Each year the end the first week of October culminates with the HAFFA club’s outdoor Marion Kansas Free Flight Contest. This year the weekend’s warm windy weather was a bit challenging for the 2017 contest flyers. However the competitors were able to work around the windy conditions pretty well by the time flying ended on Sunday afternoon. We had experienced gusts up to 25mph by Sunday noon and quit flying around 2:30pm. By that time Bob Hanford was putting up his large class power ship for a last flight and Chuck Powell was getting up enough nerve for flying the new bungee launch glider event. Some flyers were still putting up their FAC Jet Cat flights as well. Chuck Powell won the Marion Cup this year with 44 points. Chuck flew 16 events. I think this was amazing considering the windy conditions. Great job Chuck! Bob Hanford and Scott Baird followed with 19 points each.
Each modeler has to expend effort in planning, building, practice and efficient vehicle packing to get to Marion Kansas about 50 miles west of Emporia, KS. Our club is very thankful for the attending modelers that drive all the way from Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri for the precious two days of unlimited space for flying. Due to the unique rotation of the calendar weekend dates this year the contest fell on the same weekend as “old settlers days”. This added an extra thousand people in town for the Marion Parade and revelers. The Marion motel rooms were filled up and difficult to obtain as a result of the additional activity. Some of us camped out at the airport. The weather turned out to be a good weekend for camping. Jim O’Reilly camped out at the local lake. He had brought down his camper trailer from Wichita. Phil Burress brought down his amazing rebuilt 1950’s camper to the airport, and Chuck, Linda and their family set up at the airport while Renz pitched a tent next to one of the hangars. Friday night Phil played guitar and Chuck played banjo. These guys were great! They played a bunch of blue grass standards and some new stuff as well. The night air and surrounding metal hangars provided a nice concert venue with no PA system required. They had Renz and O’Reilly stomping their feet after a few minutes. This was a great addition to a perfect evening.
Friday evening test flying was fantastic. It was warm and calm. Renz counted at least more than 6 to 8 vehicles out on the field with modelers enjoying the great weather and test flying making their final tweaks and adjustments. Jeff Nisley, and Scott Baird along with several of the Wichita flyers were putting up some great flights.
There was an adjustment to the traditional Friday night 5pm cocktail hour this year….It was really closer to 5:30 pm so it started later than previous years. We really missed the Bill Schmidt portable bar set up. (Bill and Marilyn had been scheduled a year in advance to be out of town) and could not make it. We had to go it alone with a beer or two. I sure missed the Schmidt “Old Fashioned” carefully mixed by Bill and Marilyn. Dana, Charley and Liz along with Renz made the cocktail hour work with the existing lawn chairs and some small tables. Several flyers were still hard at it flying due to the incredibly nice weather and pressed on until the sun set and it was time for dinner. While that was going on Mike Basta was busy trying to get his chase bike to run. His “nephew” David Gibson (now an Airline Pilot on A320 Airbus Aircraft) drove down to help Mike with the contest and the bike. They found out the Suzuki fuel shut off valve system internal seals were damaged. They both kept at it and worked until dark. Lucky for the HAFFA contingent Dana had brought down Lynn’s chase bike and was able to get it running with a new battery and fresh gas. We were down to one chase bike. (Thanks to Lynn Chaffee!) we love you Lynn!
Even though it was windy this Marion contest had a special meaning associated with the Half-A-Gollywock mass launch. We flew the mass launch in honor of our club member Lynn Chaffee who had passed away a week before the contest. Lynn had built the first Half-A-Gollywock in the HAFFA club I believe around 2014. Dana Field had found the Gollywock plans in the British Aero Modeler Magazine and brought plans to our HAFFA business meeting. Lynn took his plans home and built one of these little ships right away. This airplane has been part of our local bi-weekly club contest model for 3 years now. Lynn covered it with yellow and black tissue like a bumble Bee. He had just flown it in August and we were all impressed how he had got that little machine dialed in. Chuck Powell had called me and the day after Lynn passed and told me he had seen Lynn’s Half-A-Gollywock at Marion and thought it was so cool he went home and built one. Once Chuck got his Half-A-Gollywock built the other members of the WHAM (Wichita Historical Aircraft Modelers) followed suit and built them as well. The little plane is a little tricky to trim but does fly well. HAFFA would like to thank Jeff Englert for running and coordinating this FAC mass launch event. Prior to the launch we all took a moment before the mass launch to say a few words about Lynn. Chuck told the story mentioned above and we held up our airplanes in Lynn’s honor before we launched. Even though the wind was gusting 10-15 mph the contest went three rounds with Chuck winning the event. Congrats to Chuck! Jeff Nisley’s plane went out of site only to be found by Mike Basta 23 hours later at the edge of the airport hiding in the grass. I am guessing miraculously Lynn intervened and did not want Nisley to lose the plane so he can compete with it next year.
