Bladder Grabber 2021
Bladder Grabber Fast Combat top four, in order of finish, right to left: Champion Bill Maywald, second place Mike Evans, third place Russ Wilcox, fourth place Ron Colombo. Gene Pape photo.
AMA Fast Blast
Seven-round Fast Combat tournament, Aug. 14-15, Snohomish, Wash.
Half A Grabber double-elimination 1/2-A Combat contest, Aug. 13
Maywald and Monoboom win Bladder Grabber 42
Bill Maywald of Irvine, Calif., won Fast Combat at the 2021 Bladder Grabber, flying his modern version of the exotic 1980s-design Monoboom in the semifinals and finals. Maywalt topped a strong field of 20 pilots, beating defending (2019) champion Mike Evans of Cincinnati, Ohio, in the final.
Maywald beat four-time Bladder Grabber champion Ron Colombo of Dearborn, Mich., in the semifinals, and Evans defeated 2021 U.S. Nationals champion Russ Wilcox, of California, in the other semi.
The Bladder Grabber followed the format of recent years by having all contestants fly seven matches, with match records used to determine semifinalists. Maywald and Evans and Colombo went 5-2 in the rounds and Wilcox went 6-1.
Colombo won Friday's preliminary event, going 6-1 in the double-elimination High-Performance 1/2-A Combat. Robert Smith of Roy, Wash., took second in 1/2-A with a 5-2 record. There were 18 entries in the Half A Grabber.
The top four in both events took home a variety of prizes that included engines, cash, accessories and commemorative mugs and shirts.
The competition was up to the usual Bladder Grabber standards, with lots of great matches up and down the contestant roster. CD Jeff Rein and his roster of helpers ran the contest expertly, dealing competently with delays caused by skydivers, the occasional controvery and the logistics of running a big event. It was Jeff's 23rd year as lead judge. Assisting were Bill Peterson, Buzz Wilson, Tony Huber, John Knoppi, Wanda Jensen, Robert Smith and others. Several contestants pitched in to help with pull testing and other duties.
The contest is enhanced by the several sponsors who provide cash and merchandise for prizes, including Cascade Aviation Services, Bigfoot Hobbies, Accurate Models, ANA, the Detroit Combat Team and others; thanks also to field owner Candice Harvey.
The contest provided pizza lunch for the contestants all three days. Weather was hot on Friday and Saturday and milder on Sunday; there was little wind all weekend.
Results of the 2021 BLADDER GRABBER Fast Combat contest (20 entries) (Northwest standings points in parentheses):
1. Bill Maywald, Irving, Calif. -- 6 wins, 3 losses
2. Mike Evans, Cincinnati, Ohio -- 6-3
3. Russ Wilcox, S. California -- 7-2
4. Ron Colombo, Dearborn, Mich. -- 6-3
5. Greg Carter, S. California -- 5-2
6. Steve Kott, Detroit, Mich. -- 5-2
7. Don Jensen, Pomona, Calif. -- 4-3
Greg Machen, Belfair, Wash. -- 4-3
Chuck Rudner, Costa Mesa, Calif. -- 4-3
10. Pete Athans, Pine Mountain Club, Calif. -- 3-4
Jeff Cohen, Tacoma, Wash. -- 3-4
Mike Hazel, Mehama, Ore. -- 3-4
Russ Hester, Florence, Ore. -- 3-4
Gene Pape, Eugene, Ore. -- 3-4
John Thompson, Eugene, Ore. -- 3-4
16. Mike Alurac, La Mirada, Calif. -- 2-5
John Knoppi, Seattle, Wash. -- 2-5
Lee Letchworth, Ione, Calif. -- 2-5
Robert Smith, Roy, Wash. -- 2-5
20. Tony Huber, Montana -- 1-6
HALF-A GRABBER results (18 entries) (Northwest standings points in parentheses):
1. Ron Colombo -- 6-1
2. Robert Smith -- 5-2 (17)
3. Pete Athans -- 5-2
4. Chuck Rudner -- 3-3
5. Mike Evans -- 3-2
John Thompson -- 3-2
Russ Wilcox -- 3-2
8. Mike Alurac -- 2-2
Gene Pape -- 2-2
10. Don Jensen -- 1-2
John Knoppi -- 1-2
Greg Machen -- 1-2
Buzz Wilson, Belfair, Wash. -- 1-2
14. Russ Hester -- 0-2
Tony Huber -- 0-2
Mike Hazel -- 0-2
Jeff Rein, Yuma, Ariz. -- 0-2
Bladder Grabber photo gallery
Bill Maywald's Monoboom in flight during the championship match. Flying Lines photo.
