The 30th annual Joe Nall — Three Decades of Giant Scale Magic

The 30th annual Joe Nall — Three Decades of Giant Scale Magic

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | The 30th annual Joe Nall — Three Decades of Giant Scale Magic

This year is the 30th for the Joe Nall.  Woopee!……we are celebrating!  Looking back over the years it all started when Pat Hartness and his good friend Kirby Mckinney, who were passionate about giant scale airplanes, decided to host a fly-in.  The IMAA (International Miniature Aircraft Association) was just 2 years old then.  The very first meet happened on the Hartness estate, a week after Mothers Day in 1983. It was called the Greenville Giant Scale Meet and was held at Hartness field. Only 13 showed up, but that didn’t stop them.  In 1986, when I first attended, a good friend by the name of Joe Nall came each year to help out as MC.  Joe lost his life in 89 and Hartness named the event in honor of his dear friend. The famous Sat. night BBQ, now held on Fri. night, was held then in the Hartness mansion backyard, sometimes at Hartness International factory or the field hanger, with always a bluegrass band for entertainment. Kirby always maintained that every fly-in shall have a BBQ.  Today’s BBQ serves 1,000 people in 22minutes…..excellent!

The event kept growing and nearing the end of the 90’s ran into some troubles.  The roof of the Bosh & Lomb building, across the street, was the target for a few errant airplanes bringing on some complaints from them. Neighbors started complaining of the noise and airplanes were flying too high, infringing on the landing air space of the local Greer airport.  It was time to move. A few years earlier Hartness had purchased 450 plus acres of land from Ray Brown, a real-estate land developer, in Woodruff,SC.  He leased some heavy earth moving equipment and began building (himself and Eddie Clarke) an earth dam to form a 80 acre lake along with a runway which has now been extended to 6,000 ft. Quite a task, but Hartness had a vision and strove to achieve it.   The Nall was moved to Triple Tree in 2000 and the first event there was rather dusty and rough around the edges, as I remember.  However, each year we saw improvements.  To further improve the crowd effect, the main venue was broken up into 5 with 3 buses provided to shuttle the people back and forth. 

In 2009 we lost our dear friend Kirby McKinney and the Nall in 2010 was dedicated in his honor.  We all miss him.  In recent years the AMA has taken a more active role at the Nall having yearly meetings at the hanger. Of course, the Nall has always been a AMA/IMAA event. In 2011 the AMA designated Triple Tree as an International Aero Modeling Center and presented Hartness with a marker.  The Confederate Air Farce, Chapter 94, has now become the Triple Tree Aviators and the Joe Nall became the Joe Nall Week.

This year another venue was added, U-control circles, now making it 6.  Hartness has finally overcome the legal hurtles and Triple Tree is now in a trust, ensuring the Nall, and other model and full scale events held there, will continue for many years to come.  What a wonderful legacy, Pat, and grateful thanks from all of us.

One of the goals of the Triple Tree principals was to reach 1,000 in registration.  Well. I am happy to report that it was well over 1,100 this year.  Unemployment and high gas prices did not have an effect on those out for a good time or maybe a pleasant week’s vacation.  Most likely the Nall will grow again next year so why don’t you come and be part of it as I have for the past 26 years.  You will have the best time of your life with all your friends at Triple Tree.  See you next year!

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Text and Photos by Jerry Smith

