2022 SPA East Masters
Johnson City, TN

September 10-11, 2022

Scores                                               Photos

The Pilots
L-R: Duane Wilson, Jamie Strong, Jeff Owens, Dave Phillips, Norman Bonnette, Terry Boston, Ellis Newkirk, CD Jerry Black, Vic Koenig, Eric Knieper and Johnny Judd. Not shown: Jim Johns

2022 JCRC Masters

When the Morristown Masters, a first for that venue, was suddenly cancelled, the Johnson City Radio Controllers offered to turn their upcoming mid-September contest into the Masters. The Johnson City club has been a hotbed of SPA activity over the past few years and we greatly appreciated them stepping up to fill the void on such short notice.

So much happened over the weekend that I can only hope to give you a general feeling or summary. In short, though I can’t remember all the individual names, the contest as a whole was fantastic and truly stood out in several ways. Eighteen pilots were registered to come, but as the date grew near, we can only assume that the gloomy weather forecasts of up to 80% chance of rain both days discouraged several. If weather was your reason for not coming, you made an unfortunate mistake. The twelve who came had a truly great time, plus we easily completed full six rounds in spite of a 3 1/2-hour rain delay that came about an hour after “wheels up” on Saturday. Sunday’s conditions were perfect.

Before discussing the Masters, I’d first like to talk about weather forecasts versus your chance of having a fantastic time at an SPA event. In the seventeen years I’ve been part of SPA, I can remember only ONE full-day washout - see details here: https://seniorpattern.com/results/2015/Masters2015.html. Unless the contest is called in advance by the CD due to an approaching hurricane or other disaster, we always fly enough and safely enough to have a meaningful contest. Actual flying and competition are only part of the reason we fly SPA - the really important reason is the camaraderie of getting together. Even on that one washout day several years ago, those that came had a “blast” with many memorable to-this-day stories. In the future, if the contest isn’t cancelled by the CD, please come anyway. You won’t regret it. Several of the 12 competitors traveled long distances - Jeff Owens drove approximately 500 miles from Tallahassee, FL and Terry Boston drove the same distance from Byhalia, MS. However, our long-distance driver was Ellis Newkirk who came all the way from Flower Mound, TX - almost 1,000 miles each direction. Experience has shown that you WILL FLY and will probably have a much more memorable experience than if you had stayed home. The temperatures at Johnson City were also much more comfortable than during the average mid-summer SPA event.

Now the long-distance contest - flying began under dry but leaden skies on Saturday morning. Jerry Black, who CD'd the contest but did not fly, devoted himself to running the contest and judging Advanced, Expert and Senior Expert on the left-hand flight line. Vic Koenig did a great job of coordinating everything for the Basic and Sportsman classes on the right-hand flight line. The rains began part way through the first round. During the 3+ hour rain delay, people never stopped laughing, swapping stories, and just plain relaxing. Everyone instantly became junior meteorologists, keeping a sharp eye on the radar, and debating when we’d restart. We started and stopped a couple times, getting flights in when possible, with interesting demo flights in between to test the “ceiling”. Tim Edwards, JCRC's resident grill master, served a great lunch during the rain delay. The menu included burgers, vegetable soup/chili, cornbread, chips, and a wonderful carrot cake for dessert. Tim was ably aided by his wife Marsha and dad Bill.

After finally restarting flying in earnest, there was the added “fun” and challenge of occasionally seeing your plane momentarily disappear into the scud during the top of certain maneuvers, but happily no one suffered any ill effects because of their brief excursions into "IFR".

The most thrilling flight of the day had to come from Johnny Judd, a local BASIC pilot and new SPA member flying in his first contest. Johnny’s flight looked like a choreographed “stunt flight". His Kaos was constantly in peril and snatched from “the brink” several times, but he made it through and landed with cheers ringing out. His scores weren’t particularly high, but Johnny held everyone in rapt attention. After landing he good-naturedly told me he could hear all the oohs, aahs, and gasps behind him throughout that round. Johnny is an easygoing, upbeat guy as well as JCRC’s newsletter editor, and both he and his wife Karen were instrumental in helping Jerry wherever needed. He also told me why he enjoys precision aerobatics—every flight takes on a new meaning and purpose. This is something that I’ve said for a long time because there is always something to work on. I think we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

Unfortunately, we did have two aircraft casualties during the weekend. Norman Bonnette experienced a flame out following his Stall Turn but didn't realize it quickly enough. Norm seemed to have plenty of altitude to glide back after his engine died. However, his Phoenix 7 wouldn’t respond to aileron input probably due to lack of airspeed and the plane spin into the trees off the left end of the field. Terry Boston's Deception suffered a broken left wing after he allowed it to get too slow on landing.

