Fall 2017 Marion KS HAFFA Free Flight Contest

Each year the end the first week of October culminates with the HAFFA club’s outdoor Marion Kansas Free Flight Contest. This year the weekend’s warm windy weather was a bit challenging for the 2017 contest flyers. However the competitors were able to work around the windy conditions pretty well by the time flying ended on Sunday afternoon. We had experienced gusts up to 25mph by Sunday noon and quit flying around 2:30pm. By that time Bob Hanford was putting up his large class power ship for a last flight and Chuck Powell was getting up enough nerve for flying the new bungee launch glider event. Some flyers were still putting up their FAC Jet Cat flights as well. Chuck Powell won the Marion Cup this year with 44 points. Chuck flew 16 events. I think this was amazing considering the windy conditions. Great job Chuck! Bob Hanford and Scott Baird followed with 19 points each.

Each modeler has to expend effort in planning, building, practice and efficient vehicle packing to get to Marion Kansas about 50 miles west of Emporia, KS. Our club is very thankful for the attending modelers that drive all the way from Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri for the precious two days of unlimited space for flying. Due to the unique rotation of the calendar weekend dates this year the contest fell on the same weekend as “old settlers days”. This added an extra thousand people in town for the Marion Parade and revelers. The Marion motel rooms were filled up and difficult to obtain as a result of the additional activity. Some of us camped out at the airport. The weather turned out to be a good weekend for camping. Jim O’Reilly camped out at the local lake. He had brought down his camper trailer from Wichita. Phil Burress brought down his amazing rebuilt 1950’s camper to the airport, and Chuck, Linda and their family set up at the airport while Renz pitched a tent next to one of the hangars. Friday night Phil played guitar and Chuck played banjo. These guys were great! They played a bunch of blue grass standards and some new stuff as well. The night air and surrounding metal hangars provided a nice concert venue with no PA system required. They had Renz and O’Reilly stomping their feet after a few minutes. This was a great addition to a perfect evening.

Friday evening test flying was fantastic. It was warm and calm. Renz counted at least more than 6 to 8 vehicles out on the field with modelers enjoying the great weather and test flying making their final tweaks and adjustments. Jeff Nisley, and Scott Baird along with several of the Wichita flyers were putting up some great flights.

There was an adjustment to the traditional Friday night 5pm cocktail hour this year….It was really closer to 5:30 pm so it started later than previous years. We really missed the Bill Schmidt portable bar set up. (Bill and Marilyn had been scheduled a year in advance to be out of town) and could not make it. We had to go it alone with a beer or two. I sure missed the Schmidt “Old Fashioned” carefully mixed by Bill and Marilyn. Dana, Charley and Liz along with Renz made the cocktail hour work with the existing lawn chairs and some small tables. Several flyers were still hard at it flying due to the incredibly nice weather and pressed on until the sun set and it was time for dinner. While that was going on Mike Basta was busy trying to get his chase bike to run. His “nephew” David Gibson (now an Airline Pilot on A320 Airbus Aircraft) drove down to help Mike with the contest and the bike. They found out the Suzuki fuel shut off valve system internal seals were damaged. They both kept at it and worked until dark. Lucky for the HAFFA contingent Dana had brought down Lynn’s chase bike and was able to get it running with a new battery and fresh gas. We were down to one chase bike. (Thanks to Lynn Chaffee!) we love you Lynn!

