Midwest Slope Challenge 2004 Coverage

The Midwest Slope Challenge 2004 was one of the best on record and THE best I’ve attended in my 5 years of going to the contest. I arrived a couple of days early this year and stayed a couple of days afterward. I plan to do the same next year. Some of the best times of the weekend were non competition happenings and I look forward to more of the same.

Note: I’ve included a few pix with this story but there is a big gallery of 247 pix that is available here.

I was able to get going at 5:30 AM and of the 12-hour drive to Kansas from Milwaukee, I spent 11:38 in the vehicle! 2 gas stops and that was it. The idea was to get some flying in before dark on Wednesday.

The wind was north when I arrived at Palmer’s Pasture at 6PM or so. There were a few guys flying including Jim Porter who was flying his Elita.

I decided to give my new Carbon Opus V DS a try figuring that in the light air I could get a couple of passes and get the plane trimmed out. At 59 ounces I thought the air would be too light for much more. Actually, it flew really well and I was able to fly for a good half hour. The plane impressed me with its ability to fly in the light air. Other guys have said that with their lighter, 48 ounce or so standard Opuses, they usually flew with 8 or 10 ounces in and the plane loved it. I put the Opus away happy with the first flight and went to the opposite end of the spectrum and flew the Weasel for a while before calling it a day.

After talking to Dave Garwood and Joe Chovan I found that the previous day the conditions had been smoking!

Dinner at the K-18 was followed by a bull session at the house we stayed at with Denny Maize, Randy McCleave, Jim Porter, Larry Purdy and Eric Eaton.

A bit rainy and cold today and the wind was light from the north so it was a leisurely breakfast.

I met Jack Cooper from Leading Edge Gliders. Later in the day he, Mike Bailey and I went to a private slope known as Airgasm. Airgasm was flyable but it was raining or even snowing!

We looked at Minooka Park where Mike tried his own design PSS Airmacchi but the wind was too north and it was getting towards turkey time at Alden Shipp’s place. (Also the site of registration this year).

With our appetites partly satisfied we went to Lincoln for a pizza and some Boulevard beer at Biggie Bigg’s.

We started out the day with1 round of combat at Palmer’s before the wind calmed. By 11:30 it was looking like we’d have to wait until tomorrow when there were more favorable winds forecast.

Some of the guys from the New York Slope Dog contingent went to Airgasm where I heard Jim Baker put on an impressive air show with his Pixel in the light conditions. Because the landowner would like to keep the number of flyers down I decided to head to Airport Hill and see if the wind was working there. I had a solo session at Airport Hill for almost 2 hours! Other guys spread out around the area looking for good lift. I’ll bet I found the best for the time!

At Airport I threw the SH-50 out as a lift dummy and found the air quite good. The wind was about 10 mph straight in. I also saw several turkey buzzards circling and working some decent thermals so I put the 3CAM together and went out to join them. I had a good 45-minute flight, which involved thermaling up and screaming down, with some close to the lip action while I waited for the next thermal to blow through.

After a couple of hours of my solitary existence at the slope, Seth and Wayne Henning showed up. Actually, I expected a deluge or pilots because this seemed like the best place in the area, but no more showed up and Seth, Wayne and I had nice, uncluttered skies to fly in.

Later, I flew the Pixel and had a great time with it practicing point rolls. I also flew the Fun-1 tweaking the setup for the ODR race the next day. I even got the Weasel into the action

A bunch of us went to the Sylvan Dollar for a mediocre meal but some good company and conversation.

After dinner it was back to Airport Hill. There were a few folks there already including Mr. Clean and some of the Colorado contingent playing the light lift.

We started out the close in antics with a few rounds of balloon popping. Clean had several with him and we did this until we broke all the wood dowels holding the balloons off the ground a bit.

Mike Bailey set up some of the F3F sighting poles as a Limbo task and we spent a bunch of time working the light air and having a blast going under the 4-foot high pole. I’ll give kudos to Garland Hanson for being the most consistent while all the time razzing the other pilots. Thanks also to Pat McCleave who passed his now slightly less pristine Boomerang around to all who wanted to give the limbo a try.

