Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass

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Written by Rachelle Haughn A Giant Scale As seen in the FEBRUARY 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

Flickr Album

Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass
an f9f panther flown
01. An F9F Panther flown by Dave Chew comes in low and slow down the runway.
steve forrest
02. Steve Forrest’s B-24 Liberator (L) with smoke on tails a B-25 Mitchell.
thunderbolt tarheel hal
03. A P-47 Thunderbolt Tarheel Hal comes in for a landing as the sun begins to set.
constellation rests
04. A Constellation rests in the pit area.

The history that goes with the aircraft being flown, the memories of days gone by, the smallest details, and the work that goes into creating something flyable out of balsa and glue is what draws pilots and spectators to warbird fly-ins.

The Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass is no exception. Like others in the Warbirds and Classics Alliance, this event can make pilots feel as though they have just stepped back in time to get a glimpse of aircraft dogfighting and completing bombing runs in the sky. And the best part is that they get to do so with their friends and family.

dale arvins piper cub
05. Dale Arvin’s Piper Cub comes in low. Dale is the president of the Rosewood RC Flyers club.
jim suchy
06. Jim Suchy took home the Best Classic award for his Boeing P-26 Peashooter.
brian ward
07. Brian Ward’s 70.75-inch Fokker Dr.I triplane was built from a Balsa USA kit.
jimmy davis
08. Jimmy Davis (L) flies as Mike Barbee spots for him.

"It’s as much about building and flying the planes as it is the history," John McDill, co-contest director (CD) of the Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass, said about the event.

He added, "This group of people, it’s like family. They like to be together. They love gagging on each other."

A variety of Giant Scale World War I, World War II, and classic aircraft were flown at the September 26-28, 2019, event. They included some frequently modeled airplanes, such as a Piper Cub, and some rare ones, including an F7F Tigercat Bad Kitty. Their builders were happy to share details about their aircraft with spectators.

Behind the flightline, pilots and their family members could be found helping each other, catching up with friends, cooking meals for each other, and having fun. Many didn’t hesitate to offer someone a chair in the shade or cool water to drink when the temperature hovered at 95°. People were happy and relaxed and the flightline stayed full from dusk to dawn throughout the contest. The event was held at the home of the Rosewood RC Flyers.

The Rosewood, Indiana, flying site is located just off of a scenic road that snakes along the Ohio River that creates the Indiana/Kentucky state lines. Signs along the road for those traveling from nearby Elizabeth, Indiana, helped guide pilots and spectators to the flying site.

When pilots who had never been to the site arrived, they likely were surprised by how nice it is. Like many model aircraft flying sites, it has a paved runway, parking, and covered shelters. Unlike others, the runway is 800 feet long! There is also a paved parking area, a concrete pad and shelter for concessions, concrete model helicopter pads, and 275 sprinkler heads to keep the 24 acres of well-manicured grass in pristine condition.

"We have a beautiful site and we want to use it," stated John, who is a member of the Rosewood RC Flyers. He added that five large events were held at the Southern Indiana flying site in 2019. He also shared how the site came about.

In 2006, an Indiana entrepreneur and model aircraft pilot learned that the land where he had been flying with a group of roughly six members of the Southern Indiana RC Modelers was purchased by Duke Energy. The company planned to build a power plant on the land, so the club had to move.

Down the road, the unnamed entrepreneur found a 110-acre lot for sale and purchased it. His goal was to create a flying field for jet aircraft for himself and the small club.

In 2007, work to develop the land into a flying site began. Eighty-six acres of the property was rented to a nearby farmer, and the remainder would be used by the club. The plan was to construct the runway, four paved taxiways, and five flight stations. Large equipment was used to move enough dirt to get the runway and flight stations above the 100-year flood plain. A paved driveway would also be created.

Later that year, members of the new Ohio River View RC Flyers club took off for the first time at the flying site. By 2010, the club had grown and held its first major event, the U.S. Scale Masters Championships.

More development took place, including adding two more concrete pads with covered shelters and adding electricity and a well to the site. The well was designed to pump water to the sprinklers.

In 2017, the developer met with three of the club members and told them that because of age and his growing business, he could no longer be involved in the flying field’s operations. The club was tasked with creating a plan to maintain the field, and the entrepreneur deeded the land to the club. As part of the agreement, the club must keep the entrepreneur’s anonymity.

On January 1, 2018, a new club, the Rosewood RC Flyers, was created. Later that year, the club’s flying site was chosen to be one of the newest sites for a Warbirds and Classics Alliance event, Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass. At the inaugural event, there were roughly 50 pilots. In 2019, the contest grew to 56 pilots and more than 100 aircraft of all scales.

