TOP GUN 2007

Mar 25, 2012 No Comments by


The greatest scale show on earth



This year’s Mr. Top Gun title went to David Ribbe flying his turbine-powered MiG-15. He designed the prototype after which the BVM kit was modeled. He took first in the Masters class and also earned the High Static Masters award with this impressive Soviet fighter.

As a scale modeler, I travel to many scale competitions to watch and to fly. By far the most exciting and entertaining is Frank Tiano’s Top Gun Scale Invitational at the Lakeland Linder Municipal Airport, in Lakeland, FL. I think it’s a safe bet that most serious scale modelers dream of one day competing at this world-class event. I know I have fantasized about it! Lakeland Linder Airport is also the site of the full-scale aviation ìSun-N-Funî airshow, so it’s a fitting venue for the world’s best scale aircraft and pilots.

For 2007, Top Gun pilots enjoyed very rare weather conditions without the infamous crosswinds that usually keep them on their collective toes. With the warm Florida breeze flowing almost straight down the runway, this year’s flight scores were especially impressive. Whereas in years past, the heavily loaded, turbine-powered jet dominated the competition, the 2007 event showed that regardless of the airplane type, it’s ultimately pilot skill that determines the final outcome.

Most noticeable was the increased number of entrants, and a quick look at the pilot stat forms showed approximately 117registered (not including last-minute scratches). The most popular classóProAm (Pro)óhad 31 pilots registered. In this class, there’s a large collection of aircraft that, by and large, are no longer able to compete in the upper classes of Expert, Masters and Team because of Top Gun’s three-year rule. There were some new and first-time entrants and since there is no ìbuilder of the modelî rule, several pilots competed with borrowed airplanes. The positive side of all this is that there’s an impressive number of flights during the event, and the paying audience gets a lot of entertainment for its money. It is good to see several airplane favorites still flying, albeit with different pilots; after all, Top Gun airplanes are meant to fly and not to sit around in retirement! By comparison, 29 pilots were registered in Pro-Am (Sport), 26 in Expert, 11 in Masters and 20 pilot/builder partnerships in Team Scale.

The aircraft types included 41 WW II military aircraft, 38 jets (all turbine-powered except for one electric ducted fan), 17 civilian aircraft, four modern military aircraft, four WW I airplanes, two modern turbo-prop aircraft (also turbine-powered) and one flying wing.


Saechour Kumpol traveled halfway around the world from Thailand to fly his beautifully detailed and finished, 1/5.6 -scale F-84G Thunderjet. It was entered in Team Scale and flown to 13th place by Sprinkapaibulaya Kaivuth. It tuth. It’s powered by a PST 1300R turbine and has a 78-inch span.

FIRST PLACE TEAM SCALE CONTROL FUNCTIONS: First place in Team went to Ian Richardson and this nicely detailed BVM F-86F Sabre Jet. Powered by an AMT turbine, it was flown by Steve Elias. The plane also earned the Best Cockpit Interior award; Ian’s scale pilot was fully articulated and moved ìhisî arms and legs with the control functions.

FIRST PLACE PRO-AM SPORT: First in Pro-Am Sport went to Sean Curry and his ? -scale, 80-inch-span Top Flite T-34 Mentor. It’s powered by an O.S. .91 2-stroke engine and has Robart retracts. (Photo by Palmer Johnson.)

FIRST PLACE PRO-AM PRO: Dean DiGiorgio took first in Pro-Am (Pro) with his AirWorld FW-190. It’s powered by a 215cc radial engine that earned Dean the Best Gasoline Engine Performance award.

Coming in for fifth place in Team Scale, this beautiful turboprop Tucano 312 is the work of Mike Selby. Ray Johns flew the 114-inch-span º -scale military trainer, which has quite but impressive power.

FIRST PLACE EXPERT: First in Expert, Jack Diaz built his F-86 Sabre Jet from the BVM kit, The Sabre also earned the High Start Expert award.

