Sunday, April 27, 2008

Top Gun 2008 Worldwide Invitational RC Contest

Top Gun 2008 - 20th Anniversary

Each year in Lakeland, Florida, on the last week of April, the best of the best from around the world, come in to compete at the world renown Top Gun Competition.

My husband, Bill Hurt, is a static judge, which is a humbling and difficult position to be in when around the world's best builders and pilots of giant scale aircraft. He has a 3 view which the builder presents him, as well as any photographs, and scores them for the correctness of the lines and angles of their plane vs. the drawings. I was allowed in the pit area, and watched as he judged several of these planes, to enable me a better understanding of how the process works.

I know, by watching my husband build his own planes, how much time, detail, and hard work goes into each one. Everything must be exact - and I've learned that at Top Gun, an invitation to participate only goes out to the very best at building and piloting. Here are the world's best, bringing in their museum quality aircraft that they have labored countless hours over, and give all of us who are spectators the opportunity to see these beautiful birds perform.

The participants are Team, Expert, Master, and Pro-Am. They are judged on their flying as well as their static scores. The members in Team Category have a builder, who finds himself the very best pilot to fly his aircraft. In the other categories, the builder is his own pilot.

The yellow Waco pictured coming in for her landing was built and also piloted by Mike Barbee. This is one of my favorite planes, as I have one hanging in my living room that my sweet husband built for me. Now mine is nowhere near the scale of this one, but she is a beautiful candy apple red with gold trim, and maybe one day I'll actually let him fly it! :)

The red Waco shown, has builder Bob Gonzales beside her as he waits for static judging. She had a beautiful flight on Friday, and I'm sure her static scores were good as well.

An example of what I consider to have been the best Team is shown below. Lt. Col. P.J. Johnson, of the U.S. Air Force, who did a fly by for us after the National Anthem on Saturday, April 26th. He stands beside the scale replica of his plane, an A-10, which was built by Mike Selby, who stands in the left background. Mike has to be, in my opinion, the best in what he does. In speaking with him after his static competition score was given yesterday, I asked him if he knew what he would be building for next year, and according to him, the plans have already been drawn, and I'm sure the process will begin as soon as he gets back home to Thailand. Let's put it this way - it will be bigger and probably better than the A-10 shown below, which is hard to imagine.

The pilot for this A-10 is 3 star General Johns, of the U.S. Air Force. He is pictured standing at the jet for static judging.

To say I had fun is an understatement! I got to get up close to these magnificent aircraft, meet their builders, crews and pilots, and watch the most amazing air show I've ever seen.

To top it off, I ran into a couple from New Jersey, who had come in for their first Top Gun, and while we all sat there watching the show, we just "clicked", and I now have two new friends that I think the world of. We ended up not being able to get a room to get cleaned up for the banquet on Saturday night, and after only knowing them for about 24 hours, they invited us to use their hotel room and shower to clean up and cool off. Now how about that? You just don't run into good people like on an everyday basis, and I can't wait until next year, when we can reunite and enjoy Top Gun 2009 as well as some pool and relaxation time together. Here's a pic I had hubby take of Sandy and I at the banquet.

Girls just wanna have fun! :)

For more information on Top Gun, go to:

There are additional photos and write ups on the show there, and a comment section as well.

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