Phil Granderson with his Zealot plane for Precision Aerobatics. Heman Lee/Aeromaniacs photo.

CL legend Phil Granderson dies

Phil Granderson of Oakland, Calif., a control-line building and flying superstar with an extensive library of designs for Combat and Precision Aerobatics airplanes, has died, according to a report posted on Stunt Hangar by his friend Tim Just. See the thread on Stunt Hangar.

Granderson was a longtime Oakland resident but had previously lived in the Portland and Seattle areas.

He was one of the top AMA Combat fliers for many years, having won many of the top-gun contests, incliding the prestigious Bladder Grabber. He flew in many U.S. National championships going back to the 1960s and was a member of the 1980 U.S. World Championship team. He flew Precision Aerobatics at the Expert level. He also participated in Racing events. An article about Phil's selection to the World Championship team was published in Flying Lines issue No. 6.

Some details if Phil's career, provided by Howard Rush: He won AMA Combat at the 1978 Nationals, finished third in the 1980 World Championships in Czestochowa, Poland, was one of the founders of the Miniature Aircraft Combat Association and founded the Jive Combat Team. His airplane was awarded the Concours d'Elegance at the 2008 U.S. Nationals.

Several of Phil's Combat plane designs were published in national magazine articles and some were produced as kits.

He also was the Model Airplane News control-line columnist for several years and briefly was editor of the Precision Aerobatics Model Pilots Association's Stunt News.

His Stunt planes were always competitors for the Concours d'Elegance award, and he described his finishing methods in a Flying Lines article in 2014.

Most of all, Phil was a friend to every model airplane flier he met and a mentor to many CL fliers over his lengthy career in the hobby. His sense of humor and insight into modeling and other aspects of life touched a wide range of fellow hobbyists.

Watch this space for updates, which will be posted as we receive them.

Below are a photos of two of Phil's Precision Aerobatics designs.


Goodbye Phil

By Ken Burdick

I just read Flying Lines today and learned of the passing of Phil Granderson.

All of us that knew Phil, all knew what a great competitor he was in whatever endeavor he was involved with.

That was just one side of this artistic creative individual. I’d suffice it to say he was special.

Phil had a great sense of humor and that is how I remember him best. I want to pass on one “story” involving Phil, there are so many it’s difficult to choose the right one, but I’ll try. I hope you enjoy the visual of it all.

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time in the 1980s we were all hot Combat flyers, great in our own minds and there seemed to be no end to the contests of split second, high nitro, Fox MK3’s Granderdog Combat wings, Rush Puppies Creamsickles, Rotation Stations and Nemesis.

We had the best of the best it seemed, right here on the West Coast. Norm McFadden, Howard Rush, Phil Granderson, Richard Brasher, Mike Petri. Chuck Rudner, John Salvin Sr. These were the flyers that were the “usual suspects” at any major competition around here.

Every now and then we would all converge at contest such as the Bladder Grabber, but also at the Northwest Regional Championships, you just never knew when one would become memorable. This is about such an event.

When we had sated our thirst for blood in the Combat circle, we usually were looking for trouble and frequently would wander off to the Racing events. Now really good Racing demands practice and dedication which any good Combat flyer in that era would even consider, but there was one, just one racing event that might fit the bill. Yes, geezers, it was Northwest Sport Race.

In those days, the horrid Fox .35 stunt ruled the event and to make one run over 70 mph AND restart was beyond most of our attention spans.

It just so happened that Gary Stevens and Phil Granderson each brought decent sport racers to this do.

I think Phil’s was pink, but I’m not sure, the other one was not pink. As usual, there was a shortage of pilots for the event. So both Gary and Phil found themselves asking both Norm McFadden and Rich Brasher to fly their racing machines.

This was, like asking the two main characters in Kill Bill to play Bridge together, or like putting vinegar into that beaker of baking soda just to see what happens. Neither Norm or Rich had EVER flown in a race before. “What’s to know?”

The race began with just the two of them in the circle, I could feel the tension in the air, but didn’t know how it would surface between the two old friends and competitors, each one holding a handle, all I knew for sure was nothing good could come of this combination.

It didn’t take long for it to happen, the faster airplane began to show itself, and yes, it was Phil’s, the pink one. I was watching the pilots when the shenanigans started. You could see they were laughing and joking with each other when it happened.

RICH: “My airplane is faster, what do I do?”
NORM: “Fly underneath me.”

Well -- if you’ve ever seen a “pin” maneuver in Combat, it’s much the same. The other guy can’t get away once pinned.

Rich flew underneath Norm and Norm took the half step to cross the lines and pin Rich, who was now trying to run around the much larger McFadden.

Gary Stevens was heard yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Phil was shaking his head and looking at the ground.

It was about then that Norn hit Rich with a hard forearm on the back of his head. If you know Norm at all, you could see him laughing and turning red from it. Rich was pretty well built and the shiver hardly moved him, so Norm did it again. This went on for several laps until Norm finally let Rich out.

All the while, Gary was screaming “MAKE THEM STOP!” “MAKE THEM STOP.” We were all holding each other up from laughter. Phil was just shaking his head saying “I should have known better. ”I just should have known better.”

This was the Phil Granderson we all knew and loved, cool in the face of -- sport race?

I don’t know who won the race, it doesn’t matter anyway. We were all brothers in that time and the fun was where you found it.

Goodbye Phil, I surely will miss you.


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This page was upated Jan. 5, 2022