A time exposure shows the tracks in the sky by Ron Anderson's Tanager, flown by Jim Cameron while Ron lies on the ground after a fall (see text). All photos by Mark Hansen except as noted.

Last flight of the old year, first flight of the New Year

Jim Walker Memorial Control-Line Flying Field, Portland, Ore., Dec. 31, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2013

By Mark Hansen

As is now fast becoming a tradition in Portland, flyers gathered at East Delta Park on Dec. 31, at 11:30 p.m., to usher out the old year, and bring in the New Year, with control-line flying.

Flyers Present: Jim Cameron, Ron Anderson (non-Fireball from Vancouver, Wash.; Charles Simpson (non-Fireball from Gresham, Ore., Don Curry, Mark Hansen and Tom (whose last name I did not get).

The honors of putting up the last flight of the year went to Jim Cameron, and the grand exalted honor of being the first person to fly in the New Year went to Mark Hansen (perhaps the acme of his modeling career), with a flight starting at 12:01 a.m. Mark Flew his well-worn Kokusai Ki-76 equipped with a Roberts three line system.

Everyone except Tom (who used glow sticks) added lights to their plane, with the top honors going to Ron Anderson who had perhaps 45 LEDs on his plane, while Jim had three strings of mini Christmas lights, totaling maybe 30 lights, and I came in a very distant third with a completely utilitarian single landing light.

A total of seven flights were put on over the course of an hour and a half, with Jim Cameron getting the most flights -- three. Tom put in two, and Ron and Mark each got one. Everyone was encouraged to fly as much as they wanted, and at no time did anyone consider it unfair to expect a raffle ticket for their nocturnal efforts. Ron had the most eventful flight of the night. When he went to the handle, he found his feet were completely numb, and he was virtually unable to keep up with the rotation of his beautifully decorated Tanager. So at his request (read -- yelling excitedly) Jim Cameron came out and took over the handle duties, and Ron hit the ground with an audible thud. All was okay in the end, as the rest of the flight was uneventful, and Ron was unharmed.

Tom confined his flying to the use of a stooge, and flew over the grassy area northeast of the paved circle, and he reported that there was plenty of light, to both pit and fly, as the freeway offramp lights shine onto that part of the park.

Around 1 a.mm the actual flying ended and we all went to Jubitz' restaurant for some well-earned bench flying. All reported being cold, but there was no yelling or name calling, regarding anyone's efforts, nor were any feelings hurt because Jim put in the most flights, or Mark put in the first flight of 2013. No accusations were levied about Jim or Mark trying to get all the raffle prizes, no one was called couthless, classless or greedy, and people were very civil (bordering on polite) and friendly the whole time. The bench flying, coffee drinking, and tall tail telling finally broke up around 3 a.m., so folks could grab some shuteye, before heading to the main event, the daylight portion of Flying Fun No. 1, which began at 10 a m.

After a very wet December, the weather was unequally dry, and sunny but a bit cool, with temperatures in the high thirties early on, and rising to the mid-forties by mid day. The honors for the most flights put in for the two days of flying goes to Jim Cameron with nine flights, three at night, and six during the day. Second was Mark Hansen who had eight, with one flight at night, and seven during the day, third was Tom with four flights, two at night and two during the day. During the daytime portion of this event, Tom, Mark, and Jim flew over the grass, putting in better than eight flights per hour -- a real feet, in the best of times, and even more incredible when one considers it was Jan. 1 Then there was a whole group of paved circle stunt fliers that each had one or two, in the four plus hours of the event.

If you looked at the fliers and run a quick tally, the three night time participants put up 14 of the 35 flights that took place. While 13 fliers managed in four and a half hours to put up 21 flights. This speaks volumes as to the level of energy, and enthusiasm for control line flying, demonstrated by the guys crazy enough to fly at night. So I guess we can now answer the age old question of: Who puts the fire in the Fireballs? Not putting in a flight, but still eating plenty - were: Fireballs President, Don Curry; Fireballs Vice President, Jim Harper; Fireballs Treasurer, Barbara White; Fireballs wife Andy Christianson; Fireball and Cook Robert Ladd; and lastly, non-Fireball and Vancouverite, Ron Anderson. Maybe next year we can add a non flying event, like Bunco, so everyone can participate. Just a thought.

The food spread was, as is always the case, excellent. There was coffee, pasties, salad, chili, hot dogs, hamburgers, soup, beans and cookies. Far more than anyone can eat, so we need to get more people to come from out of town. People from out of town this year were, Mike Denlis, Scott Johnson, and his sons Daniel and Nathan, not in the club but in the local area was Ron Anderson of Vancouver Wash.

A new format for the raffle was instituted (with some arm waving) on the spot, supposidly to better distribute the 14 prizes (13 purchased by the club, and one donated by Jim Cameron), where each person could only win one time. In one of the most mangnimous gestures this author has ever witnessed, Jim Cameron donated all his raffle tickets to the two Johnson boys; each of whom won a big box. After 20 minutes of complete total nail biting excitement, 14 of the 16 people to put in a flight, had won a nice gift. The big boxes at this raffle were a wing incident gauge and a Sig Baby Skyray, which went first leaving the lesser prizes, for the rest of the flyers to fight over.

The food was good, the weather was outstanding for December/January, the people were for the most part friendly, and virtually everyone had a good time. I know I will continue to come to this event, ah heck, I had such a good time, I will even be willing to run it next year.

Mark Hansen puts in the first flight of the new year at 12:01am. Note the light flash of his head lamp, and the trail from the edge of the circle to the center. I was repeatedly told the Mag light was not putting any light out, but the photos show otherwise. It was quite fun to fly near the ground, and see the pavement lit up ahead of the plane. Jim Cameron photo.

Jim Cameron Flies his Over Easy with the now famous Martha Stewart Mini Christmas light. Jim lets these dangle behind the plane, and so they flop up and down independently of the plane.Mark Hansen photo.

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This page was upated Jan. 11, 2013