by Mike Whillance

After a good 6 months of hard preparation the British combat team was finally ready. The pilots Dave Riley, Mervin Jones and Pete Grange had spent a lot of time and money getting their gear up to scratch. Graham Ives and myself were the pitcrew that would ensure everything worked smoothly and would be the scapegoats if it didn't.

We flew out to Madrid on the Saturday and we stayed there for a night out. And a very good night it was too. Made even better by the fact that Madrid was unsuspecting of us coming. We took them completely by surprise, but I am sure they will be watching out for us next time.

The next day we promised ourselves never to drink again and then set off in our hire cars to the city of Valladolid which was only a couple of hours away. It's a really nice city and our hotel was slap in the centre of all the action. The main square was next to our hotel, with restaurants and bars all around. Temptation everywhere you looked. The flying site is 15 minutes out of town and is excellent for this class of competition with good amenities, etc. As usual, the combat was singled out to be flown on a different site away from the main action... Outcasts again. (I'm starting to get a complex).

This place is hot, very hot, ...trust me, it's HOT, and it stayed hot all day and night for the remainder of the week.

Mervin, Dave and Graham had a quick trip out to the site on the Sunday afternoon and that was when we got the first signs that things were going to go "pear shaped". They returned within the hour, Mervin limping very badly. It seems that Mervin's brain is in a bit of a time warp. It still thinks that he is 20 years old.  It thought that a 4-foot fence could still be easily vaulted over. Anyway, Mervin's brain came quickly back to reality when he badly sprained his ankle. Mervin's brain and body then spent the next 2 days laid up in bed and it was touch and go if he would be fit enough to fly in the competition.

The next day we went out to test the gear and found that the motors were generally slower by about 1 K and this made the models fly lousy.  Oddly enough the AKM's were unaffected. Most of the speed was recovered by removing shims.... As much as you dared really.  I tested Merv's gear. We spent the next day fine tuning engines, props and models and a little combat practice. Merv put in the odd appearance, doing his wounded soldier act, limping about on crutches.   Looking for sympathy as he sat in the shade, drinking water and watching us sweat our nuts off. He didn't get a great deal of sympathy from us.


Dave was drawn against the German flyer Karger and he was confident.  His confidence was unfounded as he lost badly. Dave hit the floor 3 times and very hard. The last time registered 5.7 on the Richter scale. Dave seemed to suspect that Gremlins has secretly tightened his bellcrank mechanism sometime between him testing his model and flying it in the comp. "Whatever you say Dave".

In the second round he had to fly the excellent flyer Igor Dementiev. Dave was confident again as he had flown and beaten Igor last year at our Nats. Dave suspected that his pit crew had less confidence when he spotted that they had issued themselves with spades. There was a re-fly after a mess up with tangled lines and Dave lost. (The spades did come in handy). Dave is a very good pilot but unfortunately and frustratingly for him he did not get the chance to show it at his first major competition.


In the first round ...drawn against Igor Dementiev. Pete's AKMs were going very well and we thought this would give him a big advantage over the slower Igor. But Igor is very experienced, he tended to fly very low and whip his model to a high speed. Pete hit the floor too much and lost.

In the second round he got what appeared to be a much easier opponent in the Spaniard Roura. This bout was very messy. It ended up with all the models down, lines all tangled, etc. We managed to swap the streamer with 3 seconds to go in the match and then yours truly made a bad mistake. I thought Pete had won easily so did not launch him for the 3 seconds. It turned out that the times were exactly tied and the 3 seconds would have given Pete the win. Pete was not happy with his ace pitman, as he now had to re-fly. This should not have been too much of a problem, but it was even messier than the first time.

Pete lost and went out of the comp; he also got one of his beloved AKM's smashed in half. Life can be a bitch. From this we have learnt that it's best to launch no matter what the time. A tankful of fuel is relatively cheap.

Pete is a good flyer but he had problems seeing the models. He had bought a new set of very smart but smallish glasses that proved to be poor for flying combat. He could easily see out of the sides into a very blurred world and they also let in a lot of direct sunlight and reflected sunlight. The end result was he could only fly a very "tunnel vision" type of combat with a lot of flashing sunlight in his eyes. Well we now know that that doesn't work.


