2018 Roberta SPA "Carnage" Classic
Roberta, GA
April 14, 2018

Scores                                                Photos

Sunday's weather forecast called for a 100% probability of rain, so CD Dan Dougherty (left) opted for a 1-day contest.

Many pilots arrived Friday the 13th to get in a few practice flights, because many have had very little practice this year due to the weird weather. The field was in great shape – the grass was short, the runway was smooth and the hobby shop was open. This proved to be a good thing.

The only excitement of the day occurred when Bill Dodge’s radio began beeping wildly during one of his flights. He landed safely and inspection revealed that one of his aileron servos had shorted out and burned most of the insulation off the servo wiring. Apparently, the radio saw this as a massive battery drain triggering the low voltage alarm. A quick trip across the field to CMJ Hobbies and a replacement parts were procured and installed.

Saturday dawned cool and partly sunny. Twelve intrepid pilots showed up to brave the gusty Roberta winds. Unfortunately, six fine airplanes would be wounded - some mortally - during the day.

Things started off with Jim Johns having a decent flight going until he tried to turn around late in the flight. His plane started gyrating wildly and he nearly lost control several times before figuring out that he had to hold full right aileron on high rate to make the plane fly wings level. He limped the plane back to the field and made a very hard pancake landing on the runway. The culprit turned out to be his right aileron servo which had failed and driven to full travel to give him full left aileron on that wing. Closer examination showed repairable minor fuselage and wing damage due to the hard landing.

Next up was Keith Watson. Keith was one of the folks with only a few flights this year due to weather and health problems. His takeoff was uneventful, but during his first maneuver he became disorientated and his Daddy Rabbit went straight into the sand just  beyond the runway. The results were not pleasant (right).

Charlie Johns was next up on the hit parade. Shortly after takeoff he lost control of his Kaos, resulting in another major loss.

The preceding three incidents all happened within about 5 minutes time. Jerry Black commented that maybe he should just put his airplane back in the car while it was still in one piece. These turned out to be prophetic words, because late in the 1st round he and John Wolfe had a mid-air collision during turn arounds resulting in the total destruction of both planes. They went down well off the left end of the field, requiring over an hour of searching through rough terrain to recover the wreckage. Jerry never did find his new OS 95 engine, and since he didn't bring a backup, he was done for the day. John borrowed a plane from Greg Hoke and continued.

Round 2 and 3 were uneventful, and Jimmy Russell had a good flight going in Round 4 until he flamed out during his 3 Turn Spin. He was low when he discovered the problem, and his quick decision to turn right downwind toward the runway proved incorrect. He ended up behind the fence and the right wing of his Daddy Rabbit struck the metal corner pole of one of the pilot shelters, resulting in wing and fuselage damage. Jimmy normally flies in Knoxville, which has a notoriously small "postage stamp" sized runway, so his reaction was completely understandable. He had made it home and started repairing the damage by Sunday afternoon. See his post on the Discussion List.

The winds escalated during the day, causing more than one white knuckle flight. Newcomer Troy Cleckler flew two rounds before deciding to put his plane away while it was in one piece. Several others, including Bill Dodge and Ken VandenBosch, chose to do the same during the course of the day.

Now for the good stuff.

  • Troy Cleckler was the only contestant in Novice, taking First.
  • Jim Strong continued his winning ways from last year by taking Sportsman, followed by Ken VandenBosch and Charlie Johns.
  • John Wolfe survived his 1st Round mid-air, still won the round, and continued with a backup borrowed from Greg Hoke to win 4 of 5 rounds and take Advanced. Jimmy Russell won the other round to finish 2nd, while Bill Dodge provided worthy competition to finish 3rd.
  • Greg Hoke weathered stiff competition from Jamie Strong and Jerry Black to win Expert. It would have been interesting to see how things would have shaken out if Jerry had been able to continue.
  • Jim Johns took Senior Expert over Keith Watson, mainly because he got in more maneuvers than Keith Watson before problems struck both of them during their only round.

All in all, it was a rather strange contest.

  • Many of the pilots struggled with the winds, which were well above those normally seen in the SPA East, although they were normal to low by SPA West standards. Yours truly felt right at home after flying pattern in Kansas for 30+ years.
  • There were multiple interruptions due to recovery efforts for the afore-mentioned casualties.
  • Judges were at a premium due to the low turnout.
  • None of Dan's usual photo-enhanced trophies were awarded due to multiple problems. DD arrived at the field later than usual, and in an effort to get planes in the air as soon as possible, no photos of pilots and planes were taken before the carnage began. On top of that, Dan's photo printer decided to die. Timing is everything. The winners received a handshake, a round of applause and a photo op with the CD - see the photos page.
  • However, folks had a great time catching up after a long winter, no one lost their cool in spite of all the problems, and lunch from Hudson’s BBQ was a highlight.
  • Everyone did a wonderful job of keeping their cool and sense of humor in spite of the problems.
  • CD DD remarked that he’d never seen so much carnage at one contest in his entire career.

We will gather again in 3 weeks for the SPA East-West Shootout in Toone, TN. I'll be there - hopefully with a flyable airplane - so come join us for the fun.

Jim Johns

Final Scores