Zoot's Mixture

November 2014

25 years ago: The Nats comes to the Northwest

By Zoot Zoomer    

Yo Dudes!

It’s been too long since the last column here, and there’s nobody to blame but meself! Just can’t let the rest of this calendar year finish off without acknowledging a significant date in Northwest control line history: July 17 thru July 22, 1989.

The 25th anniversary of the 1989 AMA Nationals in Tri-Cities, Wash.

Yes indeed folks, it has been that long.

The “Big One” finally made it to the Northwest after a very long wait. But first, how 'bout some background history ...

During the days of the “Navy Nats,” the location changed every year. It rotated around from Southern California, the Midwest, Texas, and the East Coast (not neccessarily in that order) utilizing a Navy base. Thus, every four years it would be within a reasonable travel distance for most participants. When the Navy dropped its participation of the Nationals, the AMA had to assume the full enchilada, which meant finding a site and staffing the event. One factor was unchanged, and that being the Nats would continue to move about the country. Now the event was not restricted to just four venues, but could experience other locales.

OK, but what about the Northwest? Well again, the closest site to the Northwest had always been Southern California.  In the Navy days, it was at Long Beach and in 1977 it made a stop in Riverside. And in 1984 it came to Reno, Nev., which for much of the Northwest was just a one-day drive. And then it happened: In 1989 the AMA National Model Airplane Championships came to the great Northwest for the very first time. The location was referred to as Tri-Cities, Wash. Of course, there is no such city. For you geographically challenged folks, this is the city grouping of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco in the southeast part of the state. The event returned again in 1995, which marked the end of the traveling Nats era, thereafter forever stuck in Muncie, Ind.

With the Big Event being local, many Northwest folks who had never been to a Nats were afforded an easier opportunity to attend. Many showed up to compete, others to spectate and hobknob, and some were put to work! Among those who signed up for duty included: Joe Just, Carrier director;  Bob Parker, Aerobatics director, and Mike Hazel, Speed director. And of course many volunteered to be timers, pit bosses, etc.

The turnout was not too bad, maybe even pretty good considering Washington state would be looked upon as the edge of the earth to those East Coast folks So, where did the event take place? It was split up mostly over Richland for the control-line. The “hardtop” events took place at the airport, and Carrier and Combat were at a high school in town. The flying areas were in different locations when the event returned in 1995.

Lots more details and memories could be shared, perhaps you might have one or two for everyone to enjoy.

See Model Aviation magazine coverage of the 1989 Nats; must be a Academy of Model Aeronautics member.

Later dudes, be cool!

-- Zoot Zoomer

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This page was upated Nov. 17, 2014