Meet longtime Nats competitor and AMA scholarship recipient Bob Hanford

Written by Rachelle Haughn Meet longtime Nats competitor and AMA scholarship recipient Bob Hanford Photos by the author An extended interview from the October 2016 issue of Model Aviation.

AMA is celebrating a huge milestone. This year, it reached $1 million in total scholarship money awarded. In honor of this achievement, Model Aviation is highlighting some of the recipients of these funds.

AMA awarded its first scholarship in 1970. To learn who else received a scholarship in the early years of the program, read the list of scholarship winners from 1970 to 1995.

Robert “Bob” Hanford was one of three modelers who received scholarship money in 1971. He was awarded $500, which he used to earn a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University.

“It paid most of my first year’s tuition—how times have changed!” Bob said of the scholarship. He applied for an AMA scholarship when he was a senior in high school. “It was a tremendous help. My parents divorced about that time, and weren’t able to help with college expenses.”

After participating in the 2016 Free Flight Nats, Bob said that he competed in his first Nats in 1964 when he was 11 years old. His father, a member of the 1949 US Wakefield Team, taught him how to build and fly at the age of eight.

Bob’s aeromodeling experience has aided him in his career as a licensed professional engineer, and in his current position as a manager of a civil/structural engineering company. “The aeromodeling background definitely helped—knowing how to read and prepare drawings, spatial relations, strength of materials, and direct structural applications as I had experienced in modeling,” he commented.

Nearly a half-dozen years before he was named as one of the first recipients of an AMA scholarship, Robert “Bob” Hanford was testing his flying skills at the Nats.

Bob’s father, also named Bob Hanford, taught him how to fly model aircraft and he entered his first contest at the age of eight. His dad also was a member of the 1949 US Wakefield Team.

The younger Bob continued to build and fly and competed in his first Nats, known back then as the Navy Nats, at age 11. That contest was held in 1964 at the Dallas Naval Air Station. Bob has many fond memories of that competition, and enjoyed reminiscing after participating in the 2016 Free Flight (FF) Nats, held at AMA Headquarters in Muncie, Indiana.

“I got my picture in our local paper for towing an A-1 glider into the runway. I was pictured holding the broken airplane with the caption, ‘Tulsan’s Glider Crashes.’ Infamous,” he commented about the 1964 Nats.

“In addition to the 1964 Nats, I was fortunate enough to attend three other Navy Nats—Olathe, Kansas in 1968, and Chicago in 1970 and 1971. Due to college, career, and family, I didn’t attend another one until Lincoln Nebraska in 1987.

“The unified Nats ended in 1988 when the Free Flight site owner changed his mind at Tidewater, so the makeup Nats for the Free Flight events was held in Lawrenceville, Illinois, which I was able to attend.

“The next two Free Flight Nats were also held there, referred to as the United States Outdoor Championships. When the AMA moved HQ to Muncie [Indiana] and held the first Nats there in 1991, I was there and have been there every year since.

“One year, the official Nats was held out in Washington state, which I did not make, and in 1994, they were in Lubbock, Texas, which I did attend. So 33 [Nats] in all, but the most memorable were the Navy Nats. It’s a shame that all modelers haven’t had the opportunity to experience them—not just for the flying, but for the central focus of each of those.

“[I remember] the hangar … rows and rows of tables, where everyone would bring everything out of their cars, spread it all out on and under the tables, and leave it there all week without a second thought. It would take an hour or two just to walk up and down all the rows, admiring and examining everything.

“There would be people up all night working on stuff for the next day, running engines, test-flying in the parking lot. I left a couple of Indoor gliders stuck in the rafters of the Chicago hangar.

“You could also stay in the barracks and eat in the mess hall. [It was] truly memorable, and I hope my recollections have sparked memories for others who attended.”

Bob’s interest and experience in aviation and involvement in AMA helped him be selected as one of the 1971 recipients of an AMA scholarship. The scholarship money assisted in paying for his education at Oklahoma State University, where he earned a degree in civil engineering.

Although many years have passed since Bob graduated from college, his passion for model aviation has not faded.

“There are so many ways to serve the hobby—from volunteering as a contest organizer, publishing articles and plans, photographing events, working at AMA, to running a cottage industry, which we’ve become so dependent upon with the demise of hobby shops,” Bob said.

