy circler Brindley Taylor’s challenge. He’d been circle towing at the end of the (rainbow) runway since the start of the fly off and continued to do so for the rest of the round, eventually launching moments after CD Kris Best’s 2 minute left to go warning. He got a great launch and now it was just down to the glide - it was going to be very close.
When the clock finally stopped, Brindley Taylor’s flight had just pipped John Oulds for second place by 10 seconds but it was John Cooper's early tree hopper flight that had taken him safely clear of the rest for another NATS win.

F1A Results

1st John Cooper F1A Glider champion 2005
2nd Brindley Taylor (J)
3rd John Oulds
4th Phil Ball
5 h Stuart Darman
6th John Bailey
7th Alex Cameron

What a great result, congratulations to all our glider flyers, three in the top seven places.

Ken Taylor did really well after dropping early in F1A and in between helping son Brindley, he managed to still find time to rattle off three maxes in a very hotly contested, Slow Open Power to reach the fly off.

Memorial

This years Slow Open Power champion would receive a fabulous new trophy designed by Trevor Faulkner in memory of power flyer Pete Harris, who was tragically killed last year on the Airfield by a freak storm. A statue of the man himself launching his power model. Presenting the trophy was Pete Harris’s widow, who spoke a few words to all, before awarding the much-coveted trophy to popular worthy winner Phil Ball.

Bob Taylor flew in Brit Power (placed 7th) being run along side on the same day. I timed one of his power flights, which I thought might be ok at first. Bob didn’t seem too impressed with the climb though, and a shake of the head when the glide set in confirmed the worst, all down hill sub maxing - yuk! He had the consolation of maxing out in P30 (11th place) one of the small rubber classes. I saw one or two terrific flights in lift with these during the day, fantastic performance from such small models.

Between F1A rounds Brindley found time to put in some flights with the Performer, winning Junior Kit and 5th in the Windrush (Vol Au Vent) competitions.

So all three Taylors had a pretty good day I’d say.

At the prize giving it was great to see both Brindley and John on the same podium collecting their medals. Gold next year maybe!

Monday

After super Sunday there was still another full day of flying left, which started with some rain early in the morning. Keen Ken posted the very first competition flight of the day to win the bottle of wine on offer, with a nice flight down the Airfield with his Lulu in vintage glider.

Then the skies cleared, the sun shone, and the wind swung around two or three times throughout the day, this mucked control up when they moved a bit early before it had really settled and the flyers that followed them where sent yo-yoing backwards and forwards along the drome during one mad spell. Eventually they got it right when everyone returned back once again to the N.W. corner of the airfield - déjà vu.
It was a good day with lots of entries but quite tricky

F1H

Alex, John, Gary and John Richardson chose to fly A1. Alex started well with a max, marked by one of John Oulds' trim flights that looked good (nice team work), but unfortunately dropped his next flight. John needed a couple of good flights to possibly snatch a place but faded, northern flyer Gary Peck won it, after posting the only full score of the competition.

E30

Great stuff from electric horsemen Trevor Grey (5th) and Peter Lang (7th) in the fly off, with John Richardson (8th) (in a real battery sucker event)

In Vintage glider Peter Cameron and Ken Taylor, flying Lulu gliders, narrowly missed out. (You’d think it’d be easy with a 100m line; obviously not trying hard enough!). Nord man Bob Taylor was 9th.

Mini Vintage (31 entries 11 reached the fly off)

Best SE performance of the day was surely Martin Stagg’s 2nd place in this event. A really cracking cloud thumper flight, Mandy Bedford eventually clocked it off at 7.38 OOS, still going up! I timed Neil Allen’s Dynamite which flew on rails for 5.17 and 5th place.

Final prize giving Free Flight Nationals 2005

Martin Stagg received his medal for 2nd in Mini Vintage, before heading off in search of the model.
John Oulds seemed totally surprised to receive another medal and a bottle of wine. This time for placing third in the overall Glider Championship over the three days.

Geoff Stringer was second in the overall Rubber Championship, and Neil Allen was third in the overall Power Championship.

I picked up The Heather Cup and gold certificate for overall Junior Champion on behalf of Brindley Taylor (naturally I had to except sweets instead of wine).

I think that just about wraps it up for this year Nationals. Hope to see more SE Area entries in 2006.

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