The 68th Model Flying Nat’s were run at Clareville down in the Wairarapa, but over the Easter break for a change, March 24th to 28th. Not really sure how/why they keep moving Easter about, I suspect the Pope has something to do with it, but this year Easter was a lot earlier than usual. A few people have been lobbying for an Easter Nats for a long time, with the promise of more settled weather at this time, especially in the Wairarapa, where at New Years the weather can be pretty extreme. But it seems that most of the country cops it at New Years now. It’s not unusual for me to be watching the news on TV around this time, and quietly chuckling to myself, as campers complain about how their tent got blown over in the night, and the gear got all wet, etc. This year we tried to run an event at Mercer on 2nd and 3rd Jan, even a duck wouldn’t have ventured out it was so wet.
So leading up to the event I started to think this Easter Nat’s thing was not such a bad plan. The weather for practise during Feb and March was really good, compared to November and December. No xmas parties and family camping trips to interrupt preparations and practise either. But we had a pretty low number of pre entry’s, because people didn’t want to drive a day each way to get down there, and or they didn’t want to take time off either side of Easter. However the total registration numbers was around the mid 90’s, with enough wanting to fly IMAC and Pattern to make holding both contests possible.
As it turned out, a bit of a weather bomb hit the country the day before the nat’s started, and it caused a few delays on the first few days, but once this passed we had some great weather with calm conditions.
With Scale and IMAC starting on day one (Thursday), Jarrod managed to bunk off school, and the plan was to drive down early Wednesday morning. This meant loading up on a Tuesday night … yep a Tuesday !!! It’s at about this time I’m now thinking that the Nat’s at New Years is not too bad after all. I’ve only done two days of work this week, but ok, let’s get loaded up. The next day was so windy, we actually spent the morning getting indoor foamy models ready, as it looked like this was all we might be flying for the first few days. It was blowing so hard that we had difficulty getting the remaining models in the van safely. Enthusiasm was pretty low. By midday, after a quick stop at the model shop for some new indoor batteries, we set off with a strong tail wind, low cloud and drizzle, and no sign of Ruapehu on the way past. But a total surprise we got, when we got down into the Manawatu, literally only a few km’s away from all those windmills, the windiest spot in the country, and it was practically dead calm. We stopped at a rest area and Jarrod flew a foamy just to prove it.
It was pretty late when we rolled into Clareville, and with bad weather forcast for the first two days, I made an executive decision … bugger putting this tent up Jarrod, most of the guys have opted for Motels, so let’s setup camp in the hall. Up here on this balcony, yeah this looks like a good spot out of the way. A great plan, took 5 mins to setup my bed, no tent pegs were harmed in the process. The only problem was, Jonathan Shorer the Nats Manager, bounded out of bed at 6am the next morning, cranked up the stereo in the Registration HQ office, with the most bizzare play list I’ve heard in a long time, and un be known to him, right next door to where we were sleeping. Pretty soon the smell of Bacon started wafting under the door, hmmmm Bacon !!!! The sound of pouring rain soon sent me back to sleep, thinking there won’t be any Scale flying this morning.
Sure enough Scale was cancelled. At 8am it was chucking it down. So they had a meeting in the hall to talk about rules and circuit directions. I narrowly managed to avoid that one, by disappearing to the shower block, but Jarrod was not so lucky. By 11am it was clearing up, and by 1pm it was starting to warm up, dead calm and the sun was starting to beam in through the white puffy clouds. Come on Jarrod, enough talk about Piper Cubs, and the correct shade of yellow, we are off to the field for some IMAC.
Large models started to be assembled, and with the safety briefing formalities out of the way, we tried to get started with Sportsman. Only to be invaded by swarms of insects. Flying ants. I’ve never seen anything like it. Millions of them had hatched out of the ground. Judging was impossible. I was wrapped up in a towel trying to keep them off me. Guys running about spraying each other with insect repellent, waving their arms and legs, it would have made a funny skit on the Benny Hill show. Flying was impossible. So we went from one extreme to the other. Scale couldn’t fly because it was hosing down, and we couldn’t fly in perfect conditions because of these pesky critters. Only thing we could do was to wait for some wind. Yep, we needed wind now. More standing around waiting.
In light winds we managed to get through two double known sequences. Sportsman was going to be a close contest. John Danks lead the charge by the end of two round, with Kerry Nichols not far behind having won two out of the 4 sequences. Basic only had one flyer, Stephen Collins flying a 50cc Extra. With two entry’s in Advanced, but only one actually there on the day, and only two entry’s in Unlimited, Andrew Palmer decided to move up and have a crack at Unlimited with me and Jarrod. About time mate !! So 9 pilots in total made up the contest. We really needed some Intermediate and Advanced flyers, because with only 5 in in Sportsman, and 3 in Unlimited, it made for a busy time either flying or judging.
