Owatonna, Minnesota is located about 40 miles due-south of Minneapolis on Interstate 35. With a population of about 23,000, it's little more than a stopover between Des Moines and the Twin Cities, yet the local R/C club is one of the more active clubs you'll find anywhere. The Southern Minnesota Model Aircraft Club (SMMAC) is famous around the state for their annual "Wings Over Owatonna" warbird event, but now for the third year, from July 27-29 2012, they hosted Watts over Owatonna!
The event had 150 registered pilots coming from 10 differnet states, and these pilots brought out OVER 500 planes and helicopters!!!
The SMMAC field has a 700' runway covered with a nylon fabric matting which is a great surface - especially for electrics with smaller wheels! If you prefer, there is also a well-maintained 1200' grass strip running parrallel to the mat runway.
To add to the excellence of the site, there are many acres which are unobstructed for great flying. This is largely due to the fact that the land on which the field sits is owned by club member Tim Johnson, who not only owns most of the surrounding land, but Tim is also an RC pilot! A few years ago, Tim donated a large portion of his field to create one of the best flying sites you'll find anywhere.
The SMMAC field also has one of the best 'clubhouses' I've ever seen, where the SMMAC members are welcome to store their larger planes between flying days. And to top things off, Tim's wife, Karen spends all of her time at these events cooking up some of the best grub you'll ever sink your teeth into! I mean literally, this terrific lady is out there cooking from dawn till dusk! Breakfast started at 8:00 with pancakes, and she didn't stop cooking until 'last call' for burgers at around 5:00. Now that's dedication!
There are also clean, portable restroom facilities on site as well as a terrific playground for children and the flightline features both 120v A/C and 12v D/C power.
The flight line was packed end-to-end with 72 shade canopies, stacked three rows deep to help keep the sun away from planes and pilots. The SMMAC club members moved the pit fence back 10 feet to allow the space for the third row of shade tents - now that's what I call dedication to putting on a great event!
Each morning started with a pilot's meeting held by Contest Director Steve Mills who did a great job (along with the rest of the club) organizing the event. Three Twin Cities Radio Controllers club members (Tim Len, Chris O'Connor (not pictured - Sorry Chris!), and Steve Meyer) served as additional flight line coordinators to make sure safety guidelines were followed.
Event Sponsors included Great Planes, Futaba, Higher Plane Productions, True RC, Zeke's Park Scale Models, Eagle Tree Systems, Sig, Dimension Engineering, DuBro, RC Radio Network, Progressive RC, Attitude Hobbies, Castle Creations, Black Dog RC, Model Aero, APC Propellers, Bob Smith Industries, Mercury Adhesives, Servo City, RC-Lights, Real Flight, Nitro Planes, Atlanta Hobby, and Electrifly - some of whom provided an excellent assortment of great prizes
Watts 2012 had 150 registered pilots - an increase of about 20 pilots over last year's event!
Pilots and Airplanes
Roy Maynard brought out a very unique project - an ME163! After lots of work/modification, the plane looks beautiful. Roy even treated us all to a great show by igniting a rocket motor mounted in the tail during flight! The ME163 launched upward and looked really COOL!!!
Brian Scalf had a very fast Russian sailplane simply called 'Swist' that screamed across the sky. A fellow pilot had a radar gun on site, and the Swist was clocked at 238 MPH!!! I don't know how Brian kept his eyes on the small plane!
Paul Doyle, from the Twin Cities Radio Control club, had a great looking Skyraider - the scale details were incredible, considering the plane is made out of foam!
Team Futaba pilot Chris Sydor, from Hobbico, flew his Top Flight P-47 with great skill - The 'Jug' looked very realistic in flight!
Chris Sydor also put many flights on the Great Planes WACO YMF-5D over the weekend. He is a very talented pilot and flew the WACO very scale-like!
Here's a short video of it in action!
