’24 TD Opener – Blue Sky Lift & Wind – Bill O takes Unlimited from The Usual Suspects

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Dan G./ MVSA Webmaster

On Saturday, Bill O stood alone at the landing area looking up at the sky. Many others took note. They walked out and said a few words – from encouragement to competitive fun. What was going through his mind?

“Where was my timer,” Bill O said in an interview on Monday. “Larry came up and said you’re at 8-minutes and there was no one else in the air.”  Bill descended and did a roll over the field. He checked his card at the end of the day and swore it was a mistake. 2024 Season Results

8AM – Dan G. arrived at the field around 8am shortly followed by Bill R. He setup his photo light stand with a torn grocery store bag shaped wind streamer to see the wind. The highly sensitive device was barely moving. This would change. They set up a hi-start and made a few flights. Bob G., Saturday’s Contest Director (CD) arrived and envisioned the field setup. No one had any idea of what the day would bring. By 9am the wind beat 8 mph from the South South East (SSE) – according to Weather Underground’s historical data from Lambert International Airport more than 15 miles away. By contest end it would be 79F, winds 12 gusting 20.

Ten competitors, three new members and one guest came out participate. – The pilot meeting was held at the pit area about 50 feet away from the winch. This was by design – it makes it easier for members to walk from the pit area to launch. The sun shone bright – a blue sky.

Bob G. stepped up for his first round RES flight and was invited to test the winch. He lost balance, his foot off the winch switch leaving his Ava Pro suspended in a stall 100 feet above the pit. He recovered, the winch line and retrieving line – two white lines against the blue fell over the pit area. Bill O shouted not to run the line return as he extricated the lines from around a parked plane or two. This would not be the only excitement of the day. –


Round 1

Bill O flew from thermal to thermal above the field, alone at the landing tapes. A small tour of two new members and a guest watched. “What’s your time,” Dan G. asked. “I don’t know,” Bill O replied. Larry A. soon arrived. Bill was at 7-minutes and change. He began his approach but landed short. His time, 9 minutes 58 seconds – zero landing – good for second place. Wayne would match but land at 52 on the tape. Last year’s Unlimited champ would land at a scorching 97 on the tape but after only 4 minutes and change in the air. Last year’s second place Unlimited – Dave Q. would land at 3 minutes and 12 seconds at 39 on the tape.

Round 2

Wayne ran away with first place adding 251 points to his lead over Bill O with a 9:25 flight and 62-point landing. Bill would land after 4:38 in the air and a hot 98-point landing. – Round 3: Wayne put up a near perfect flight – 10:05 and 94 points on the tape. Bill would stop the bleeding with a 9:54 flight and 88-point landing giving up only 9 more points to trail Wayne by 311 points. – (NOTE: When we compete – no one really knows how they stand in the contest until the scores come out that evening. It’s fun to write about a point race though.)

Round 4

Bill Os Round 4 Unlimited Flight

If all the Round 4 Unlimited flights went up at the same time – Bill O would have been standing alone at the tapes for a staggering 5 minutes and 13 seconds – which is basically what happened. In the time lapse video of the contest several club members walked out and said a few words as he continued to fly. It was a moment. He wasn’t really standing there alone the whole time.

Unlimited’s Usual Suspects on Saturday

Dave Q would try to squeeze all of the time he could out of his last flight. Members watched as he fought the wind, which was then about 10 gusting 20, back to the field. His glider’s showdown slipped over a tree at the north field boundary established by the CD. It was close. He landed a good walk from the tapes at 4 minutes 12 seconds.

Bob G, last year’s Unlimited class champ discovered a flap linkage issue causing his flips to be up a little – increasing the wing speed of the plane. He would discover this just before his third round hi-start launch but by that point the damage to the score was already done.

Robert S. returned to the field in his first contest since September or August. Due to physical limitations, he flew from his swivel chair – others launching and recovering his electric glider. He would peak in the first round with a 7:53 flight and 76 points on the tape.

Let’s talk about the rest of the contest before we return to Bill O.


Saturday was a rough day for RES with only a single flight in the 9-10 minute range. Nearly ½ of the flights ended with a zero landing. Five out of the 23 flights was over 7-minutes.

Out Early

Rich R. took round 1 by a margin of only 30 points made in the air. Bill O would run away with a 7:05 flight and 88 landing – only to be out flown by Bill W (8:12 / O-landing). His first two flights would put him a staggering 285 points ahead of Rich and 372 ahead of last year’s RES class title holder, Bob G.

Bill O’s lead would be cut down to 99 points ahead of Bob G. in round 3 – only up for 3:23. All hope for wining RES would go away after the last round. Bob G. would fly for 98% perfect – the only 10-minute RES flight of the day topped with a near perfect 95 landing. It would be more than double Bill O’s round 4 score but good for a second-place finish.

In third place – was the little engine that could. Dan G was in 4th place at the end of round 3 – 133 points out of 3rd place. In the time lapse video of the contest – he can be seen circling above the landing area – from about 50 feet to 100 feet for several minutes getting all the time he could. He zig zagged to the tapes and landed with 7:38 on the clock and a scorching 98 point landing. Rich R, who had third place in round 3, would land at 3:57 off the tape. He would also walk away with the best landing average of 73 points for RES.