By 5pm the Scale boys had started to lurk about, and as the weather was really nice, they were keen to get at least one round in before it went dark. Given most of us were also flying scale too, and we’d gotten through a couple of rounds, it seemed like a good plan. At the end of day one, the weather was stunning. Some really great photo’s taken with amazing sunset backdrop. Back to camp for a few quiet beers and some steak was the next order of business.
Day two … more rain in the morning. Scale managed to get a few flights in between showers, but eventually they pulled the pin around midday. Their plan was to fly the remaining flights after Pylon tomorrow. By 2pm it had cleared up, and although there was some low cloud, we managed to get through the Unknown flights in relatively calm conditions. The weather improved as the day went on. Baldrick was the only guy in Sportsman not to zero a manoeuvre in the Unknown, and subsequently won the round bumping him ahead of Kerry into 2nd spot. But John Danks by now had the known sequence down pat, and took out both the final Known sequences to take the win, with Baldrick in second only 11 points ahead of Kerry in 3rd.
The points in Unlimited were well spread out, but both Jarrod and Andrew improving with every flight. By the end of Day 2, we had flown 3 double sequence rounds of the Known, plus the unknowns. It now a mad rush to get off to Aggy that started at the earlier time of 6:30. Aggy was run in light winds, and the usual hilarity with models being smite into the ground left right and centre. What a result, 2nd Place Suetonia Palmer, and 1st was Jarrod Briggs who’s running ability overcame his lack of trimming / remembering to turn the DT on. Two massive “whoops” flights gained him a ton of points.
Day 3 we flew Pylon in superb conditions. A very successful day for me and Jarrod, winning Q500 Expert, and setting a new NZ record in the process. Look for a separate report from John Danks on the Pylon activity.
Day 4 we flew Pattern, with some low fog / cloud in the morning, but by 10am it had all burned off. 8 in F3A meant it was going to be a great contest for us. 5 guys flying in Advanced. No Sportsman flyers though … how hard is it to fly a low wing 40 sized sport model around 3 loops, 3 rolls and a 3 turn spin ? Quite difficult apparently. Watch this space, the Pattern Committee are working on a modified schedule, and a club challenge to try and gain some interest in this area.
I had a senior moment, and somehow managed to put the stab on the Biplane Jarrod and I were both going to fly in F3A, with the elevator horn one spline out on the servo. Didn’t get a chance to fly it the night before, and so on the first round, it leapt off the ground like a coiled spring and wanted to start doing a loop straight away. Bugger !!! How on earth did I get that wrong. That put me on the back foot from the start. Jarrod hadn’t really had much of a chance to fly the sequence either, and it took him until the last round to get a flight through with no zero’s, scoring about a 920 in that round. I didn’t get much of a chance to actually watch much of the Pattern, with Jarrod and I flying the same model, it was a constant mission battling with generators and chargers, making sure the next set of batteries was ready in time. I really miss the old YS days. Look for a separate report on the Pattern day, with results etc on the website.
That night we had a really good dinner and nats close down celebration at the local pub “The Bull Horn” in Carterton, where some of the prize trophies were handed out for Pylon and Pattern.
Day 5 was scheduled for some more IMAC in the afternoon, but as Pattern had finished the day before, there was a bit of a mass exodus after the dinner that night, and so with a few key guys gone, running any more IMAC was going to be impossible. Plus at this stage after 4 full on days of flying, I must admit I was feeling a little “all flown out”.
Jarrod and I both flew in F3K DLG glider on Day 5, in really nice weather, on the oval, up against the likes of Rowdy, Joe and Peewee. Now Bogan you’ve come to fly Glider today, it’s all about the stop watch … there is no controversy about how the judge gave you a zero etc, we all fly to the clock here mate … well as it turns out, the bullsh!t levels were about the same, with lots of friendly banter going. Amazing how Joe can spot a rabbit fart 200m upwind and catch a thermal off it. Good fun, loads of flying, and something totally different to close out the nats.
The prizegiving that night was a really good buffet dinner with the best pork and crackling I have had in a long time. The actual prize giving ceremony took literally 20 minutes to get through, with just the major prizes left to hand out.
The next day we drove home in perfect conditions right up the North Island. Ruapehu was looking pretty good with a bit of snow up the top. Weatherwise, even with the bit of rain we had at the start, those that predicted more settled weather for an Easter Nats at Clareville were right. The weather was actually really good.
A huge thanks to Jonathan Shorer who puts in a massive amount of time to organise the Nats. In HQ with his band of helpers, they are busy bees all week. Plus of course Jill Shorer who kept the bacon and eggs sizzling all week. I used to think running the Rumble was a big job, but it’s nothing compared to running the nats. It’s all laid on for you. As a flyer all you have to do is show up and fly !!!
The next nats are in Matamata, 3rd to 7th January.
Now onto some pictures.
There are loads here on the Nats Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/modelflyingnznats2015/
and some really good shots here too: https://www.flickr.com/photos/93535622@N06/
PDF of the IMAC Results are here: 2016 Nats IMAC Results
Aerobatic Champion Results for IMAC and Pattern combined are here: 2016 Nats Aero Champ