Even though it was windy this Marion contest had a special meaning associated with the Half-A-Gollywock mass launch. We flew the mass launch in honor of our club member Lynn Chaffee who had passed away a week before the contest. Lynn had built the first Half-A-Gollywock in the HAFFA club I believe around 2014. Dana Field had found the Gollywock plans in the British Aero Modeler Magazine and brought plans to our HAFFA business meeting. Lynn took his plans home and built one of these little ships right away. This airplane has been part of our local bi-weekly club contest model for 3 years now. Lynn covered it with yellow and black tissue like a bumble Bee. He had just flown it in August and we were all impressed how he had got that little machine dialed in. Chuck Powell had called me and the day after Lynn passed and told me he had seen Lynn’s Half-A-Gollywock at Marion and thought it was so cool he went home and built one. Once Chuck got his Half-A-Gollywock built the other members of the WHAM (Wichita Historical Aircraft Modelers) followed suit and built them as well. The little plane is a little tricky to trim but does fly well. HAFFA would like to thank Jeff Englert for running and coordinating this FAC mass launch event. Prior to the launch we all took a moment before the mass launch to say a few words about Lynn. Chuck told the story mentioned above and we held up our airplanes in Lynn’s honor before we launched. Even though the wind was gusting 10-15 mph the contest went three rounds with Chuck winning the event. Congrats to Chuck! Jeff Nisley’s plane went out of site only to be found by Mike Basta 23 hours later at the edge of the airport hiding in the grass. I am guessing miraculously Lynn intervened and did not want Nisley to lose the plane so he can compete with it next year.

Even though this was a competition there were a lot that a lot of modelers were helping each other. This has probably always been the case. On Friday night Chuck Powell was helping Jeff Nisley with some adjustments to his “Keil Kraft Competitor”. Jeff Nisley is relatively new to the sport but has been turning out some great works of flying art over the past few summer months. On one test flight the balsa carved prop on the KK Competitor broke in half! Chuck said “No Problem” and pulled out the CA glue and fixed it on the spot. Nisley was shocked….thinking that he would not fly that plane again for the weekend. He watched in amazement as Chuck Powell accurately fixed the prop. That same plane (with that broken prop) made several competitive flights all weekend even in the wind.

Renz’s prop broke on Saturday morning as well. Renz had patched up Abe Gallas’ old ” SKY GULL” at the last minute with tissue and dope patches all over the fuselage. When Abe had passed on he had wound up with the model (given by the family) and hung it up in his basement. It had been hanging there for at least three years. By the time Renz got it wound he had help from no less than 4 HAFFA flyers getting this plane airborne. Dana set up his tent and l his tables for Renz, Scott Baird and Charley Taylor helped him to get the wing strapped on and to load the rubber motor in the old crate which got complicated because he did not have the right stuffer stick. Nisley had one handy and loaned his. Finally though just as the beast was loaded in the stooge and wound the prop latch broke off the prop. Like Nisley on Friday Night…. Renz thought that was it for the old ” SKY GULL” and it would not fly again this year. Mike Basta came to the rescue and built a new prop latch with pieces of tubing and wire from this tool box and spot glued it back into the prop. The model was wound up and launched. Charley timed it for a 56 second flight clear across the field—which was good enough. We sure hope Abe was watching. (Some times it takes a Village).

Dianne Basta did a fantastic job designing and printing the high quality award certificates as this has to be very time consuming. All the recipients really appreciated the awards. Thanks so much Dianne!

Jeff Englert did a great job keeping the FAC events on schedule and running the SAM events for HAFFA. We really appreciate his time conducting the mass launches which are a great part of the contest to participate in. The Marion Airplane contest mascot: Muffin (Jeff’s Beagle) made the rounds all day. That hound covers some ground! We had to move flying locations several times on Saturday. Muffin never got behind and always managed to show up and say hello each time we moved. My niece and nephew look forward to seeing Muffin at every contest along with everyone else! Our club would like to thank our club president Mike Basta for running the contest again this year knowing that many hours of preparation and coordination are required. All the flyers and our club members really appreciate the Basta’s efforts. Once again we were blessed with the wonderful meals provided by local chef Gretchen Unruh. Her spicy beef and special fried chicken along with fresh baked homemade bread and pies are to die for. This food provides a really special part of the overall experience flying at Marion.

