2023 Memphis SPA Contest
Arlington, TN
May 20-21, 2023

Scores                                               Photos

CD Terry Boston's expression says it all
about the miserable Saturday morning weather.

The 2023 Memphis SPA contest at the Memphis Prop Busters Field is now just a fond memory. CD Terry Boston had made thorough preparations and ran as tight a ship as conditions allowed which made for a nice laid back contest.

Contestants began arriving mid-week for some early practice. Dave and Peggy Phillips, Jerry Black, Norman Bonnette and Jim and Bobbie Johns all arrived on Thursday. Everyone practiced on Thursday except Jim who arrived late in the day. Terry's wife Jane prepared and served a luscious dinner of hot  Chicken Rotel Spaghetti on Thursday evening for the early birds, complete with homemade banana bread for desert.

Jeff Owens and Lori Bush arrived on Friday, which was a perfect practice day - mild temperature, light winds and blue skies. Many good practice flights were made by all.

The weather guessers had been predicting rain for Saturday all week. Unfortunately, those fears became real Friday night when thunderstorms rolled through the area. Saturday morning found chilly conditions with rain showers, a very soggy field (compete with water hazards), poor horizontal visibility and an extremely low and ragged ceiling. Nine intrepid airmen made the journey to the extreme western edge of the SPA East Division for the contest in spite of the forecasts. Registration was quickly completed followed by the Pilots Meeting, then the waiting began for flyable weather conditions. Little did we suspect that lunch would be served before Round 1 got off the ground.

Speaking of lunch - several Memphis Prop Busters members served an amazing lunch of hamburgers, brats and chicken off the club's new Blackstone griddle. Chips and all the fixings were included in the $5 price tag. The meal was topped off by a fine selection of cookies, including Apple Cinnamon cookies which were more like cakes than cookies.

The ceiling and visibility finally improved enough to allow safe flying, and Norman Bonnette broke ground for the first flight of Round 1 at precisely 1 p.m. We used only one flight line due to the limited number of pilots and judges and each round took about 1 1/2 hours. Everyone took their turn in the judging chair without grumbling and four rounds of Basic, Sportsman, Expert and Masters along with 3 rounds of Advanced were completed by 5:30 p.m.  There was only one incident during the day. Jim Johns came in hot on his 2nd round landing, and his UFO came to a rapid halt when it contacted the catch fence on the near edge of the runway. The plane sustained only minor damage - a broken prop, a small ding on the right wing tip, and the only significant problem - a snapped rudder pull-pull cable. This prohibited Jim from flying Round 3. Terry - who originally built the plane for Jim - took the UFO home Saturday night and replaced the cable. (Thank you, sir! Friendly helpful people like you are the reason I love SPA so much! JJ)

Sunday dawned as the complete antithesis of Saturday - bright blue skies dotted with a few puffy clouds, light north winds right down the runway and temperatures in the 60s that quickly warmed to the 70s. Terry had left his plane in the clubhouse at the field Saturday night, and it had somehow gotten turned on which killed the flight battery. It was so dead it wouldn't even take a charge on Sunday morning, which kept Terry grounded for the day. Jim Johns elected not to fly Sunday as well.

Three classes had only one contestant each and all won their class handily - Norman Bonnette in Basic, Vic Koenig in Sportsman and Jerry Black in Masters. Advanced found Dave Phillips and Clint Hidgon fighting for the top spot right down to the last flight. Dave won 3 rounds to Clint's 2 to claim the victory, with Terry Boston finishing 3rd. Jamie Strong and Jeff Owens battled down to the wire in Expert, with Jamie winning all 5 rounds to take the victory with Jeff close on his heels.

Trophies were awarded, hands were shaken and hugs exchanged. The contestants began hitting the road for home about 10:30. Some had very long drives -- Jeff Owens, 540 miles to Tallahassee, FL; Norman Bonnette, 520 miles to Waco, KY; Jerry Black and Vic Koenig, 475 miles Johnson City/Jonesborough, TN.

Many thanks to all who attended with special thanks to the following:

  • CD Terry Boston for his excellent job of running the show.
  • The Memphis Prop Busters club for hosting our event at their beautiful field.
  • MPB President Jack Estes and crew for providing a killer Saturday lunch.
  • Jim Johns for keeping score - even if he did put the empty printer cartridge back into the SPA printer while changing it prior to the contest. OOPS!! (Note: that HAS been remedied! - JJ)
  • Bobbie Johns for all the help she gives hubby Jim. Without her, Jim could NOT attend or compete in these contests. She also manually wrote out the round scores for all the curious pilots in the absence of a working printer.

Please join us in the extreme opposite corner of Tennessee on June 24-25 for the next SPA contest in Johnson City. More information HERE.

Jim Johns

Final Scores
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