Curses! Foiled Again ...
Leave it to Grant LaDue to find Amelia
Joe Belyeu seems to have a height
advantage over Noah Engelmann.
Engines roared again at the WBC aerodrome as a record number
of pilots filled the skies over France. The four scheduled circuses
- ne heats - provided opportunities for flying against different
pilots during the week, while the green AOA buttons supplied
by Greg Schmittgens allowed pilots to spot one another between
circuses for dogfights of convenience.
Green pilots had a tough year with many aces on the prowl.
As the qualification flights came to an end, Bill Burch was at
the top of the class with a 3.91 rating. Following the "Red
Baron" in order were Doug Porterfield, Grant Ladue, Joe
Belyeu, Ray Stakenas II, and Noah Engelmann setting the bar for
the target to reach the Final Fly-off at 2.53. This proved to
be a tough qualification level as former Champions Bruce Young
and Richard Irving missed the cutoff.
Many questions would be answered in the Final Fly-off. Would
Grant finally throw away his bridesmaid bouquet after finishing
second for three straight years? Would first year laurelist Noah
find a way to top the creme of the circus? Will "Yellow
Baron", Ray, figure out how to shoot down planes instead
of just running away? And most important, who would be the new
Champion as there were no returning champs in the final field?
The Final Fly-off is a round robin of six finalists. In Round
1, Grant flew and Noah shared the dreaded head-to-head pass (page
20) twice, before Grant managed a quick kill to win 6-4. Doug
drew the Yellow Baron and Ray won 7-5. Bill and Joe finished
the Round with the longest dogfight. After many maneuvers, Joe
found the right combination to shoot down Bill 6-4.
In Round 2, Bill's luck vanished as Doug found the firing
pattern of 2, 1, 1, and 2 to finish off the Red Baron 6-0. Grant
continued his page 20 antics against Ray, but this time managed
a middle shot for 2 to shoot down the Yellow Baron 6-4. Joe managed
a tight 6-4 victory over Noah to end the second round tied with
Grant at two victories apiece.
Round 3 found the leaders dueling each other. In the longest
fight of the day, the two continued to dodge one another and
reached a 6-6 stalemate. No ties are allowed in the Final, so
sudden death prevailed as Joe shot down Grant 8-6 in overtime.
Bill finally regained his form and shut out Ray in a 6-0 whitewash.
Doug and Noah took up the head-to-head excitement with page 20
twice and then its little sister of one point damage (page 114)
to reach 5-5. Doug found the next shot to win 6-5.
For Round 4, Doug's reward was to fly against Joe, the current
leader. The reward proved short-lived as Joe gave him a 6-0 thrashing.
Grant rebounded against Bill with more page 20 meets and tied
at 1, 3, and 5, but took the lead on the net pass to win 7-5.
These results gave Joe Belyeu the Championship with a Round to
go. Joe did not let the glory go to his head though and flew
to another victory in Round 5 against Ray, 6-5, to finish the
Final Fly-off undefeated while Grant and Doug dueled to determine
second place. Grant's great experience with that position, or
fate's fondness for handing him bouquets, prevailed - giving
Grant a 6-4 win and his fourth straight second-place finish.
Grant Ladue finished second for the fourth straight year.
Still, not bad considering he only learned the game at
WBC four years ago.
GM Doug Porterfield and Bill Burch
in a dogfight.
Chris Villeneuve and Bill Watkins