Piloted by Eduardo Esteves, Octavio dePaula’s Piper L-4 Grasshopper placed third in Team Scale. The big, impressively detailed observation plane also earned the Critics’ Choice award, the Charlie Chambers Craftsmanship award and the High Static Team award. Not bad for a fabric-covered prop-driven monoplane!

Ali Machinchy placed 12th in Pro-Am (Pro) with his bright red BAE Hawk. Powered by a GBooster 160 turbine, the 100-inch-span, º -scale jet also earned the Best Jet Performance award.


  • Zap Glue
  • FlyRC magazine



  • Airtronics
  • AirWorld USA
  • FTE
  • Futaba
  • JR Radio
  • Kempinski Hotels
  • Pizza Connection
  • SOS International
  • PST Engines
  • Robart Mfg.
  • Red Bull


  • Bob Violett Models
  • Glenn Torrance Models
  • Warbirds over the Rockies
  • Nick Ziroli Plans
  • RC Jet intl.


  • AeroTech Model
  • Composite-ARF
  • Fuji Engines
  • O.S. Engines
  • RC Report
  • Saito Engines
  • Sarasota Avionics
  • Xoar props
  • Top Gun Hussies

Fourth in Team Scale went to Wayne Siewert with his Mooney M20L Porsche. Flown by Scott Russell, this º -scale civilian plane has a span of 108 inches and is powered by a DA-50 gasoline engine. Wayne also tagged the Best Civilian award. Check out the interior details shown below!

Built by Eddie Newman and flown by Lee Rice, this impressive Fiessler Fi-156U Storch placed 15th in Team Scale. The º -scale Luftwaffe observation plane has a 140-inch span and is powered by a Laser 3.6ci 4-stroke engine. Eddie also took the Best Military award.

I am always impressed by the superior quality and craftsmanship of the Expert, Masters and Team scale entries, and this year, the most impressive airplanes were two turboprop Tucanos, in particular, Mike Selby’s Tucano 312. His impressive º-scale, 114-inch-span modern military trainer was painted in a striking ìBrazilian Blueî scheme. It was powered by a JetCat turbine, which was incredibly quiet and offered amazing performance. Mike was paired with pilot Ray Johns for fifth place in Team scale with the Tucano, but adding to the excitement was Andreas Gietz, President of Composite-ARF, who also flew the Tucano in Pro-Am (Pro) to 13th place. Andreas is producing a kit for the model based on Mike’s prototype. The other equally impressive turboprop Tucano was flown in Pro-Am (Pro) by Ray LaBonte. His aircraft was powered by an Artes turboprop engine and was based on the Composite-ARF kit; he placed eighth in Pro-Am (Pro).

Switching gear from turboprops to Doppledeckers, I was most impressed by Dave Johnson’s new WW I Albatros D.Va biplane. Powered by a Fuji 64cc gas engine, the impressive ?-scale German fighter had a functional exhaust system that gave it a true, vintage-engine sound. Dave flew the 118-inch-span biplane extremely well and seemed to nail the scale airspeed. Equipped with turnbuckles and flying wires and featuring a natural wood fuselage finish, the Albatros earned Dave second place in the Masters class, only 2.5 points behind Dave Ribbe’s impressive MiG-15 turbine jet.

And speaking about jetsÖ my all-time favorite jet there (and in general) was a beautifully done straight-wing F-84G Thunderjet. Flown by Sprinkapaibulaya Kaivuth, the 1/5.6-scale F-84G was built by Saechour Kumpol and the pair finished in 13th place in Team scale. Powered by a PST 1300R turbine, the jet has a 78-inch span and weighs 35 pounds. Though on one flight, the team had some difficulty with the retractable landing gear, the jet’s overall performance was impressive!