Even though this was a competition there were a lot that a lot of modelers were helping each other. This has probably always been the case. On Friday night Chuck Powell was helping Jeff Nisley with some adjustments to his “Keil Kraft Competitor”. Jeff Nisley is relatively new to the sport but has been turning out some great works of flying art over the past few summer months. On one test flight the balsa carved prop on the KK Competitor broke in half! Chuck said “No Problem” and pulled out the CA glue and fixed it on the spot. Nisley was shocked….thinking that he would not fly that plane again for the weekend. He watched in amazement as Chuck Powell accurately fixed the prop. That same plane (with that broken prop) made several competitive flights all weekend even in the wind.
Renz’s prop broke on Saturday morning as well. Renz had patched up Abe Gallas’ old ” SKY GULL” at the last minute with tissue and dope patches all over the fuselage. When Abe had passed on he had wound up with the model (given by the family) and hung it up in his basement. It had been hanging there for at least three years. By the time Renz got it wound he had help from no less than 4 HAFFA flyers getting this plane airborne. Dana set up his tent and l his tables for Renz, Scott Baird and Charley Taylor helped him to get the wing strapped on and to load the rubber motor in the old crate which got complicated because he did not have the right stuffer stick. Nisley had one handy and loaned his. Finally though just as the beast was loaded in the stooge and wound the prop latch broke off the prop. Like Nisley on Friday Night…. Renz thought that was it for the old ” SKY GULL” and it would not fly again this year. Mike Basta came to the rescue and built a new prop latch with pieces of tubing and wire from this tool box and spot glued it back into the prop. The model was wound up and launched. Charley timed it for a 56 second flight clear across the field—which was good enough. We sure hope Abe was watching. (Some times it takes a Village).
Dianne Basta did a fantastic job designing and printing the high quality award certificates as this has to be very time consuming. All the recipients really appreciated the awards. Thanks so much Dianne!
Jeff Englert did a great job keeping the FAC events on schedule and running the SAM events for HAFFA. We really appreciate his time conducting the mass launches which are a great part of the contest to participate in. The Marion Airplane contest mascot: Muffin (Jeff’s Beagle) made the rounds all day. That hound covers some ground! We had to move flying locations several times on Saturday. Muffin never got behind and always managed to show up and say hello each time we moved. My niece and nephew look forward to seeing Muffin at every contest along with everyone else! Our club would like to thank our club president Mike Basta for running the contest again this year knowing that many hours of preparation and coordination are required. All the flyers and our club members really appreciate the Basta’s efforts. Once again we were blessed with the wonderful meals provided by local chef Gretchen Unruh. Her spicy beef and special fried chicken along with fresh baked homemade bread and pies are to die for. This food provides a really special part of the overall experience flying at Marion.
The Saturday night meal in the café in near-by Florence Kansas was enjoyed by all flyers. Plenty of prime rib was just the ticket for the starving modelers. No one went away hungry! What a deal. Finally we would like to thank the city of Marion and Dick Mclendon for coming out to the Marion Airport Sunday afternoon to present the Marion Cup. The presentation always provides an additional level of authenticity to the HAFFA club’s meet and provides for good interaction between civic leaders and model flyers.
This year several youth attended the Marion Contest. Chuck and Linda Powell’s grand kids were there competing in full force, Earl Griffith brought his grand-daughter, and Julianna and Ayden Johnson flew airplanes as well. This is our future to keeping free flight alive getting kids interested.
Jeff Renz had sent a list of questions to his 10 year old niece Julianna Johnson and had asked for her comments. This is what he got back: Responses are in Italics.
At what location was your latest model airplane contest held? Marion
When was it held? (What day?) Saturday, September 30
What type of model airplane did you fly? Glider
What type of material is the airplane constructed from? Balsa wood, glue and paint
What were the weather conditions when you flew it? (what was the temperature?, was the wind blowing?) the wind was blowing and i’d say it was about 70 degrees
Did you brother help you? No
Did you mom help you? She helped me get it attached to the launcher
How did you launch the airplane? With the launcher, to the side, on a hill and I didn’t pull really hard on the launcher
With the wind or into the wind? Into the wind
What type of equipment did you use to launch the airplane? A launcher
Did the airplane fly? Yes
If the airplane did fly how far did it go? About a mile
Once you launched the airplane where you able to retrieve it? Not at first
What color was the airplane? Was it hard to see?it was orange and yes it was hard to see
How many contests had you attended so far? 4,
How long have you been flying model airplanes outdoors? About 4 years but it was just for fun
Will you ever fly at a model airplane contest again? Yes
Hear is a story of me flying my glider (written by Julianna Johnson Age 10) It was a windy Saturday we had just driven up to Marion from Mcpherson Ks. I got to see my uncle Jeff Renz. after a few hours, we ( me and my brother Ayden) decided to fly some gliders. I had just went up on a hill and Ayden had already flown his glider about a quarter mile. It was my turn, I got my glider attached to my launcher, put it to my left side pulled it not to hard and let go it went flying. It soared and soared it went passed one building it went passed another. And then disappeared. we like that it went about two minutes then this very nice man came and he found it. Yay! And that is the story of my glider