Joe Nall 2017

After not attending Joe Nall for several years, I was looking forward to this trip and it did not disappoint. There were so many changes and upgrades to the flying site, several new flight lines, and expanded camping areas.  This really opened up the event and reduced waiting times to get in the air since my last visit.

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A few of the airplanes typical at the event. An aerobatic, glider, bi-plane, and jet under one of the vendor canopies.

For those that aren’t into Radio Control airplanes, Joe Nall is the premiere RC event worldwide. Over 1,600 pilots of giant scale RC aircraft come from all across the USA, and many worldwide, to attend the best of the best. Thousands of spectators attend daily, there is a vendor area with all the name brands in attendance, a food court to keep us all happy, and several flight areas spread across this 2 mile long facility.

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Early morning aerial view showing 2/3rds of the facility from just below the electric and control line flight areas.

The trip to South Carolina was familiar as I’ve traveled it several times in the past. Into the heart of Connecticut then trying to avoid New York but failing, I78 through Pennsylvania onto I81 in Maryland and through the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, then I77 to Charlotte and on to I85 and you’re there. 15 hours and 950 miles.

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Very nice scenery along the route chosen. Much better than the I95 route, in spite of the extra hour or so spread over the two day drive. A far more relaxing drive.

In the past I would stop at a campground in Chambersburg PA, part campground, part farm. It was run by a very nice elderly couple. I hope they are still there and doing well. Other than the smell of methane gas every now and then to remind me of the cows, it was a highlight along the otherwise flat blacktop littered with semi trucks that became a blur for 9 hours a day. Behind schedule I elected to keep moving forward and stop at a truck stop further down the road. In hindsight, I should have made the stop.

Arriving at Triple Tree Aerodrome, home of the Joe Nall event, I was greeted with a new Welcome Center just beyond the entrance. This was the first indication that things have changed. Gone are the Ez-Ups, folding tables and chairs of the gate keepers of the past. I registered, then was off to find a place to camp.

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I was pelted with locusts in West Virginia. I sounded like machine gun fire hitting my van, and was over in a few seconds. Looking at the front of the van, I estimated I took out nearly 100.

Being late to the game, I had to hunt around for a level spot out of the hot South Carolina sun. While stopping along the main road to regroup, I  met a couple watching the festivities. They were tucked back into the trees, enough to be shady in the hot afternoons, but in full sun in the mornings.

They offered me their spot since they were leaving in the morning. So I camped just off the road for the night and captured their spot as they departed in the morning. The van fit right in easily under the trees, yet left a great view of the 3D flight area. It was a  convenient spot as the bus stop was right there.

I say bus stop loosely. They had several school busses that traveled the length of the flight lines, which is nearly two miles long, to pick up and deliver pilots anywhere in the facility. You just wave them down, board the bus, and yell when you are near your destination. Very convenient, as I elected to leave my bike at home in favor of packing yet another airplane instead. Although, there were some very creative alternate forms of transportation seen around the facility! Golf carts, custom bicycles, mini-bikes, go carts, gas powered scooters, and good old fashion sneakers.

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Aerial view of the 3D flight area with camping just beyond. This is the ‘lower’ end of the facility with the Welcome Center at the ‘upper’ end nearly 2 miles further to the left. The actual full scale runway is 7000’x400′ long as listed in AirNav (SC00).

Having a number of flight lines for the varied flying styles was the best improvement in my opinion. But it was also my least favorite improvement. If you wanted to fly 3D, it was nice that they had a specific area for it and you where not mixed with other non-3D flights. But that also meant that if you fly different styles, it was a hassle moving all your gear from one flight area to another. Flying 3D with both airplanes and helicopters meant my ‘flight station’ was 2 miles apart! Luckily, the helicopters weren’t that bad to transport. They pack small and don’t require a lot of gear, very easy to move. So I setup by the 3D airplane flight line as the airplanes are larger and harder to move.

Flying generally starts the morning the event starts, and is non-stop 24hrs a day until it ends a week later. It’s common to wake up a 4am, look out your RV window, and see a plane in the air. For night flying, pilots light up their airplanes with LED lights inside, on the outside, or just use powerful spot lights from the ground to illuminate their aircraft.

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The ‘General Store’. ATM available inside. Mostly run on an honor system (‘ATM’ excluded 🙂

The only disappointment was the Noon time air show. In the past were full-scale aerobatic performances by well-known pilots, and other full scale aircraft such as a trio of AT6s taking off, landing, and doing some low passes. There were no full scale flights at all for 2017. Granted, there were a couple interesting RC aircraft demos flown, but most felt like a live advertisement with purchase and contact information given at the end of the flight. Ok to watch if you are interested in those particular aircraft, but far from an ‘air show’. I miss the days gone by.

Here are some images from the event. In hindsight, I should have taken more still images, but I was in a video kind of mode.  You can also see more images and information on the Triple Tree Aerodrome website at Joe Nall Photos and Triple Tree RC Events.

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The view from my campsite tucked into the trees for shade from the hot South Carolina sun. Sitting at the front of my site along the road is a perfect view of the 3D flight line and for night time shenanigans on the flight line. Such as a full size Pillsbury Doughboy lighted from the inside crossing the runway at night. You just never know what you will see at Joe Nall.

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The gazebo at the 3D flight line. This was new since my last visit.

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Looking out the back of the 3D flight line gazebo is a fire pit, and beyond that is the bath house with bathrooms, showers, and laundry room. Very nice addition!

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A list of the many vendors in the vendor area, open all week during the event. Great place to get some hands on the various equipment, airplanes, and get your questions answered.

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The full line of DA engines were on display. I really wanted to take home a 70cc twin for my 89″ Yak54. Currently has a DA 50cc, but it lacks the punch I am used to in my acrobatic airplanes.

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One of the full scale airplanes in the hangar, a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang.

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Panorama view from the patio built along side the hangar and overlooking the pond. Great place to sit for the various dinners they host during the week.

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Another view from the patio.

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Three gorgeous jets found on the flight line.

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Airplane setup for night flying off the pond. It’s built out of EPP foam with LED lights installed inside to light up the airplane. It’s very effective and highly visible during flight.

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3D gazebo during night flying

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Spectators along the original main flight line

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Pilots and airplanes along the main flight line

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An L39 Albatross turbine. This is the same model turbine I owned at one time. Gorgeous airplane, very stable and comfortable flyer. I really miss mine, which I sold it to a buyer in California a few years back.

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Pitts Python bi-plane. Nice color scheme. Reputed to have excellent flight characteristics.

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Another favorite turbine of mine. Its on my short list.

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In-line for the Saturday evening pulled pork and shrimp dinner.

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Saturday evening dinner sitting pond side.

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Airplanes along the main flight line.

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A few of the airplanes at the 3D flight area.

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WWII control tower restored and reconstructed on site.

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