I have always enjoyed competition for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was always reading Model Airplane News articles about the Top Gun Scale Invitational saying to myself, “One day!” I have competed now at Top Gun for about 10 years and from time to time, I will meet folks who’ll ask me what it takes to compete. I have noticed over the years, there is an overall feeling that you must be the world’s best pilot and builder to even start competing.
This is simply not true! It does take practice and an understanding of the maneuvers you need to do. After a while, I thought to myself, “what would it be like to have a very basic competition that anyone could join?” With that, I came up with the Trainer Banger R.C. Competition. My vision was to host a Top Gun style competition with nothing more than basic RC trainers. There would be no static judging, but 10 maneuvers that the pilots would have to perform to the best of their ability, in front of flight judges. Basically, we wanted the pilots to fly the plane and make it perform like a Cessna 172 would.
I called my good friend and founder of Top Gun, Frank Tiano and with his help, I was able to put together the first annual Trainer Banger Competition. The judges where comprised of RC pilots who have either judged before or who have competed. I was lucky enough to have Dennis Kirby of Kirby’s Custom Graphics and a Top Gun judge attend.
This was a one-day event and the weather was perfect. The Lexington Model Airplane Club from Lexington Kentucky was gracious enough to host the event.
We had 12 pilots attend and we even had trophies for 1st., 2nd., and 3rd. places. We flew 3 rounds and the pilots were able to drop their lowest round scores. Our youngest pilot Colton is going into the 7th grade. In fact, we had 3 young pilots attend! The flying went without a hitch and everyone who attended had a blast. The maneuvers were basic and consisted of simple maneuvers that any trainer could perform.
You would be surprised how difficult it is to make a trainer fly in a scale manner. I would highly suggest clubs adopt this simple, yet very fun competition. If you are looking for something new to try in the hobby, rather than just bore holes in the sky, maybe this is for you! Who knows, we might even see you at Top Gun!
Photos and Text by P.J. Ash