“It does not matter which class you are flying or from where you came, everyone here has the talent to win.” - john schroder
I arrived about 11am on Saturday 28 Aug 10 to find practice had already started. Will Berninger, Carlos Rivera, and Hector Garcia were already practicing. I had promised myself I would keep track of who showed up when, but the next few days were fast, hectic, and furious as John and Tina Schroder put the final touches on what was already shaping up to be one hell of a contest; WOW, 46 of the best pilots from around the world were going be at CCA competing for $50K and a bunch of real nice prizes.
“It started with a dream, a vision John Schroder nurtured for many, many years. It was a dream to cultivate a world-class venue and bring Radio Control (RC) Aerobatics enthusiasts together to enjoy a site dedicated to their passion. His vision to found and host a World Aerobatics Championship, attracting the very best from all over the world, has become reality”
The 2010 CCA Invitational was the 2nd Invitational contest held at Clover Creek Aerodrome hosted by John and Tina Schroder in Toone, Tennessee. Invitational Pilots from around the globe descended on this little town. Lithuania, Mexico, Puerto Rico, to name a few were at CCA to prove who was the best in the world. Let’s not leave anyone out, the IMAC pilots came from all over the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico to prove who best class is.
The CCA Invitational Contest Director, Joe Cutright, and Chief Judge, Wayne Mathews put together a world class dedicated judging panel. Each in their own right great RC pilots, but all having proven there eye for excellence judging contest all over the world. They have all judged contest like Clover Creek, XFC, US Nationals (both pattern and scale aerobatics), TOC, JR Challenge and the Masters. I am not sure who gets the road warrior award in the Judges category the IMAC Judge from England or Invitational judge from Brazil. These Judges came to Toone to help the contestants figure it all out.
By Wednesday 1 Sep 10 the flight line was full and order starting to take place. All pilots arriving on Wednesday moved to the head of the practice line for their first practice flight. IMAC pilots, Invite pilots, coaches, callers, the flight line and hanger were busy. Help was being offered everywhere whether it was help with engine problems or ironing loose monokote. A young first year IMAC Sportsman pilot not only had an Advanced competitor helping him put the final touches on his practice, but two Invite pilots, all standing at the pilots station providing pointers – no pressure here.
Wednesday at 5pm, in the CCA Party Barn Wayne assembled all the Judges to go over last minute items and judging matrix. No need to discus rules with this group, just information about the judging matrix, how score sheets were being handled, and show times. At 6m, while our host mowed the runway making sure these guys had only the best grass to fly, Joe and Wayne held the Invitational Pilot’s meeting. As in most pilots’ meetings Joe put out any last minute contest information. Ahh, and yes the first Invite Unknown was handed out.
Thursday morning, 2 Sep 10, after the invocation and Pledge Allegiance, at 8:02am to a strong breeze the contest started with the first Invitational aircraft taking off. Thursday was dedicated to the Invitational class. One Unknown, one 2 sequence Invite Known “A”, and one single sequence Known “A” were flown in front of a panel of 5 judges. To some watching a precision aerobatics sequence being flown is like watching grass grow, but to watch these guys fly snap after snap, radius after radius, and line after line to near perfection in now 10 to 15 mph wind was beautiful. On several occasions I stood there watching trying to see the deductions in each flight. These guys were doing everything we all talk about – airspace, sound, element centering, element execution, perfection. I did not envy the judges as the deductions were few and far between.
At about the 3:45pm the Invite class had their first day behind them. The field was opened up to the IMAC class for their last practice session. The IMAC pilots arriving Thursday moved to the head of the practice line to make sure those arriving had a chance to get a flight in. At 6pm Joe and Wayne held the IMAC pilots’ meeting, and handed out their first Unknown sequence. Unlike your normal weekend IMAC contest, this contest gave the IMAC pilots 3 Unknown sequences for the weekend.
