Team RCU - Don Szczur Ask your questions directly to Don Szczur, proffesional pattern pilot

NATS 2017 Report

Reply
Old 08-01-2017, 06:20 PM
  #1
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default NATS 2017 Report

Well, to sum it up in two words, Great Event!.

NATS preparation started basically after the NATS last year. Not sure if you have been following pattern closely over the past few years but it has changed dramatically. In fact it has arguably changed more in the last 2 years than the advent of turnaround.....
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2017, 06:44 PM
  #2
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

I started flying the Pegasus during the fall and winter months. Practice sessions consisted of two to three flights almost exclusively of F-17 sequences. At the NATS last year, this sequence was a turning point. Either FAI pilots have to learn the new complicated maneuvers (e.g., knife edge top hat from the top) or just resign to being swallowed up by the advancement in pattern difficulty. While watching the 1971 pattern world championships video that Jay Gerber put together some 46 years ago, I found it amazing how much F3A has evolved. My first pattern plane was a Kaos with Webra Blackhead, a design not unlike some flown at that world championships. Well, pattern flying is about challenge and I could not back down from that challenge. I practiced that F sequence through the winter and Spring. I'd like to make a quick shout-out to Andrew Jesky for helping adjust the Spin 99 break on the Pegasus. Once Spring arrived it was time to switch over to glow- and the Allure which is much more suited to this type of advanced aerobatic flying in the new FAI sequences.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2017, 06:55 PM
  #3
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

The NATS venue changed. Mike Harrison got the idea some 12 years ago of having the NATS at the most awesome venue he ever saw- a closed SAC (Strategic Air Command) B-52 base which had a 10,000 foot runway! There was an aligning of planets, so to speak, and the venue opened up a year or so ago with the combination of a B-52 memorial re-dedication. This venue brought full scale historical context to the flying site and gave the NATS participants a unique opportunity to talk to some of the pilots (at least one which was shot down and remained as a POW) and the flight crews, maintenance crews and their families. I won't get into too many details but if you google "Linebacker II" and "Cuban Missile Crisis" you can get some context of the placement of this base and its crews to world history.

So the opening ceremony took place with a B-52 fly by, landing and re-union with the crews. Pretty awesome, I might add.

The facility itself was home to three separate flying sites for the competition, and three separate practice sites for competitors. All the sites could be oriented for the pilots to fly in the exact orientation they practice, and vice versa.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1793.JPG
Views:	37
Size:	175.1 KB
ID:	2226526   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1794.JPG
Views:	29
Size:	188.4 KB
ID:	2226527   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1795.JPG
Views:	26
Size:	153.3 KB
ID:	2226528   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1796.JPG
Views:	26
Size:	146.8 KB
ID:	2226529   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1799.JPG
Views:	38
Size:	139.6 KB
ID:	2226530  
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2017, 08:29 PM
  #4
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

So there were adjustments that had to be made by both pilot and contest management. The orientation of the flight boxes angled 30 degrees west for morning flying (FAI, Advanced) and 30 degrees east for afternoon flying (Masters, Intermediate and Sportsman). This was a trade-off with both benefits and consequences. The benefits were that pilots basically flew without the sun in their eyes, the trade-off was that the orientation was different for the pilots since there was no horizontal line on the far end of the box to gauge parallel flight. Most pilots adjusted to this layout quickly, but it was definitely a problem for some. In order to help the pilots, Mike had bright wide white lines painted on the flight maneuvering area box lines which definitely helped define the left and right maneuvering box limits. This helped a lot.

The other factor was HEAT. I did not go to the Lake Charles NATS back in the 1970's, but contestants compared the heat early in the week to that NATS and for those who came in the weekend before to practice at the NATS site, it was even worse. The temperature ranged in the upper '90's with extremely high humidity and a heat index which was very difficult. It took me at least 2 full days for my body to begin to adjust to this heat. There was a bit of a breeze, however, and FAI flew in the morning. It was a bit more bearable for the pilots flying in the morning. Things began to change on Thursday afternoon with thunderstorms blowing in with cloudy, cooler air behind them. By Saturday, for the Masters and FAI finals, the weather was cool and breezy. Joseph wore his jacket most of the morning on Saturday for the finals.

As is the case at every NATS, pilots rose to the occasion and flew well. This year a new event was added to the NATS- Sportsman. This was a unique event for a NATS venue but added nicely to the overall flow in the afternoon and the feedback I heard from the Sportsman pilots was very positive.

Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-01-2017 at 08:33 PM.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2017, 06:07 AM
  #5
mups53
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Hoffman Estates, IL
Posts: 2,324
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Hi Don
Thanks for taking the time to do this report.
It's too bad more fliers missed the opportunity to attend this event.
The negative PR online before the event was hard to stomach. I'm so happy that I attended and experienced what will forever be a great memory.
The venue was spectacular. Mike Harrison and his team are to be commended.
Mike Mueller
mups53 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2017, 02:26 AM
  #6
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

So preparations for this event included F-17 and in the weeks leading up to the NATS, practicing unknowns. Peter Vogel took some time at the NATS to tell me about the unknown generator, the algorithms required to make sure that the 17 maneuvers contain the appropriate entry and exit orientations, appropriate number of K6 maneuvers, etc. He indicated that maintaining this service is not cheap- on the order of $80 per month. I asked my wife to contribute to this account via paypal. This defrays Peter's cost and keeps this excellent resource up and running. http://www.faiunknowngenerator.com/

Its interesting to see the pilots prepare for flying the unknown. Some were observed making sound effects to memorize the maneuvers. Some talk to themselves. Most use stick planes. I passed by Jason Shulman who was making some sound effects as he learned the first unknown, sitting next to Chad Northeast. I also make noises and sound effects to help learn and memorize the unknowns. I commented to Jason about the noise I made to remember the figure 6 turnaround maneuver from the top with 3/4 snap on the vertical down followed by a knife edge 3/4 loop. Yes imagine the sound of a plane swooping close to the ground, particularly if you don't allow enough altitude in the previous maneuver(s) You got it!.

I spoke to Chip briefly during the last practice day. He was practicing unknowns. Chip had an air of confidence at this NATS. He told me his confidence level was higher than it has been in a long time- 15 years.. to be exact. I then remember Chip flying 15 years ago at the NATS and how we battled it out for the NATS title that year. I ribbed him a little over that one, and we got a good laugh (see Don Ramsey's page). Chip flew well and was well positioned to win the NATS.

Jason Shulman flew an ARF. This is big, really big. I was talking to Joseph and the last one to win the NATS flying a low cost ARF was probably me (at least in FAI). Andrew Jesky has done his homework and has produced a top line model at a reasonable price. I expect his current and next couple of orders of these Acuity aircraft will sell quite well.

Attached is a picture of Jason photo-bombing the Acuity (or is it the other way around).
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1830.JPG
Views:	31
Size:	181.2 KB
ID:	2226660  

Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-03-2017 at 02:29 AM.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2017, 02:29 AM
  #7
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

More to follow....
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2017, 11:48 AM
  #8
Jeff Worsham
 
Jeff Worsham's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Rio Rancho, NM
Posts: 386
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Don- thanks for writing from the F3A perspective and about sites 1 and 2. Many of us were busy at Site 3 so couldn't get up that way very much.
Jeff Worsham is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2017, 02:07 PM
  #9
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

So we arrived at the facility on the afternoon of 24 July. We found several pilots practicing at the various sites and found site 1 and 2, which is where FAI would be flying for the week. The sites were on the cross-taxiways. To say this was the largest facility I've ever seen is an understatement. I did not comprehend when Mike Harrison had said there are six practice sites ON THE FACILITY was an understatement. You could probably put 10 flying sites on the facility easily. The north-south runway was something like 2 miles long. We never used the runway! The taxiways ran north and south which made easy access to the practice and competition sites. Did I mention it was hot. When we arrived it was in the upper 90's and a light (5-7 mph) wind coming from the south -south west. Without that breeze I probably would have collapsed the first couple days we were there. We expected a dry heat similar to that in Muncie and the midwest, but what we got was Louisiana heat with quite a bit of humidity. The engines and motors ran fine. I switched to the lighter oil content "pattern blend" Cool Power and the engine ran flawlessly all week. Between the flying sites (which ran east-west) were cotton or soybean fields which seemed to absorb some of the heat. That first afternoon when we arrived the workers were putting up the circus tents at each site. This helped A LOT with surviving in the heat. We found if we sat right at the edge of the taxiway under the tent, the air was 5 degrees cooler coming off of the soybeans. Natural energy conversion real-time! We wrapped up several flights that evening and headed to the hotel which we found had a pool and immediately made use of it to get the heat dissipated. For some reason drinking water did not seem to help much but we did our best to stay hydrated. The hotel room, with the air conditioner on (our room door faced west in the evening sunlight) was still very hot. I never felt cool, not at night, not in the morning, never. The one spot which was pretty much a gathering place for some of the pilots was SUBWAY shop which was right outside the gate. Each day we would congregate there in the cool- and that place was COLD compared to outside. I found myself shivering a few days during lunch or dinner. Then, walking outside into the heat, my glasses completely fogged up. The clothes in our room never really dried out (it rained quite a bit the few days prior to us arriving, making the humidity very high). The final item of interest was mosquitoes. We found that if we stayed around or in the pool much past sunset, or did not quickly get back to the room after exiting the pool, we got eaten up. After the first day we used some insect repellent and that kept them at bay. A sign on the hotel door read, "keep doors closed at all times- you are in the Mississippi delta and mosquitoes will enter the rooms". We kept the door closed! So ended our first day at the NATS. It was quite an experience, maybe even a bit of a culture shock to see the huge base, dramatic weather and folks from that part of the country....

