In control-line fast combat, when the starter says "go," the engine must start and the plane be launched instantly. The starter hits the prop and ducks as the plane is immediately in the air. Below, Ken Burdick, a member of the pit crew for champion Mel Lyne at the 2006 Bladder Grabber triple-elimination fast combat tournament in Snohomish, Wash., tells us how to achieve the instant starts.

Pitting in combat

Getting the instant launch, every time

By Ken Burdick

Many people watched Jeff Rein and I pit at the 2006 Grabber and we fielded many questions on how we did the instant start and launch.

Here's how we did it.

1 (Starter) Assume that when you hit the prop it will not just start, but run at full bore.

2. (Launcher) Assume the starter will be out of the way when the engine starts and let go.

This all sounds well and good but if one part isn't completed then a dead model falls on the ground and you look pretty stupid, or somebody gets cut up by the prop.

"Well, what do you guy's do!!!!!?"

Here are the secrets as posted in 1986 Flying Lines newsletter on 1-flip starts.

1. Know your equipment. Good battery with a gauge to see your current draw for the glow plug.

2. Warm the engine. Run it for a shut-off check and get it good and warm.

3. Burn off excess fuel. Put the clip on the engine after it's warm up and flip it until all fuel is burnt off, no matter how small.

4. Prime!!!!! At the 30 second mark prior to start, put 5 small drops of fuel on the closed piston, open it and trap it inside the engine.

5. Battery clip. At the 15 second mark, connect the battery and turn the engine over by hand once.

6. Put the piston in the closed position so when you hit the prop, it free-wheels to the other point of compression.

7. Hit the prop hard and jump back so you do not get hit by the wing.

If you have a quick release clip then the airplane will take it off, if not then grab the wire as you leave the prop.

To make the assumptions of the starter and launcher, these things must be perfected or else someone may get hurt.

The championship team at the 2006 Bladder Grabber does a shutoff check under the watchful eye of official Steve Helmick (right). Pilot Mel Lyne assists starter Ken Burdick (left) and launcher Jeff Rein (second left). A well-practiced team has a routine for everything, is well prepared when it comes to match time and operates all steps in the process efficiently. Todd Ryan photo.

A couple of noteworthy pit crews at the Bladder Grabber. Left photo: Ken Burdick (right) and Buzz Wilson prepare Jeff Rein's plane for the start. Right photo: Yep, that's combat legend Riley Wooten in the Texas crew preparing to start George Cleveland's plane. Howard Rush photo.

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This page was upated May 3, 2007