With it quickly becoming Top Gun season for 2017, I thought I would again show this post from last year. Being invited by Frank Tiano, I was extremely pleased with myself and with how well my big Fokker Triplane performed at my first ever Top Gun event. It had been several years since I flew in front of judges so I tried to slow down and stay calm. I have to admit the butterflies in my belly were working overtime. As it turned out, I placed 27th in Sportsman so I feel like I accomplished my goals: Don’t crash, and don’t come in dead last. My scores would certainly have been better has I listened more closely to my caller, 4-time Top Gun winner David Wigley. So next time I have to work on my communication skills. If you decide to compete with a big triplane, here are some of my personal notes of what I could have done better.
1. Turn and get lined up when my caller tells me to. Being off heading in front of the judges requires corrections which lower your flight score.
2. Check everything when inspecting your airplane. On my second round I had a dead-stick and landed in the rough damaging my landing gear’s sub-wing which required repairs. The clunk and pick up line in the tank came off! The little details count big time.
3. Slow down. Even though my Triplane is a model of a replica show plane which was faster and more powerful than a WW1 Fokker Triplane, I still flew too fast. This affected my Realism scores. Also, flying closer in to the flightline would have helped me slow down my maneuvers.
4. Much more practice needed on my vertical maneuvers, and of course centering the maneuvers more would also help. Oh also, next time no smoke system! A smoke trail looks great but it also shows instantly all of my flight corrections. The flight judges don’t need any help spotting piloting flaws.
5. Right after your last flight round, prep you model and get it ready for its next flight. Top off the batteries if you have too, refill the gas tank and go over everything to make sure all is flight ready, then you can relax under the Warbird Alley tent!
Overall, I had a really great time and I felt very successful. I came, I flew, I learned and I went back home with an airplane in the same number of pieces I left with. That’s a win/win/win in anyone’s log book.