The Great Combat Safari Part II - The 2013 Nats
by Brian Stas
In Mark Rudner’s June F2D column he mentioned he would be attending the 2013 NATS to fly some triple elimination F2D as well as compete for a spot on the USA F2D Combat Team in the Team Trials. Mark’s topic focused on organization and preparation to fly in a large contest of “epic proportions”. Mark also added you need to have a “bring it, don’t
sing it’ attitude
Neil asked if I was going to attend this year’s NATS as he wanted to get the band back together for a whirlwind tour called The Great Combat Safari Part II. As I thought about it, I recalled what a great time last year was and how successful we (Brian, Neil, Greg and Chris) were last year. I hemmed and hawed until Neil’s constant nagging got me to
cave. I had several of last year’s F2D ships that were untouched by a crappy pilot (me) and a few Speed Limits ships in good shape. With a little CA and a lot of covering, I came up with enough planes to bring.
During the build-up, Mark’s column was printed, and it could not have come at a better time. After reading it, I realized Mark actually wrote it for me. He had to; every topic he touched on was dead on.
For instance, he asked how many models will you bring….Answer; never enough if it’s combat you’re flying, right? Did you test fly them? Of course not, as Paul Kubek always says, “Hey, why should I be the only one surprised my stuff flies”. My engines were all in good shape, including the F2D stuff, all loose and oiled up. Neil picked up some APC
props at his store for me and I made up 10 new bladders. My Yuvenko and Yaro orders arrived on time so there were plenty of F2D lines, props, handles and plugs. Things are coming together nicely.
Arrived at 8 am in E. Brookfield and loaded up the transport vehicle. We got 43 planes along with 2 pit boxes, support equipment, and spare everything. You can never have too many spares. Somehow along the way, Ole crafty Neil talked me into flying Fast Combat. Those of you that have flown a fast ship know how intimidating it can be. Just
starting it up makes you think twice.
So off we went, 12 hours later we were in Ohio for a quick rest, food and fuel then off in the morning for a quick 2 hour drive to Muncie, Indiana. We saw the end of the triple elimination F2D on Tuesday, checked in at AMA HQ; did some test flying and prepped for F2D Fast on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning arrived and our week long routine began. We were up everyday at 6 am with a shower, coffee, breakfast and off to get ice. We were the first guys at the combat circles every morning and this was a good thing. We had time to get our gear out and check things twice. Remember what Mark said about being organized and ready? Well we were, and it showed by weeks end. We loaded up on sun screen and kept hydrated. It was in the upper 90’s all week. Neil and I drank gallons of water during out short time in Indiana. Every time I reached for a bottle of water, I grabbed 2.
We flew F2D Fast combat on Wednesday and when the dust settled, I found myself in second place and Neil in third. Nice way to start the week. As soon as we were done, we pulled out the Speed limit stuff and test flew everything. With a little weight here, a little de-warping there and some engine tuning, we were set for “our” event. Back to the hotel
for a much needed shower and out to dinner at our favorite spot, Steak and Shake.
On a side note; everywhere you looked at the NATS site there was activity. Next to us the Carrier guys were buzzing around. Across the way the Stunt fliers were going around with what looked like 6 circles and planes in the air at every one. Off in the distance you could hear, but barely see the R/C Pylon planes ripping up the sky with Nelson’s screaming at 200 mph! When the bump into each other it sounds like a shotgun going off! The C/L Speed guys were in the caged areas spinning around so fast you couldn’t see what was on the end of their lines.
On Thursday morning we kept the same routine and flew Speed Limit. We only lost 2 planes, (1 each) and Neil grabbed a second place and I slid into third. 2 events, 2 trophies each. After Speed Limit was over we cleaned up our gear and test flew the little guys.
1/2A was never my cup of tea, but again, Neil insisted I try. I mean what the hell; we’re out here, why not, right? So with a few test flights under my belt and every running smooth we were ready. Back to the hotel for a shower, then food (Steak and Shake of course) and then bed, but not before a assembling the Fast Combat stuff and mounting
Fora’s on them. What a monster that motor is, I’ll tell you what.
Friday we flew the ½ A planes in a bit of a wind. They slow up some going up-wind and then really scoot down wind. We tried to do most of the maneuvers downwind as they really needed the line tension and the sun was at your back to boot. Neil flew nicely into second place in this event, and I ended up 4th or 5th. 3 events down, 5 trophies!
We put the little buggers away and took out the beasts,…the Fast Combat ships. Neil said he hadn’t taken these engines out to run since 2005 ! Well time didn’t bother them one bit. We cleaned up the needle valves and shutoffs, put on new fuel lines and lit em up. There are a lot of words to describe what it’s like to stand next to one of these Foras when they fire up. Most of them are not fit to be printed however. Holy $h}t is one, are you f&%@ing kidding me?, is another.
In the speed limit ships the bladder holds 3-4 ounces of fuel and flies for 5-6 minutes. The Fast stuff holds the same amount but burns that fuel up in 75 seconds! It took us a bit to get these ready. They pull like mules, and top out at about 120
mph. Nuts right? The wind doesn’t bother them at full speed, but they end up like kites if you don’t get them down quickly when they’re empty. After some shutoff repairs, we were ready for Fast Combat. Hotel,shower,food…etc, you know the routine already. Saturday morning we arrive early and are set to go. The forecast was shaky and we
pushed to get going before the rain arrived. My first match was against an experienced Fast Combat pilot, Ron Columbo. After a shaky start/launch sequence I was up and going. In the fur ball that ensued, I got a kill and a win in my first Fast Combat match ever. What a rush this event is. As combat goes, most of the events we fly in are very
similar. Speed and quickness of the aircraft is all that changes, combat is combat, kill or be killed is the motto. We only had a short rain delay around lunch time. Neil and I sliced and diced our way through the field of fliers and at the end of the day, I ended up
in first, Neil grabbed a 4th. I didn’t have to fly the last round as my opponent Ron conceded, as I had already beaten him once. Ron came over, shook my hand and congratulated me as National Champion in Fast Combat. I was speechless. Neil and I ended up with 3 trophies each, 6 total in 4 events. Not bad.
We dried our stuff off, rolled up the lines and wrung out our shirts. Note: if the lift gate of your vehicle is up during a rain storm, don’t just reach up and pull it down to close it. Ask Neil how he now knows not to do this. That t-shirt needed to be washed anyway. I could hear him yell 300 yards away! Good stuff.
We loaded the car up with a few less planes than we started with. Fast Combat is no friend of the builder in you. It eats fuel and planes up very quickly. We put the pedal to the metal and drove 14 hours straight back.
I’d have to say this was the best Combat Safari to date. Neil is a great pilot both on the road and in the circle and a good friend. We laughed a lot, ate like kings, slept like logs and flew like champs. Needless to say, we “brought it” and the standings speak for themselves.
Recruits for the 2014 NATS need to send applications in early, space is limited and all entries will be considered. The Great Combat Safari part III is coming to theaters near you in the summer of 2014, don’t miss it!