Wood Crafters
Dedicated to those that build and fly wood R/C Sailplanes

WC 04 report By Ray Hayes

By Ray Hayes

Wood Crafters 2004 RC Sailplane Soar In
May 27 - 30, 2004

Just another Sailplane meet? Not by a long shot! This one is for woodys only!

This event includes Fun Flying, Scale Aero Towing and Thermal duration sailplane contest.

Somebody had to come up with this concept and the sooner the better. Arf buying takes care of the instant satisfaction syndrome and it also is getting all the attention, but there are still many balsawood builders expressing their creativity and talents over a building board with pins, glue and a good sander. I enjoy the building as much as the flying and wanted to fly with other woody RC sailplane fans, so necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with the idea of an exclusive woody event, secured the AMA sanction and their field in Muncie, Indiana and discovered I was not alone and that many others wanted to fly woody sailplanes with a large group too. We had nearly seventy woody enthusiasts sign up for Wood Crafters 04 and may see more in the 2005 event.

This was the third year for Wood Crafters at Muncie and interest has grown each year. A quick explanation of the concept: It is not a Nostalgia event because those rules have a cut off date and do not allow pilots to modify the older designs, like sheeting the top of wings or adding flaps like so many of us did in the seventies. It is not the AMA's RES event because Wood Crafters does not allow composit or molded construction, this event is for builders with built up woody planes. The qualification rule is, "Wood built up construction with or without a fiber glass fuse and no restrictions on spar construction". So far, most people have gotten the intent of this event and also understand why a special dispensation allowing Hobie Hawks and the old Graupner Cumulus to fly with us seems like the right thing to do. Allowing a fuse made of fiberglass means the old Soarcraft Scale kits, Dodgson's wood designs, Airtronics, Craft Air and Mark's Models kits that had glass fuses can be flown in our event and with builder modifications to the kits. The qualification rule also means I am not restricting entry to kits or published designs based on when they were created. This means folks can show up with designs that were never published or manufactured and they can modified them. My rules also mean new woody designs can be flown. The Wood Crafters event is for all types of wood constructed sailplanes.

This years Wood Crafters Soar In devoted the first two days to fun flying from winches and hi starts with some optional competition and the last two days to the Championship contest. The most popular fun fly events are a 2 minute ladder task and the longest flight. Flyers received score cards for these events and fly at will, keeping their own time (sailplaners are honest people). Fly at will??? Yes, the event requires pre-registration with just one entry per frequency is allowed unless you have a flying buddy that wants to join you at this event on YOUR frequency. This works very well, especially considering each year we have several farther and son teams flying. It also works well for the scale pilots, we had 14 persons registered to fly scale, and they all had their frequency to themselves and could fly whenever they wished to. Aero towing and winch launching is provided for scale entrants during all four days.

The SOAR IN CHAMPIONSHIP used the same frequency allocation of one entry per ch with team entry and this definitely makes it easy to administer any contest. Although we had sixty seven entries, as usual, not all of them showed up to fly. We flew three size classes, 2 meter with unlimited controls, RES limited to 100" wing span and unlimited with any number of controls and unlimited wing span. Four rounds of six minute duration with a twenty five foot, 100 point landing tape in each size class was flown in one day. The weather man owned the field on Sunday and he didn't allow us to fly the Speed 400 electric events we had planned on Thursday. However, with the single entry per frequency set up, I would say everyone probably had their flying cup filled to the top this year.

Our Thursday evening Wood Crafters Awards Dinner was held at the Cardinal Inn, located very near the flying field. Our guest speakers were John Nielson and Steve Moskal, John is the last remaining co-founder of the great SOAR club in Chicago. The club was made famous by the highly successful SOAR NATS they sponsored and it was John's hard work and that of Dan Pruss, Jim McIntyre, Dave Burt, Keith Finkenbiner and others that created what I call the big bang in RC Soaring with their creation of the SOAR NATS back in the good old seventies.

Wood Crafters has an annual award presented at the dinner to recognize those that have contributed much to promoting the sport and hobby of flying RC Sailplanes. Two awards have been presented each of the past three years, the recipients have been Otto Heithecker, Gordon Pearson, Gary Bussell, O C Stewart, Gene Pastori and John Nielson.

The Wood Crafters 2005 event will take place May 26, 27, 28, 29 and is tentatively set to be held at the AMA flying site in Muncie, IN. You can visit the Wood Crafters page on my Sky Bench web site, www.skybench.com , for the details of next year's events. I have added Fun Scale for next year to our already popular Scale event that is directed by Gordon Pearson.

The Fun Scale event will have two stand off size classes, Class A for 64 inch wing span or less that will be Man on Man launching Thursday or Friday from Sky Bench's Mini Hi Starts and Class B for unlimited wing span with pilot's choice of aero tow, electric winch or hi start launching during all four days. Hope you can participate in Wood Crafters 2005 event.

The positive results of the time invested in building sailplanes from wood starts somewhere with the tremendous satisfaction that you are going to take your creation to the flying field and continues with pride when seeing your creation circling upward in a blue sky filled with beautiful cumulus clouds. An arf pilot can say it is his sailplane, but a woody hobbyist can say he built it. I'm not saying down with arf's, I have a couple, I'm saying be aware of the pleasure, satisfaction and pride of building your own sailplane from wood. Enjoy a woody.



Sky Bench Aerotech 

Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804