"This flying site brings in guys and planes that are above and beyond what you might normally see," club member Tim Evans said. Because of the length of the runway, pilots have adequate room to fly Giant Scale aircraft and jets. "A lot of people from as far away as Cincinnati come here to maiden," Tim added.

John noted that many of the club members work hard to maintain the flying site. They also maintain friendships with the River City Radio Controllers of Louisville, Kentucky. Members of the Rosewood RC Flyers often attend events at the Louisville club, and vice versa. Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass is one such event.

Jim Schroder, a member of the River City Radio Controllers, was one of a handful of club members who was at the Rosewood event. He brought and flew a scratch-built 1/2-scale Pietenpol Air Camper with a 14-foot wingspan. Jim and his fellow club members, John Monsour, Doug Blakeman, Tim Evans, and Doug Bailey, spent three months building the aircraft. The airplane garnered attention on the ground and in the air.

"The 1/2 scale was kind of a challenge," John said. "The scheme matches [a full-scale] one at Oshkosh [AirVenture]." The group has also scratch-built the Pietenpol in other scales.

"There are a lot of scratch-builders here," Doug Blakeman said about Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass. He added that the group of builders was considering building a World War I biplane next. They enjoy building together because of the camaraderie. "Everyone is so helpful. Everyone contributes. Everyone has their own set of skills," Doug added.

The skill it takes to build Giant Scale model aircraft apparently doesn’t solely belong to members of the Louisville club. The Rosewood contest drew builders and pilots from other states. It was clear that a lot of time and love went into perfecting the fine details of their aircraft, which were scratch-built, plan-built, or built from kits.

scale pietenpol air camper
09. This 1/2-scale Pietenpol Air Camper’s scheme was designed to match one seen at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh WI. It was built by five members of a Louisville club and it bears their names.
ron pound and tim schurick
10. Ron Pound (L) and Tim Schurick check out several aircraft parked near the flightline, including Dennis Cranfill’s F3F Tigercat Bad Kitty. The old Joe Bridi design has a built-up wing, fiberglass fuselage, and a foam tail. It has two Saito FG84R3 radials (updated by Ray English) turning 24 × 12 Falcon propellers and Robart electric retracts with pneumatic brakes.
carl bachhuber
11. Carl Bachhuber’s 180-inch Lockheed Constellation almost looks like the fullscale one in the sky.
flight of lee watkins
12. The flight of Lee Watkins’ Germancaptured Nieuport 17, built from a Balsa USA kit, was illuminated by the sunrise during a dawn patrol flight.

One such example was Carl Bachhuber’s 230-inch Convair B-36b Peacemaker. The Wisconsin resident scratchbuilt the six-engine model by studying photos of the fullscale aircraft that he found in a magazine. Carl spent approximately seven months building the airplane. He tries to scratch-build one model aircraft per year.

When asked what attracts him to Giant Scale models, Carl said, "Mainly because there’s a reasonable amount of craftmanship" that goes into them.

A small piece of the Convair that helps control one of the propellers broke and it could not be flown at the Rosewood event, but Carl had a backup. He had packed his 180-inch Lockheed Constellation, which is roughly 1/8 scale, and he flew it several times.

The full-scale Constellation was used for military transport during World War II. Sharing the sky during that time period were bombers, which were also represented at Warbirds and Classics of the Bluegrass 2019.

Whenever there was room, pilots squeezed in gaggles, including a P-51 gaggle, a bent-wing gaggle, and groups of WW I and WW II aircraft flying in formation. Some included bomb drops and smoke.

Lee Watkins put a fun spin on his Stuka and dropped Nerf "bombs" during the bent-wing gaggle.

On the final day of the event, some fliers rose before the sun to fly a WW I dawn patrol. After they landed, some posed on the runway with their Balsa USA aircraft for a photo.

Next in the sky was Jeff Stubbs’ Royal Air Force BAe Hawk. The 1.375-scale aircraft is powered by a KingTech K-260 turbine engine and weighs 63 pounds at takeoff. Jeff mostly flew this aircraft and his other BAe Hawk with a Royal Saudi Air Force scheme after other aircraft had landed.

At the end of the final day of the contest, John and Allen Whitaker, his co-CD, handed out awards. Afterward, most began their journeys home, but a few, such as Lee and his friend, John Howell, continued to fly.


Carl Bachhuber’s Airplanes


Warbirds and Classics Alliance


Rosewood RC Flyers


River City Radio Controllers



Was there an event tee shirt and if so how can I get one??
Watching videos on YouTube, great event.
Thank you

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