What do you get when you mix Woodstock with Disneyland and add airplanes? The answer can only be the giant scale fly-in known world-wide as "Joe Nall". This annual event takes place about 25 miles outside of Greenville South Carolina and is the end-all radio control event of the century!
This year was RCUniverse's first time covering the event and our first day there was mind-blowing to say the least. Sure most of us have heard about it and saw some magazine coverage, but that still didn't prepare us for what we experienced on our first day there. This event is MASSIVE! Thank goodness we had the foresight to reserve a golf cart because anyone who plans on spending time at more than one of the FIVE flightlines will need one!
To give you an idea of the size of this event, we drove our golf cart from the electric's flightline at the top of the event to the 3-D flightline at the far end. Have a look at this video:
Tour the Triple Tree Aerodrome! Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Hosted by the "Confederate Air Farce", the Joe Nall fly-in started in 1983 under the title "The Giant Scale Meet". When Joe was lost in 1989, his life-long friend, Pat Hartness renamed the event to honor its co-creator and former master of ceremonies. As they years have flown by, the event has grown by leaps and bounds - in fact, that is an understatement.
This year, a record number of pilots (815 last we counted) signed up at the Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, S.C. where the annual event is held. This year's abundance of fliers is at least partially due to the fact that there are now five (count 'em - FIVE) flightlines. Aside from the main aerobatic flightline, 3-D and Seaplanes, they have now added an electric flightline and one for helicopters.
Frequency control is maintained with a simple rule: Only 2.4GHz may be used at any flightline - the only exception being the main flightline where 72MHz was still allowed, but this will be the last year for that as well. Starting in 2010, ALL pilots must be on 2.4GHz to fly.
Each morning began with a Pilot's Meeting at 9:30am where Mike Gregory, Pat Hartness and Jim Malek would go over whatever information may be pertinent for that day. In general, the rules were adhered to and there was not a single major incident throughout the event.
In the full-scale hangar, Mark Davidson was in charge of the "Valkyrie Big Build Project". Now in its second year, the plan is to have the Joe Nall attendees build a 200% version of a Carl Goldberg Valkyrie (we wasted no time gluing in our pieces).
Valkyrie Big Build Project Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
An overhead shot of the grounds gives you an idea of the scale of this event!
This was the first year that the fly-in included a flightline for electric airplanes. Since the decision to include them happened at a late date, the word did not get out very far. Nonetheless, Steve Evans from Precision Aerobatics showed up with his crew as well as a few other electric fliers. A word to you electric pilots: Come on out next year and join the fun!
Jerry Wickline of Palm City FL and Larry King of Seattle WA put on a great performance with their 120-sized Lanier Mariners. You'd think these guys were neighbors the way they flew in sync!
Paul Westrich of Cincinnati, OH flew his Ziroli 44% Dr-1. A DA-15 pulls this 94# plane.
Several of the Futaba Team members took turns with the new Top Flite Cessna 182 ARF which flew beautifully with an OS 61FX.
Don Stanford was on hand witha 92" GeeBee Powered by a Zenoah G-62 and JR radio, Fred Mertz of Cosicana,Tx flew this beautiful, scratch-built, 1/3 scale Piper Pawnee, and Jim Neal of Columbus OH was a hit with his Modelbeu 50% Christen Eagle powered by a ZDZ 210.
Steve Thomas' LA-7 Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Ken Bina and Diana Glynn Pilot Snoopy's 40% Breezy Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
When you have been to as many shows as we have, we thought we'd seen just about everything - We were proven wrong. Each day at 12 O'clock sharp we were treated to the most spectacular show it has ever been my privilege to witness. The show usually started with a demonstration of turbine and electric jets by the Bob Violet team. If this wasn't impressive enough (and it was!), next came World Champion Quique Somenzini flying the soon-to-be-released "Beast" by Hangar-9 and Horizon Hobby.
While you're still catching your breath from Quique's performance, out of the blue comes the full-scale "Beast" piloted by Bryan Jensen and the Embry Riddle Cap 580 flown by Matt Chapman!
Soon, Bryan lands the Beast and Matt is left in the sky alone, but not for long. Team Futaba pilot Frank Noll soon joins him with the new Great Planes 33% Embry Riddle Cap which is modeled after Matt's.
Now comes the real mind blower - Matt and Frank do a choreographed routine together! They had planned it so well, that at times it was hard to tell which plane was which.
On Friday, the Noontime show was kicked off by 6-yr old Justin Chi who wowed the crowd with an amazing 3-D helicopter routine
Frank Noll and Andrew Jeskey shoot the breeze with Quique before Quique's brilliant performance with the new Hangar-9 "Beast"
6yr-old Justin Chi Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Quique Somenzini w/ the new Horizon "Beast" Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Quique accepts a slow roll challange from Matt Chapman as announcer (and all around nice guy) Greg Popel looks on.
Walt Larson of New Hope, Pa demonstrated his Mibo A-10 powered by two Jetcat 160 Titan turbines. The Warthog sports a 124" wingspane and weighs in at 54 lbs dry, 70 lbs wet.
Matt Chapman Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Walt Larson's A-10 Warthog Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Jason Shulman put on a spectacular display with a Composit ARF Ultra Lightning.
But the real show-stealer was the German team who flew their vectored-thrust jets!
Jason Shulman Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Amazing 3-D Jets! Or, Download the Video (11meg) CLICK HERE
Special thanks to RCU member T.J. Rohyans for providing us with these great elapsed-time exposures for the night flying!
One of the most incredible things to me was the assortment on RV and camp sites on the premises. Personally, I'll take a hotel room any day, but for the multitude that prefers to camp, the Triple Tree Aerodrome has everything you need for a great camping experience.
All in all, the Joe Nall Giant-Scale Fun-Fly was, by far, the most spectacular event it has ever been our pleasure to experience. If you ever get the chance, come down and see for yourself (You almost have to see it to believe it!)
On a final note, Kirby McKinney, one of the founders of the event who could not be present due to illness, passed away on June 10th. We would like to dedicate this article to the man whose wit, humor and never-ending hospitality will be sorely missed.