Posted by Ron Graham
Posted on 11/5/2015
First in a series by Bill Teeter, NC Assistant Regional Director
I remember my first contest,
it was almost ten years ago. I had become interested in IMAC a year earlier, however at first I was just too nervous to fly in a ‘Real contest.’ That being said, I was tired of flying in circles and I was looking for a new challenge.
I had attended a couple of local events, but not having the nerve to get my plane out of the car, I relegated myself to being a spectator and watched and tried to learn what IMAC was all about. I think I was afraid of embarrassing myself in front of really good pilots. My fear was truly unfounded, but it took me a while to realize that.
After watching the other pilots having fun, and having the chance to talk to a few, I quickly realized there was more to be learned by flying than just watching. Every pilot I talked to said, “get your plane out,” and “give it a try”. It just took me a while to get my courage up.
The next year,
I went to a contest about an hour from home, determined to make the jump into IMAC. I had learned the elements of the Basic sequence and practiced them over and over at my local field. I was not really sure if I was ready to fly in front of judges, but I was determined to give it a try. Truthfully, the hardest first step was to get my plane out of the car.
When I started,
I did not have a big airplane. My first contest was flown with a Great Planes 60 size Extra 300. Yup, that’s what I flew in my first contest, a 60 sized nitro burning Extra. There were other pilots flying nitro planes so I did not feel out of place. Sure there were other guys flying “Great big” gas airplanes, but I had a ton of fun and from that day on I never looked back. To start in Basic you can fly any single prop aircraft, nitro, gas or electric. Better if it has aerobatic capability but almost anything goes in Basic.
One thing I quickly learned
was that there were always other pilots willing to help. No one made fun of me, no one said my plane was too small, no one laughed at my attempts to fly the sequence. Every one of these guys was welcoming and helpful. What I saw were guys working together, lending each other parts, helping other pilots tune their engines, working together on airplane setup techniques and tips on using radios.
Sure I was nervous flying in front of judges. My knees shook and my hands trembled on the sticks. Of course that was all self-inflicted nervousness. After the round, the judges gave me a quick one minute debrief and made suggestions as to what I could improve. Rather than being critical they were very helpful. Sure, they pointed out my mistakes, but then told me things to try and how I might correct them. Their constructive feedback accelerated my learning curve with each round that I flew.
Until next time . . .