Broadway Bod Busters

Bod Busters in Combat at the 2010 AMA Nationals

Moe Joe, Murphy's Law, Voo Doo, Mistakes, Luck, Miracles, and the Gods

Click here for complete Nationals results

By Don McKay with input from Jeff Rein

Last year the Broadway Bod Busters were represented at the AMA National's by Don McKay, who won Fast Combat and took 2nd place in Half A Combat. This year Don McKay and Jeff Rein represented the Broadway Bod Busters and the NW flying community in general. Our goal was to enter all of the combat events and win as many matches as possible. There were four combat events and we managed to bring home 3 out of 4 - First places, 2 - Second Places, 1 - Third Place, and 1 - Fourth Place. This is 75% of the possible awards that we could have achieved.


This is not the Bod Busters best event as we do not fly it locally. I won 3rd in F2D even after being disqualified twice for laying my handle down in the pilots circle twice but lost only once in the air. Jeff lost two very close matches by 10 and 15 points respectively to Lou Scavone and Brad LaPonte. My match with Jeff ended with a two to one cut advantage for me, then a collision and sending Jeff to 4hth place.

Speed limit Combat

Don's mistake - In one match of Speed Limit I had forgotten to attach my streamer which Jeff noticed just before launching the plane. I laid down my handle and started back to attached the streamer which was in my shirt pocket being careful not to trip on the lines. About half way back to the pits the engine shut down. I wondered why Jeff (my pit man) stopped the engine. Jeff wondered why I tripped the shut off. Of course nether had done anything and the shutoff just decided to arm and shut off the fuel - which never happens normally - Murphy's Law. After attaching the streamer, the engine, which always starts easily, would not start. Jeff and I spent the next four and a half minutes trying to restart the engine. - Voo Doo.

Jeff's luck was better and he went on to win this event without a loss. This one Jeff really wanted has it is his specialty - Some say Lucky, I say skilled.


It came down to Jeff and myself in the finals with no losses. I won the first watch with a kill and Jeff won the next match with a kill. Jeff won the last match on air time after he clipped is line guide on my lines ripping it out and breaking both lines. The rules state any match that makes one plane unflyable due to a line entangle or collision, end at that point. He was ahead by getting in the air 5 seconds sooner than me. Lucky for Jeff. Unlucky for Don.

Jeff 1st This was second time Jeff has won this event at the Nationals

Don 2nd The same as I placed in the 2009 AMA Nationals


I had a problem with one of my Nelson engines that I used in Fast Combat, where it would start and run fine on the ground and in the air for a lap or so, then go very lean, go back to good, back to lean over and over again - sometimes. Both Jeff and I worked on this problem in practice and testing for two days before leaving for the Nat's and on Monday (testing day) at the Nat's. We change bags, tubing, and fuel, cleaned the remote needle valve and engine spray bar, and tested the needle valve for leaks. One of the symptoms of this problem was sometimes there were bubbles in the fuel line between the needle valve and the engine. After eight test flights and checking everything twice, no solution was found. We attributed the problem to Moe Joe.

One strategy that I used on my “Fast” planes was to put 7 to 8 oz of fuel in the plane. This would make a big difference in the finals.

I flew my good engine in the preliminary matches, two of which ended in midair collisions, winning one match buy a cut and losing the other by a cut. As a result I got dirt in my most reliable engine and had to use my backup Nelson that had the “lean” problem.

Jeff won all of his preliminary matches, one of which he flew and killed Phil Cartier in a hot, tight turning match.

Jeff and I ended up flying for first and second. With Jeff having no losses, I would need to win two matches in a row against Jeff which would be almost a miracle.

Before the first match for the “Gold” both Jeff and I test ran and tuned our Nelson's for maximum performance. I was lucky to have Phil Cartier as my pit man. When I pointed out the bubbles in the fuel line to Phil, he immediately new what the problem was. - A “harmonic” “oscillation” of the needle valve causing the fuel to “vaporize” in the fuel line. I “tie-wrapped” the needle valve solid to the Nelson mount changing the harmonics and everything “seemed” to work fine thereafter.