UPDATE 9/13/22: Norm sent this email today.
So that everyone knows, I found my downed Phoenix 7 in surprisingly good shape.  It was still all together with no missing parts except one wheel which I found.  No damage to engine or electronics.  Had some relatively minor cracking and breaking of the fiberglass forward of the wing and broken internal wood braces also forward of the wing.  I will have it flying and looking like new next spring after layering new reinforcement glass cloth, sanding and repainting the entire fuse.  I had planned on stripping and repainting it anyway over the winter so now I can do a really good job.

Now for the results. BASIC was closely contested, but Eric Knieper edged out Norm Bonnette in the end. Duane Wilson and Vic Koenig seesawed back and forth in SPORTSMAN most of the day with Duane finally edging Vic out. Terry Boston took home the ADVANCED class honors over Jim Johns. The EXPERT class was hard fought with only 54 points separating the entire field. Jamie Strong finally managed to come out on top of the three-way battle, followed by Ellis Newkirk and Jimmy Russell. It was a battle in which each pilot won two rounds. Finally, Jeff Owens bested Dave Phillips in the SENIOR EXPERT class.

The Annual Points Championship trophies for the East District were awarded following presentation of the contest trophies.

  • BASIC - Eric Knieper
  • SPORTSMAN - Vic Koenig
  • ADVANCED - Terry Boston
  • EXPERT - Jamie Strong
  • SENIOR EXPERT - Jeff Owens

The SPA East Memorial Trophy was awarded to Dave Phillips, the only eligible pilot in the Senior Expert class this year.

There is such a spirit of pitching in and volunteering by JCRC members-everything from the customary registration help, cooking lunch, providing runners, to contributing to the raffle. This spirit starts from the officer, continues downward and is infectious. Thanks to everyone who helped for the wonderful way this contest was run. Apologies if I miss anyone, but here are some of the folks who helped out.

  • JCRC President David Jones spent the entire weekend at the field making sure everything ran smoothly.
  • The entire Blair family - Anthony, wife Lynette and daughter Anastasia - handled registration and the entire prize raffle.
  • Dennis Sams spent the entire weekend in the judging chair, and Don Martin did much of the Saturday judging for the Basic and Sportsman classes.
  • Johnny Judd and wife Karen helped with whatever was asked of them.
  • Glenn Ross took the pilot group photo and created all the trophies.
  • Jim Johns handled the computer scoring, ably assisted by JCRC Newsletter Editor Johnny Judd and score runner Doyle Blevins.

The RAFFLE was amazing with many great prizes contributed by multiple members of the club and several manufacturers. I would estimate that over 1,000 tickets were sold, with some tickets bought by folks who wanted to contribute to the club without a particular interest in winning prizes. You can see photos of all the prizes and winners in the PHOTO section. Here's a semi-comprehensive list.

  • Ed Ritsko, JCRC member and owner of Johnson City Heating and Air, donated many great items - a dozen 20 oz YETI tumblers, a YETI cooler and the GRAND PRIZE, a 36” Blackstone gas griddle complete with all the trimmings right down to the propane tank.
  • Duane Wilson donated two big items - a Kwik Fli Mk III kit and a complete JR Propo/DFA T8x4 radio system.
  • Dennis Sams donated a Great Planes Dirty Birdy ARF
  • Sig Manufacturing donated a 25% off merchandise certificate.
  • Balsa USA donated glue caddies, hats, Balsa USA t-shirts and a huge selection of BSI CA glue.

Bottom line-ignore weather forecasts if the contest is held. You’ll have a great time, have some wonderful fellowship and get some great flying in which is the icing on the cake.

Duane Wilson and Jim Johns

Final Scores
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