Bladder Grabber 2019
Bladder Grabber Fast Combat top four, in order of finish, right to left: Champion Mike Evans, second place Ron Colombo, third place Mike Alurac, fourth place Bill Maywald. Gene Pape photo.
AMA Fast Blast
Seven-round Fast Combat tournament, Aug. 10-11, Snohomish, Wash.
Half A Grabber double-elimination 1/2-A Combat contest, Aug. 9
Mike Evans wins Bladder Grabber 41
Mike Evans of Cincinnati, Ohio, emerged from a strong field of 20 Fast Combat fliers to capture the 41st Bladder Grabber Championship, scoring a kill in the final match against his teammate, four-time winner Ron Colombo of Dearborn, Mich. Evans ended up with a record of nine wins and one loss in the tournament -- a 6-1 record in the rounds and a clean sweep through the playoffs. He beat Mike Alurac of La Mirada, Calif., in the semifinals.
Colombo bested Bill Maywald of Irvine, Calif., in the semifinals. Alurac scored a thrilling last-second kill against Maywald in a flyoff to take third place.
The Bladder Grabber followed the format of recent years by having all contestants fly seven matches, with match records used to determine semifinalists. Maywald went 6-1 in the rounds; Colombo and Alurac went 5-2.
Jeff Rein of Yuma, Ariz., captured Friday's preliminary event, coming out on top of 20 entries in double-elimination High-Performance 1/2-A Combat with a record of eight wins and one loss. Don Jensen of Pomona, Calif., was second with a 6-2 record and Buzz Wilson of Belfair, Wash., was third at 4-3.
Winners of both the Fast and 1/2-A events went home with $1,000 cash prizes. The top four in both events also took home a variety of other prizes that included engines, airplanes, parts and souvenir mugs.
It was another smoothly run contest under the management of Jeff Rein, who was the director and lead judge for the 22nd consecutive year, assisted by Buzz Wilson, Jim Green, Wanda Jensen and Anita Hester. Combat judges were Bill Peterson, Tom Goodis, Buzz Wilson and Tony Huber.
The contest is enhanced by the several sponsors who provide cash and merchandise for prizes: Torr Technologies, Paul Vallins, John Knoppi, Tony Huber, Jeff Dawson and Ron Colombo; thanks also to field owner Candice Harvey.
The contest provided lunch for the contestants all three days. Weather was cloudy for most of the three days, temperatures were mild and there was very little wind. Rain caused a delayed start on Saturday morning, but matches were under way by 11 a.m. and everything finished on schedule Sunday afternoon.
CD Rein indicated that plans already are under way for the 42nd annual Bladder Grabber in 2020.
Results of the 2019 BLADDER GRABBER Fast Combat contest (20 entries) (Northwest standings points in parentheses):
1. Mike Evans, Cincinnati, Ohio -- 9 wins, 1 loss
2. Ron Colombo, Dearborn, Mich -- 6-3
3. Mike Alurac, La Mirada, Calif. -- 6-3
4. Bill Maywald, Irvine, Calif. -- 6-3
5. Mike Hazel, Mehama, Ore. -- 4-
Tony Huber, Montana -- 4-3
Mel Lyne, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C. -- 4-3
Greg Machen, Belfair, Wash. -- 4-3
Doss Porter, Fresno, Calif. -- 4-3
Jeff Rein, Yuma Ariz. -- 4-3
John Thompson, Eugene, Ore. -- 4-3
What it's all about: Mike Evans' plane carries Ron Colombo's streamer after scoring a kill in the final. Flying Lines photo.
