'The Match' – the respect

By Jeff Rein

During the build-up for the 2018 Bladder Grabber, Pete Athans and I were doing a bit of trash talking about various foam designs and motors to be used at the upcoming Grabber. He had received a new Nelson which he proceeded to tear down and modify to his specifications along with some really cool, light weight magnesium mounts. I must admit that they were very impressive.

On the other hand, I was happy with my Nelson the way that Henry set it up.

Pete also had carved a bunch of very impressive wood props for maximum performance. For me, the Nelson .36 with an APC 8x6 prop was all that I could handle and I was satisfied.

Pete also had spent a lot of time building and testing a new fleet of foam planes that were absolutely top notch and were as good as or better than any in the country. I was still satisfied with the R&B Rip-off that I had been using for the last 20 years, probably because I no longer possess the skills to fly anything better.

Pete and I were matched up in the third round and we were eager and pumped up to finally test ourselves and our equipment against each other. Pete had a top notch pit crew as did I with John Knoppi as my motor man. At the sound of the horn we each got up with a one flip start and separated quickly. When the horn blew to start Combat, there was no posturing or playing for position. We both went at it full throttle utilizing the entire circle, all 360 degrees of the horizontal, and 179.5 degrees of the vertical, almost mowing the lawn.

About the 30 seconds into the match Pete got the first cut, taking half my streamer. Dang, down one cut. With everything that I had to respond with at approximately the 60 second mark I took a one foot cut off of Pete’s streamer, thus evening the score and feeling confident.

Photo is from a match between Pete (left) and Jeff during the Friday High-Performance 1/2-A Combat preliminary event. Unfortunately, the match described in the article was not caught on film. Flying Lines photo.

We battled on with all we had until about 90 seconds into the match when Pete’s plane started running rich, which meant he was running out of fuel. About eight seconds later my plane started to do the same thing. Pete landed first, then I whipped my plane into my pit crew about eight seconds later. As soon as my plane was brought to the edge of the circle to be serviced, I instantly bent over, dropped my hands to my knees with handle in hand, then dropped my head down to look at my feet and took four or five well-needed deep breaths.

When I slowly looked up, the first thing that I saw was Pete with both of his hands on his knees bent over and breathing very hard. We just stared into each other’s eyes, a big grin on both of our faces and no words needed to be spoken. We had just completed 90 seconds of a hard-fought battle. Each of our motors were up to the task. Each of our chosen aircraft performed as expected. There was no noticeable advantage to each other’s equipment, as they were both up to the task.

We had just fought a 90-second battle up to a draw at this point, but the battle was not yet over. During the 45 seconds that it took our respective pit crews to ready our aircraft we just stared at each other, eye to eye, breathing hard from the excess adrenalin, sharing a look mutual respect for each other for what we had just accomplished to that point. After a short rest we both still had a job to do. Complete the task.

Pete’s motor fired up first and his plane was launched. My motor fired up about eight seconds later and my plane was launched. To the best of our ability we figured that we were approximately tied at this point. The horn blew and I knew that I had to score a kill against my opponent to secure the win.

We went at it again, tearing up the sky as if we had never stopped. At about the 15-second mark I took a shot and yelled “I Got Ya.” He looked at his streamer and yelled back “I still have a knot.” I thought, “Damn”!

We went right back at it. In the next 20 seconds I took two more hard shots at the knot but missed. It was then that I heard a whack, saw my string was cut, and I knew instantly that he got me. I just said, “Nice kill,” and we flew level until he ran out of fuel.

After he landed we continued to chat while I did figure eights overhead reminiscing the fantastic bout that we had just completed. What I remember most about that match and probably will never forget was the 45 seconds we spent bent over, hands on our knees, breathing hard and staring at each other eye to eye, knowing that we had both earned each other’s respect for a match well fought.

Back to Combat main page

Flying Lines home page

This page was upated June 26, 2020