Bladder Grabber 2013

Combat action at the 35th annual Bladder Grabber. Flying Lines photo.

The Big-Block Challenge Continues

Seven-round Fast Combat tournament, Aug. 10-11, Snohomish, Wash.
And Half A Grabber double-elimination 1/2-A Combat contest, Aug. 9

Jeff Dawson of San Antonio, Texas, holds up the mug holding $1,000, his prize for winning the 2013 Bladder Grabber. In the past three wins, Dawson's record at the Grabber is 20 wins and one loss. The loss came this year at in Round 5, at the hands of Contest Director Jeff Rein (left). Flying Lines photo.

Dawson makes Bladder Grabber history with three-peat victory

Bladder Grabber photo gallery below

Jeff Dawson accomplished a historic first at Bladder Grabber XXXV by becoming the first person ever to win the ultimate U.S. Combat shootout in three consecutive years.

The 35th running of the most prestigious AMA Fast Combat contest drew 16 entries to Snohomish, Wash., for the traditional weekend of speed, noise and mayhem that in the quest for the most sought-after prize in Combat -- the $1,000 mug and the honor that very few Combat fliers in the world hold: Bladder Grabber winner.

The contest was run in a seven-round format for the fourth year.

As in recent years, a 30-second starting period was used, with pilots starting their own engines; air time did not start until the 30 seconds had elapsed. This resulted in several ties when midair collisions ended matches without cuts having been scored. If the ties involved fliers still in contention for placing at the end of the seven rounds, tiebreaker rematches were flown without the 30-second starting period.

Photo: A piece of streamer floats down after a cut is scored. Flying Lines photo.

After the seven rounds and necessary rematches, flyoffs were necessary to determine the first four positions.

Dawson, who went into the first/scond flyoff with a 6-1 record, scored a quick, clean kill on Don McKay, who also had been 6-1 after the seven rounds were completed. Buzz Wilson killed Mel Lyne in a wild match for third place. Both Buzz and Mel finished the rounds with 5-2 records. Mike Hazel and John Thompson both had 4-3 records in the rounds; Hazel was awarded fifth place based on a victory over Thompson in Round 1.

John Thompson won the Friday preliminary event, High-Performance 1/2-A Combat, with a 7-0 record. The victory carried with it a mug containing $500.

As always in recent years, many of the planes in both events were built by Jeff Dawson, though a few fliers used other designs. Engines in fast were almost all Nelson .36, though at least one Fora was used. In 1/2-A, Cyclons were again the dominant power source.

Weather was good throughout the weekend, with partly sunny skies and very light breeze.

Outstanding food was provided all three days by Roberta McKay.

Contest Director Jeff Rein ran a smooth, well-organized meet, assisted by Rich Ambler, Buzz Wilson, Don McKay, John Knoppi and several volunteers from among the contestants.

All the top fliers received cash prizes along with plaques, commemorative mugs and trophies.

The scoreboard for Bladder Grabber XXXV

Final results for the 2013 BLADDER GRABBER Fast Combat contest (Northwest standings points in parentheses):

1. Jeff Dawson, San Antonio, Texas, 7-1
2. Don McKay, Redmond, Wash., 6-2 (15)
3. Buzz Wilson, Belfair, Wash., 6-2 (14)
4. Mel Lyne, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C., 5-3 (13)
5. Mike Hazel, Mehama, Ore., 4-3
6. John Thompson, Eugene, Ore., 4-3
7. Jeff Rein, Covington, Wash., 3-4
Don Jensen, Pomona, Calif., 3-4
Tony Huber, Renton, Wash., 3-4
10. Robert Smith, Roy, Wash., 3-3-1
Lee Letchworth, Rodeo, Calif., 3-3-1
Bill Maywald, Santa Ana, Calif., 3-3-1
13. Lane Puckett, Merced, Calif., 2-5
14. Jim Green, Bellevue, Wash., 1-5-1
15. Gene Pape, Eugene, Ore., 1-6
Doss Porter, Fresno, Calif., 1-6

Photo: Jeff Dawson (left) and Don McKay fly in the championship final. Flying Lines photo.

Final HALF-A GRABBER results (Northwest standings points in parentheses)

1. John Thompson, 7-0 (13)
2. Mel Lyne, 6-1 (12)
3. Don Jensen, 4-2
4. Gene Pape, 3-4 (10)
5. Jeff Dawson, 3-2
6. Lane Puckett, 2-3
7. Jeff Rein, 1-2
Lee Letchworth, 1-2
Jim Green, 1-2
10. Don McKay, 0-2
Robert Smith, 0-2
Buzz Wilson, 0-2
Doss Porter, 0-2

Bladder Grabber photo gallery

In the match for third and fourth, Mel Lyne's plane has scored a cut on Buzz Wilson at this point, but Buzz came back to get the kill. Flying Lines photo.

Mel Lyne (left) and Buzz Wilson fight it out in the flyoff Flying Lines photo.

Bob Smith launches Buzz Wilson's plane in the third-fourth match while Jim Green keeps the streamer clear. Flying Lines photo.

Judges Jeff Rein (left) and Rich Ambler. Buzz Wilson also did much of the judging. Flying Lines photo.

Roberta McKay catered scrumptious lunches all three days. Flying Lines photo.

Don Jensen makes a pit stop, assisted by Jeff Dawson, with judges in the background. Flying Lines photo.

A match between Don McKay (left) and Don Jensen ended in a nasty tangle. Jeff Dawson (center) helps sort it out. Flying Lines photo.

Match procedure was a 15-second warning to the 30-second starting period. Don McKay signals the judges that he's ready for the 15-second countdown. John Knoppi, holding for McKay, was busy all weekend as a pit crew member and officials' assistant. Flying Lines photo.

With two planes moving at 110-mph or so, some collisions are inevitable. Bruce Hunt photo.

Part of the pit lineup as contestants got ready for action on Saturday. Flying Lines photo.

Rufus, the singing dog, watches the action as Jim Green prepares his plane. Flying Lines photo.

Beaver State Combat Team airplanes. In foreground are Gene Pape's Underdogs; in background, John Thompson's Dawson-built Allenplane. Gene Pape photo.

Jeff Dawson's Prowler, with Fora engine. Flying Lines photo.

Mel Lyne (center) discusses a refly issue with Buzz Wilson. Flying Lines photo.

A variety of airframe designs lined up and ready. Flying Lines photo.

Between rounds, John Thompson (left) and Mike Hazel work on airplanes. Bruce Hunt photo.

Colorful planes! Gene Pape photo.

Lee Letchworth in the pits. Gene Pape photo.

Buzz Wilson launches for Bob Smith is his match with Mike Hazel, as Jim Green tends the streamer. Gene Pape photo.

Bob Smith (left) and Mike Hazel race for the handle, as John Thompson holds for Hazel. Gene Pape photo.

Bill Maywald's planes were easy to see in the sky. Gene Pape photo.

Don Jensen with a Dawson-built plane. Gene Pape photo.

Mel Lyne and some of his fleet. Gene Pape photo.

Flying Lines home page

Back to Combat section

This page was upated Aug. 14, 2013