The Saturday night meal in the café in near-by Florence Kansas was enjoyed by all flyers. Plenty of prime rib was just the ticket for the starving modelers. No one went away hungry! What a deal. Finally we would like to thank the city of Marion and Dick Mclendon for coming out to the Marion Airport Sunday afternoon to present the Marion Cup. The presentation always provides an additional level of authenticity to the HAFFA club’s meet and provides for good interaction between civic leaders and model flyers.

This year several youth attended the Marion Contest. Chuck and Linda Powell’s grand kids were there competing in full force, Earl Griffith brought his grand-daughter, and Julianna and Ayden Johnson flew airplanes as well. This is our future to keeping free flight alive getting kids interested.

Jeff Renz had sent a list of questions to his 10 year old niece Julianna Johnson and had asked for her comments. This is what he got back: Responses are in Italics.

At what location was your latest model airplane contest held? Marion

When was it held? (What day?) Saturday, September 30

What type of model airplane did you fly? Glider

What type of material is the airplane constructed from? Balsa wood, glue and paint

What were the weather conditions when you flew it? (what was the temperature?, was the wind blowing?) the wind was blowing and i’d say it was about 70 degrees

Did you brother help you? No

Did you mom help you? She helped me get it attached to the launcher

How did you launch the airplane? With the launcher, to the side, on a hill and I didn’t pull really hard on the launcher

With the wind or into the wind? Into the wind

What type of equipment did you use to launch the airplane? A launcher

Did the airplane fly? Yes

If the airplane did fly how far did it go? About a mile

Once you launched the airplane where you able to retrieve it? Not at first

What color was the airplane? Was it hard to see?it was orange and yes it was hard to see

How many contests had you attended so far? 4,

How long have you been flying model airplanes outdoors? About 4 years but it was just for fun

Will you ever fly at a model airplane contest again? Yes

Hear is a story of me flying my glider (written by Julianna Johnson Age 10) It was a windy Saturday we had just driven up to Marion from Mcpherson Ks. I got to see my uncle Jeff Renz. after a few hours, we ( me and my brother Ayden) decided to fly some gliders. I had just went up on a hill and Ayden had already flown his glider about a quarter mile. It was my turn, I got my glider attached to my launcher, put it to my left side pulled it not to hard and let go it went flying. It soared and soared it went passed one building it went passed another. And then disappeared. we like that it went about two minutes then this very nice man came and he found it. Yay! And that is the story of my glider

2017 Marion Spring Contest Sponsored by Wichita Historic Aircraft Modelers (WHAM) a Winner

By Jeff Renz

Things went well at the WHAM (Wichita Historical Aircraft Modelers) contest in Marion, KS June 3rd and 4th 2017.

Although there was always rain and T-storms in the weather forecast, it never actually rained on us during the flying time.  Wind was not really a factor.  There were some gusts on Sunday but it was still very flyable with thermals present.  (Note that the partly cloudy sky created stop and go flying due to cooling and heating of the prairie field landing strip).  Mike Basta and Jeff Nisley went down the Friday night before the contest to represent HAFFA and set up and test fly their models.  The local hotel rooms were difficult to obtain due to a large Marion city park celebration. Mike and Jeff Nisley were staying at Hillsboro the closest town over from Marion.  Jeff Renz made it down on Saturday morning.  Jeff’s sister Jana brought his nephew Ayden Johnson and niece Juliana Johnson over to fly from McPherson Kansas which is 40 minutes west of the Marion flying field.  There were competitors from Arkansas, East Texas, DFW Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.  Lots of powered flights were completed which was very evident by the smell of nitro methane and the sound from high revving model airplane engines.

Many mass launches were held.  Jeff Nisley flew his Fokker D8 in the WW1 mass launch.  This was great because we have not had any HAFFA representation for WW1 FAC until this year.  Jeff Nisley’s Fokker D8 is a work of art and received many positive comments from the other contestants.  Don Deloach from Colorado Springs area spent time with Nisley on some flight trimming techniques.  Don also gave a primer on braiding rubber motors which was really informative.  Nisley is going to present the braiding method in our up coming business meeting. 

