2022 SPA East Season Finale
Prattville, AL
October 22-23, 2022

Scores                                               Photos

The Pilots
L-R: Ellis Newkirk, Greg Hoke, Jerry Black, SPA President Jeff Owens, Ken VandenBosch, Dave Phillips, SPA Past President Bruce Underwood, Jamie Strong, Joe Ryan, Norm Bonnette, Terry Boston, Eric Knieper, Gordon Talbot, Jim Johns & CD Jim Oliver

As previously reported on the results page, everyone had a great time at the Johnson City Masters and the idea was expressed that it was a shame to end the season so early. Thus was hatched a plan to have a “Season Finale” at Prattville in October. Jim Oliver and Dave Phillips agreed to act as co-CDs.

The weather in the southeast has been wonderful for flying for the last few weeks, so it came as no surprise that folks started gathering early for the event. Campers began arriving on Wednesday for some early fellowship and practice flights. Many electrons and ounces of glow fuel gave their all for the early arrivals. I got there on Friday afternoon and there was already a crowd getting tuned up for the event.

As a bonus for showing up early, there was a Chili Party on Friday night with Dave and Peggy Phillips providing two crockpots of chili to share with all assembled. The meal included lots of wonderful fixings - sour cream, cheese, crackers, hot sauce, jalapenos & corn chips - along with both sweet and southern style cornbread made by Jane Boston. After feasting on all this great food, there was dessert of delectable brownies courtesy of Peggy Phillips plus cake and cookies. Anyone who walked away hungry from this wonderful feast did so of their own free will. It was agreed that this should become an SPA tradition!

A special presentation was made to BRUCE UNDERWOOD during Saturday's lunch break honoring his MANY years serving as SPA President and Newsletter Editor. Everyone at the Finale signed the large framed photo of Bruce and wife Jane. A photo book with several additional photos was also presented.

Bruce is an original SPA Life Member (L15), gave the invocation at numerous SPA contests for many years, as well as creating the trophies for many contests, including this one, along with wife Jane at their TNT Trophies shop. He has given uncounted hours of encouragement and support to new fliers in the hobby and he is the driving force behind the SERMA RC Club.

Every once in a while, we get an absolutely PERFECT weekend for an SPA pattern contest. The weekend's weather could not have been more perfect if we had ordered it from a menu. Saturday dawned with cool weather (about 47 degrees) but with clear skies, bright sun and light winds. It soon warmed up to the upper 70s for a very enjoyable day. CD Jim Oliver got things going as soon as the sun rose high enough to begin flying as the field faces due east. Four rounds were put in by the thirteen contestants and there were no major mishaps. We were done by about 4:00 pm and pilots adjourned to watch football games or practice some more all the way up to sunset.

Sunday morning was a repeat performance with a cool start that soon warmed up. A light breeze down the runway made for great flying conditions. Two more rounds were put in the books by about 11:30 and then the final results were announced.

In Basic, newcomer Eric Knieper came in first with Norm Bonnette in second. This is Eric’s first year competing in SPA and he is, in a word, enthusiastic. He will be flying in Sportsman next year. Norm continues to improve his flying and I’ll bet he moves to Sportsman next year, too.

The Sportsman banner was carried by Gordon Talbot who did a great job with his beautiful UFO. As a reminder, this airplane was severely damaged in a midair at Hodges in August. Terry Boston put the pieces back together and you would never know that there had been any damage! Okay folks – Gordon needs some competition in Sportsman!

In the Advanced class there was a three-way battle between Ken VandenBosch, Terry Boston, and Jim Johns with this being the order of finish. It might have turned out differently had Terry and Jim not battled nitro engine problems all weekend. (Author’s note: I haven’t had glow plug, carburetor, or fuel tank issues since going electric! Just sayin’…)

As expected, the battle in Expert was tight and it certainly was fun to judge! These guys can really fly! When the dust settled the order of finish was Greg Hoke, Jamie Strong, Ellis Newkirk, and Joe Ryan. By the way, it has been reported that Greg has resolved to wait at least one second after lift-off before retracting the gear.

In Sr. Expert Jerry Black, Jeff Owens, and Dave Phillips dueled all weekend with this being the finishing order. Dave has resolved to focus on the airplane until it comes to a complete stop and the motor is shut down. This is a well known full scale mantra.

A few other notes:

  • There were no lost airplanes nor any serious damage all weekend. That is always a bonus.
  • Ellis Newkirk gets the long distance travel award after driving all the way from mid-Texas. It is always a pleasure when Ellis makes the long trek east.
  • Norm Bonnette gets the “most practiced” award. His model was airborne most of the weekend. Late on Friday afternoon I heard him comment “well that’s twelve… (flights, that is)” As he was preparing to leave on Sunday he commented that he had burned two gallons of fuel and had flown about 40 flights since arriving on Thursday. Whew! That’s almost like work. Nah, just kidding.
  • Eric Knieper really loves his Curares. He lost his backup due to radio issues some weeks back but he still had his primary Curare. He picked up yet another this weekend making that his third this year. They do fly well, which is why I have two.
  • Gerry Singleton did a wonderful job keeping score on Saturday. Jim Johns didn't fly the last four rounds due to the failure of an aileron pushrod, so Jim relieved Gerry on Sunday to take more of his always excellent photographs.
  • Ray Kunert ran the raffle and did much of the grunt work during the weekend.

Wrapping it up I would have to say that if you weren’t there you missed a great time! No pressure, no points on the line, great weather, good food and fine fellowship. What more could you ask for?

Jeff Owens and Jim Johns

Final Scores
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