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Written by Palmer Johnson
Thirteenth year sees record attendance
Event coverage
As seen in the March 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

Indiana Warbird Campaign

Flight Service predicted sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s and it was right on! The 2016 Indiana Warbird Campaign was cleared for a great event.

Held in Muncie, Indiana, at the International Aeromodeling Center at the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Indiana Warbird Campaign traditionally uses Site 4 with its large rolled and manicured grass runway. With no obstructions, this wide-open space is perfect. This year was the largest event of the Indiana Warbird Campaign’s 13-year run, with 111 registered pilots.

As you arrive, the drive is lined with welcome signs and sponsor signs, along with American flags. You quickly recognize that this event is a patriotic salute to warbirds and classic models. The overall layout has the vendor and spectator area at the center, behind the six flight stations. Pilots set up their pit areas on either side of the vendors. Overnight storage tents are provided on each end for the pilots’ convenience. Food vendors, military displays, and RC vendors provide additional shopping and services for pilots and spectators.

Looking to the right of show center, tents and canopies provided the pilots with shade, storage, and front-row seating!

The three-day event, held September 1-3, 2016, started Thursday when the pilots set up and got to fly all day. Touching base with old friends and making some new ones is always a plus at any show. Thanks to one of the sponsors, Applebee’s Grill & Bar, the pilots each received a discount coupon for an Applebee’s meal. To show their appreciation, 40-plus pilots and their families went to the restaurant for dinner, while others stayed at the field and continued to fly.

Friday started early with the Indiana Warbird Campaign’s first Dawn Patrol launch. These World War I airplane pilots turned out in force to start the day off right. Promptly at 7 a.m., engines started and a dozen WW I airplanes took to the air. After these early warriors determined that the area was safe, the flightline was opened to all warbirds and classics. The skies were filled with aircraft flown by pilots from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and Massachusetts.

As the noon hour approached, the spectators took their seats for the Indiana Warbird Campaign Air Show. To set the patriotic theme, Rich Eggleston flew his F9F Cougar to the music “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly.”

As the air show’s opening act, this Cougar performed to the music “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly.”

A color guard, composed of event pilots who have served in the U.S. armed forces, presented the American flag for the national anthem. The classic models were the first to take to the air. A variety of airplanes from Cubs to WACOs represented the civilian and Golden Era aviators. The next group was the WW I barnstorming daredevils. Twelve pilots looped, rolled, and presented these grand airplanes.

World War II was fought on two fronts: the European Theater and the Pacific Theater. A German factory, with smoke coming from its twin smoke stacks, was the target for the RC tanks. A battle ensued between German and Allied tanks. Shortly afterward, Fw 190s and Stukas were spotted inbound to protect the factory from the Allied P-51s and P-47s.

One of four Japanese Zeros that flew during the WW II air show.

After a heated battle that included pyrotechnic exploding bombs, the Allied airplanes cleared the area for a B-25, flown by Jack Conwell, to bomb the German factory. The massive bomb drop was followed by multiple explosions as the bombs hit their target. All of the airplanes came home from the battle to the crowd’s round of applause.

The announcers, Steve “Brownie” Brown and John Boyko, now directed the show to the Pacific Theater. An L-4B scout airplane, flown by Rick Norris, was launched to look for a Japanese-occupied island. The scout spotted several Zeros on patrol, setting off the air raid siren. The Allied fighters took to the air with an assortment of airplanes, including Corsairs, P-40s, and a P-51 with a Pacific Theater paint scheme.

With the Zeros making low passes, their strafing runs were accented by a quick series of explosions on the ground. After a few direct hits by the Allied airplanes, several more large explosions followed. The Japanese aircraft retreated and a C-45 carrying “the Admiral” joined his fighter pilots for a victory pass. WW II marines (Indiana Warbird Campaign pilots in costume) ran out to wave the American flag proudly as they claimed victory in the Pacific.

WW I aircraft, such as this Fokker Dr.I, took to the sky often for solo flights and groups.

The Indiana Warbird Campaign believes in honoring our military, and the final act of the show was an honor flight. Jack Kezelian, with his BAe Hawk and Dennis Crooks, with his P-47, flew a synchronized flight to the song “God Bless the USA.”

With the completion of the air show, the flightline was free for open flying. Several gaggles of similar airplanes, organized by the pilots, continued to entertain everyone. As Friday evening arrived, the pilots held a pizza party at the field. Roughly 80 people relaxed, ate pizza, and exchanged flying adventures. During the party, the organizers set up for the next event.

The first Turn & Burn Mini Warbird Races were ready to get started. These races were Red Bull-style racing for small, electric-powered warbirds or classics. Using a drone race course that included slalom, over/under, and bull’s-eye obstacles, the pilots were timed from launch until they crossed the finish line.

