Top Gun Scale Invitational
Model Airplane News|September 2019
Top Gun Scale Invitational

31 Years Of Scale Excellence.

THE MODEL AIRPLANE NEWS CREW has been covering the Top Gun Scale Invitational since the very first one, and now that this amazing extravaganza has celebrated its 31st year, the world-class event shows no sign of slowing down. Hosted at Paradise Field in Lakeland, Florida, this location is one of the best RC venues you’ll see anywhere. Well maintained, expertly staffed with flight judges and experienced ground personnel, the flight line and pit areas are well organized and are run safely and efficiently. About the only thing that cannot be controlled this year was the weather. During the event, severe storms blew through the area causing two delays. Although the wind and rain curtailed the number of rounds flown, Frank Tiano’s team adjusted the flight scheduling and managed the situation so that everyone could compete albeit with fewer rounds. There’s little wonder why Top Gun is considered the best RC scale event in the world.

With 122 registered pilots on hand, the crowd enjoyed nonstop flying. This year, there were nine classes of competition with the most popular being Pro-Am Sport Prop, with 31 entrants. The Team class had an impressive 17 teams competing, while the Expert class enjoyed 15 entries. This was followed by the Pro-Am Jet and

Pro-Am Prop classes, with 14 entries each. The X class drew eight entries, the Pro-Am Sport Jet class had seven, the Unlimited class drew six, and the Masters class had five. These numbers just go to show how popular the Top Gun event is.

From its beginnings in 1989 to this year’s hotly contested 31st rendition, Top Gun has always set an amazing level of excellence, and it remains the most popular scale competition in the world. If you’ve ever wanted to try out and see how well you could do at Top Gun, getting an invitation is fairly easy. You do have to have some scale-competition experience, then get in contact with Frank Tiano and tell him about yourself. Frank is always looking for new and fresh competitors to join the Top Gun family. Find out more about the event and download the rule book at Mark your calendars for next year, when Top Gun is scheduled for the dates April 29–May 3, 2020.


Flying aircraft they built from plans or kits, entrants in this class add scale detail and modify as needed. All airplanes in the Expert class receive a static score and fly four flight rounds. After their lowest flight score is dropped, the average of the rest is added to their static score for a final number. This year, 15 pilots competed in this class.

1st // Peter Goldsmith // BAE Hawk 100

Built from the Tomahawk Aviation all-composite kit, Peter’s Hawk 100 earned a nearly perfect 99.000 points from the static judges. It’s powered by a KingTech 210 turbine engine and weighs 50 pounds. Peter flew it using his Spektrum DX20 radio to earn 196.100 total points, winning the Expert class and the coveted Mr. Top Gun title.

2nd // Mike Barbee // Beechcraft King Air T-44A

After earning 96.750 points from the static judges, Mike flew his 1/4-scale aircraft using a Futaba 18MZ radio to earn a total of 192.850 points. Built from Bob Patton plans, the 138-inch-span King Air is powered by twin Kontronik electric motors and sports the Heritage color scheme.

3rd // Gustavo Campana // MiG-29

Powered by a Jet Central turbine, this 120-inch-long MiG-29 weighs 40 pounds. It earned Gustavo 98.167 static points, and he flew his CARF-Models jet using a JR radio to earn a total of 192.067 points.

4th // Kim Foster // de Havilland DH.94 Moth Minor

Built from Jerry Bates plans in 1999, Kim’s 1/4-scale Moth Minor is powered by a Laser 150 four-stroke engine spinning a Zinger propeller. The 110-inch-span model earned 96.000 points at the static judges’ table, and Kim flew it using a Futaba radio to earn 189.250 total points.

5th // Bret Becker // XB-70 Valkyrie

Powered by four Schubeler electric ducted-fan units, this 100-inch-long strategic jet bomber has a drag chute for scale landings. Built from Ray Cannon plans, Bret’s Valkyrie features improved detailing that earned him 93.167 points on the static judges’ table. He flew it using a Futaba 16SZ to earn 187.342 total points.

6th // Tim Len // A-4 Skyhawk

This 1/5-scale, 86-inch-long Skymaster jet is powered by a JetCat 180 turbine engine. Tim scored 94.417 static points, and flew the Skyhawk using his Spektrum DX20 radio to earn 185.367 total points.

7th // Jamie Fiffles // F4U

Corsair Built from Don Smith plans, Jamie’s 1/4-scale, 122-inch-span Corsair earned 90.750 static points. It’s powered by a Moki 250 gas engine swinging a Solo 3-blade propeller, and weighs 54 pounds. Jamie flew it using his Futaba 14MZ radio to earn 178.075 total points.