Batteries charged, to sleep and ready for the second day of practice at the NATS....
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2017, 07:53 AM
  #10
maustin
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Pasadena, Tx
Posts: 220
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Don, Interesting you switched fuel to a pattern blend for the NATS weather. Did you make any pump or needle adjs due to the heat and humidity.
maustin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:22 PM
  #11
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Actually I was using up the remainder 20 % cool power heli fuel that I had on hand. I found the heli fuel works fine but in the extreme heat we had in mid June to mid-July, it was a pretty dramatic change in performance switching to the 30 % pattern blend in the high humidity and temperature. It has since cooled off and we've had some unseasonable cool weather for August (60's at night low 80's during the day).
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:27 PM
  #12
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

No pump or needle valve adjustments were made, but I tend to run the engines a bit on the rich side. I typically run around 2 1/4 turns out. Pump is slightly in from flush. Maybe 1/64 inch in.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:30 PM
  #13
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Some additional pictures.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1823.JPG
Views:	22
Size:	153.5 KB
ID:	2227976   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1833.JPG
Views:	19
Size:	160.2 KB
ID:	2227977  
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:43 PM
  #14
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Equipment list (I think the full list for all NATS competitors is on the NSRCA website).
Click image for larger version

Name:	2017%20Nats%20Equipment%20List.pdf
Views:	10
Size:	70.6 KB
ID:	2227980




and Unknown generator:

http://www.faiunknowngenerator.com/

These came in very handy. When we prepared for the NATS one other very nice feature about the glow engine was that during our unknowns practice the glow power allowed for practice of unknown maneuvers without fear of running out of batteries. Joseph has since got 6000 maH batteries which have ample capacity for the various sequences but did most of the NATS preparation on 5000 packs. While at the NATS its a great time to reflect on the classic days of non turnaround. I was talking to several pilots remembering the classic pattern days from the 1970's and 1980's and the consensus was that the favorite maneuver of all time was the square loop with half rolls. Maybe it was coincidence but most of the unknowns generated by this unknown generator tool contain, yes, square loops with half rolls. Try it! Some square loops with half rolls are on edge and some are from the top but it is pretty neat how it brings the old and new together through the unknown generator.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1816.JPG
Views:	16
Size:	156.6 KB
ID:	2227978   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1817.JPG
Views:	18
Size:	181.0 KB
ID:	2227979  

Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-14-2017 at 07:45 PM.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:47 PM
  #15
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Some additional pictures from the Finals. Planes lined up with backups.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1812.JPG
Views:	18
Size:	184.7 KB
ID:	2227981   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1813.JPG
Views:	19
Size:	193.8 KB
ID:	2227982  
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2017, 07:54 PM
  #16
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

The last two flights of finals brought on a change in venue. The venue was moved to center stage in order to facilitate spectators. Bill Cunningham did a jet demo which really resounded well with the young spectators. The wind picked up dramatically as well, adding to the challenge.

You can see the planes all pointing NORTH which is the way the wind was blowing. If felt very strong on the ground so the planes were lined up to keep them from blowing sideways. I did have the opportunity to fly Unknown warm-up flight 1 and Chris Gini flew Unknown warmup flight 2.

Masters awards were presented at this time as well. Congratulations to all the Masters finalists.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1808.JPG
Views:	16
Size:	218.2 KB
ID:	2227983   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1809.JPG
Views:	12
Size:	174.1 KB
ID:	2227984   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCF1810.JPG
Views:	15
Size:	169.8 KB
ID:	2227985  

Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-14-2017 at 07:59 PM.
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2017, 06:58 PM
  #17
Don Szczur
Thread Starter
 
Don Szczur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chantilly, VA
Posts: 1,990
Gallery
My Gallery
Models
My Models
Ratings
My Feedback
Default

Some additional thoughts on the NATS and a big shout out to NVRC for all the support. THANKS!!!

Click image for larger version

Name:	NVRC_Newsletter_September_2017.pdf
Views:	8
Size:	3.97 MB
ID:	2233042
Don Szczur is offline  
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:59 PM.