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Review by Jim Quinn
Four pilots earn a spot to compete in Poland
Digital exclusive feature.
Read the complete feature in the August 2014 digital edition of
Model Aviation.



What is there to do for those of us living in the colder/snowier northern climate when we can’t fly outdoors? Twenty years ago or so, we had two seasons: the building season and the flying season.

Thanks to Martin Mueller, roughly 14 years ago an efficient indoor aerobatic airplane—the Shockflyer—burst on the scene. Those earliest airplanes weighed more than 300 grams. Today, the best competition F3P airplane weighs less than 100 grams and many are even less than 70 grams. Anyone can begin to compete for less than $200, but the most developed competition airplanes can cost more than $500.

There have been many F3P-style contests in the US throughout the years. The Electric Tournament of Champions (ETOC) in Toledo, Ohio, showcased some of the best indoor RC aerobatic pilots from around the world. ETOC was not, however, an official F3P contest.

The first F3P World Championship was held in Germany in 2013. No one from the US entered, although we have many well-qualified, talented F3P pilots. That will change at the 2015 World Championship in Warsaw, Poland.

The Northeast Ohio Electric Festival (NEF) in Akron, Ohio, hosted 26 pilots in the F3P Championship on March 22 and 23. Part of the contest included the F3P Team Trials to select three pilots and an AMA Junior pilot to represent the US at the 2015 World Championship. The current F3P World Champion is Gernot Bruckmann from Austria. France holds the team championship trophy.

The National Society of Radio Control Aerobatics (NSRCA), an AMA Special Interest Group, brought together a veteran team of seasoned experts to facilitate this contest. Jon Lowe, NSRCA’s current president, CDed the event. Tim Jesky, with many years of experience running the flightlines for the F3A Nats, ran the flightlines.

Bob Kane, who will be the event director for the 2014 F3A Team Trials at AMA’s International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, kept everything running smoothly behind the scenes. Finally, Linda Jesky, a well-respected tabulator, handled the scoring.

Canada has already selected its 2015 F3P team. They are Paul Hepworth, Pat MacKenzie, Xavier Mouraux, and the Junior team member is Alexandre Gareau. Richard Gareau is the team manager. The Canadian team joined us in Akron.




The Canadian F3P team joined the action at NEF






Each airplane must comply with rigid safety and size standards. US Team pilots Dave Lockhart (L) and AC Glenn insepct aircraft while CD Jon Lowe records the results.






(L-R) Sportsman competitors Vencente Bortone, Ron Lockhart, and Csaba Lemak display their trophies after the AMA-sanctioned F3P Indoor contest.






The judging panel watches intently as Team USA hopefuls perform their best flights. Even in the final day of competition, all five finalists had an opportunity to win it all.






(L-R) Pilots Ryan Clark, RJ Gritter, Devin McGrath, and Joseph Szczur will represent the United States in the 2015 F3P Championship in Poland.



And Then There Were Five

Each airplane required processing and must comply with rigid standards for safety and size.

After a day of flying all three classes in the AMA-sanctioned F3P indoor contest, winners were declared in Sportsman and Intermediate. In Sportsman, Ron Lockhart finished first, Vicente Bortone was second, and Csaba Lemak was third. Intermediate was won by Harry Ells. Matt Kloss placed second and Ron McGrath was third. Thanks to all who competed in these two classes.

The top five were also named for the final three rounds of the AF 15 sequence (F3P). Out of the possible 3,000 points in the F3P contest, only 145 points separated the final five!

Along with searching for three AMA members to send to Poland in 2015 to represent the US, AMA also sponsors a Junior competitor 18 years old or younger. Two young men vied for this honor.

Nathan Carlson traveled from California to participate in this contest. He has been preparing to fly in the team trial for the past three months. He began his flying career with the small indoor model and a simulator. He progressed to the micro 4-Site, which he regularly flew. He also made countless flights on his simulator.

Shortly after mastering the 4-Site, Nathan began designing and flying his own designs. He thinks of himself as a builder/designer and advises all aspiring RC pilots to invest in a simulator. He is confident he would not be flying in this contest without his hours of practice on a simulator.

Joseph Szczur has just completed a banner year. Flying in the Electric Tournament of Champions (ETOC) and representing the US in South Africa during the F3A World Championship have kept him busy. Joseph started flying at the age of three under the careful guidance of his dad, Don, who is a capable F3A pilot.

