By Lyman Slack
Gun 2002 - A Personal View
living in the Greater Miami area, we had attended Top Gun at Palm Beach
Polo for many years. It was a great location at first, but as our models
got bigger and faster, Top Gun simply outgrew the facility. I moved to
north central Florida six years ago, a far distance from Top Gun. This
year, the event moved to Lakeland's Linder Airport. This is the same airport
the EAA has its "Sun 'n Fun" convention every year - the second
largest general aviation event in the world, second only to Oshkosh. This
meant readily available hired workers to handle the tasks of parking,
gate receipts, and clean up.
Five of us piled in a van and drove down to Lakeland Saturday, April
27. Attendants served coffee & donuts en route. We arrived in preferred
parking (found a place in the shade!) in time to view the opening ceremonies.
First impression was that the flight line was a bit tight for the pilots,
but it didn't seem to bother them. Runway was East - West but the light
breeze was from due South, causing some turbulence as it rolled over the
trees and grandstands (lots of seats for everybody). At the Polo Club,
the runway was North - South with the winds always from the East!
had pitched their tents all throughout the trees, helping to make the
90 degree heat bearable. Many vendors were on hand showing loads of goodies
as well as all types of gourmet delights; most all also in the shade.
We never did see the static scores, which normally get posted after the
first round, but I heard Ray Torres' T-34C had top static. I'm sure Frank
Tiano will publish the complete results soon.
Jets were everywhere; all turbines and not a DF in sight. I was most impressed
by Tommy Woods' FA-18 -- seeing this big twin turbine taxi out, close
the canopy, set the brakes, run up, and go! Followed by his dirty fly
by with gear, flaps, speed boards, and tail hook all hanging out, Impressive!
Warbirds by the dozens; Ray Torres' T-34C was outstanding in its camo,
as was another huge yellow T-34.
also represented by a beautiful black DR-1 flew great and had no problem
with the pavement/cross-wind.
Classics I saw included a Culver, Fairchild 24R, and the model that impressed
me most overall - a Sikorski S-39 amphibian. This model flew as well as
it was detailed! I believe it received the Engineering Excellence Award.
The Airshow was between rounds at noon, kicked off by tons of kids out
on the runway performing a mass launch of AMA/Sig Delta Darts. Flew quite
well and last up was presented an award. Though I must say I don't get
turned on by 3-D or choppers, the demo by Jason Schulman (sp?) with his
huge Sukoi and the extreme 3-D heli routine flown by Chip Hyde were beyond
belief! Mac Hodges on hand with his 'new & improved' B-29. All 20
feet of its wingspan carried the also new X-1 aloft for its always impressive
drop and surprise. A turbine L-1011-500 in USA livery was beautiful.
were everywhere and it's always great to see old friends you haven't seen
in years, though it's rather bittersweet as you realize some of these
old friends are getting old, just as I am. Col Art Johnson is still a
formidable competitor at age 82! Don't give up, lads!
Frank Tiano once again deserves applause for promoting this huge event.
I had a long talk with him, and you just can't conceive of how much work
goes into an event of this stature! He is aware of the several glitches
that held the event back a bit, but knowing Frank, they will be fixed.
He has also just announced the creation of a new MAJOR JET EVENT. Stay
Sadly, we had to depart mid afternoon for the return trip back to Gainesville.
Additional Unofficial info:
Bob Violet flying his F-100F (two-seater) won designer class as well as
"Top Gun". The model is shown on his Web Site www.bvmjets.com.
Another of his F-100s was second. The FA-18 of Tommy Woods was fourth;
Tom scored a near perfect flight in round 4 with a 98, but his static
score was down a bit from the others -- conflicts between photos and documents
hurt him. "Mr. Scale" Dave Platt was given the Gray Eagle Award
at the banquet. Full results are now available at: http://www.franktiano.com/
Here are the simplified results:
1. Bob Violett, F-100F
2. Jeff Foley, Bf-109E
3. Roy Vaillancourt, Typhoon
4. Pat McCurry, ME-109G
5. Charlie Nelson, Wacos
1. Joe Rafalowski, T-33
2. Gustavo Campana, L-159
3. Kim Foster, Moth Minor
4. Tommy Woods, F-18C
5. Mitch Weiss, F-100
1. Grice/Shulman, F-100
2. Richardson/Elias, F-100
3. Mairiano/Pinegar, TU-4
4. Snyder Dodgen, Mig 15
5. Malchione/Malchione, F-4
1. Ramon Torres, Beech T-34
2. Cliff Tacie, Aeronca L-16
3. Stephen Saugar, Fairchild 24
4. Manny Sousa, Culver Cadet
5. Bob Benjamin, Taylorcraft
1. Russell Matteini
Article & Photographs Contributed by
Back to Top