“The camaraderie cannot be compared. I have friends all across the country, many of whom I’ve known for more than 50 years. I think model airplanes is the greatest hobby I could have had—a lifelong endeavor that has so many of life’s lessons. It teaches how to work with your hands, analytical thinking, problem solving, trial-and-error applications, and dealing with adversity, because things aren’t always going to go your way.

“There’s also an aspect of teamwork that can be learned, as well as being gracious in both victory and defeat. Many in this hobby will do whatever they can to help you beat them—rarely seen in other types of competition. Personally, I enjoy competing, but it’s not the same for everyone. You can also find it rewarding to keep improving your personal bests, particularly when flying indoors, or just the simple joy of seeing something you’ve created actually fly by itself.

“Thank you for the opportunity to reminisce on so many fond memories.”

AMA Scholarship Winners

Here are the AMA scholarship recipients from 1970 to 1995. The total awarded in that time was $253,400. One of the scholarship recipients declined the $500 scholarship and it was awarded to someone else.

Bill Reed
Susan Weisenbach

Robert Hanford
Richard Leidner
George Pharr Jr.

William Booth
Ron Ganser
Michael Hainen
Michael Kuehne
Witt Stockwell
Randy Wright

Lell E. Barnes III
Donald L. Edberg
Curtis M. Pfarr
Joseph E. Rotunda
Alan E. Swanson
Ramon L. Torres

Mark D. Bauer
Gerald Geraghty
Gary S. Haffke
Joseph P. Mekina
Soter P. Slomski

Peter W. Rambo

Andrew R. Barron
Kenneth A. Bauer
Bruce Pailet
Richard C. Whitten

Linda Brown
Joseph Musumeci Jr.
Michael Nallen

Paula Bauer
Nicholas P. DeCarlis
Brian Petty
David N. Pier

Peter Campo
Tom Croft
Thomas Harr
Paul Munan
Jill Peck
Theodore S. Tevares

Peter Bauer
William Brown
Dale Doty
Mitchell Robins
Cliff Telford
Barry Zeigenfuse

Matt Bauer
Tom Fluker
Matt Giovanetti
David Noult
Leonard Rozanus Jr.
Richard Simpson
Thomas Szymkowski
Norman Timbs Jr.

Patrick Baldus
Robert Baldus II
Susan Brown
Michael Eckstein
Fabio Kampana
Ted Stalick
William Wike Jr.

Michael Boso
Philippe Ciholas
Brian Lexmond
Andrew Lippert
Walter McIntosh
Gregory Schmidt

Christopher Bovias
Bryan Fulmer
Kurt Gaiser
David Hecht
Judith Lebakken
Kevin Mindenhall
Mark Rist
Donald Sjolin

Julie Botticello
Wayne Boudreaux
Tien-Seng Chiu
Lee Mickus
Brent Waganer
Sheldon Ybanez

Charles Gagliano
David Peterson
Dennis Suding
Jeffrey Tate

Melinda L. Anderson
Andrew D. Bassallo
Walter M. Eggert
Jane A. Johnson
David E. Weiss

Richard D. Carlton
Glenn A. Dean
Kevin A. Freeman
Brett A. Hoffstadt
Christopher W. Wilken

Eric Balay
Richard Carlton
Christopher Cheyer
Frank Dramnissi
Todd Eigenschink
Anthony Hutchins
Donald Slusarczyk
Ryan Stauffer
Robert Teseo
Cathy Waters

Mark Cantarella
Joel Grassmeyer
Raymond Jungmann
Andrew Kennedy
James Stewart

Nathan P. Andress
Robert A. Bittner
John Black
Nat Bushore
Timothy Czerwonka
Jason Eccker
Stephen Kopeschka
Jeff Lovitt
William Vaglienti

Eric M. Davidson
Andrew Everett
Jason George
Mathew R. Nuffort
Aaron J. Passey
Ronald C. Segura

Daniel W. Fee
John L. Freudenthal
Steven M. Gigl
David M. Heckman
Damon L. McMillan

Mark Bibbey
Michael Hudson
Joe D. Rule
Mac Schwager
Aaron Seaholm
James Troutman









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Bob Hanford is one of the finest and nicest modeler that I know and it's a pleasure to call Bobby my friend.

Whatever happened to him anyway ....?

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