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Written by Dennis Norman
Free Flight Scale
As seen in the December 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

Tom Hallman won 12 events at the 2017 Flying Aces Club (FAC) Non-Nats, held July 19-22, in Geneseo, New York. He received the nod for being the contest’s highest scorer. Tom competed against many of the FAC’s best fliers, and that made his victory all the more impressive.

Tom Hallman credits his father for getting him into FAC flying. At the 2012 FAC Nats, Tom had everyone sign this shirt that he gave to his dad as a keepsake. Photo by Tom Hallman.

On Sunday, July 23, Tom joined Roger Wathen and me for breakfast, and Roger raised the question of how Tom got into FAC flying. Tom credited his 91-year-old father for inspiring him. Tom’s dad is still a major influence in his life as his hero and best friend.

Tom’s dad started modeling when he was 6 years old. He built many stick-and-tissue models throughout his teen years. In 1936, he spotted an ad in a model magazine for a 30-inch wingspan French non-scale floatplane called the Hydravion MB.

Matt King emerges from Geneseo’s cornfield with his He 112, held high after winning second place in the harrowing 2017 FAC Spanish Fly mass launch event. Hallman photo.

The model intrigued him, and he sent a letter, along with 25¢, to a hobby shop in Paris. A few weeks later, a medium-size envelope arrived at the family farm in Keifer, Pennsylvania, addressed to Monsieur D. Hallman. It contained a letter, plans, and a four-page, hand-typed catalog. Tom’s dad looked at the plans then tucked them away in the envelope.

During an Easter gathering in April 1987, the envelope from France was found in Tom’s parents’ attic, in a box with old black and white family photos. It was the only modeling thing that his dad kept from his childhood.

He gave the plans to Tom, who built the model and sent a photograph to Earl Van Gorder, who published it in his column in Flying Models magazine. A member of the local Skyscalers Club (FAC #30) called Tom and invited him to join the FAC. Tom’s life changed forever.

Little did his dad, as a 15-year-old boy, realize the impact he would have on his future son’s life a half century later.

Phenomenal 16-year-old Oliver Sand is among the FAC’s rising stars, and proved it by winning this year’s FAC Simplified Scale event with his Grumman F6F Hellcat. Hallman photo.

Roger’s question was a gem, and I have since asked other FAC leaders to tell their stories. Ross Mayo told me that his first memory was looking at a red and white model airplane hanging above his crib. He later asked his mother about the model and she said that his father built it and hung it over him. It was a Gee Bee Model R-1.

Many years later, after Ross had completed service in the Navy and college, he was helping his youngest brother fly model rockets. Not satisfied with parachute retrievals, he built a rocket with a piggyback glider.

Bubba, another of Ross’ brothers, saw what he was doing and told him how “Iron Mike” Midkiff had gotten him started building FAC models. Intrigued, Ross watched Bubba fly FAC airplanes and he decided to give them a try.

Ross started by building a yellow Rearwin Speedster with a green, plastic propeller. Within a few weeks, he entered it in the inaugural FAC Nats.

Clive Gamble captures Vance Gilbert’s Giant Scale XB-51 as it heads out for a brief, but memorable, test flight. The model landed upside down, but was stable as it did so. Gamble photo.

Ross has since built many FAC models. He considers his FAC experience to be golden. His favorite aircraft is still the Rearwin, but he has a bucket list that begins with building a Gee Bee racer. He jokes that he can barely touch his toes these days, but building a Gee Bee would bring him full circle in his FAC experience.

I have asked other FAC leaders to tell their stories, and will sprinkle them into future columns.

See the 2017 FAC Non-Nats scores here!

Slingby Prefect T.30B

Dave Neidzielski, of Easy Built Models, recently retired from his day job and has decided to remain in Alabama because most of his family has relocated there, making it easier for him and his wife, Ann, to see them regularly. Dave was one of several vendors present at Geneseo. He flew one of his latest projects, a 36-inch wingspan Slingby Prefect T.30B glider. It was launched by towline and made long, smooth flights.

Easy Built Models has a new, 36-inch wingspan kit of the Slingby Prefect T.30B Glider. It is launched by towline and gives long, smooth flights. Photo by Clive Gamble.

This product was being finalized as I wrote this column. The kit should be available in time for Christmas 2017. Check with Dave for details and price.

2018 FAC Non-Nats

The 2017 FAC Non-Nats was well attended and preparations are underway for the 2018 FAC Nats, which will be held in Geneseo July 18-21, 2018. If you have not already done so, make your hotel reservation at the Geneseo Quality Inn or secure a dorm room at State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo now!

Blessings to you and yours during this holiday season and in the coming year.

-Dennis Norman


National Free Flight Society (NFFS)

Easy Built Models
(334) 358-5184

Ross Mayo, president

Geneseo Quality Inn
(585) 243-0500

SUNY Geneseo
(585) 245-5000

Tom Hallman
(610) 395-5656

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