22nd annual Brodak Fly-In

Written by Rachelle Haughn Six days of competition and fun Event coverage As seen in the September 2018 issue of Model Aviation.

Photo gallery

Model Aviation Magazine - 22nd Brodak Fly-In

Bonus video

In 1996, Bob Hunt, a writer for Flying Models magazine, went to John Brodak’s home to interview him. When he saw that John had a Control Line (CL) circle on his spacious property in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, he casually suggested that John hold a CL contest. The next year, John acted on Bob’s suggestion and hosted the first CL contest at his home, located at the edge of the small town where he was raised by his parents. The 27 sprawling acres of flat areas and rolling hills proved to be the perfect location for CL flying. That first year, 35 pilots traveled to John’s home, which he shares with his wife, Buzz, for three days of flying and competing at four CL circles. When the pilots arrived, they found places to camp, the opportunity to fly as much as they wanted in as many events as they desired, and the warm hospitality of John and Buzz. They also had the opportunity to meet George Aldrich, who served as an AMA District VIII vice president, invented the popular Nobler CL Stunt model, and was a magazine columnist.
The judges smile while writing down scores for a pilot competing in the CLPA Expert class.

Twenty-one Brodak Fly-Ins later, John still enjoys having fellow CL enthusiasts on his property. “It’s kind of exciting when they start pulling in,” John said on the fifth day of the 2018 event, while sitting in his workshop. Pilots often arrive a few days before the fly-in starts each year. This year’s six-day fly-in was held June 11-16. Since the first Brodak Fly-In, the number of pilots attending the annual event has grown, peaking at 195 a couple of years ago. This year, 106 pilots completed 609 flights. John acknowledged that the number of registered pilots fluctuates each year as older pilots pass away and new ones are introduced to the hobby. Among the new pilots this year was 8-year-old Angstrom Eberenz, who actually flew for the first time at the contest. He has attended the event, held in his hometown, for a few years but decided that this was the year he would give CL a try. His father, Brendan, contacted Mike Londke, a CL pilot, through Facebook and asked if they could meet him at the Brodak Fly-In. By the end of the contest, not only had Angstrom learned to fly, he had become friends with Mike’s son, Sam, won his first CL contest, and was given his first CL airplane.
This group of Scale aircraft found a spot in the shade near the CL Navy Carrier circle.

Sam also won an event at the fly-in. The 9-year-old, who has been flying with his father since he was 4, beat out competitors many years his senior to take first place in Speed Limit Combat. He also walked away with other awards, including first place in Nostalgia 30 Beginner and second place in Profile Precision Aerobatics Beginner. Sam has also participated in the AMA Nats and competed again in 2018. Throughout the week, it seemed that Sam was constantly flying. He flew an electric-powered RingRat for fun until its motor broke on the final day of the contest. “You notice that at this contest, we have more kids than at any other contest in the United States,” John stated about his event. In the early years of his gathering, John had a playground on his property for young visitors to enjoy. Some of them later began flying CL. “Now you’ve got your sons and daughters bringing their kids here,” he added. There were other new pilots at this year’s contest. Saramarie Huff started flying CL roughly 11/2 years before the 2018 Brodak Fly-In. Her husband, Rick, taught her how to fly. “I wanted to learn mostly because I was with him all of the time anyway, so I thought I might as well try it,” Saramarie explained.
Builders likely spent hours painting and detailing these aircraft that were judged on John Brodak’s front lawn. Pilots were allowed to view the airplanes before the judges scored them for appearance points.