The weather was rough, but no one suffered more than the guys flying in 2-Meter. It would be the lowest scoring contest since 2022. Bob G,, 2023’s 2-Meter champ, took round 1 with his trusty and familiar Radian – wait – no – Bill O won the round flying for 4:30 vs Bob G.’s 4:06. They both hit the tape in the 80s.

In round 2, Larry would go yard with a perfect flight but sinking his head after landing shy of the tape – good enough to steal the lead. Bob G. would counter with a perfect time and 85 landing – boosting him into a mere 7-point lead over Bill O and a 32-point (out of 862) lead over Larry. An average landing for Larry in round 3 would have secured him a slight lead in first place.

By round 4, the wind was blowing 12 gusting 20 – not good for 2-Meter – not good for a contest. Bob G. stood with his trusty Radian. Wayne could be heard from the pit, ‘look at him, he’s sandbagging’. Bob G. watched the massive flag 1.3 miles to the south as it flew flat and then fell to the pole. He told his timer, he’d launch in about 2-minutes. The calm wind he’s seen at the flagpole crossed the field as he launched. The familiar specter of this white Radian against the blue sky was seen one more time as he kept going up in lift. At 4-minutes he began his approach from height. Would it be enough to overcome the near 3-way tie he found himself in?

Larry would land at 4:44 and for the first time nail the landing with 98 points. Bob would land at 5 minutes 49 seconds and 97 on the tape. – What

Back to Unlimited and Bill O.

After the contest Bill O checked his card, swore it was a mistake, took a photo of it and went home. For Unlimited, three nines and a four? What happened in round 2 for the four-minute flight? Did others have trouble then as well? He took a photo of his card, went home, and took a nap. He woke up to find he had won his first MVSA contest.

Compliments and congratulations trickled in on the club’s good group.

“Wow!” wrote MVSA President Robert S. “You stepped up into the big leagues. 😊”  

Bill O woke up from his nap on Saturday evening to discover it wasn’t a dream – he won his first Unlimited contest.

“Awe shucks guys,” Bill O responded. I’m just following the advice of the club pilots.”

The victory was not all roses. It would be only 93-point ahead of Wayne – a small margin – a minute of flight time and an average landing from waking up to second place.

Let’s go back to his last flight of the day – round 4 in unlimited. He stood there not knowing what his time was but just kept flying. On Monday he talked more about it.

“Maybe I’d come along enough to handle it myself,” Bill O said. Larry’s been coaching me since [joining MVSA] in 2019. Finally, all this stuff in my head came to bear at the field.”

Bill O has been flying R/C planes since he was 7 – that’s about a half century of flying. He’s active all-around town – from the club in Eureka, Buder, Wright City, Midwest, Columbia and the Phantom Flyers. He’ll drive up with a trailer filled with ¼ scale gas planes and the gregarious smile and that laugh. Larry invited him to a 2-Meter contest with the Phantom Flyers. In 2019, Larry invited Bill to a fun fly with MVSA. During the COVID times, he began his competitive career at MVSA where he found a new home.

“MVSA is my kind of people,” he said. “I like to hang out with them.”

He’s been taking in all the little conversations and Larry’s flying advice. Since 2019, his basement workshop has added more than a few gliders. Last year, the collection was consolidated to two planes – a Volo and a new 2-Meter. At a fun fly earlier this year Ed R. brought his red winged Ava to the field and offered it for $500. Bill spoke first. He was offered $800 within a few minutes which he turned down.

The gregarious Bill O can be seen on the time lapse video bouncing back and forth between timing for his competition and flying three flights per round. He remembers the CD asking him if he had a flight left at the close of a round. On Monday, you can hear it in his voice – there just wasn’t enough time to spend timing for fellow club friends and get his flights in. But he did it.

Without getting on the Bill O. bandwagon, let’s look at his score from Saturday. The score would be enough to win 5 of last year’s 6 contests, win the UNL title for 2023 and rest on the 2nd best single contest score of the season. Saturday, he flew for 83% perfect – or 83% of the total possible points. When scored his three best flights – that would be 93% perfect.

At end of round 4, Bill O. would descend free of other gliders in the sky, do a roll at 50 feet and land at 9 minutes 55 seconds at 91 on the tape – a 98% perfect flight.

At end of round 4, he would descend free of other gliders in the sky, do a roll at 50 feet and land at 9 minutes 55 seconds at 91 on the tape – a 98% perfect flight.

“[Saturday] everyone was a little bit off,” Bill O said. He went on to describe what a normal contest performance would be from each of club’s top ½ unlimited flyers. They’ve also been flying for 20 or more years, and Bill’s only been out there for four and change. “Once these guys get back in the game [2024] will be a race…. I’ll be up there somewhere – there will be a slot for me.”

On being #1 in 2024 after a single contest in Unlimited, of course he has some advice.

“Welcome to anyone who wants it from me, come and get it,” Bill O said.

Next Event: Fun Fly – April 20th – Location TBA