As I am sure everyone heard Jason Noll’s freestyle airplane came apart during a particularly violent down line element while practicing his freestyle Wednesday. UPS and FedEx arrived on 3 different occasions bringing not only a new plane, but new motor, electronics, and linkages. Credit has to be given to the all the vendors who support IMAC and this contest. From 5pm Wednesday when the accident happened to 10am Thursday all the parts needed arrived to put together a new airplane. What is really impressive is while Jason was flying his day one known and unknown sequences on Thursday IMAC and Invite Pilots alike were putting together a brand new freestyle plane. No less the 20 RC brethren were making sure Jason would have a freestyle airplane to fly. 5pm Thursday during the IMAC practice session Jason maidened the new airplane. This is not only a family sport and hobby, but a sport and hobby family.
Friday morning time is critical if Joe was going to get 46 pilots through all their sequences before sundown he was going to needs everyone’s cooperation. All aircraft in all classes took off prior to the previous contestant finishing his sequence. Two flight lines, Unlimited on one, and Sportsman on the other took off at 8am and 8:01am. The IMAC guys would fly their Unknowns followed by a single flight line for the Invite Pilots to fly their 2nd Unknown and single sequence Known followed by the Invite Freestyle. No punches were pulled in the Freestyle. Each and every Invite pilot showed 9 Invitational judges a clear presentation of all 6 freestyle judging criteria; they were leaving nothing to chance. There was grace, there was speed, and oh yes there was breath taking shock and aww. The day ended with the IMAC pilots completing their known sequences. But, the work is not done – the runway grass needs to be cut as it has been 48 hours since the last cutting. For those of you who have been to CCA you know the grass makes a golf course pail.
The only difference Saturday was no Invite scores were being posted. Emails and phone calls were coming in all day wanting to know what the scores were, but only the score keepers and Joe knew how the pilots were doing. Also, Saturday was no exception, time was critical as there was an additional time to be met, Tina’s Banquet. For anyone who has been to an IMAC contest with the Schroder’s you know this meal was going to be first class. BBQ of all varieties – pulled pork, chicken, ribs, all the fixings, water, soft drinks, beer, and deserts, oh yes. A blessing was offered and we all had way too much to eat, thank you Tina.
Now what we have been waiting for, who would be the final 7 Invitational Pilots. I think everyone will agree until the names and places were read no one had any idea who they were as the contest could go to anyone. John said all weekend “it does not matter which class you are flying or from where you came, everyone here has the talent to win,” and he was right. This was close, real close; I know I had no clue as all the flying was so good. Sunday was a new contest for the Invitational Pilots; no scores carried forward; 7 of the best will try to reach 2500 points.
The final day arrived to clear skies and calm wind. The day would start with the IMAC unknowns, followed by the Invite unknowns, the Invite known “B”, and an Invite Freestyle. Then the IMAC pilots got their final chance to change an already close race by flying their last known. The highly anticipated final Invitational unknown with not one maneuver duplicated, lots of cross box, and a small quiet foot print. The last event was the final Invitational freestyle, which all 7 pilots went all out.
Awards and prizes were placed alongside the three podiums while crews started packing up for the trip long trip home; one trip was to the Los Angeles area with another to Phoenix, the guys headed back overseas had shorter trips. The winners were all announced starting with the Sportsman Class. First place IMAC all received a Desert Aircraft engine (thank you Dave) all other places received everything from giant scale models, to batteries, to powerboxes systems, tail wheels; the event sponsors went all out to make sure all event participants did not go home empty handed.
16 sequences flown by the Invitational pilots and it all came down to < 500 points between 1st and 7th; 7.5 points between 1st and 2nd. When 3rd place Andrew Jesky was announced Jason and Mark were in the audience playing rock paper scissors creating one final contest to determine the winner.
What a week, what a contest, what a great RC facility, and no one should have left unhappy. The best from each IMAC region and the best from around the world all came together at Clover Creek Aerodrome to answer the question – who IS the best. Some IMAC pilots would fly their best and place their worst, but look around and see who you were flying against – the BEST. The Invitational Pilots have been in this position before - coming to a contest with high expectations, but not knowing what the event will bring. Whether it was the fantastic flying facilities, the perfect weather, Mr Schroder greeting each and every contestant, the great food, the phenomenal flying, or the great prizes this was one awesome contest.