This was the fifth year that the couple has attended the contest. Saramarie competed in the CL Precision Aerobatics (CLPA) Beginner class and her husband competed in CLPA Expert. Neither took home a first-place plaque, but they seemed to have fun nonetheless. Rick said the people and relaxed atmosphere are what bring him back each year. “The field is great … the facility,” Saramarie added. The Huffs and the Eberenz family might be fairly new to the contest, but some, such as Dan Banjock, have attended since the first Brodak Fly-In. Dan competed in CLPA Expert, Profile Precision Aerobatics Expert, and Classic Stunt Expert this year. When he wasn’t competing, he was flying for fun—confirmed by the smile on his face and his contagious enthusiasm. On Friday night, Dan flew his rare 1946 Silver Streak, powered by a four-stroke Saito .40 engine, for the crowd. Another aircraft that stood out was Wesley Dick’s Velvet. The orange, yellow, and purple aircraft featured his unique double-slated flap system. The CLPA Expert class competitor has been attending the Brodak Fly-In since 2002.
Saramarie Huff launches a Saturn airplane for her husband, Rick. He scratch-built the aircraft and flew it in the CLPA Expert class.

Although he was one of the oldest pilots in the contest, 86-year-old Wesley said he still enjoys flying. He began flying in the 1940s and competed in the 1953 and 1958 Nats. “I just have a passion for airplanes. It’s one of my most favorite things to do,” he stated after landing. When asked what brings him back to the Brodak Fly-In each year, Wesley said, “This is an all-CL event where they have almost all disciplines. It’s really probably the most inclusive contest that’s held today.” “All-inclusive” is a good way to describe it. This year, the contest featured six CL circles, with at least two judges for each circle. In addition to CLPA, Classic Stunt, Profile Precision Aerobatics, Combat, and Nostalgia 30, there were Navy Carrier, Old Time Stunt (OTS), Ringmaster/Firecat/Super Firecat Racing, Sportsman/Expert Foxberg Racing, Sportsman/Expert Clown Racing, Fun Scale, Profile Scale, Sport Scale, 1/2A Scale, Perky Speed, Fox 35 Stunt Speed, Sportsman Stunt Speed, Fun Carrier, and Speed Limit Combat.
Mike Stinson launches a CL Combat model for competitor Mike Londke.

Most of the Racing and Speed contests took place at the beginning of the week. The Expert class of Precision Aerobatics closed out the contest Saturday, shortly before the awards ceremony. Each contest had special rules that the pilots had to follow in terms of the aircraft and engines/motors that could be used. In addition to these contests, other special events took place throughout the week. Early Thursday evening was a memorial service. This ceremony, which has been held since 1998, honors event attendees who have passed away since the previous year’s contest. Pilots’ names are inscribed on small plates that are added to memorial stones at the site.
Dan Banjock’s 1946 Silver Streak wowed the crowd Friday night. He purchased the rare airplane as a kit, built it, and reengineered it. Dan said the aircraft is “a hoot” to fly.

Those honored this year included Jack Weston, Sam Pope, Milt Barsky, Jim Larson, Lou Willard, Roger Wildman, Charles “Charlie” Bauer, and Jack Sheeks. James Duckworth conducted the ceremony and read the list of names. James concluded the ceremony with a prayer, during which he said, “Father, we know that if there are golf courses in heaven then there must be Control Line circles.” The Brodak Fly-In continued Friday with several special events. These included the Ladies and Youth Basic Flight, a barbecue dinner, and the Junkyard Wars. The Ladies and Youth Basic Flight entrants included Angstrom, who took first place. In second place was 11-year-old Xander Musteller, and in third was Xander’s 5-year-old sister, Xoey. Before the pint-sized blonde took the CL handle from her grandfather, Alan Buck, he gave her a good luck kiss on the head. Contest Director Will Davis had to lean forward to help her fly because of the height difference. Elsewhere on the property, some of the finest-looking airplanes were displayed on John’s front lawn for pilots and spectators to view before appearance point judging began.
CD Will Davis (L) holds Paul Smith’s Flying Clown model for him shortly before Paul competes in the Fun Carrier contest.