There seemed to be no end to the number of classic WW II warbirds, but the one that most sounded like a real, live, fire-breathing Axis fighter was the FW-190A flow in Pro-Am (Pro) by Dean DiGiorgio. His º-scale Luftwaffe Butcher Bird has a 102-inch span and is powered by the very popular AirWorld 215cc 5-cylinder radial engine. The model was built from an Air-World kit and is equipped with a set of Sierra Scale retracts. Dean took first place and earned the Best Gas engine performance award.

The weather, the planes and the new crop of pilots made Top Gun 2007 a grand showcase of the best models shown anywhere in the world. Truly, so many more great airplanes competed this year that I couldn’t possibly cover them all here in any great detail. I did, however, take several videos of the hot Top Gun action, and you can see them at the Model Airplane News website at There are also several extra photos and the complete list of winners, so be sure to surf on over to the newly redesigned site.

If you missed Top Gun 2007, be sure to mark it on your must-go list for 2008; the dates are April 30 to May 4, 2008. It really is the greatest scale show on earth!


1 Jack Diaz F-86 Sabre 95.333 191.833
2 Bob Violett F-86F Sabre 94.917 191.542
3 Greg Hahn B-25 Mitchell 95.083 61 190.750
4 Dennis Crooks P-38 95.333 93 189.458
5 Dustin Buescher F-86F Sabre 92.500 189.083


1 David Ribbe MiG-15 96.500 89 192.58
2 Dave Johnson Albatros DVa 94.250 190.045
3 Nick Ziroli Sr. Beech D-17 95.000 187.373
4 David Foster Nakajima Jill 92.833 185.332
5 Ed Andrews Fokker DR-1 93.917 185.250


1 Ian Richardson/Steve Elias F-86F Sabre 96.917 192.417
2 Graeme Mears/David Shulman Canadair Sabre CL
96.083 192.333
3 Octavio dePaula/Eduardo Esteves Piper L-4 97.000 192.151
4 Wayne Siewert/Scott Russell Mooney M20L Porsche 96.750 191.000
5 Michael Selby/Ray Johns Tucano 312 96.917 189.584


1 Dino DiGiorgio FW-190A 25.000 122.717
2 Jason Shulman F-86 25.000 122.583
3 Marco Benincasa P-47D 25.000 121.034
4 Tom Dodgen MiG-15 25.000 120.792
5 Kirby Cole P-51 Mustang 25.000 120.403


1 Sean Curry T-34 Mentor 25.000 119.625
2 Doug Harper Piper L-4 25.000 118.552
3 Eric Karl Panther F9F 25.000 118.250
4 Marco Mascia MiG 15 25.000 118.208
5 John Boyko Pitts S1-S 25.000 117.836


Dave Johnson placed second in Masters with his new ? -scale Albatros D.Va. The big wood-clad WW I German fighter has a 118-inch span and is powered by a Fuji 64cc gas engine. The scale exhaust system (see left) is fully functional.

ìNow, this is what I Like to see!î At the most prestigious scale contest in the country, and perhaps the world, were two young men competing alongside Top Gun veterans. I have known 17-year-old Kyle Casteline (right) and Kirby Cole (age 14) for a few years. These young guns have been flying RC for several yearsóKirby since the age of 7 and Kyle since he was 10óand they’re both very capable pilots. I see them often with their supportive fathers Richard Casteline and John Cole. Kirby and his dad are members of the Sarasota Florida RC Squadron, and Kyle and Richard are from the Tampa Bay City Flyers.

Kirby and Kyle competed in the Pro classes, and neither flinched while sharing the flight-line with the ìPros.î Kirby flew his 85-inch Top Flite P-51D Mustang powered by a Zenoah G-45 and placed a very respectable fifth in the Pro Am (Pro) class with a score of 120.403. He uses a Futaba radio.

Kyle flew a Zenoah G-26-powered Fokker D-VIII, also controlled by a Futaba radio, in the Pro Am Sportsman class and earned a 18th place with a final score of 113.294. I am sure that the pilots and their parents are very proud of their accomplishments. I do hope that they will always make time for RC airplanes. óNick Ziroli Sr.



The History of Top Gun

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