8th // Phillip Koury // Cessna 206

Phillip built this 120-inch-span model from Wendell Hostetler plans, and powered it with a Zenoah GT80 twin turning a Xoar 22x10 3-blade prop capped off with a Tru-Turn spinner. After earning 90.667 points at the static table, Phillip flew his Cessna using his Futaba 14MZ radio to earn 177.292 total points.

9th // Jack Diaz // Fouga Magister

After earning 98.750 points from the static judges, Jack flew his 1/5-scale model of the 1950s’ French primary trainer to earn 156.200 total points. The 100-inch-span, 33-pound jet is built from the Avonds kit and is powered by an AT100 turbine. Jack controls the Magister using a Spektrum DX18 radio.

10th // Chuck Hamilton // SBD-3

Dauntless Chuck built his 1/5-scale model from Nick Ziroli plans and earned 95.667 points from the static judges. Powered by a GT80 spinning a Xoar 22x10 prop, the six-year-old warbird has dive brakes and a bomb drop. Chuck flew his Dauntless to earn 141.017 total points.


These contestants do it all: They design, build, engineer, and fly the aircraft with which they compete. This class is static judged, and the entrants fly four scored flight rounds. After their lowest flight score is deleted, the average is added to their static points for their overall score. Five contestants entered in Masters class this year.

1st // Dave Wigley // Westland Wyvern

The 1/5-scale Wyvern is powered by a modified BME 100cc gas engine with a custom-made prop extension, and it spins a Mejzlik 24x12 3-blade prop. The 100-inch-span warbird earned 98.333 points from the static judges, and Dave flew it using his Spektrum DX18 to score a total of 193.733 points. In 2010 to 2012, Dave won the coveted Mr. Top Gun title with this aircraft, which he crashed in 2015 and then rebuilt.

2nd // Jack Buckley // Mini-MAX

This 1/3-scale, 101-inch-span model of the home-built ultralight is powered by an O.S. 1.20 four-stroke engine. The static judges awarded it 98.083 points, and Jack flew the 18-pound Mini-MAX using a Futaba 14SG radio to earn 188.258 total points.

3rd // John Borton // Pietenpol Air Camper

Powered by a RimFire 120 electric motor, this 1/4-scale, 84-inch-span model of the late ’20s home-built earned 93.000 static points. John built the Air Camper from his own plans, and flew it using a Spektrum DX7 to earn 172.275 total points.

4th // David Hayes // Ayres Turbo Thrush

This 99-inch-long, 1/5-scale model of the crop duster is powered by an E-flite Power 60 electric motor turning an APC 19x10 prop. After earning 99.167 static points, David flew his Thrush using a Spektrum DX9 radio to earn 161.842 total points. David won the Mr. Top Gun title with his Rockwell Thrush (different model) in 2008 and 2009.

5th // Richard Feroldi // Davis D-1W

Powered by a Kawasaki 3.15cc engine turning a Falcon 34x12 propeller, this 1/3-scale, 110-inch-span model weighs 30 pounds. Richard spent 16 years to research, design, and build this aircraft, which earned him 95.333 static points and 138.633 overall points. He flew his Davis D-1W using a Futaba 9FG radio.


With a designated builder and a designated pilot, who is also allowed to work on the aircraft, the aircraft in the Team category are static-judged. Aircraft fly four scored flight rounds. After their lowest flight score is deleted, the average is added to their static points for their overall score. Seventeen teams competed in this class in 2018.

1st // Trond Hammerstad & Ali Machinchy // Me 262

With a length of 126 inches, this 1/4-scale jet, built by Trond from the Airworld kit, earned 96.000 static points, and Ali flew the Me 262 using his Spektrum radio to earn a total of 194.300 points. The jet is powered by two KingTech 140 turbine engines, and weighs 45 pounds.

2nd // Mike Barbee & Frank Noll // Beechcraft T-34B

Built by Mike from Bob Patton plans, this monster-scale, 136-inch-span model earned 96.333 points on the static judges’ table. The 115-pound model is powered by a Desert Aircraft DA-200, and pilot Frank Noll flew the T-34B using a Futaba 18MZ to earn a total of 193.933 points.

3rd // Kim Foster & Scott Foster // BAE Hawk

Powered by a KingTech 210 turbine, this 1/3.5-scale, 112-inch-long jet earned this team 95.917 static points. Kim built the BAE Hawk from the Tomahawk Aviation kit, and Scott flew it using a Futaba 18MZ to earn 192.367 total points.

4th // Phil Noel & Rei Gonzalez // MiG-15

Built by Phil from the Skymaster kit, this 1/4-scale jet is powered by a Jet Central Cheetah 160 turbine. It earned 96.333 static points, and Rei piloted the MiG-15 using a Spektrum DX20 radio to earn 191.158 total points.


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September 2019