A description of the Australian Model Aircraft Nationals Aerobatics held at Albury/Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian state border, commencing December 2002.

2002 Nats photosBelow the pictures at right is a blow by blow description of Expert and Advanced FAI F2B Aerobatics, as it appeared in the daily newsletters published at these Nationals.  For an alternative view, see Brian Gardner's report here.

1. A picture of Bruce Hoffman's attractive model which would not look out of place at a scale contest.  Placed 11th.

2. Reg Towell's plane also had semi scale lines and colour scheme this year, and flew well too.  Placed 6th.

3. This photo is from the previous Nats, but venue, plane, pilot, and result all look the same.  Mark Batty, winner of Expert Aerobatics for the third time in four years.

4. Herb Hanna flew the same model with which he represented Australia at the 2000 World Champs.  An attractive colour scheme on a conventional aerobatic model.  Placed 9th.

5. Contest Director Brian Gardner, together with his Renegade which he flew into third place.  It says a lot for the cameraderie and respect aerobatics contestants have for each other that they would allow a fellow competitor to direct the event, with the obvious potential conflicts of interest this presents.

6. PJ Rowland wins Classic Stunt.  Correct placement of the tongue is an important factor in scoring well in this event.

7. Alan Mathieson-Harrison pictured with his entry in Classic Stunt: a Ram Rod powered by a Glo Chief .29.  Always noticable with a Ram Rod is the inboard wing two inches longer than the outboard one.

8. This Demon is Alan Mathieson-Harrison's entry in the Vintage Stunt event. One of several Demons in the contest, Alan's plane is powered by a McCoy Redhhead .29.  Placed 13th.


Vintage Stunt

Doug Grinham bounced back to win the Vintage title, and that has been the case for Doug at both Albury Nats. His Frog 500 powered plane convincingly beat Frank Battam's unusual Hot Rock for the top position with both outscoring John MacIntyre's very attractive late 1940s UK model, Meteor in third place.

After the leading trio came Derek Pickard, John Raymond and Ken Taylor who kept ahead of the hard trying Geoff Ingram.  The most popular model was the Hearn's Demon (usually powered by a Frog 500) whilst the Fox 35 was the most popular engine.


Classic Stunt

This was a well supported competition with 18 entries.  Doug Grinham and Reg Towell both flew well, as did David Nobes, a retired airline pilot who placed a very creditable 8th in his first ever contest.  Flying even better was P.J.Rowland to become the outright winner of this event.

Classic Stunt Results:

1st. Peter J. Rowland 2038.5 points
2nd. Reg Towell 2031 points
3rd. Frank Battam 1881.5 points

Expert and Advanced FAI F2B Aerobatics

A constant wind that kept changing direction marked the first day of competition in the control line aerobatics (F2B) class at Alexandra Park. The mostly northerly gusts gave all fliers a hard time as they kept moving to second-guess the Albury air.

First up were the advanced fliers shortly after 9am. And it was the smooth flying and 60-powered Tony Bonello who showed the way. He was closely followed in the results by John McIntyre. And coming in third on the day — the same as he did last year — was Geoff Ingram, the sidecar-driving country Victorian who three-wheeled it up from central Gippsland the previous night. A surprise in 5th spot was Dave Simons who had the misfortune to hit the ground towards the end of his flight, damaging the landing gear which could be repaired overnight.

After a switch of judges, the Experts took to the air and the wind. Everyone gave it their best with only Reg Towell having trouble with a mal-adjusted motor that forced him to abort the flight. But it was Brian Eather who impressed the most with his Saito 56 giving the power and his Firecracker handling the gusts. He was followed by defending F2B champion Mark Batty who got off to a false start when his take-off grounded, forcing him to re-attempt later in the order. It was noticeable that the most popular engine in this class was the Saito 56 four-stroke which were running open exhausts and lots of nitro to ensure they gave sufficient power. Bruce Hoffman's 56 certainly sounded the most impressive.

The second day of stunt was marked by easy winds in the morning for the Experts followed by stiffening winds for the Advanced fliers in the afternoon.

Mark Batty made his intentions very clear by making up for his slight hiccup in the first round and flew his way into the F2B lead. Flying his FP40 powered profile stunter he was the only pilot to break into the magic 3000+ points score.

And while Mark Batty made the most of the mild conditions, so did F2B veteran Paul Turner who showed how a 46 powered plane can be made to fly some very impressive shapes. Paul's excellent second round flight saw him elevate his total into second place ahead of overnight leader Brian Eather.  Another notable to post good second rounds scores was PJ Rowland with his Moki 51 powered Vortex.

And for the Advanced fliers, it was mister smoothy, Tony Bonello, who stayed in front with his own design Enigma/ST60 again staying clearly ahead of the opposition.

Unfortunately, the winds got up for this series of fliers with Derek Pickard taking most of the main blow as it quickly passed through. But second and third places stayed the same with John MacIntyre and Geoff Ingram keeping ahead of Mark Ellins. Ken Taylor had the misfortune for his MVVS49 to quit after only a few manoeuvres and Dave Simons didn't get his model repaired from the previous day's accident.

With all the skill and timing of a seasoned veteran, Paul Turner took full advantage of the lesser winds in the third round to make a late charge at regaining the Expert F2B crown. His ST46 powered Wind Wizard was used to full advantage as he closed the gap on reigning champion, Mark Batty. Paul put in the best individual score, topping Batty by a single point. This brought the experienced Turner to within 119 of Batty's total score which ensured the last round of F2B on Thursday would be a contest not to be missed.

And as that top duo tussled for outright honours, the fight for the lesser positions was equally hard fought. Brian Eather's run of good flights continued with him keeping ahead of Brian Gardner as they demonstrated how completely different approaches to stunt engine power can both prove competitive.  And half way down the Experts leaderboard was young James Batty now holding 6th out of 13 competitors.

Meanwhile, the Advanced fliers were not having as much a leadership struggle due to the consistent flying of Tony Bonello. The ST60 man was clearly showing his edge over the competition he extended his lead in this class with some excellent flying.

Behind Bonello, John MacIntyre was having a good Nats but so was talented combat flier, Mark Ellins. The ST46 flier from CLAMF took 3rd place from Geoff Ingram when he put in an excellent third round flight. Derek Pickard was some way behind in 5th after experiencing yet another over-run. But Ken Taylor had his MVVS49 back on song with the Czech engine demonstrating good power as Ken tried hard to make up for earlier problems and get up from 9th place.

In the last round Mark Batty proved for the third time that he is the best in Australian stunt flying. His precision once again was ahead of all others in F2B this year when he won his third F2B control line stunt title in taking Experts championship. In flying a relatively unsophisticated OS FP40 powered profile plane, his achievement once again demonstrated how being practice-perfect with well trimmed hardware is better than having the very top equipment. He won three of the four rounds to take this year's title.

Seasoned veteran, Paul Turner, chased Batty all the way but only won the single round in taking second overall. Brian Gardner's third was excellent considering he was Contest Director for the event and did not have the time for practice like other competitors.

PJ Rowland's fourth was his best result in a Nats F2B and James Batty's seventh was an excellent place for a first-timer at this level.

In the Advanced class, Tony Bonello dominated proceedings heading three of the four rounds. He beat Mark Ellins and Geoff Ingram into second and third place. Those two Victorian fliers had a very strong last few rounds to pass John MacIntyre who finished fourth ahead of Derek Pickard.

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