As if the course wasn’t enough of a challenge, a stiff breeze was provided by Mother Nature. To quote one of the spectators, “I haven’t laughed so hard in my life!”
The pilots, officials, and spectators all had a great time. Lukes RC Planes provided sponsorship for the first-, second-, and third-place plaques. The winners were Matt Teresinski, Mark Johnson, and Luke Simion.

Four Indiana Vietnam veterans parachuted in with the US flag for the opening of Saturday’s show.

The site was again clear for open flying for airplanes with lights and small electric aircraft. At dusk, Boom Town Fireworks provided a fantastic fireworks display for the pilots and public. What a way to finish the day!

Saturday dawned clear, but hazy. The Dawn Patrol pilots went out to fly with scattered patches of fog and haze and the sun rising through it. The setting looked as though it was straight out of a movie scene.

Clear skies and mild temperatures made for great flying.

At 9:30 a.m., all of the fliers came together for a pilots’ meeting. With no issues to discuss, it was the perfect time to thank everyone for supporting the event. Without pilots and their aircraft, no show would be a success. All deserved and received a round of applause.

Indiana Warbird Campaign is part of the Warbird & Classics Alliance. This group of warbird and classics enthusiasts holds events throughout the Midwest to support each other and the RC industry. This year, the Warbird & Classics Alliance recognized the pilots.

Warbird Warrior shirts were designed and the pilots could add an iron-on transfer from each show they attended. At the close of the season, the pilots would earn a gold, silver, or bronze warrior plaque. Gator-RC also sponsored gold, silver, and bronze pins. Following the pilots’ meeting, the Golden Warriors, Silver Warriors, and Bronze Warriors were announced and presented with their awards. More than 50 pilots participated, and 32 earned special recognition.

This Corsair takes flight to fend off the Japanese Zeros during the air show.

Saturday’s schedule was the same as Friday’s, with five hours of open flying in the morning and the afternoon hours lasting until dark. The noon air show opened with four Indiana veterans skydiving onto the event site, flying the US, Indiana, and POW/MIA flags. An addition to Friday’s show was a comedy routine, First Time Flyer, with Lee Watkins as the instructor, Chuck Hamilton as the new pilot, and Andy Gideon in the background on the sticks.

Lee had to chase down the “runaway” airplane with a golf cart! After a good laugh, Andy took to the air to showcase his aerobatic skills. The classics and warbirds pilots wowed the crowd again with their flying skills, and Boom Town did a great job with strafing runs and bomb explosions. The spectators continued to enjoy watching the open flying, and pilots participated in group and solo flights for the rest of the day.

The event draws more than just warbirds. Look at this Piper L-4B scouting for the Allies.

On Saturday evening, Robart Manufacturing hosted a dinner for the pilots and their crews. This annual dinner is the grand finale for the Indiana Warbird Campaign. Located in the AMA National Model Aviation Museum’s McCullough Education Facility, the buffet-style dinner gives people a chance to relax and exchange stories over a great meal.

This year’s guest speaker was Nick Ziroli Sr., the godfather of Giant Scale warbirds. Nick spoke about how he has been involved with airplanes throughout his life. From RC modeling to model prototypes for Grumman, he utilized a slideshow and talked about his life experiences. Nick’s life story and his sense of humor had the audience’s full attention.

These two 1/3-scale Fokker D.VII aircraft were photographed at sunset. Photo by Joe Vermillion.

To end the evening, the winning tickets for the pilots’ raffle were drawn. The raffle included 35 items, ranging from gift bag assortments, plans, tools, and electronics to ARFs. The banter (heckling) between everyone was a show unto itself. Everyone had a great time.

At the end of the three-day event, one thing can be said: the Indiana Warbird Campaign is all about the pilots and flying.

If you are interested in attending the 2017 gathering, the dates are August 31 to September 2.

Event Sponsors

Robart Manufacturing
Balsa USA
Luellen LP Gas Service
Caiman Distribution, LLC
Lukes RC Planes
Dynamic Balsa
Vailly Aviation
Applebee’s Grill & Bar
Sig Mfg. Co.
B&B Specialties, Inc.
Model Airplane News
Castle Creations
Vintage Plans
Wendell Hostetler Plans
RTL Fasteners

—Palmer Johnson


Indiana Warbird Campaign


Great article about the Indiana Warbird event....except for one thing.
After reading this article I thought I'd love to go to this years event.
But when you send out the email on 8/30 and the event takes place starting 8/31, it aint gonna happen. Not a smart move on your part. This should've been sent out in late July!!

Hi rid francisco,

Thank you for the feedback -- I'm sorry to hear you weren't able to make it to this year's event. We'll keep this in mind for future e-newsletters!

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