[Headline: Warbirds Over Texas]
[Subhead: A three-day celebration of RC military aircraft]
[Author: Larry Kruse]
[Photos by the author]
[Sidebar in text file]
[Digital callout: Click here to see bonus photos.]
[Regular callout: See bonus photos at www.ModelAviation.com and in the digital edition.]
Warbirds Over Texas Awards
World War I
1) Rich Richardson Fokker D-VII Balsa USA
2) Bill Holland Nieuport 17 Balsa USA
3) Mike Laible S.P.A.D. 13 Balsa USA
World War II
1) Sonny Coleman FW-190A Vailly
2) Jeff Naul/Scott Dugan P-47D Thunderbolt Meister Scale
3) Bucky Keller SBD Dauntless Ziroli
Bucky Keller F7F Tigercat ASM
Best Post-WW II
Bob Hubbard A-1H Skyraider Ziroli
Nick Johnson F-16 BVM
Mike Laible B-24 Liberator
Nick Morrow F-86D Saber
Best in Show
Evan Quiros Do 335 Pfiel
Playing off of the success of the past three years, the 2014 Warbirds Over Texas was the largest yet. Held at the North Dallas RC Club’s excellent site slightly north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and close to the communities of Aubrey and Providence, the event took place on June 13-15.
Participants began arriving on Thursday, a day ahead of the three-day event. By the time the full complement of pilots and airplanes arrived on Saturday, nearly 80 pilots and more than 250 airplanes were in attendance, making it one of the largest warbird events in the Southwest.
Warbirds Over Texas originated in the mind of Terry Farmer, now the event’s producer, after his own love of warbirds. He attended several warbird events across the country, prompting him to think about hosting a similar gathering in North Texas.
The model for the first effort in 2010 was Warbirds Over the Rockies, an annual gathering produced by Brian and Bonnie O’Meara in Colorado. This helped Terry learn the logistics of running such an undertaking and determine what needed to be done to ensure a first-class experience for all participants.
Terry shared his dream with members of his home club, the North Dallas RC Club, and through the club members’ volunteer efforts, the first Warbirds Over Texas began to take shape.
Club members Ed Kettler and Charles Shafer stepped forward to become the CD and head of site preparation, respectively. They have remained at those posts ever since. The continuity of their efforts is largely responsible for how smoothly and professionally the subsequent years’ events have been run.
The club flying site is located in a relaxed, pastoral setting—note the cattle and burros in the background of some of the photos—with room for campers and trailers. Part of the attraction is a 720-foot paved asphalt runway running north and south, in line with the prevailing wind. It has sloped, mown-grass aprons on either side. For those who prefer to fly from grass, the far side apron becomes the takeoff and landing area for World War I and World War II aircraft.
The runway is accessed by way of a wide, paved main approach and taxiway to the west where the action begins with airplanes and pilots queuing up on both sides for safety checks and runway clearance.
Mown grass start-up and ready areas to the right and left of the taxiway are used as the site’s “waiting rooms” until the flight director motions the next airplane and pilot onto the taxiway, accompanied by a spotter to watch for traffic on the runway and in the air.
A large sheltered pavilion to the rear of the taxiway is used for registration, spectator seating, and a concession area. Thanks to a recent upgrade in the site’s sound system, a nice ambiance was created this year by broadcasting Big Band and other period music from the war years throughout the three days. Listening to the Glenn Miller Orchestra while a flight of four-engine bombers passes overhead is the ultimate WW II nostalgia experience.
As the accompanying photos indicate, warbirds of all types and sizes and from all military historical periods were present. The bulk of the airplanes were of the Giant Scale variety, powered by gas engines; however, two of the larger WW II bombers, the Laible/Burton B-24 and Brett Bowling’s B-17, were powered by O.S. and Saito four-stroke engines, while Ben Roper’s 120-inch Avro Lancaster used four electric outrunner motors to haul it aloft.
Electric power has gained a significant foothold in the numbers of entries and the size of the aircraft throughout the last few years, echoing what is happening in the hobby at large, while use of larger-displacement four-stroke glow engines has remained essentially static.
Since its inception, Warbirds Over Texas has been known for getting non-modeling spectators involved in the magic of flight by staging such things as spontaneous gaggles of similar airplanes such as WW I bipes, or WW II fighters, or multiengine bombers going aloft at the same time.
Just to see a Spad XIII, a Fokker D.VII, a Nieuport 17, a Thomas Morse Scout, and a Curtiss Jenny all in the air together turning, wheeling, and strafing close to the ground stirs the imagination.
Likewise, the rumble of a B-24, a B-17, and an Avro Lancaster flanked by several escorting Mustangs and Spitfires in an interception “furball” with Fw 190s and Me 109s does get the crowd’s attention.
In an even more direct spectator involvement effort, the flightline is shut down at noon on Saturday. Pilots are asked to bring their airplanes to the center of the runway, and spectators are invited to walk out and visit with the fliers and ask about their creations, and a significant number of the estimated 400 spectators did just that. It’s particularly interesting to see the young children get excited about being that close to the airplanes and pointing out their favorites to their parents and grandparents.
The successful conclusion of the fourth Warbirds Over Texas, accompanied by incremental growth in each year of its existence, points to its continuing popularity, as North Dallas RC Club members have already begun planning the 2015 edition. Their collective efforts and the hard work of members such as Ed, Charles, Dave Schaefer, Terry Farmer, and the many unnamed individuals, are why things run smoothly.
Warbirds Over Texas has become a premier event in the Southwest. For more information about next year’s event as planning progresses, go online to the event website, which is listed in the “Sources” section.[dingbat]
Warbirds over Texas
North Dallas RC Club