AEROMODELING ARTICLE ON INVOLVEMENT IN BALLOON FESTIVAL—Obi Mapua
Invitation to Balloon Fiesta—we were invited to participate in the 22nd Philippine International Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF), the Philippines’ largest and most prestigious air show. The PIHABF takes place in the area around Clark airport, once a very large USAF air base. The Balloon Fiesta features hot air balloons, and also a lot of other aircraft events; it is an activity‐filled 4 days of flying, and is billed as “A Weekend of Everything That Flies”, from Thursday 8 February to Sunday, 11 February, 2018.
The PIHABF started after the 1991 eruption of the Pinatubo Volcano that left the province devastated. Because of the PIHABF, the province regained its economic viability. Today, we are on its 22nd anniversary. We (The Philippine National Control Line Flying Team) were invited to fly control line model aircraft, and not radio control, for safety reasons. It is also the second time that we are flying control line for the Fiesta. During the first time, the crowds were impressed over the performance of the flyers and the model aircraft.
Invitation to Masaru Hiki—The Team was also given the opportunity to invite the Japan control line F2B (stunt) champion, Mr. Masaru Hiki. We were so overjoyed when he accepted our invitation. The Balloon Fiesta organizers sponsored his hotel stay in Clark Field. Now the Team has a coach, a resident Japanese, Shinichi Yoshida, who formerly was the manager of the Japan Control Line Team. It was a very good coincidence that Mr. Yoshida knew Mr. Hiki, from flying together in Japan a number of years ago.
The Field—The Fiesta organizers gave us a space to fly control line, and we were told we could fly from the morning to sunset, and we were quite happy about this. Last year, our site was small and we had to take up part of the main runway, and we had to constantly ask permission to fly. This year we were told to provide for the fence around the control line circle for crowd safety. We bought the materials for the fence, it was not too expensive. But when we saw the field, we were dismayed. It was very rough! There were tall weeds, rocks, and patches of sand. So not only did we have to put up the fence, we had to do a big job of cutting weeds, moving rocks, and leveling the entire circle. The team was 12 persons strong, and all of us did a good job, and at the end, the field was‐‐‐flyable, although we would have to hand‐launch all of our airplanes. Take off was a very dusty affair. We were hoping that Hiki‐san would not object or be disappointed with the field. (He was not, and did not complain.)
Flying—This was the best part. Not only did we have 8 hours of flight at the provided field, we also were given short time slots to perform before the grandstand, in front of the people. Our field was off to one side of the Fiesta grounds, and few people were inclined to walk to our area. The regular stunt flyers of the Team, Ernie Abion, Reynold Baradas, and Lester Baradas, demonstrated their skills in stunt flying before the crowd. Masaru Hiki and Shinichi Yoshida also flew. When Hiki flew, we all stopped and watched him. What a delight! Precision maneuvers throughout.
Combat was also flown. The combat boys had not been practicing lately, since the winds at the home field in Batangas province were too strong, as the southeast Monsoon was still in effect just before we left for Clark. Still, they were able to perform well enough before the crowd at center stage, and were applauded.
Lessons from the Master—When Masaru Hiki arrived, he brought with him his airplanes, well crated, and another box. This box contained all sorts of control line supplies, all donated by control line modelers from Japan. Inside were model kits, engines, parts, and various accessories that are quite hard to get! We were astounded by the quality and the number of items inside. We cannot thank the Japanese control line modelers enough.
Hiki‐san brought with him two control line models. One was the “Oriental”, .46 powered, and he donated that to Yoshida. The second one was the “Hallmark‐11”, .61 powered, and this one he donated to the Team. We were floored by his generosity! He flew both in the complete stunt pattern (F2B), and very well!
During the day, Hiki‐san would also coach the Team, giving advice on how to improve the performance of our airplanes and our flying skills. He told us that the models we have now are based on “classic” control line models of 50 years ago! He showed us what we had to do in order to upgrade our models, and gave us a set of plans of modern control line models.
On the Friday night, February 9, Hiki‐san lectured to the entire Team the whole repertoire of what makes a control line model aircraft modern. It was so extensive, he talked for two hours! Then, he gave us a copy of his notes. He is truly a great person, and we consider him a true friend.
Dinner—At the close of our engagement with Balloon Fiesta, we had a dinner, with Hiki and Yoshida. We were able to get a long table at a Chinese restaurant, and of course we had Chinese food, which we all enjoyed. We said our thanks to Hiki for all the help we gave us. Of course, we would see him again in France during the FAI‐F2 WC in July this year!