Mike Basta was able to make many flights with his tip launch discuss launch gliders as well as putting up his FAI coupe for several flights.  Mike flew his Jader 60 towline glider in NOS towline late Saturday afternoon.  During the tow up a sharp gust caused catastrophic spar failure and the wing separated in half.  The rest of the plane survived and will be ready for the October HAFFA Marion contest.

Ayden and Juliana Johnson flew AMA catapult gliders and had a ball.  This year Ayden entered a couple of rubber events.  P-30 and Open rubber.  Ayden got the surprise of his life when the plane he was flying the open rubber event and made an out of site flight claimed by thermal god HUNG.  The plane was Bob K s Flying Aces Moth.  Renz helped set it up in the stooge and had Ayden put 500 winds in the motor.  Ayden then launched the Moth and it made a 60 foot circle and spiraled into the tall grass undamaged.  Ayden seemed a little disappointed with the effort.   A 1/32 thick balsa shim was installed in the trailing edge of the stabilizer and another attempt was made.  Ayden was told to add 800 turns into the motor.   This time it was more exciting.  The Moth climbed up 50 feet and made a hard spiral right hand dive towards the ground.  Within 5 feet of the ground it pulled up gradually as the torque burned off.  It caught a thermal at about 50 feet.  It might be time to mention that during the installation of the balsa shim Ayden asked what the aluminum tube in the back bottom of the Moth fuselage was for.  Renz explained that was for the dethermalizer mechanism and that it would not be needed due to the fact that this was still a test flight and the old model was having difficulty flying anyway.  Ayden asked how the fuse should be installed.  Renz told him he would not need to install it or light it.  Hmmmmmmmm at about 500 feet Ayden said …uncle Jeff I think we should have used a fuse!  Bob’s Moth continued to fly north west towards the Marion golf course and directly over the city.  The model was a small spec in the sky when it went into the clouds.  Bob K had passed away several years ago but he got his model back!  He was heaven watching it I am sure.  I am sure he enjoyed watching the flight from above.  Ayden was stunned.  This was only the second time he had launched a fully wound outdoor stick and tissue model and it went OOS.  A flight we will never forget.

The FAC Jet Cat event was well attended. Jeff Nisley and Mike Basta did quite well.  Deloach helped Nisley with some launch techniques.

Over all the contest was well attended.  We would like to thank Chuck and Linda Powell and the WAHM club for putting on a great contest!  Thanks to Jeff Englert for running all the mass launch events and FAC events.

Just when we left the Marion field a real gulley-washer rainstorm hit Sunday late afternoon.  We were on the pavement finishing loading up the motorcycles and some airplane boxes when it hit. We were all able to make it home safely.

Just a reminder the up and coming Marion October 1st contest sponsored by our club is worth the 2 hour trip to Marion.  Even if you only go for the day.  Lots of socializing and commradry with modelers from multiple states who have a passion for flying freeflight models like we all enjoy.

Also would we would like to thank Lynn Chaffee, Jack Vetter, Charley Taylor and Liz for helping with the OPEN HANGAR DAY event which was the same day as the Marion Contest June 3 out at the Olathe Naval AirStation Commemorative Airforce event. They ran the build and take session for the foam plate gliders.  Their help was really appreciated so that we could attend the Marion Contest.