The limping Merv got a very hard draw. First the Ukrainian champion Bezruchko.... very close... Merv just lost. Second the current European champ, Andrey Beliaev.... very close... Merv just won. Third the ex world champ, Boris Faizov... very close... Merv just lost.

Perhaps a fully fit Merv may have done better. It's hard to say. To win consistently in this company you have to be at the very top of your game.

The Rest of the Competition.

The pilots that stood out were Nicolai Netcheukin (a very good pilot although he had two straight losses), Hakan Ostman (it was good to see him back), Boris Faizov, Igor Dementiev, Igor Zholnerkevich and best of all was Chornyy. Chornyy had looked a slightly different class from day one. His excellent low defensive flying with great control, his high awareness of the opponent and always selecting the best tactics made him very difficult to beat. He was the best there and he deserved to win. He has been top gun for 2 to 3 years now and the rest of us had better get to work on how to beat him.

Memorable Moments

  1. Nicolai against Hakan. A great bout that ended with Nicolai just up by 2 cuts to 1. Nicolai crashed with 40 seconds to go. His pitman (Slava) realised that if Nicolai stayed down he would win. Slava started the engine but did not launch. This seemed to confuse Nicolai and he walked out to see what was happening. At the same time as Slava was explaining that he had won, the circle marshal was disqualifying him for not informing his opponent of leaving the circle. ..."Shot himself in the foot".
  2. Boris in the middle of a great bout against Igor Zholnerkevich. There is a big mid air crash and both models come down. They transfer the streamer and Slava launches the model. Only Boris, who had been untangling lines, was not ready and did not have hold of the handle. " Shoot Slava".
  3. Hakan was having a great bout and was winning easily even though his model had just crashed when his pitman entered the circle to retrieve his model but the opponent was still flying and so Hakan was disqualified..."Pitman shoots pilot in foot".
  4. Chornyy's control. In the final he was defending most of the time (as usual) .He was very low and still flicking under with inches to spare and looking at his watch at the same time. We might have to put a contract out on this guy.
  5. Dave Riley in the shower, getting ready to go out. Pete sneaks into the bathroom, takes off all his clothes and climbs into the shower behind Dave. The scream could be heard in Manchester. Dave had a very bad competition but he has now qualified for the British sprint team. Dave still needs more therapy before he can get back into a shower.
  6. Doing the "goosestep" in Mikael Sjolund's jackboots. Though I do not suppose it did much for international relations between the British and the Germans.
  7. Mervin's Driving. He managed to reverse the hire car into a wall, then a van, and then finally trash it by falling asleep at the wheel on the motorway. I think we lost the £350 insurance excess.
  8. Being a teenager again. Last night after the banquet, Dave and myself staying up drinking all night. Being thrown out of the pub at 6 in the morning. Still not wanting to go to bed. Sitting on the curb outside our hotel to finish our drinks. Pete throwing buckets of water on us from 3 floors up because we had woken him. It felt good to be young again but God, ..... I hate those hangovers.
  9. Pete's face when he saw his "Full Frontal Photo" pinned up on the F2D scoreboard.


This championship was very well run. There was a more relaxed feel to it, perhaps due to the reduced entry. The notable absentees being the Czechs and the Dutch. The combat organisers did a great job as usual. Some people suspected that the Spanish flyers got too many mystery cuts but I myself didn't see anything too untoward. Some people thought the judges were bias but then some people see "reds under every bed".

The British combat team did not do too good.   Garbage is probably a good word. The worst result since the dawn of time. Graham was the only one not to mess up and that was probably only because all the pilots got knocked out before he had too many chances.

The best engines seemed to be the Zorro, AKM and of course the Ukrainian motor but there was nothing to choose between them. Any difference in performance was probably down to head clearance and prop. selection.

As the Wakkermans were not here I thought the Russians would pose the greatest threat to the Ukrainians but they also messed up.

The Ukrainians were First, Second and Fourth. Chornyy is now European and World Champ. There is a pattern starting to emerge here. The Ukrainians are best. It is not their models and it is not their engines. It simply is their flying skill. So the rest of us had better get out there and do a lot more practising.

I'm not cut out to be a pitman. I was constantly fighting these terrible urges to run into the centre, push the pilot away, grab his handle, attack like mad, get loads of cuts and then his elevator.

It's definitely better being a pilot .  Please God....."Let me be a pilot again".

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Roll on Sebnitz.