Bill Maywald (left) shows off the Fast Combat leader board and his other prizes along with longtime Contest Director Jeff Rein. Flying Lines photo.
The Fast Combat leader board. Flying Lines photo.
Ron Colombo celebrates his victory in the Half A Grabber. Flying Lines photo.
The 1/2-A leader board. Flying Lines photo.
Mike Evans (left) and Bill Maywald fly in the championship match. Flying Lines photo.
The new Monoboom; Maywald had two of these, which he saved for the semifinal and final. Flying Lines photo.
Close-up shows the Nelson .36 engine and Maywald's internal flyaway shutoff. Flying Lines photo.
During 1/2-A action on Friday, eventual champion Bill Maywald prepared his fleet of planes for action, with Greg Carter's help. Flying Lines photo.
Mike Evans (left) and Russ Wilcox battle in their semifinal match. Flying Lines photo.
Steve Kott lauches for Ron Colombo as starter Mike Evans steps aside at the start of Colombo's semifinal against Bill Maywald (already in flight). Flying Lines photo.
Bill Maywald (left) had to beat Steve Kott in a flyoff to reach the semifinals. Flying Lines photo.
Lee Letchworth (left) and Steve Kott battle in one of the preliminary rounds. Flying Lines photo.
Steve Kott's streamer floats down as his plane passes above in the match with Lee Letchworth. Did Lee get it all, or was Steve still towing a knot? Flying Lines photo.
Robert Smith shows launch technique as Lee Letchworth's plane takes off; starter Greg Machen is at left; across the circle are Steve Kott's pit crew, starter Mike Evans and Ron Colombo. Flying Lines photo.
The Saturday morning pit lineup, seen from the end occupied by the Beaver State Combat Team; planes flown by (front to back), Mike Hazel, Gene Pape, John Thompson and Russ Hester. Flying Lines photo.
Three Fast planes ready for action. Flying Lines photo.
Two more ready. Flying Lines photo.
Ron Colombo (left) and Robert Smith fly in the 1/2-A Combat championship match. Flying Lines photo.
Colombo (left) and Smith run for their handles at the start of the 1/2-A championship match; pilots started their own engines in 1/2-A. Flying Lines photo.
Robert Smith (right) congratulates Ron Colombo on his win in the 1/2-A final. Flying Lines photo.
Preliminary round 1/2-A action between Pete Athans (left plane) and Chuck Rudher.. Flying Lines photo.
Combat matches did not start while skydivers were coming down at Harvey Field. Russ Wilcox (left) and Chuck Rudner await the judges' go-ahead. Flying Lines photo.
A line tangle in 1/2-A took some effort to sort out. Pilots were Pete Athans (yellow shirt) and Robert Smith (right); assisting pit crew members were Mike Alurac (left) and Greg Machen. Flying Lines photo.
Mike Evans (left) and Robert Smith fly in a 1/2-A match. Flying Lines photo.
Mike Evans' 1/2-A plane flies out of the lauch from Jeff Cohen, as Ron Colombo watches. Flying Lines photo.
A close look at a couple of the 1/2-A planes. Flying Lines photo.
There's action in the pits as well as in the air. At right, starter Ron Colombo has to do a nifty gymnastics move to get out of the way of the plane as it takes off. Flying Lines photo.
This page was upated Aug. 18, 2021