2016 Marion Contest A Success

HAFFA National Cup 2016
In Marion, KS, the first weekend of October brings the HAFFA National Cup Contest to Baxter Field at Marion Municipal Airport.  With very light and variable winds all weekend and temps in the 70’s, 23 flyers from 5 states enjoyed the best flying weather we’ve ever experienced for this October contest.  This was amazing considering that another free flight event, the SAM Championships, took place the previous week.   Some of the regulars like Jim O’Reilly and Grant Carson were not present due to the conflict.
The main part of this weekend is for National Cup points and participation was strong in all events.  Mark Covington dominated the glider category with 1st Place in Cat Launch and Classic Towline and 2nd Place in HLG.   Rubber power events were more spread out with Chuck Powell 1st in P-30, Bob Hanford 1st in Moffett and Nos Rubber, and Don DeLoach on top in Mulvihill.  The various power events were also spread out with 1st places taken by Bob Hanford, Robert Dunham, Mike Fedor, Gene Smith, and George Avila.
Three juniors flew competitively this year:  Gene and Lynne Smith’s granddaughter Mia Lynne Smith from Tulsa flew P-30 (1st place) and two Glider events (1st place in OHLG, 2nd place in OCG) Chuck and Linda Powell’s grandson Bradin Powell from Eldorado flew catapult glider and P-30 with great success.  Jeff Renz’s nephew Ayden Johnson was attending his second Marion Contest this year.  Ayden managed to win the catapult glider event with a Thermal Piglet completed at the contest.  Under Jeff’s direction, he built the wing during a Commemorative Air Force “Open Hangar” event earlier in the Fall.
      Mass launch events seem to be a favorite at any contest and we had 5 events over the 2 days at Marion.  Don DeLoach won WWI and Thompson/Greve and finished 2nd behind Gene Smth in WWII.  After 2 rounds in Half-size Gollywock, Jeff Renz was the victor and, in SAM Twin Pusher, Chuck Powell had the longest flight of 2min 56sec to win over 6 other flyers (someone said we had more Twin Pushers than the SAM Champs).
Jerry Murphy from Colorado entered a great looking F7U Cutlass in the Jet Catapult event, however Chuck Powell’s Canberra won, beating the other 7 contestants in this very popular FAC event.  P-30 and Catapult Glider were also very popular, with 7 and 9 participants respectively.  Mark Covington was on top in Cat Glider while Chuck Powell took first in P-30.
       It’s always interesting to see Bill and Marilyn Schmidt drive up to the flight line.  Once again, Bill did not disappoint anyone with his trunk full of glow power models and another version of his 1952 Air Trails Perky.  The impeccable Bill Schmidt building standards were very apparent.  Sometimes I think these models need to be in a museum instead of the flying field.
       We would like to thank FAC and SAM modeler Jeff Englert for running the FAC and SAM events.  We really appreciate his time and expertise in coordinating the most fun and colorful aspect of the contest.  WWI, WWII, Thompson/Greve, and Twin Pusher mass launches were an absolute blast to watch and participate in.  It should be noted that his Beagle, Muffin, won the social butterfly award.  The Junior flyers gave Muffin lots of attention and even the more seasoned flyers were handing out treats to get her attention.
      HAFFA members Charlie Taylor and Elizabeth Besser drove from Independence, MO to Marion on Friday night, as did Club President and CD Mike Basta, Suman Saripalli, and  Club VP Jeff Renz.   Charlie brought his Embryo (Big Cat), Half-a-Gollywock, and Half-a-Wakefield.  He was able to test fly them in uninterrupted fashion in the large space at Marion and picked up many tips from the modelers at the contest.   Suman Saripali flew one of Carl Perkins’ old models, a Double Feature, in SAM Small-cabin and hooked a thermal for a 9-min flight when the dethermalizer failed.  Jerry Murphy also had a DT failure with his P-30 resulting in a 2-hour flight.  Kudos to Don DeLoach for helping him retrieve it.  Jeff Renz won the Half-a-Gollywock mass launch and only destroyed one Twin Pusher this year.    Many thanks to Mike Basta for his Twin Pusher technical advice.  Jeff’s twin pusher flight would never have happened if it weren’t for Charlie Taylor’s large box of rubber, Suman’s assistance with fixing prop bearing, Elizabeth’s assistance holding the prop clutch for each prop, and Paul Meganthorp’s good eye to correct Renz’s error during the motor winding – hard to believe how many people it took to get this one Twin Pusher in the air for a 4-sec flight in the mass launch.   All members put up many flights during the 2-day contest.
     Once again we were blessed with wonderful meals at lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday; local chef Gretchen Unruh provided the lunches which included her pulled pork burritos and chili along with fresh-baked, homemade bread and sweet rolls.  Her lunches provide a really special part of the overall experience of flying at Marion.  The Saturday night meal provided by “Cindy’s Place” was also a highlight.  Gretchen assisted Cindy in preparing the banquet of steaks and ribs plus all the side dishes and desserts.   None of us went away hungry that night!
       Cindy – of Cindy’s Place restaurant  –  is Cindy Taylor; she and Gretchen have kept HAFFA flyers well-fed for all of the years we’ve been flying in Marion.  Shortly before the contest we heard from Jeanice Thomas (Jeanice is HAFFA’s ‘guardian angel’ in Marion) that Cindy was experiencing some serious (and expensive) medical problems.  Since everyone wanted to help in some way, Mike came up with the idea of a 50/50 raffle with 50% of the proceeds going to Cindy.  At the end of the flying day on Sunday, the winning ticket was held by Charlie Taylor who had left instructions that if his ticket was drawn he wanted his half to go to Cindy as well!   That kind gesture allowed us to donate 100% of the raffle proceeds to Cindy as a partial thank you for all of her kindnesses to HAFFA over the years.
      Our club would like to thank Mike Basta for the many hours of planning, coordination, and follow-up reporting that go into holding a successful  contest each year; in addition, we thank his wife Dianne for her assistance with designing the flyer and award certificates and helping to output the numerous reports required following the contest.
 Finally, we would like to thank the City of Marion for welcoming us each year, Jeanice Thomas for all her good works as our ‘Guardian Angel’ in Marion, and Dick McLinden for coming out to the airport on Sunday afternoon to present the Marion Cup.  The presentation always provides an additional level of authenticity to the HAFFA contest and provides for good interaction between civic leaders and model flyers.
 Don DeLoach, representing the Magnificent Mountain Men of Colorado, walked away with the Marion Cup having earned a total of 49 points overall; Chuck Powell was in second place with a total of 41 points.  Congratulations!
Submitted by Mike Basta
President, Heart of America Free Flight Association

