All the fliers at March Madness before the start of F2D Combat on Saturday morning. Arlene Mears photo.
A trip to March Madness
By Gene Pape
If you like control line Combat and you have the chance, go to one of the large F2D contests in the Southwest. Buzz Wilson and I recently made the trip to Phoenix for their March Madness contest and it was worth every bit of the cost and effort. The contest was spread over three days with F2D Fast on Friday and full-on F2D on Saturday and Sunday. We both entered both events and I had no expectations of winning a single match. Once I had lost my two matches in each event, I was able to watch and enjoy a lot of truly great Combat.
Attending March Madness from the Northwest were (from left) Mike Rule, Buzz Wilson, Jeff Rein, John Knoppi, Greg Machen and Gene Pape. Wanda Jensen photo.
Friday started out cool, not cold, and overcast. Since this was Fast Combat rules, the atmosphere was somewhat lax and since this was an event I have flown I pretty much knew what to expect. There were 28 entries in this event which is more than any Combat contest in the Northwest in a very long time.
I don’t remember who I flew against in the first round. It wouldn’t have mattered. I proceeded to prove to everyone there that I can be totally incapable of starting one of these engines. One match down. I flew Amy Olsen in the second round. We had a great match going with no cuts until my model popped in on the lines and the engine shut down. Amy is an excellent pilot, one of the people you love to fly against no matter which one of you wins. Perfect! Now I could just watch, visit, and take pictures. This was what I had come for. To watch people who fly Combat at a level I can only dream of.
I got to watch past world champions, multi-time world championship team members, legends like Richard Stubblefield and George Cleveland. What a treat. And in the middle of this, Jeff Rein kept beating all of them. That is until someone made the mistake of saying to him “You’re still clean. The worst you can do is third.” Jeff finished third with Bob Mears Second and Arnie Delgado first. It’s interesting to note that two of the top three in this event flew their own design all-foam models rather than store-bought F2D models.
The top three in F2D Fast (from left), Arnie Delgado (first), Bob Mears (second) and Jeff Rein (third). Gene Pape photo.
Saturday came with a whole new deal for me. Full-on F2D with 35 contestants. Over half of these contestants either are currently or have been on world championship teams.
I had been briefed on the rules concerning flying and pitting. The thing that caught me by surprise was the nearly 50-pound pull test for .15-powered models on .015” diameter lines. What?
My first match was against Mark Rudner. This was what I wanted, to fly against one of the best of the best. Bill Maywald pitted for me so I got up instantly. Mark and I flew for I’m guessing about two minutes with no score when my prop touched his model just enough to kill my engine. For various reasons, I couldn’t get back up and I lost again. No problem, I had flown well (at least I thought so) and hadn’t hurt a model. Again, there is nothing like flying against a very good pilot.
My second round didn’t go so well. My model came slack on the lines on launch and flew about two thirds of a lap before I had control of it. When it hit the end of the lines I was reflexively holding up control. The model did a quick inside loop and I was disqualified. This was unfortunate as I was matched against European Sergei Dementiev and I was looking forward to some really good Combat (which I expected to lose).
The good news is I could now truly relax, visit and take pictures. This is where the contest became truly enjoyable.
One of the first few matches in the third round was between former world champion Mike Wilcox and current U.S. world championship team member Mark Rudner. What a treat. Watching the models go at it was amazing. Even more amazing was watching all of the tactics the pilots use in the center of the circle. You hear about pilots running all around in the rather large F2D pilots' circle. These two just stood next to each other and battled. While the bodies stayed close, the arms moved all over depending on where their models were in relation to the other. The opportunity to watch that one match made the whole trip worthwhile. There were many more great matches, but they are all kind of a blur.
Mark Rudner (left) and Mike Willcox go at it as the circle marshal watches. Gene Pape photo.
There were a few things I noticed that I need to look into further. Some of the contestants were wearing large-faced wrist chronographs (stopwatches). The most impressive shutoff was the latest European magnetic shutoff. While the H&R is the only stone-dependable shutoff on the market, the magnetic shutoff seems reliable in competent hands and has the advantage of a working shutoff-at-will-feature. Bob Mears had two different types of homemade line-ttension type shutoffs that I’m going to try to duplicate. Everywhere you turned there was something new and different to check out.
If you follow combat, you will recognize all of the names in the final six: Mike Wilcox, Richard Stubblefield, Mark Rudner, Andy Minor, Austin Minor (a 13-year-old junior) and Dave Fischer. When the dust had settled, Austin Minor had won with his dad Andy second and teammate Dave Fischer third.
Dave Fischer (left) and Austin Minor just after Austin beat Dave to advance to the finals. Gene Pape photo.
The above does not do justice to this contest that was extremely well managed by Lance Matassa and Arlene Mears. Many thanks to all of the judges and those who ran the pits. While they could have used more help, it was nice to participate in a contest that had this many people helping to make the whole thing run very smoothly.
Finally, I have to thank Buzz Wilson for sharing the expense and planning of this trip for us. And also Greg Machen for getting Buzz fired up to do this.
The winning F2D team (from left): Pit man Cary Minor, Dave Fischer (third place), Andy Minor (second), Austin Minor (first). Gene Pape photo.
Mike Willcox tends a streamer as a plane is launched.Gene Pape photo.
George Cleveland (from left), Rylan Ritch, Randy Ritch, Richard Stubblefield. Gene Pape photo.
Chuck Rudner (left) and Mike Willcox battle it out in F2D. Gene Pape photo.
This page was upated March 24, 2018