The pit area where team members prepared for the 2015 F3D World Championship.
Teams line up before opening ceremonies at the 2015 F3D World Championship.
A 60-second heat time with one cut would result in a
66-point score. If two cuts occur during a heat, or a team is
unable to finish the required laps, a score of 200 points is
Airplanes launch in one-second intervals, running 0% nitro
fuel and tuned pipe engines screaming at more 30,000 rpm.
The engine setup and needle setting are so critical that a lean
run can literally burn a hole through the aluminum piston.
The caller sets the needle and tells the pilot when to turn at
the far pylon, known as Pylon One. Do not be mistaken; this
is a team event and a lapse of concentration by either team
member can spell disaster for a world championship bid.
F3D is the pinnacle of RC Pylon Racing. To win, you must
have three lightning-fast models, a caller/mechanic with ice
water in his or her veins, and the highest skill level. The F3D
racing format provides no mental reprieve because every second
that you’re on the course adds to your score. The level of focus,
teamwork, and mental endurance required is incredible.
Making the Team
This World Championship story was almost over before
it ever began. The F3D Team Trials to select the Team USA
members is held every two years. The top three finishers make
the team, with the fourth-place finisher
selected as the alternate.
Imagine the pressure involved with simply
qualifying for one of three spots against a
dozen or more of the best racers in the world.
Now imagine it’s the night before the team
trials and two of your three F3D Pylon Racing
aircraft are stolen from a rental car. These
two handcrafted, precisely trimmed models
represented hundreds of hours of meticulous
labor and thousands of dollars. This was the
cruel wake-up call Randy Bridge received at 5
a.m. on the first day of the team trials.
Randy is a highly decorated RC Pylon
Racing pilot with seven overall AMA Nats
wins, five Q-500 national titles, two Q- 40
national wins, and one highly coveted F3D
World Championship already on his résumé.
He has accomplished nearly everything a pilot can in RC
Pylon and has proven to be one of the best.
So how did he react that fateful morning? Like most, I
believe, he reached out to his trusted friend and Pylon Racing
teammate, “Rocket” Ray Brown. Ray and Randy have teamed
up in F3D for nearly a decade. More than that though, they
have helped one another endure many trials off the course.
This has shaped a deep friendship—a brotherhood.
Ray’s words of encouragement made the difference in
Randy’s decision that day. Ray said, “I care about you and
believe in you. You have something special inside that when
time gets tough, you get better. This needs to be one of
Randy not only competed that day, he finished as the top
qualifier. Ray finished fourth overall and was selected as the
alternate. Ray sacrificed a lot to help Randy make the team.
Ray, who was to be Randy’s caller, is a world-class pilot in his
own right. If you met Ray in a dark alley, you would avoid eye
contact and perhaps walk the other way. Beneath that tough
exterior, though, is a heart of gold with a steadfast loyalty that
is rare in today’s world.
While Randy and Ray took care of business at the FAI F3D
US Team Trials, in Woodland, California, Randy’s then-fiancee,
“The pressure at the worlds for the
caller is huge. Everything that goes
wrong is your fault. Need ling the plane
and calling Pylon One is all extremely
hard. Randy f lies so well, it makes
calling easier. I wish there was more
FAI recognition for the caller/mechanic
because it is so important.”
30 Model Aviation JANUARY 2016 www.ModelAviation.com