HAFFA PICNIC Results From September 18th, 2016‏

We had a great time at the the 2nd annual HAFFA  picnic Sunday September 18th near Perry Lake (north of Lawrence).
We would like to thank Suman Saripalli for sponsoring our club with a great location to fly and have a picnic!  I would like to thank Mike and Dana for cooking the hotdogs, hamburgers, and “brauts”.

I would like to thank the HAFFA members who brought wonderful sides salads and  desserts.  Club members brought their airplanes and gliders to fly.  Our club would like to thank Dana for timing and running the  “Jetco Thermic” freeflight glider contest. We will make this part of our annual contest.

15th Annual HAFFA Outdoor Contest / NFFS National Cup Meet—Marion, KS

2016—15th Annual HAFFA Outdoor
Contest / NFFS National Cup Meet


Please note that you can print out a PDF flier that has detailed information about this year’s event.

To access the contest Flyer, please click the following link:

2016 Marion, KS Annual Contest Event flyer

Understand that when you go to this PDF page, it will be a printer friendly page to print. Also don’t forget that when you are viewing this flyer, it acts just like another page on this Web site with all of the links working, like email addresses, Web sites of Lodging in Marion including the Country Inn Motel, Historic Elgin Hotel B&B, Country Dreams B&B, and the Outdoors Inn. It will also give you directions and camping information as well.

Saturday October 1st and Sunday the 2nd, 2016
CONTEST SITE  Will be at:


Marion Municipal Airport
Baxter Field Marion, KS  66861

2009-marion-m-airport

Above is another shot at a different angle of the Airport, taken by a
member of our own, Mike Basta, at the 2009 Marion, KS Contest.