Next, one of the most anticipated contests of the week, the Junkyard Wars, began. Five teams were tasked with using only wooden orange crates to build flyable CL aircraft. They had to use Fox .35 stunt engines or any .25-size glow engine. The teams received bonus points for building faster than the other teams. “We started that, just to be funny around 2000,” John explained. “We just figured we’d have that for one year. It became our biggest event.” One of the teams this year, the Florida Sharknados, decided to add more fun to the mix by sporting shark shirts, shark hats, and painted-on shark bites. Their airplane also had a small shark figure on it and fake blood. Music and sound clips from the movie Jaws played while the team built and flew its aircraft. The other teams were Team Absurd, 3 Old Farts & an Angel, Not the Canadians, and The Brewbarrons. After the airplanes were completed, it was time for the annual barbecue dinner provided by John and Buzz. At roughly 6:30 p.m., it was time for the Junkyard Wars teams to put their creations to the test.
An airplane built from orange crates hits a red balloon during the Junkyard Wars competition. The teams received extra points for popping balloons.

The airplanes had to fly at least five laps in each round and two total rounds. After the five laps were completed in each round, pilots attempted to hit and pop balloons. The balloons were worth various amounts of points and teams could be awarded additional points for popping balloons while flying inverted, for flying 10 laps, and for hitting wooden gates. A crowd gathered near the flight circle as the first airplane was hand launched. Spectators gasped when aircraft nearly crashed, and cheered when they popped balloons. Some models had spectacular crashes after hitting balloons but were still flyable.
An annual memorial service is held to honor those who have passed away since the previous year’s Brodak Fly-In. Pictured L-R are Robert “Sparky” Storick (purple shirt), James Duckworth, John Brodak, and Robert Brookins.

When all of the points were tallied, Team Absurd, made up of Watt Moore, Dan, Samantha Hines (a junior member of Team USA F3B), Jacob Bixler, Ray Dore, and Hunter Stewart, was determined the winner with 1,384 points. Samantha wasn’t the only pilot at the Brodak Fly-In set to compete in Landres, France, in the F3B portion of the 2018 FAI F2 World Championships for Control Line Model Aircraft, held July 14-19. Also in attendance were Joe Gilbert and Chris Rud. Other pilots at the event seemed excited that the trio attended the contest.
Sam Londke, age 9, smiles as CD Mark Weiss hands him an award. In the golf cart in the background is John Brodak.

Joe stated that he was “honored and a lot humbled” to be part of Team USA for the first time. “Chris went as a junior. I’ve never been. I think I’m the 29th to go [to the world competition] since 1960,” he added. Chris echoed his excitement. Chris and Joe competed in the CLPA Expert class where pilots had an 8-minute time limit and were required to perform multiple maneuvers. After Chris finished his round and landed, one of the judges commented, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” about his flight. His performance earned him first place in the Expert class and the Brodak Cup.
Chris Rud, a member of Team USA F3B, competes in the CLPA Expert class. This flight earned him first place in his class and the Brodak Cup Trophy.

Awards were handed out Saturday afternoon then John and Buzz thanked the volunteers, Will and fellow CD Mark Weiss, and all of the pilots for coming. Everyone started packing up to head home after six days of perfect flying weather, competition, friends having fun, and making memories. —Rachelle Haughn [email protected]


Brodak Fly-In (724) 966-2726 www.brodak.com

Facebook Twitter Share


Rachelle, We cannot possibly thank you enough for the wonderful coverage you provided on the Brodak 2018 Fly In. C/L folks are declining in numbers but not in spirit of the sport. While some say it does not have the glitter of R/C, C/L is centered around strong and lasting relationships and a support attitude that is remarkable. When Will and I took over the reigns, John and Buzz made it very clear to us what they were seeking: "Make sure everyone has fun." We took what we learned at Triple Tree and started teaching flying skills in the Brodak's back yard. You have captured the spirit of the event and of the folks that come every year. You flew one of our little RingRats and were always open to learn more and ask the right questions. Thank you again for your writing, your photography, and your passion. We will never forget it! Respectfully Mark Weiss, Co-CD

Hi Mark! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I certainly enjoyed covering the event and meeting everyone. —Rachelle

Add new comment