We capped off the day with malts at Linda’s.

Combat continued in the already good lift with alternating rounds of Wings and Tails. The warbirds sure looked cool chasing each other around the sky. There was a particularly pesky ME-109 on my Mustang’s tail several times. Thanks, Joe!

Wings combat ended up with Mark Blinde taking top honors, David Day second and yours truly tying for third with Scott Miller. Of note was Seth Henning’s fifth place. Seth is about 12 years old or so and he bested his dad Wayne by 5 places. Way to show the old man how it is done, Seth!

Seth and Wayne at the combat hill


David Day and Mike Bailey had a fly off for first place in Tails Combat and I believe it was Joe Chovan who put Mike on the ground first giving the top place to David. Terry Dwyer got third and I managed to hang in for forth with my aging DAW Mustang. Long live Dave’s Aircraft Works!

One Design Racing
This year we had good wind for the ODR race and I was really looking forward to the competition. Even though Unlimited is a lot faster, the 4 man, single elimination format means you’ve got to be on the ball for every race to do well.

In the early rounds Todd Martin was looking tough with his Soaring Specialties ODR plane. Also, Jack Cooper’s own-design foam ODR looked very impressive until a radio glitch put him on the ground in the final heat race.

Todd Martin’s ODR plane


Pat MCleave’s ODR ship cranking the near turn


Mike Bailey’s hasty fix after a second round mid-air in the ODR race


Fred and Rick Stillman with their Larry Blevin’s Cobra in the ODR race


The racing pixies must have been looking favorably on me this year as I managed to win the ODR final with Joe Hosey in second, Pat McCleave third and Wayne Henning fourth.

More race coverage can be found at:
There is also a thread on RC Groups at:

Jack Cooper, Joe Chovan, Rich Loud and Joe Hosey, flying Dave Garwood’s P-40 warbird, did a really cool demo that proved foam can indeed be a viable, high performance building material when used responsibly. Thanks to Jack Cooper for showing us that foam is not just for combat anymore!

The LEG P-40 crew


2 Warhawks


3 Warhawks


A lone Warhawk over Wilson Lake


After the event the hill opened up to fun flying.

I blasted around with the Pixel trying more point rolls and was able to get several 7 pointers. Seems my thumb still does not know where that eighth point it!

Randy McCleave had a Super Hit, a small wingeron plane that Jim Porter got in Europe. Pretty cool. Sort of like a smaller, molded Pixel.

Saturday evening was the Banquet/raffle/awards festival and the food was great as well as the company.

Beef, It was what’s for dinner


I got to the slope and the wind was already in the 20s, the sky was free of planes and so for the first flight of the day I loaded the Opus with 15 ounces of ballast and threw it out in to the lift. This was only the second flight on this plane but I was already feeling good with it. My intent was to see if I wanted to use it for the Unlimited race. I ended up sticking with the Extreme because I have more recent experience with it and I believe of all the planes I own, I fly it the best. I think the Opus is faster in a straight line but does not snap turns as hard although by carving a smooth turn it really holds its speed well. I’ll have a bunch more time on the Opus next year and may give it a go to see how it does. The MWSC Unlimited course is only about 350 feet on the straight and I think the 2-meter class planes are very competitive.

Unlimited race
We had some excellent winds and some very exciting racing. George Voss’s SBXC sure looked cool. 170 inches of plane make an impressive statement. Maybe on a bigger course George! Pat McCleave was braving the man-on-man with his NYX and proved very formidable. Terry Dwyer was looking strong with his Miraj. Denny had his venerable Russian F3B ship and was flying smoothly. Tom Neil had an Extreme and I was looking forward to the match up.

Todd and Rich in the Unlimited race


In the end, Pat McCleave edged my McLean Extreme out with his NYX but not by much. Jim Porter won last year with another NYX. This year I did manage to beat the NYX in one race and the other 2 were really close. I was able to turn harder and fly a shorter course. Also, Tom Neil finished third with another Extreme.

With the Unlimited competition finished it was on to Warbird Racing.

