Mac Hodges SPA Contest
Andersonville, GA
September 21-22, 2019

Scores                                               Photos

The 2019
Hodges Pilots
L-R: Co-CD Dave Phillips, Terry Boston, Jim Strong, Jeff Owens, Greg Hoke, Duane Wilson, Fred Robertson,
Ken Blackwell, Jerry Black, Ken VandenBosch, CD Jim Johns, Joe Grant, Rafael Rivera and Russ Chiles

The relocated Chattanooga contest was held at Mac Hodges beautiful facility in Andersonville, GA on September 21st & 22nd. Thanks to a back-door cold front, the weather was downright tolerable. Friday temperatures were very comfortable in the upper 80s with an east breeze of 5-15 mph. Saturday and Sunday featured similar temps with winds of 5-10 mph. The cooler temperatures and breezes kept the contestants cool, calm and collected, while also keeping the resident sand gnats mostly at bay all weekend long.

Sunday evening one week before the contest, I received a text from CD Jamie Strong saying he would not be able to attend the contest due to family concerns. This dropped the entire contest squarely in my lap. That would have been fine, except that I haven't CD'd a contest by myself since the late 90s! A quick call to Dave Phillips resulted in him volunteering to help me run the contest. We quickly put together a to-do list dividing the pre-contest duties. I procured a new sanction for the revised location, printed score sheets and loaded the pre-registered contestants into the computer scoring program. Dave loaded his trailer with his "contest kit" consisting of clipboards, pilot matrix board, pens, etc., and picked up the things Jamie had on his way to Georgia. Jim Strong agreed to do the scorekeeping, taking a giant load off my shoulders. Several other SPA regulars offered to help any way they could. Many thanks to all of you!

Contestants with RVs began arriving mid-week, and most everyone else showed up by Friday. Many got in some much-needed practice, including yours truly. I got in the first two flights on my repaired Deception following it's mis-adventure at the Shootout. Floridian Rafael Rivera flew both the Bootlegger and the Summit III - both YS powered with pipes and retracts - that he plans to fly in the Unlimited Expert class, Greg Hoke flew his incredibly fast Rossi powered Banshee and Dave Phillips flew a couple of flights with the fastest Atlanta I've ever seen. Many bull sessions occurred as old friends got reacquainted and new friends were made.

Saturday morning dawned cool and beautiful with a good breeze from the east. While folks were assembling their pattern weapons, our host Mac Hodges and several friends gave us an impromptu airshow as they departed for an EAA Fly-in breakfast. It was quite a sight!

14 intrepid SPA pilots gathered to vie for supremacy of the Georgia skies. A vote was taken during the pilots meeting of the Expert and Unlimited Expert contestants as to which class they would like to compete in, and all opted for Unlimited Expert. Dave prepared the flight line matrix, assigned judges to both lines, and the first planes hit the air about 9:30. We would have liked to have started earlier, but there was a sun problem making flying dangerous. Mac's field faces almost due South, so the sun rises on the left end and sets on the right. It has never been a real problem in our previous visits, but I finally realized that we had always flown there in June when the sun moved through a more northerly arc and was essentially behind the pilots most of the day. Being it is now mid-September, the sun arc has moved further south, creating an all day sun hazard. It caused problems for more than one person during the weekend.

Nine lovely ladies attended to support their pilots. This was the largest turnout of ladies at any contest that I can personally remember. L-R: Becky Chiles, Bobbie Johns, Dee VandenBosch, Marie Grant, Wanda Rivera, Debbie Hoke, Ann Johns, Lori Bush and Peggy Phillips.

Prior to the award presentation, our host Mac Hodges was presented with a framed Thank You signed by all the competitors. We greatly appreciate him allowing us to move our contest to his facility so late in the year.

Novice class found Joe Grant and Fred Robertson fighting for the win with Kaos ARFs. Joe came out on top with 4Ks. Unfortunately, Fred lost not one but TWO planes due to disorientation during the contest.

Sportsman class was led by Terry Boston flying his Dirty Birdy with 5Ks in 6 rounds, followed by Ken VandenBosch's Kaos ARF in 2nd and Duane Wilson's Daddy Rabbit in 3rd. Ken leads Terry by a single point in the annual SPA East Sportsman points race heading into the Masters. This is by far the tightest points battle in the East this year.

Jim Strong continued his winning ways in Advanced with his Curare, while Ken Blackwell came in 2nd with his Kaos ARF.

Unlimited Expert was hotly contest. Greg Hoke flew his retract equipped, Rossi powered Banshee and his Kraft 61 powered SPA legal Dirty Birdy to the win, while Jerry Black followed closely with his SPA legal Bootlegger in 2nd place.Rafael Rivera brought two gorgeous examples of classic pattern planes with pipes and retracts from Florida - a YS 61 Classic powered Bootlegger and a beautiful Summit III powered by a YS 61AR. The Summit III used an APC 12x12 prop and was VERY QUIET. He flew these to a solid 3rd place finish.

Jeff Owens lead the field in Senior Expert. Jeff flew his Curare after a carb problem grounded his old and usually reliable Dirty Birdy, while Dave Phillips finished 2nd with his Killer Chaos. Russ Chiles flew his Phantom to 3rd place while yours truly brought up the rear with my Deception.

Jim Johns donated a Jimmy Russell redesigned, laser cut Killer Chaos/Ultimate Kaos short kit for the Pilots Drawing. Each contestant received one chance with his entry, and Greg Hoke's name was drawn. Knowing him, this will be another beautiful rocket ship when it's finished. Congratulations, Greg!

I want to express my gratitude to each and every person who attended. The contest ran very smoothly - everyone took their turn in the judging chair, showed up on time to fly, and generally took care of business as we have come to expect from our SPA members.

Speaking of judging - everyone knows that judges are the heart of our contests. Each competitor did their fair share of judging, with many moving directly from the pilot's box to the judge's chair. Charlie Johns came to the contest, decided not to compete, hung around the entire weekend, and spent many hours judging. A huge THANK YOU to all who sat in the chair!!

I would like to offer my personal thanks to Dave Phillips and Jim Strong for their outstanding assistance in running the contest. It could not have happened without you both, and I appreciate you more than you will ever know.

The SPA East Masters at Cullman. AL, is coming up on October 12th & 13th. That's less the 3 weeks away, so get out there and practice. Let's all pray for some cooler weather, as this has been a long, hot summer in most of the southeast.

Jim Johns, CD

Final Scores
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