Top Gun Invitational 2013

Written by Stan Alexander This Scale competition celebrates 25 years Event coverage As seen in the September 2013 issue of Model Aviation. JOIN NOW to start enjoying the magazine and more AMA member benefits.

Event Footage Highlights

2013 Results

Masters Expert Team Pro Prop Pro Jet Pro-Am Sportsman Unlimited Special Awards

Event Coverage

The Eagles song, “The Long Run,” reminds me of Top Gun and a few events held each year across the US. Frank “Mr. Top Gun” Tiano created this event to promote Scale competition. With other like-minded Scale fliers, he has made this event a pinnacle of Scale competition for modelers around the world. Holding a Scale contest of any magnitude takes work, time, organization, and money, as well as sponsors and a host of volunteers. It takes dedication and year-round work to pull off an event such as Top Gun. The 2013 Top Gun, held May 1-5, was the 25th season for this annual event. It has been held in Florida and in Arizona in years past, including three different sites in Florida alone, but Frank hopes the move to Paradise Field on the south side of Lakeland Lender Regional Airport will be the final change of venue.
This is a look at the halftime crowd on Saturday during the airshow. Attendance was up this year and Frank ran ads for Top Gun on television.
Special thanks go to the Lakeland Lender Regional Airport manager. The venue has a specially prepared surface of Celebration Bermuda grass, freshly mowed, with its own sprinkler system. The site was rolled for a full day before the competition began. The prepared runway is 70 x 800 feet. It runs east and west and the pilots face north, which helps them take advantage of the prevailing easterly winds. On the first page of the Top Gun rules, there is this statement: “As the name implies, this contest is designed to find the best RC Scale builder/flier in the world. It is aimed at the contestant who is already considered somewhat of an expert in this field. So, you might ask, ‘What provisions exist in the rule framework for the average modeler?’ And the answer is none.”
Stephen Thomas’s Nieuport 11 started as a Balsa USA 1/3-scale Nieuport 17 kit. With many modifications and an uncommon color scheme, the model is impressive in flight.
The seven classes include Masters, Team, Expert, Unlimited, Pro-Am Sport, Pro-Am Jet, and Pro-Am Prop. Of all of the winners in each class, the pilot who scored the highest number of points is Mr. Top Gun or the grand champion. Let’s break down the seven classes. Masters Class is where a scratch builder has the opportunity to show his or her workmanship on the static tables as well as his or her flying skills. He or she must draw the plans, cut the wood or parts, and build the entire airframe. Unlimited Class is static judged by the same rules as Masters, Expert, and Team, but there is no builder-of-the-model rule. There must be at least three team members for each Unlimited entry. Team members are expected to wear team colors during the competition. As in any Top Gun class, film-covered models are not allowed.
The F-100 Super Sabre by Marco Benincasa from Italy, has an 85-inch wingspan and is powered by an evoJet 180 turbine. The model finished sixth in Pro-Am Jet Class.
In Expert Class, the pilot must build the model. Factory-built, prepainted aircraft are not allowed. Models can be built from a kit, or some of the newer technology such as fiberglass and carbon-fiber kits. In Team Scale, a pilot and builder participate in the competition. One such team is Mark Frankel, who built the T-34B, and his teammate, John Glezellis, who took care of the flying portion of the competition. This is a great event for Scale modelers. Pro-Am is divided into three classes: Prop, Jet, and Sport. The Pro-Am Class is for less-experienced Top Gun competitors. Static judging is an all-or-nothing challenge in Pro-Am. Only 25 static points are available to each model and the entries either receive 25 points or none. ARF models are allowed in these three classes. If an ARF is entered in any of the Pro-Am or Unlimited categories, it must be considered “worthy” of Top Gun competition. David Wigley, competing in the Masters Class flying a new model of the Bristol Beaufighter Mk X, took another Mr. Top Gun win. The Mk X was used as a torpedo bomber and patrol bomber in World War II.
Entered in Team Scale, this twin-turbine-powered Messerschmitt Me 262 was built by Bob Rullie and flown by Mitch Buckley. They finished second.
Among Dave’s many accomplishments were several special honors, which were awarded at the Saturday night banquet for all officials and competitors. Dave won High Static, Best Military, Engineering Excellence, Best WW II Performance, as well as the Critic’s Choice. The 1/5-scale bomber has a wingspan of 138 inches. Power is provided by two BME 102 gas engines with three-blade Solo propellers. The plans and landing gear are self-made. The model is guided by a JR 12X radio system. In Expert Class this year, a jubilant Mike Barbee placed first—his first win after 23 years in the competition. Mike flew his T-34B with a 154-inch wingspan, powered by a DA-200 four-cylinder engine, swinging a 32 x 10 three-blade propeller.
Top Gun’s static and flight judges took time out from their huge responsibilities to gather for a photo. Thanks guys!
The model was designed by Bob Patton. Retracts are homemade electric units and Mike has flown with a Futaba 18MZ radio since its release. It was a great competition and a fun time for friends to get together. The many parties and banquets were well attended. Press from around the world covered Top Gun 2013. Although an hour east of the venue it rained the entire week, the weather remained relatively dry at Lakeland.

Bonus Photos

Fair skies and tailwinds!

Primary Sponsors

Model Airplane News Zap Glue FTE Inc.

Major Sponsors

Futaba Spektrum Kempinski Hotels Mibo Jets Red Bull S.O.S. International

Associate Sponsors

Bold Props Goldfinger Nick Ziroli Plans Warbirds Over the Rockies

Supporting Sponsors

Authentic Scale Duralite Batteries E-flite Evolution Engines 97 Country Radio EZ Balancer Fly RC Flying Models Lakeland Airport Polk Country Sports Marketing Ray & Robin’s Hobby Center Top Gun Fly Girls —Stan Alexander [email protected]


Top Gun

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Digital edition is cool... I still prefer magazine as I can pass old magazines to newcomers... I accept digital edition app with reasonable yearly charge...

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