The wind was really coming in by this time and in practice the 60 inch ‘birds looked impressive. I used most of the practice time to hollow out the old DAW Mustang and fit about 14 ounces of ballast in. This actually worked pretty well until a bad landing tweaked the elevator push rod and bound it up. Mike Bailey and I tried to get it flying again by moving the elevator horn to the other side of the elevator and using a programmable mix to activate the rudder servo when the elevator was use but the rudder push rod was binding as well so for the final I flew Randy McCleave’s Mig and was able to hold on for third. Mike Bailey finished fourth while Jack Cooper won and Joe Chovan finished second, both flying LEG 60-inchers.

Jack Cooper’s winning Aircobra


Again, More race coverage can be found at:
There is also a thread on RC Groups at:

After the racing I tossed the Slope Scale F-20 out and it was really fun. Great lift and a small fast plane, what more could slope trash hope for!

I gave the Barracuda try and found it fast as usual but I need to do something about the aileron travel as it is not enough for fast, crisp rolls.

Back at the farmhouse there was a beautiful horizon-to-horizon rainbow that lasted about 30 seconds. It was one of the most vivid I’ve ever seen.

About midnight the power went out at the farmhouse and we got to see what pitch black really looks like. Luckily there was a smoker in our midst and the lighter became very handy while we located candles.

There was some major wind that night, 80 plus gusts were reported and the windows in the farmhouse were shaking and rattling something fierce. Since it was Sunday night and some of the houseguests had already departed, I moved from the windy, south side of the house to the calmer, north side of the house. No telling what might come through the window! BTW, the Slope Dogs cottage had a tree fall on it! No real damage but it was quite a sight.

After another breakfast at the K-18, I headed over to the slope. I arrived before anyone else and again had the sky to myself. I still had the Opus ballasted up and the winds were still blowing in the 20s

I flew the Pixel more and love this little plane every time I fly it.

Joe’s Voltij looked very cool and he was working on rolling circles. The Voltij looks to be an impressive aerobatic ship.

Rich had his Ninja flying well.

Dave, Alden and Rich flew their Ka-6s in formation. As sometimes happens in close formation, Dave and Alden tangled. Both planes were slightly but not terminally damaged. Another testament to the durability of EPP!

The wind was diminishing and the Slope Dogs pulled out their DAW 1-26s. I borrowed Dave Garwood’s while he shot some pix and we all flew in formation. Rich, Joe, Wayne, Jim and I flew inches off the slope for over an hour in what Joe Chovan calls “the magic air”

The Slope Dogs do some 1-26 formation flying


There was a fairly ominous storm coming and while I made a beer run, everyone scurried off the slope. Turns out the rotating wall cloud in the picture below developed into an airborne tornado about 8 miles form the slope! We were having dinner at the K-18.

The rotating wall cloud over Russell, KS


After the storm the wind switched and Joe, Rich and I headed to Airgasm to shoot some evening/storm pix. The sky was looking very cool if a bit ominous. In the light air the1-26s really fly well.

Rich and Joe getting in some last light flying


At breakfast Mayor Dave showed us the wind damage to K-18 roof and the big barn door on the maintenance shed behind the Home Oil gas station. Those 80 plus wind gusts really pack a whollop.

The air was light again and northeast so we went to Airport Hill. This day’s fun was thought up by Joe Chovan as he found a really cool route along the lip of the slope using several strategically place pine trees as pylons. There was a natural gate between two, right about mid course, and two on each end for the turn arounds.  Again the 1-26s got the call. I don’t have one, yet, so I used my Combat Wings Xl. It flew OK but the 1-26s are really the ticket for these kinds of shenanigans.

Joe and I headed to Airgasm for a final flight before we headed out to South Dakota. Light air again and I flew my Fun-1 while Joe used his Blazer.

We finished off our stay in Lucas and Kansas with a super spaghetti dinner at Alden and Joyce’s. Some good conversation, a game of cribbage and a slide show of the week’s pictures on the computer were also on the agenda. Thanks, guys.

On Wednesday morning we bid Lucas and our friends there farewell and headed to South Dakota for more flying. See you all next year at the 2005 edition of the MWSC.

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