Joseph’s extensive indoor and outdoor competition experiences served him well. He will represent the US in Poland for the 2015 F3P World Championship as our AMA Junior. Congratulations to Joseph for a great job!

One of the three team members, Ryan Clark, came on the F3P scene with an appearance at the ETOC in 2009. He has a significant amount of competition experience in International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC), but this was his first-ever F3P contest. As a youngster he saw a local RC airshow and knew immediately that this was for him. Ryan is an AMA scholarship winner and is in college pursuing his dream of an aviation career. He also pilots an RC blimp at local hockey games.

Team member RJ Gritter comes from an aviation family. His dad is a test pilot and his mom is a flight instructor. Like many of the other competitors, RJ began his career with a .40 size Flight Star.

When he saw the 2006 ETOC, he was totally absorbed with foamies and F3P flying. He entered his first ETOC in 2007 and has flown at the event every year since.

Some of the best F3P airplanes are designed by RJ, as well as F3P pilots Devin McGrath and Dave Lockhart. RJ’s practice routine in preparation for this team trial was to fly roughly 20 flights a day for three or four days a week.

AC Glenn comes from a long line of full-scale and RC pilots. When you don’t find AC out flying, you might look for him on the basketball court. AC started flying at age 7. When he was 9, he watched his dad perform torque rolls and decided to emulate him with his own trainer. He easily pulled up into the torque roll, but that is as far as that small engine and his trainer could do. It hovered for a moment, and then nosed over and crashed.

AC has been flying in local F3P contests for nearly 10 years. He has flown in many ETOCs and is a solid contender in F3A contests. AC hopes to represent the US on World Championship teams for the foreseeable future. Watching him fly makes his goal conceivable.

Dave Lockhart is a legend in RC Aerobatics. Much credit is due to Dave for his part in bringing this first-ever F3P team trial to fruition. Dave has been an influence in the NSRCA and AMA. Years ago, Dave spearheaded F3P contests at the Keystone Electric Indoor Fly (KEIF) until the dome collapsed in 2011.

Dave collaborates with RJ Gritter and Devin McGrath on ultimate F3P designs. Dave also writes extensively for RC magazines. One favorite of many of us was the series in Flying Models called “Project Foamies”—everything you ever wanted to know about building and flying foam airplanes.

Devin McGrath is our final F3P pilot alphabetically, but that is the only way this talented F3P pilot could ever be thought of as “last.” He began flying his dad’s Piper J-3 Cub off water with floats!

From his 67-gram Spies F3P airplane to his Giant Scale Extra, Devin is at home with any RC airplane. After watching RCU’s coverage of the first ETOC, Devin bought his first Shockflyer. He wanted something he could build, fly, and if necessary repair, so foamies were perfect. Putting in 50 flights on the weekends and more flights during the week is now his norm for RC flying.

In 2006, Devin placed first at a Canadian Indoor Freestyle contest. Next he won an event in Memphis, Tennessee. He rounded out the banner year with his first appearance in the ETOC. Advancing techniques in many areas have given him a flying weight of 67 grams for this contest. He is confident that designs will weigh less than 60 grams when the 2015 World Championship takes place.

The third day of the NEF opened with a flurry of airplanes filling the University of Akron field house. On one end of the facility, NSRCA president and CD of the contest, Jon Lowe, was giving a final clarification of the F3P AF sequence. Outside, the five finalists were preparing the runway for the three flights each of them would fly that morning.

The judging panel was increased from three judges for the AP sequence to five judges for the AF sequence. Each pilot carried his best normalized score from the AP sequence into the final day of competition. Ultimately, three of the four scores would determine the winner. Each pilot still had a chance to place first in this contest. The pilots who carried a 1,000 round into the finals had an advantage, but it was still open to each of the five finalists to win it all. And so the flying began.

When all of the flights had been completed and the scores tabulated, the F3P World Championship team was announced and trophies were awarded. In fourth place and the team alternate was AC Glenn. AC will have a place on the team if one of the others is unable to compete in Poland in 2015.

Placing third was Ryan Clark and Devin McGrath was second. In first place and the serving as team manager at the 2015 World Championship was RJ Gritter. Remember that on the first day of competition, Joseph Szczur was selected as the AMA Junior team member.

Before departing from the event, AMA President Bob Brown asked that the “two Daves” come forward. Dave Mathewson, AMA’s Executive Director and Dave Lockhart, the heart and soul of F3P competition in the USA, were warmly thanked by all who participated in this inaugural F3P Team Selection.
—Jim Quinn




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