One of the Jeff Dawson 1/2-A Combat Sonic Chicken in flight at the Northwest Regionals. The planes are available ready to fly for $40. Flying Lines photo.
By Don McKay
High Performance 1/2-A Combat, flown in the Northwest, is a really inexpensive and fun event to fly. Based on a speed of 65 - 75 MPH on 42-foot lines, they seem as fast as 120 MPH AMA fast combat with a Nelson 36. Unlike fast combat, the planes very tough at the speeds they fly, safe, and good equipment is easy to get and relatively inexpensive.
I've had three flyaways and eight or so crashes in contests over the past two years and the planes was flyable after changing the prop except one time -- a midair collision the broke's the plane main spars. Only once I have ever needed a backup plane in the six contests I've been in so far. It seems that at speeds of less than 75MPH the 1/2-A planes don't seem to break during crashes. My son Tristan learned to fly combat using my 1/2-A Combat and Diesel planes and only hurt one of them by hitting a big rock.
An .049-powered foam or balsa combat plane that only weighs 8 to 9 ounces ready-to-fly can't really hurt anyone or thing other than cutting something with the prop, which turns at 28-32K RPM.
Get the best Ready-To-Fly 1/2-A planes from Jeff Dawson at $40 each plus shipping. Most of us fly these planes without modifications. The only thing you need to adjust is the balance point which is easy to do with the standard adjustable 1/2-A mount.
Most of us use stock Fora, or Profi .049 engines. Foras cost about $150 each, and mounts are available at about $15 each from GRS Models, which also sells props at $5 each. Most of us use the Green 5/3 "Cranfield" GRS Models #35 prop. For practice you can use an APC 5.5x2.5 which cost about $2. The Fora or Profi engines all start very easily using a 1/2-A electric starter, which is allowed by the rules. These engines run good on 10-25% Nitro. I've only heard of two of these engines breaking (a bad rod) in a contest the past couple of years.
Lines (.012 diameter), props, and small surgical tubing pressure tanks parts are available from MBS Model Supply.
If you want to go slower and build planes, go Diesel, but High Performance 1/2-A is more fun as the planes will do anything you ask of them. There are six planned contests this year.
The High Performance 1/2-A Combat engines are easy to start with an electric starter, which is allowed by the rules. Above, Bob Smith starts his engine while Don McKay holds. Flying Lines photo.
This page was upated July 7, 2009