Jeff Dawson (left pilot) and Mel Lyne fly a match late in the 2012 Bladder Grabber. Mel's plane has Jeff's streamer in the leading edge, but Jeff later scored a kill to remain undefeated for the second year in a row. At left is pitman Lee Letchworth. Flying Lines photo.
Jeff Dawson gets the traditional dousing of ice-water in honor of his second-straight victory in the Bladder Grabber. Jeff is not the first person to win the BG in two successive years, but he is the first to win it without a single match loss. That's 14 straight fast combat victories over the two years. Flying Lines photo.
The biggest, fastest, loudest and most ferocious Combat contest in the world took place for the 34th time in Snohomish, Wash., with a low entry but the same outstanding competition as in previous years. Once again, the undisputed Top Gun flier was Jeff Dawson of San Antonio, Texas, despite the efforts of 10 other Fast Combat fliers to push him off the top of the mountain. Jeff took home the $1,000 first prize, plus the traditional BG T-shirt, commemorative mug and trophy.
The contest run in a seven-round format for the third year. After the seven rounds, the placings were clear and no flyoffs were necessary.
Lee Letchworth of Rodeo, Calif., placed second with a 5-2 record, and two-time BG winner Mel Lyne of Garibaldi Highlands, B.C., was third at with four wins, two losses and one tie.
Jeff Rein won the Friday preliminary event, the Half-A Grabber, a double-elimination High-Performance 1/2-A Combat contest.
As always in recent years, most of the planes in both events were built by Jeff Dawson, though a few fliers used other designs. Engines in fast were almost all Nelsons .36, though at least one Fox and at least one Fora were used. In 1/2-A, Cyclons were dominant.
Weather was perfect throughout the weekend, with sunny skies after some morning fog and very light wind.
Outstanding food was provided all three days by Roberta Martin.
Contest Director Jeff Rein ran a smooth, well-organized meet, assisted by the Broadway Bod Busters and several volunteers from among the contestants.
All the top fliers received cash prizes along with plaques, commemorative mugs and trophies.
Final results for the 2012 Bladder Grabber Fast Combat contest (Northwest standings points in parentheses):
1. Jeff Dawson, San Antonio, Texas, 7-0
2. Lee Letchworth, Rodeo, Calif., 5-2
3. Mel Lyne, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C., 4-2-1 (9)
4. Don Jensen, Southern California, 4-3
5. Don McKay, Redmond, Wash., 3-3-1
6. Jeff Rein, Covington, Wash., 3-4
Gene Pape, Eugene, Ore., 3-4
Jim Green, Bellevue, Wash., 3-4
9. John Thompson, Eugene, Ore., 2-3-1
10. Buzz Wilson, Belfair, Wash., 2-5
11. Robert Smith, Roy, Wash., 0-6
Final Half-A Grabber results (Northwest standings points in parentheses)
1. Jeff Rein, 5-1 (10)
2. Don Jensen, 4-2
3. Robert Smith, 3-2 (8)
4. Jeff Dawson, 3-2
5. John Thompson
6. Don McKay
Jeff Dawson (left) and Don Jensen fly a Half-A-Grabber match. Jeff has just scored a cut in this photo. Flying Lines photo.
Half-A-Grabber action in the pilots' circle, with Don Jensen at left and Mel Lyne. Flying Lines photo.
Sonic Chickens were again the most common 1/2-A Combat plane. Here Don Jense (left) prepares his while pitman Gene Pape looks on. Flying Lines photo.
Broadway Bod Busters Jeff Rein (left) and Don McKay get ready for a 1/2-A match. Gene Pape photo.
Jeff Rein primes his Nelson .36 before a Fast match with Lee Letchworth holding; officials in the background. Flying Lines photo.
Eventual winner Jeff Dawson (left) works on his plane while Don Jensen holds. Flying Lines photo.
Possibly the best match of the weekend was between John Thompson (left) and Mel Lyne; there were a couple of cuts apiece when John scored a kill just before a head-on midair collision. After the match, the pilots showed their airplanes, each with a bit of streamer snagged in the leading edge. Gene Pape photo.
Close-up of Mel Lyne's Fora .36 after the collision in the match with John Thompson -- a big piece is missing from the crankcase. Thompson's Nelson survived the confrontation with just a nick in the prop washer. Flying Lines photo.
Mel Lyne had equipment troubles. In addition to the Fora broken in the collision, he had anoher Fora's piston/liner fail, and had two motor mounts break as above. Flying Lines photo.
Jeff Rein's propellor is stuck in the elevator of John Thompson's airplane. Jeff refers to it as the "closest legal kill ever." Flying Lines photo.
Jeff Rein (foreground) and Lee Letchworth head for their handles. This year's BG used a "pilots start engines" format with a 30-second pre-match starting period. Holding for Jeff is Don McKay; holding for Lee is Mel Lyne. Flying Lines photo.
Jeff Rein (left) and Lee Letchworth do battle. Officials in the background are Ken Burdick (left) and Gene Pape. Flying Lines photo.
Jeff Rein (left) and Ken Burdick judge a match. Also judging during the course of the weekend were Buzz Wilson, Gene Pape, John Thompson and Don McKay. Flying Lines photo.
Mel Lyne flie out of the launch in a key match against Jeff Dawson, already up, late in the contest. Lee Letchworth launched. Flying Lines photo.
Jim Green prepares his Mejzlik plane for Fast Combat. Gene Pape photo.
Fog greeted contestants arriving early at the field in Snohomish, Wash., on Saturday, but it soon burned off. Temperature were in the high 70s most of the weekened. Gene Pape photo.
Contest organizers made a special award for caterer extraordinaire Roberta Martin, seen here with Jeff Rein at the trophy celebration. Her food was reason enough to attend! Flying Lines photo.
Here's what it's all about. Jeff Rein's R&B Rip-off Fast Combat plane flies with a streamer in the leading edge after a kill. Flying Lines photo.
This page was upated Aug. 20, 2012