Nobody told me there would be books
here. I never studied this hard when I was in school.
Joe Angiolillo, one of the original
developers of the game, regales the circus with tales of yesteryear.
Andrew Kiefte chalks up a kill over
Paul Weintraub as he completes the paperwork for his claim.
William Burch and Greg Ziemba dogfight
during one of the four scheduled circus meetings.
Yellow Baron! ...
Dogfights were conducted during pre-arranged target rich environments
dubbed Flying Circuses and all around the convention through
the free form format. Pilots were sortieing to qualify for the
Final Circus. The six top qualifiers at the Final Circus then
flew a round robin series of dogfights to determine this year's
Ace of Aces.
Qualifying for the Final Circus were six former laurelists.
Defending Champion Bill Burch lead this year's worthies. He would
be ably opposed by Noah Engelmann, Grant Ladue - returning after
a one-year self-imposed exile to break his streak of five runner-up
finishes, two-time Champion Rich Irving, GM Doug Porterfield,
and frequent flier Ray Stakenas II - aka the 'Yellow Baron'.
As Rich Irving was awol as GM for another event, John Keating
entered the aerodrome as first alternate. All were familiar faces
in the Ace of Aces skies. Ray had the extra noted distinction
of not flying during any of the Circuses and doing all of his
kills asa lone stalker in the free-form format. That didn't prevent
Ray from logging the most flights of any pilot among the 206
duels recorded. Ray was the sixth qualifier and only after winning
his last dogfight to qualify.
Round 1 of the round robin contest began with Bill going the
distance against Grant with a 7 - 5 decision. John quickly shot
down Doug 6 - 3. Noah and Ray went into overtime before Ray managed
to find the killing shot and win 8 - 7. Curses Yellow Baron!
Round 2 saw the champlon continue his strong title defense
with a quick kill of Noah 6 - 2. John also jumped into a tie
for the lead with another quick 6 - 2 kill over Grant for his
second win. Suddenly, second place didn't look so bad to Grant
after all. Doug flew a tough set against Ray and reached 6 tied,
but Ray again prevailed in overtime with an 8 - 6 win. Curses
Round 3 began with three unbeatens. Bill chalked up his third
kill over Doug in a 7 - 4 win. Grant finally gets on the board
with a 6.5 - 2 victory over Noah. In a duel of unbeatens, Ray
takes John into his third straight overtime contest, again winning
8 - 6. Curses Yellow Baron!
Round 4 gives Bill a fourth kill - dropping John to 2-2 with
a 6.5 - 4.5 decision. Doug denied Noah his first kill, winning
7 - 5. Grant, now looking to keep his runner-up streak alive,
met Ray - needing a win to do so. He manages to be the first
to avoid Ray's secret strategy of overtime endurance, but only
by losing in regulation, 6 - 4. Curses Yellow Baron!
The stage was thus set for a climactic Round 5 between two
unbeatens for the title. One would emerge as a true ace with
five kills against the best pilots the year could provide. But
first Noah flew against John and finally logged the winning flight
plan with a 6 - 2 victory for his first kill. Grant and Doug
met in a battle for fourth with Grant prevailing 6 - 4. In the
finale, Bill squared off against Ray for all the marbles - err
wood. Bill's stellar title defense came to an abrupt end as he
chose the wrong time to zig when he should have zagged and lost
his first game as the Yellow Baron prevailed in a 6.5 - 4.5 win.
Proving yet again, its not how often you win, but when and timing
is everything in the skies.
Ted and Robert Drozd engage in some
Ray Stakenas takes down the defending
champ "Yellow Baron".
The 2013 laurelists minus Grant
LaDue who ducked out after his sixth straight also-ran finish.
And he thought I wasn't counting!