Every year in late April or early May the world’s best scale modelers are invited to Lakeland, FL to compete in TopGun for the prize of Mr. TopGun. This event is the one of the most prestigious in scale modeling. Individual competitors and teams from all over the world bring their highly detailed RC models to be judged.
Last year it was more like “SwampGun”. There was so much rain that the day my dad and I went we only had a few hours of flying time between the rain storms. The booths were sitting in 2-3 feet of water. This year the weather was beautiful. I did more looking at the static displays than watching the flying. You really need to go more than just one day as there is so much to see!
Here are some pictures I took.
Lockeed F-104 Starfighter
There were a couple of Lockeed F-104 Starfighters that were on display in the same tent. I really wanted to see the silver/gun metal one fly. It looked so good. It was also huge!
F-16 Fighting Falcons
Sometimes a plane is just popular. For example, the P-47 is probably the most popular WWII plane. There were a number of F-16 Fighting Falcons on display. Jets are always impressive, especially RC turbine powered jets! These guys looked amazing and so scale like in the air. The red, white, and blue scheme had impressive scale lighting. My favorite was the desert scheme, scratch that, they’re all my favorite!
This T-33 Thunderbird is probably my most favorite plane at all of TopGun. Visually I think it is perfect. The detail on the skin with rivets along with the detailed cockpit add so much realism. What goes above and beyond is the modeler’s use of the “plugs” in the intakes and jet exhaust. It presents itself really well. I didn’t get a chance to see this guy fly this year, but last year I got to see it in the air. The pilot flew that thing so nicely you’d think you were watching the real thing.
While the jets are impressive you cannot go to TopGun without leaving with a huge appreciation for propeller driven aircraft. I took pictures of mostly warbirds. There are, however, a number of civilian aircraft on display. I even saw a P-47 Thunderbolt take out a Piper Super Cub! The 1/3 scale Super Cub was making a turn just past the run way in a normal flight pattern. The Thunderbolt was racing down parallel to the runway when it struck and sliced through the wing of the Super Cub. That impact sent the covering for the Cub all over the place. The covering got caught in a thermal and ended up making all the way over to the stands. I ended up with my own piece of balsa and covering as a souvenir for TopGun 2015!
There were some impressive P-47s on display, one rather huge one. I never saw it fly but it was large! I also really enjoyed looking at the WWI biplane.
Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter
This wonderful Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter is a previous two-time winner of the Mr. TopGun award. I saw it fly at 2014’s TopGun and it looked amazing in the air. The pilot did torpedo runs dropping the torpedo along the side of the runway. This year I saw the plane take off and do a few passes. The pilot then came in low for a torpedo run. I was watching some other stuff and caught this out of the corner of my eye. The plane’s right wingtip hit the ground and kicked up dirt. I guess the right engine also hit the ground. The pilot recovered and did a nice climbing right turn so that he was heading downwind parallel to the runway. Near the end of the runway he slightly turned right and then about 50 yards out and 20 yards downwind he made a hard right-hand turn. This just cannot be done on a twin engine plane. You cannot turn into the direction of the stalled engine. Well, he did and the plane immediately stalled and went straight into the ground!
With the earlier crash between the Thunderbolt and there was some people who took a gas golf cart with a trailer to get the fuselage and and parts from the planes (actually, the Thunderbolt made it through with a busted propeller and some belly landing rash). When they took the cart out to get the Beaufighter they put part of the fuselage on the cart and brought back 2 or 3 trashbags worth of pieces.
If you’ve never have had the chance to go to TopGun put it on your list of “must see” events!