1st match between Jeff, Don, and the Gods

I used new, custom made, extremely strong, large, “Perfect Type”, “slider” line clips to attach my lines to the handle. In the fist match between Jeff and I in the finals, the event director had pull tested both planes and inspected the handle as I did when I set up the lines on the plane. The match started and everything was fine. I got in the air first but instead of going lean, as in the past, my engine goes very rich with no power after three laps - Voo Doo.

Jeff gets in the air and I know I am in trouble so I chose to do a very tight loop knowing my lines will go slack and trip the shutoff, shutting down the engine. Jeff continues to fly around at 120 MPH, building air time and burning fuel while I pit.

When pitting, I laid my handle down carefully and left the circle. I had started the match with 7 oz of fuel, which made it unnecessary to refuel as the shutoff kept fuel from leaking out when I was on the ground. After restarting the engine, it ran fine without any adjustment - not rich as before. Moe Joe

In the meantime Jeff was racking up airtime points. Then all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, Jeff's Nelson stopped abruptly with that sudden stop of a broken rod (Don's god). Jeff promptly lands in front of his pits, Mistake, instead of whipping his plane with a broken motor as far as he can to earn precious air time. When I returned to the pilot circle, I picked up my handle and noticed that only one line was attached. Looking down to the round I saw the line clip. When I picked it up, to my amazement I found it closed, by itself with no line attached. This meant that both the line and the handle became disconnected, and the line clip had reclosed by itself, (Jeff's god). It took me about 20 seconds or so to open the clip, attached the handle, reclose the clip and open the other end, attach the line, and reclose the clip. The question remains how could a “closed”, and “inspected”, line clip become disconnected from both the line and handle and end up “closed” again. Was my god more powerful than Jeff's god? Was it Murphy's Law - what can happen will happen. Lucky for Don. Unlucky for Jeff.

At this point Jeff had a lot of air time on me and all I could do is get up and fly level. When I ran out of fuel I figured it was very close on air time. The Judges chant 'Whip it, Whip it, Whip it,” which is what I had already started to do. It was very windy and I was pulling a full steamer which made whipping difficult.

While running backwards whipping my plane, I had left the circle by a considerable margin. Jeff yells out to the Judges “Don's out of circle.” Wayne (the event director) replies “this is not F2D” meaning “it did not matter”. Jeff says “Damn” under his breath.

After whipping the plane for one and a quarter laps in strong wind, while pulling a full streamer for about 15 seconds I finally landed. A few moments later the match had ended. The whipping had ended up being the determining factor, and I won the match by 3 points.

2nd Match between Don and Jeff

Jeff got his engine started first and launched ahead of me. However, he had not checked Nelson engine mount bolts (mistake) that backed out 3/8 (Voo Doo) of an inch during his test run and tune. That 3/8” blocked the bellcrank from any up. When he got to the handle something didn't feel right but he chose to launch anyway (mistake two). Jeff hit the ground 10 feet in front of his launch point breaking his prop. While he changed the prop and re-installed the motor mount bolt he didn't notice that fuel was leaking into the engine (mistake three) because his shutoff never armed on takeoff. He was only going to put one syringe of fuel into the bag and restart. Then he thought “Don carries a lot of fuel” so he would have time to put two full syringes into to bag and fly the rest of the five minute match. (mistake four). The motor was severely flooded with fuel and took an extra 30 seconds to start. Just as Jeff's plane was launched, my plane was rich at the end of the bag. When the judges blew the horn to fly combat, I promptly landed my plane in front of my pits. Jeff is yelling “hurry up, get up.” Although I had more than enough air time running out 6 ounces of fuel to win the match, I refueled and tried to restart my motor, only to find a blown glow plug. Time ran out, match over, and I won by over 1 minute of air time in this match.

A miracle had happen - Don beat Jeff twice in a row and repeated as AMA National Campion in fast Combat. More important - I don't know of anyone that has beaten Jeff two times in a row over the last few years.

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This page was upated July 22, 2010