Round & Round

The Control-Line Modeler at Large

By John Thompson

January 2006

Modeling thought for the month:

"A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials."

- Chinese proverb

The Northwest Control-Line Regionals in Eugene has had some great moments and some great competitors. In 1977 the Jive Combat Team won 19 trophies, and their prizes included five engines. Phil Granderson (center) won first place in Stunt (no PAMPA classes then), AMA Combat and Northwest Sport Race. Other team members (left to right): Dan Rutherford, Larry Driskill, Ron Scoones and Gary Stevens. Photo provided by Phil Granderson.

Regionals coming home!

I can still remember my first trip to the Northwest Regional Controline Championships.

The trip from Astoria, Ore., that May of 1977 wasn't just a contest trip, it was a pilgrimage. We weren't just going to a contest, we were going to The Regionals.

I remember as we turned off Interstate 5 onto Eugene's Belt Line Road, following the signs to the Eugene Airport. My heart rate increased a bit as the anticipation sent adrenaline through my veins. Just a little ways to go to the airport, The Regionals.

Pulling up to the site, seeing all the circles staked out in colorful flags, the flying going on on five circles at once, dozens of airplanes of all types scattered around on the ground.

I can still remember the planes! Phil Granderson's colorful Ringmaster sport racer. Marty Phillips' V-tail stunter. Combat planes covered in flowered shelf paper. Orin Humphries' twin-engine scale bomber. There was speed flier Sam Snyder's Rolls Royce to add an element of class to the meet. Oba St. Clair's incredibly sophisticated control-line simulator!

My first actual competition was piloting my green Ringmaster in Northwest Sport Race. Fellow CLAMS member, then a teenager, Jim Cameron,won NWSR in the senior division.

It was the kickoff of a fascinating "career" in model aviation competition that for me has led to racing, combat, stunt, even a little speed and carrier over the years.

All because of that fabulous experience I had on the first pilgrimage to Eugene.

There was a Regionals before Eugene, held in Seattle at Sand Point Naval Air Station, now Magnuson Park. When I was a teenager growing up in Port Angeles, Wash., some of my buddies went to that contest and came back with lots of tall tales and some wild new technology (a Voodoo with a Fox .36X was pretty impressive the first time a guy brought one home!).

But like many Northwest fliers, my first Regionals memories are of the Eugene regionals, which started in 1971, a couple of years after the Sand Point show ended.

The original Eugene contest venue was a dedicated CL flying site provided by the city of Eugene at the municipal airport across from the passenger terminal. When I moved to Eugene in the fall of 1977, it became my home flying site.

The Regionals was held there through 1987, when the flying site was swallowed up in a terminal remodeling project. You can still see where it is by finding the small beacon tower that stood at its northeast corner, but the site is now covered with rental cars.

The airport revamping included construction of an overflow parking lot across the main road from the terminal complex. CL "insiders" in the design staff saw to it that the overflow parking lot also was designed to accommodate model flying. It's perfectly laid out for seven CL circles, four on grass and three on asphalt, with space left over for parking and other support facilities.

The Regionals moved there in 1988, and continued on that site until 1995. That's when the airport management got queasy about reserving the parking lot for the contest - they wanted to keep it clear for parking if needed on the holiday weekend. The contest moved to Roseburg, and later to Albany. The era of the Eugene Regionals, it seemed, had ended.

Years have gone by, the airport has not needed the lot for parking on that particular weekend - and parking near the terminal has been expanded. The airport administration's outlook on the reservation of the parking lot as mellowed - and the go-ahead has been given for return of the Regionals to Eugene.

My local club, the Eugene Prop Spinners, have flown on this perfect model flying field, almost every weekend. I can't be there without envisioning the Regionals. What's now just a vast expanse of asphalt and grass is, in mind's eye, an ideal layout of circles for stunt, racing, combat, carrier and speed. It's all there waiting for the contest. Finally, it's going to happen.

The Northwest's contest showcase, you might say, is coming home!

E-mail John Thompson

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This page was upated April 15, 2006