Photo Captions

  1. DSC7526, 1758, 1781 Richard Cawley, NC, flew this great looking 1/3 scale, 66 lb. Bucher.  Powered with a Moki 250 swinging a 32 x 18” prop. It is covered with Solartex and painted with automotive paint.  What great workmanship.
  2. DSC1753, 1754  Arnold Marcus, FL, Likes P-38’s.  He has built a number of them and  here is his latest Ziroli version.  It is powered with 2- G45’s, has a 114” wing, Robart retracts and finished in UltraKote and paint.  All up weight is 66 lbs.
  3. DSC1763,  Mac Hodges got in the act with his Cessna 310.  He must like multi engine airplanes because he also fly’s the B-29 putting on a great show for us.
  4. DSC7520  You are now entering the greatest show on earth, the Joe Nall at Triple Tree aerodrome, celebrating their 30th anniversary.
  5. DSC7531, 1793, 1796  Anthony Greco, FL, flew this Paggio Ultra, father and son creation.  His dad did the building and he furnished the electronics.  Now that’s a deal.  The Paggio is a very unique commuter airplane.  About 60 of them flying in the US. If you are lucky, you might look up someday and see one flying over.
  6. DSC7544, The principals and volunteers who put at this great event.  That’s Mike Gregory and Pat Hartness standing middle front.  It was a super time for all.
  7. DSC7543  Tim Barnett presents Mike Gregory, CD, the prestigious Joe Nall award.  Mike has CD’ed this event for many, many ,years and is well deserved.  MAN congratulates you, Mike!
  8. DSC7547   Bob Komro, WI, won the Bob Smith Award with his realistic flying L4.  What a site to see in the air.
  9. DSC7583  Bob Sadler, MC, has finally found some retracts for his latest project. That’s Ron Ward and Mitch Stott, owners of Down and Locked electric retract conversions.
  10. 10.  DSC7587  They came all the way from Germany to fly at the Joe Nall.  That’s Winni, second from the left, top row, spokesman for the group.  What a great bunch of pilots! The group was sponsored by Emmerich Dautsch, owner of Power Box.
  11. 11.  DSC1805  Vernon Liskov, CT, finished building this 40%  Pilot 150” Decathlon at the Nall.  It is powered with a DA 150.  This was the 4th flight of the day.

12. Brian Strachan, TX, flew his Pilot Yak 54 powered with a 3W XI 50cc with smoke.  All up weight 17 lbs with smoke oil.

13. DSC1840  KMP Cessna 336 converted to an 02 military by Jason Pepper, SC.  The Cessna was flown on 10s batteries with 80A ESC’s and Turnigy motors swinging 16 x 10 props.

  1. 14.  DSC1852, 1855, 1856  Robbe Republic Sea Bee flown by Russell Farris,SC. Only 1300 of these were built during the 40’s.  The model comes in white however Russell painted his to make it look different.

15. DSC1887,1891,1894  Thayer Syme flew his original design Daddy-O 525 on floats. Thayer says the model resembles an old time racer.  Other sizes are in development by Thayer.  What a great looking model, especially on floats and the way he flew it.

  1. 16.  DSC1895, 1899  Tom Drake, FL, built this 1/3 scale Chris Craft.  The model is powered with a water cooled G26 and sports an electric starter.  The workmanship on the boat is superb including all the brass fittings and that great marine varnish finish.

17. DSC1942, 1947, You think only boys and men fly airplanes.  Well, here is proof that the ladies can do it too.  Here are 6 of the finest and they were good.

18. DSC1954  Pair Klon and Mark Weiss hold up the little electric U-control, Stevens Aeromodel Ring Rat, that many flew at the Nall.  Even I took part, fearing to be somewhat humble, but did get it safely on the ground.

19. DSC1952  Allen Brichause cranks the Fox 35 while Harold Bitner holds the old Ring Master.  There was quite a bit of interest at the newly added U-control venue.

20. DSC1997, 2017,  Joe Smith was great with his performance at the noon time demo.  This 18 year old spends a lot of time on the sticks…..and it shows.

21. DSC2259, 2267,2239  Tim Stadler, Germany, during noon time demo flying his 40% Pitts Python, 220cc 3W.  What a fantastic bunch of maneuvers performed…..we were thrilled.

22. DSC 2148, 2151, 2153  Bill Hemple flew his 60% clipped wing Cub with amazing skill.  He could do almost any maneuver with it.  Everybody stopped flying to watch.

23. DSC2068, 2070, 2072  Bob Komro, winner of the Bob Smith Award, flew off the lake with this gorgeous L4 Cub on floats.  How real is real?  Well this one could fool you when in the air.  Bob did all the work on the undercarriage and the floats himself.

24. DSC2229,  One of the Jet Gliders spinning down during the noon demo encountered a Sun Dog, on the right.  What is a Sun Dog?  They are formed by the sun hitting ice crystals, sometimes called diamond dust, at a 22 degree angle at high altitude causing a streak of color in the sky.  The red color is closest to the sun.  Now you know.


Updated: July 16, 2015 — 4:29 PM


  1. Awesome photos Jerry! Nice coverage!

  2. Had a great time there flying my electric cessna 336 converted 02 .I didnt notice pic of it but seen my name in the write up here.I cant wait to the next joe nall best flyin on the planet.

  3. Thanks for the history Jerry, and your advice about next year. Just one thing missing – the dates and location! I will probably be visiting Florida next year and if possible, include the ‘Joe Nall’. .
    PS I first read MAN in the early 40’s. Have years 54 to 73 Leather bound no less

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