12. Jeff Cohen, Tacoma, Wash. -- 3-4
Jim Green, Bellevue, Wash. -- 3-4
Don Jensen, Pomona, Calif. -- 3-4
Lee Letchworth, Ione, Calif. --
16. Russ Hester, Florence, Ore. -- 2-5
John Knoppi, Seattle, Wash. -- 2-5
Gene Pape, Eugene, Ore. -- 2-5
19. Pete Athans, Pine Mountain Club, Calif. -- 0-7
Buzz Wilson, Belfair, Wash. -- 0-7
HALF-A GRABBER results (20 entries) (Northwest standings points in parentheses):
1. Jeff Rein -- 8-1
2. Don Jensen -- 6-2
3. Buzz Wilson -- 4-3 (18)
4. Gene Pape -- 3-2 (17)
5. Mike Alurac -- 3-2
Ron Colombo -- 3-2
7. Mike Hazel -- 2-2
Russ Hester -- 2-2
Mel Lyne -- 2-2
John Thompson --2-2
11. Pete Athans -- 1-2
John Knoppi -- 1-2
Greg Machen -- 1-2
14. Jeff Cohen -- 0-2
Jeff Dawson, San Antonio, Texas -- 0-2
Mike Evans -- 0-2
Jim Green -- 0-2
Tony Huber -- 0-2
Lee Letchworth -- 0-2
Doss Porter -- 0-2
Bladder Grabber photo gallery
The top 1/2-A Combat teams, from right: Winner Jeff Rein (right) and pitman John Knoppi; second place Don Jensen (right) and pitman Pete Athans; third-place Buzz Wilson and pitman Greg Machen. Gene Pape photo.
Teammates Ron Colombo (left) and Mike Evans duel in the Fast Combat final. Flying Lines photo.
Colombo (right) congratulates winner Evans after the championship bout. Flying Lines photo.
Mike Alurac (left) and Mike Evans battle through a line tangle in the Fast semifinal. Flying Lines photo.
Bill Maywald (left) and Ron Colombo fly in the other Fast semifinal. Flying Lines photo.
Part of the pit area during Fast Combat. Flying Lines photo.
2018 winner Mel Lyne (left) battles John Knoppi during the Fast rounds. Flying Lines photo.
Don Jensen launches Bill Maywald's plane in the semifinal as starter Pete Athans watches. Flying Lines photo.
This two-photo sequence shows how important a quick start can be. In the first photo, above, the team on the right has just launched ...
... and in the second photo the plane on the left is away. Pit crews on the left are starter Ron Colombo and launcher Jeff Cohen for Mike Evans; on the right it's starter Pete Athans and launcher Bill Maywald for Mike Alurac. If this semifinal match had ended in a sudden midair collision with no other scoring, the Alurac team's quicker launch would have given him the victory. Flying Lines photos.
More action at the start of a match: Tony Huber launches for John Knoppi as starter Pete Athans stands aside. Mel Lyne is already aloft; his pit crew Mike Evans and Ron Colombo watch from the far side of the circle. Flying Lines photo.
It takes plenty of airplanes to be ready for Combat. Flying Lines photo.
Planes on top of a car. Flying Lines photo.
Gene Pape's rack of ready-to-fly Underdogs. Flying Lines photo.
John Thompon's Fast and 1/2-A planes await action. Flying Lines photo.
The 1/2-A Combat pits on Friday. The double-elimination preliminary contest has emerged as a major event along with the two-day Fast meet. Flying Lines photo.
Entering the 1/2-A final with one loss, Jeff Rein (right) had to beat then-undefeated Don Jensen twice -- and did. This is action in the first of the two matches. Flying Lines photo.
Before the 1/2-A final against Jensen, Rein had to beat Buzz Wilson (right). Rein's win left Wilson in third place. Flying Lines photo.
This Yuvenko-built style of 1/2-A plane was used by several contestants. Flying Lines photo.
Pitman Greg Machen shows judges that a 1/2-A plane has been killed -- note string with no streamer. Flying Lines photo.
The Beaver State Combat Team's Mike Hazel launches Gene Pape's 1/2-A plane with Russ Hester in the background. Flying Lines photo.
More Beaver State Combat Team 1/2-A action: Hazel launches for John Thompson while Doss Porter watches from the center. Gene Pape photo.
Direct hit on the streamer in 1/2-A Combat. Flying Lines photo.
More 1/2-A Combat action. Flying Lines photo.
Ron Colombo (left) congratulates Jeff Rein after a Rein victory on the way to the 1/2-A championship. Flying Lines photo.
Even in a top-gun contest, some things don't aways go right. This plane's headed for a thump on launch. Flying Lines photo.
This page was upated Aug. 15, 2019