Great Planes WACO YFM-5D ARF
Wayne Rademacher showed off his Aeroworks Cessna 195 this year. He purchased this plane through the TCRC annual auction and converted it from gas powered to electric.
The largest plane that flew at the event this year was Greg Sutter's scratch built Big-E Bipe. There was a GoPro video camera mounted in the cockpit and the plane flew very nicely! Greg's bipe won an award Saturday night, but we'll have more on that later.
One of the youngest pilots, at Watts, again this year was 12 year old Collin Mayer. Collin began flying on a buddy-box at age 5 and soloed at 8 years old! While at Watts, he was flying anything he could get in the air! His radio of choice was the Futaba 2.4gHz 7C.
There were so many warbirds at the event, I couldn't possibly have taken pictures of all of them. Above are some that caught my eye (and camera lens). Some of these planes look equally as good sitting on the ground on display as they did flying by. The opening scenes of the warbird video were shot during the 'Mass Warbird Launch' on Friday at noon. There were so many planes in the air, it was hard to keep track of them all!
Saturday, at noon, the combat began. While several started, there could be only one winner! There was a trophy for first place, and runner up, but we'll get to that in a bit!
CIVILIAN, SPORT PLANES, AND 3D
There was a ton of non-warbird planes present at the event. If you can think of a design, it was probably there! From flat foamies to Gee Bees, and even a 'soaring' eagle! There were also a lot of EDF jets screaming around the sky as well, but they were harder to catch in the lens...
Civilian, Sport, and 3D Video
Though there were fewer helicopters, their pilots represented very well! They performed almost every maneuver in the book - some of which I hadn't seen before. There were lots of 'Oohs and Ahs' and applause following each entertaining flight!
The event also hosted two nights of night flying. Both Friday and Saturday night, brave souls donned their bug spray, long pants and shirts to show off their lighted planes and helicopters. The night flights were spectacular! The lit-up aircraft looked really cool in the pitch-black sky, and anyone driving by the field may have thought there were ?UFO?s? in the area! The guys from Hobbico brought along a 'lit-up' Flyzone Sensei equipped with a buddy box so everyone could try night flying.
Night Flying Video
Several awards were presented at the end of the day, and the trophies were beautiful this year!
Event award winners:
Best of Show - Greg Sutter - Scratch Built Big-E Bipe
Pilots Choice - Jerry Swanson - GeeBee Sportster Senior
Sport Champion - Danny Collier - 89" 3D Hobby Shop Slick
Sport Runner Up - Joel Dirnberger - BluFO
Scale Champion - Wayne Rademacher - AeroWorks Cessna 195
Scale Runner Up - Brandon Archer - Highly modified Parkzone F4U Corsair
Multi Engine Champion - Howard Von Ruden B-17 / Mosquito
Multi Engine Runner Up - David Rush - B-17 / Mosquito
Night Flyer Champion - Paul Rono - Raptor 50 conversion
Night Flyer Runner Up - Connor Grafius - multi changing light slow stick
Combat Champion - Guy Grafius
Combat Runner Up - Wayne Barta
A large round of applause was given to each award winner - if there's one thing we RC pilots have, it's good sportsmanship!
Around 6:00 PM on Saturday, we had a wonderful dinner to top off this great event. Along with a huge rib-eye steak, we had baked potatos with all the toppings, a piece of garlic bread, and all the sweet corn we could eat. Again, Karen was at grill preparing this delicious meal for us! The steak dinner sold out, which was 200 steaks!!! While we ate, several prizes were given away, and a few speeches were made to thank all the pilots and sponsors. Watts over Owatonna 2012 was a great event, and I'm looking forward to going back in 2013!
Keep an eye out for next year's events, whether you prefer their warbird fly, Watts, or some of their other scheduled Fly-Ins, the SMMAC club of Owatonna, MN will treat you one of the best days of flying you'll ever have! Watch their Website for upcoming events.
A huge round of applause to all the guy's (and gals) that made Watts over Owatonna another sucessful event!