A new class debuted this year specifically for
3-D pilots called F3N where a pilot chooses a
routine from a list of 3-D maneuvers.
FAI events, with screaming glow-powered airplanes going straight up
and high-tech rubber-powered models
that climbed straight up as well. At the
same time, there were spark-ignition gas-powered models flying and Jetex models.
Rise-off-water and Payload events
were on my agenda to check out. The
nice way John Diebolt’s rubber-powered
model took off from the water and flew
has to be seen to be believed. Equally
amazing were the rubber-powered Scale
models flown by the Flying Aces Club.
It was great to see a number of Junior
and young adult competitors; they did
well and appeared to enjoy themselves.
One young man, Zach Seymour, flew a
large ignition-powered model wearing
a hard hat that corresponded to the
period, and later had a huge string of
maxes with a glow-powered airplane.
One day it appeared as though it
would rain, and I went through the
National Model Aviation Museum. It
was absolutely amazing—the closest
experience to time travel I have had in
RC Helicopter (Mike Unger)
If you missed the IRCHA Helicopter
Nats this year, you missed a lot. In
addition to the usual AMA Classes 1, 2,
and 3, the F3C and newly formed F3N
competitions were underway. FAI classes
are always hotly contested, but this
year was even more intense. Those who
would represent the US in the 2017 FAI
F3 World Championships for Model
Helicopters in Poland next spring would
be decided at the Nats.
The Nats started on Sunday night
with a pilots’ meeting led by Craig
Bradley, the contest director. The
turnout was good this year. Among the
22 competitors were two new ones in
Class 1 (Sportsman).
The plan was to get in seven rounds of
flying during the three days. With a good
turnout and the addition of the new
F3N Class, this would be a challenge for
Craig and his crew.
Of course, the buzz this year was
about the new F3N Class. Basically, this
class is precision flying like the others,
but all of the maneuvers are 3-D. In
addition to being judged on how well
each pilot does a series of maneuvers,
they also do rounds of freestyle to music.
In those competitions, they are judged
not only on the maneuvers, but also
on artistic quality, how well they are
in sync with the music, and the overall
entertainment value of their flights.
When you assemble some of the best
3-D pilots in the country, all going for
the win, the competition is fierce, and
very entertaining to watch.
Five competitors comprised the F3N
Class, of whom three were chosen to
represent the US in Poland. The winner
came down to the wire. Nick Maxwell
took the top spot over Jamie Robertson
by a mere 14 points. These young men
are both incredible pilots and they put
on a great show with their freestyle
routines. To be honest, I can’t quite
understand how the judges could decide
on a winner. A newcomer to the 3-D
scene, Devin Hammond, rounded out
the top three.
The F3C Class was also hotly
contested, with the same Team USA
invitation going to the winners. Seven
competitors fought it out, flying the
newly released FAI maneuvers. The
winner was again Nick Maxwell,
followed by Daniel Hiatt, and Dwight
Shilling. These three pilots, along with
Cliff Hiatt as the alternate, will represent
the US next year in the F3C Class.
Class 1 finished with Bernard Shaw
winning in decisive fashion, taking the
win in each round he entered. Second
was Vincent Drouillon competing in
his first Nats, followed by Peter Bisbal
rounding out the final podium position.
The Class 2 winner was last year’s
Class 1 winner, Robert Montee, followed
by Eaton Bryce. The Class 3 winner
was Dennis Purduski followed by Don
Miller. Congratulations to all of the
As in years past, the competition
didn’t end with the flying. It was then
time for the Dwight Shilling Food
Challenge. This is a crazy contest that
Tim Diperi and other F3C pilots came
up with many years ago.
The challenge is to find a food that
Dwight won’t eat or would not eat
again. Rules are simple: the “food” must
be suitable for human consumption and
have a bar code on the label. Other than
that, anything goes. Entries this year
were Crisp Black Fungus (it actually said
that on the label), fish spears in milk
juice, some kind of spicy concoction, and
some rolls of seaweed.
To everyone’s shock, Dwight
ate everything and then in a final,
unprecedented maneuver, he took
some seaweed, added some Crisp Black
Fungus, a fish spear, and a touch of the
spicy sauce, rolled it up into a tasty wrap,
and yes, ate it all! Talk about a showman.
Maybe next year he will step it up and
do it to music!
One final note about the 2016 RC
Helicopter Nats. Craig Bradley officially
made this one his last after 22 years of
tirelessly running the program. I have
only been involved in the Nats for
two years, but I can say Craig has the
appreciation of not only the competitors
from 2016, but from the pilots of the 22
Craig, I know I speak for everyone
when I say thank you for your service! I
also want to make a special call out to
Craig’s wife, Karen, for putting up with
him for all those years, and for doing
the scoring and computer work for the
last five years! Craig, you will always
be welcome at the Nats. Don’t be a
Next year I challenge you to come join
us. You think you’re the best? The Nats
is where you will find out.
Nats on Flickr
39 Model Aviation NOVEMBER 2016 www.ModelAviation.com