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|Joe Nall may well be the biggest RC event in the world. There are lots of people from lots of countries that make it a point to be here.
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Text by Tom Hintz
Photos and video by Beth Hintz and Clark Ponthier
Posted – 5-18-2016
Let me say up front that my long term goal of flying a giant scale warbird at the Joe Nall 2016 event was a resounding success. With one exception (my mistake, more on this later) I could not have wished for a better outcome.
My Joe Nall goal had little to no chance of happening were not for my wife, Beth and the “Bill Squad”, a pair of Bill’s from Texas who incidentally haven’t met each other yet. If you have followed the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback build you know that it was the Bill Squad that bought the entire package under the ruse of me building and testing it, fly it at Joe Nall and then give it to the original Bill. They wound up giving me the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback during a phone call a couple weeks before Joe Nall.
Bill R. met me at Joe Nall, the first time I had met him, and was crucial in helping me through the four days of dragging the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback up and down the VERY long flight line and even starting the engine for me. All of his help was made even more important by the heat and my less than Adonis-like conditioning.
|The man in the white hat (left) is half of my Texas Bill Squad who along with a bunch of contributors made this effort possible. Throughout the week Bill R served as my spotter and did a bunch of other things to make this an enjoyable experience.
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The home of the Joe Nall event has always been the Triple Tree Aerodrome, an RC flying facility that can easily exceed even the more grandiose of imaginations. If you have never been to Triple Tree Aerodrome you need to put it on your bucket list. This facility is spectacular in size, design and maintenance with a future that does not appear to recognize any limitations. There is one man, Pat Hartness that looked over this expansive piece of land and imagined a facility that caters to giant scale models, 3D fliers, control line, pontoon flying, helicopters as well as full scale aircraft. Hartness also put this facility into a trust that promises its availability for RC flying forever. Everyone involved at Triple Tree Aerodrome form Pat Hartness himself to any of the many, many volunteers that make the Joe Nall event run so smoothly always have time to help with your needs, often before you ask. They are practiced at putting on huge events and make the Joe Nall experience flow smoothly the entire week.
I also need to thank Scott from the Triple Tree Aerodrome staff who heard about my long term goal in my fight against the progression of Alzheimer's and reached out to invite me to fly at the Joe Nall event as the guest of Triple Tree Aerodrome. In a time when so many others act like they don’t know me or simply turn their backs because I admitted to having Early Onset Alzheimer’s the folks at Triple Tree Aerodrome cared and reached out. Scott and the rest of the Triple Tree Aerodrome staff may not realize how deeply I appreciate the offer and the sea of smiling faces I was surrounded with at the event. This is a rare group of people.
An unexpected part of the Joe Nall experience was the number of people who recognized me, sometimes by my voice alone and others by the Green Bay Packers gear you are likely to find me in virtually any time. Being recognized is of course very flattering but I always meeting people who use my web site and hearing their comments.
With the turns my life has taken in recent years this kind of interaction with people who enjoy my work is the best medicine I can think of. It also reaffirms that my concept of what FlyingRC.net should look like is spot on. Several of these folks mentioned is my tendency to call stupid stuff stupid as one of the things they most like about FlyingRC.net. I appreciate this a bunch as it often gets me in trouble with whoever makes stupid stuff that I review or use. Then there is my “warts and all” policy on my sites that means I have to own up to doing stupid stuff myself. The next section in this story is thankfully the only dumb move I made at Joe Nall – I think.
|My major screw up came when I pulled up (left) thinking that I had two planes cleared. I didn't, it is all my fault and though there was no contact I apologize to the other pilots. This is all on me. Though Bill R (right) could be asking "What the hell was THAT?" he remained supportive and very helpful.
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What I hope was my only big mistake at Joe Nall came in my early flights when I misjudged the space between my Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback and two other planes and pulled up to do a victory roll at the end of the “box” the planes were roughly flying in. It turned out much closer than I thought but fortunately there was no contact. I thought that I had way more room but the video seems to make that uncertain at best. I have nobody to lay this on but me. If the fellows flying those planes read this or see the video (my wife shot the footage of the incident) you have my sincere apologies and can rest assured that you have seen the last such brain fade from me.
I flew on the main flight line which uses a portion of the who-knows-how-many-thousand-foot-long grass runway that also serves full scale aircraft. We have all heard people saying they want to fly off of grass like a golfing green. The people at Triple Tree Aerodrome have somehow manicured this entire (and way long) full scale runway to look more like a felt pool table than a runway. My Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback did not bounce, tip, giggle or do anything other than roll smoothly through all of my takeoffs and landings. I am happy to report that I did not nose my plane over at all and made main gear landings the whole time. I need to point that out now as after this I go back to mere mortal RC runways and all bets are off.
I was a little worried about following flight procedures at Joe Nall but they have a very simple system to control six pilot stations that were in use pretty much constantly. We are required to have a spotter and there is a nifty system of colored poles and an electronic device at each station that lets the spotter push a button announcing your take off and another for landing, along with displaying the pole matching the button color.
Having six planes in the air, all flying the “racetrack” pattern was not as challenging as I thought it might be. I just tried to stay separated by altitude or distance as much as I could sometimes cutting the oval short to increase the distance between planes.
Aerobatics are not allowed with the racetrack pattern but I was able to throw in strings of 3 or 4 successive rolls and a few decent slow rolls with the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback. I also made a few inverted laps with one on the final day that may have set the lowest inverted pass of this year’s Joe Nall when the elevator stick slipped under my finger and the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback vertical stab looked to have missed the ground by several inches. Looked very cool, scared the crap out of me!
|My P47 performed perfectly through all of the flights with the exception of a cheap muffler I put on just prior to the event. My bad. I was repeatedly congratulated on my smooth main wheel landings. I did mention to those people that the Top Flight P-47 is one of the easiest landing airplanes I have flown. It certainly is not all me!
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On Friday I was able to get four or five flights in, checking the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback after each flight to see if the muffler was coming loose (the only plane issue all week) and going to the back of the line of planes and pilots waiting to fly from that station. While waiting I got to meet and chat with other pilots, some of which recognized me which is again very gratifying.
With the help of some very nice people my long term goal of flying a giant warbird at Joe Nall came off without a serious hitch. I need a new muffler to replace the cheap one I bought but other than that the Top-Flite Giant Scale P47 Razorback and I are ready for the upcoming warbird meets in my area.
Most important is that I got to meet one of the members of my Bill Squad that has been so important in all of this happening. The worst part of the week was the other Bill Squad member not being able to be there but I am confident we will meet before too long. Meeting so many people who knew of my site and recognized me was totally unexpected but very gratifying because of how important growth of my site is in my overall plan for fighting Alzheimer's and leaving something to help my family when I am gone. Virtually every person I spoke with told me to keep up the fight against Alzheimer's proving once more that RC people are the best on the planet and exactly the ones I need to be around.
Stay tuned as the week at Joe Nall has also helped get two new projects started that should be very popular on FlyingRC.net! And, those projects serve as the best therapy any of us can find to keep up the battle to slow the progression of the Alzheimer's. So far it is working great and I fully intend to keep that fight up as long as I can.
Thanks to everyone involved, thanks to Scott and the folks at Triple Tree Aerodrome and everyone that I met at Joe Nall! And thanks to my wife who as always did a lot to make this all happen.
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