A brief history of the “Best Midwest Qualified Flight” award
Original by: Bob Kaplow
A long time ago, in a part of the country far far away…
In the mid 70s, Midwest competition standards were considered by outsiders to be somewhat lax: just about any flight that didn’t hit someone was considered qualified! If a rocket DID hit someone, we took into account who the victim was 🙂 Since then, a marginally qualified flight became known as “Midwest qualified”.
The Best Midwest Qualified Flight award was first presented by Steve Behrends at NARAM-19 to the most spectacular prang of the week. The winner was Bob (Brandy) Bruce who flew a scale-like 2 stage rocket that crashed, staged, and took off again, dubbed “Phoenix Arise”. Ironically, it was one of the very few sport flights back when 98% of the models flown at NARAM were competition, and most of the 2% were test flights. IIRC, Steve also “retroactively” awarded NARAM-17 and NARAM-18 winners.
Later awards were a joint effort headed by Matt Steele and Chris Pearson of SNOAR fame. Bob Kaplow was a frequent co-conspirator, and inherited the duty when they moved on. At NARAM-51 Chad Ring assumed the duties. The panel of judges usually consists of the RSOs and LCOs from the NARAM and sport ranges. Historically, the award is constructed out of the remains of crashed rockets and other NARAM debris collected during the week. Often part of the winner’s crash is included in the trophy.
Much notoriety is attached in being nominated for the award. The only thing worse is to actually win! I’ve had the misfortune of having to nominate myself for the award once, at NARAM-39, when my Wylie Coyote rocket crashed into Mark Johnson’s van, and left a rubber streak on the side window. Mark preserved this streak for several years. Fortunately, I did not win.
It’s too easy to just auger in a really big rocket. While that is good enough for a nomination, much of what makes for a winner is “style” points.
Style points can be earned for doing spectacular aerobatics. Or for selecting a particularly good target like the RSO, the CDs car, a tank, or phone line to hit. Or for pure stupidity.
While the sport range generates some interesting prangs, competition events seem to particularly attract nominations for this award, including Plastic Model Conversion, Eggloft, Scale, Gliders, particularly Radio “Controlled”, stages, clusters, or a very long burn motor (F7, D3). It’s pretty much according to Murphy’s law: whatever events have the most opportunity for something to go wrong. REALLY WRONG.
Here’s what I’ve pieced together in the way of the history of the award winners and a few honorable mentions:
NARAM-17: [Jim Hartman; PMC Pan Am Space Clipper that smacked phone line]
NARAM-18: [Bruce Blackistone; Disaster Valkyrie F100 shred]
NARAM-19: Bob Bruce; “Phoenix Arise” sport flight
NARAM-20: Pete Pathos; C superroc prang that just missed Harry Stine
NARAM-21: Jim Hartman; D EL prang
(Bernie Biales RCRG 9 seconds of terror)
NARAM-22: Steve Honecker; E Payload
NARAM-23: Chris Cox; trash can lander
NARAM-24: Tom Pastrick; PMC F104 ballistic rekitting
NARAM-25: Jim Wilkerson; F7 predicted altitude VERY unstable…
NARAM-26: Warren Sisco; PMC
NARAM-27: Scott Doctor; flew every event, DQed every flight!
NARAM-28: Ken Mizoi; egglofter found 1′ strip of concrete in grass field
NARAM-29: Bob Sanford; 1/2A6-2 egglofter
NARAM-30: Mark Johnson C Egglofter popped off piston and just missed RSO John Pursley
NARAM-31: Dan Winings; RCRG pranged, just missing his own club members
NARAM-32: Dr. Bob’s Kreutz; Scale model stages, tips off, lands on road, smashed by truck
NARAM-33: Phil Wing; A RGs
NARAM-34: Tom Spalding’s proxy flown PMC that hit Dave Nauer.
(HM:Estes R&D Saturn IB prang)
NARAM-35: George Gassaway; RCRG midair with Ken Brown’s rocket
NARAM-36: Ric Gaff; F7 SD unstable touch & go
NARAM-37: Chad Ring; Scale model nailed tank. Instant undisputed winner!
NARAM-38: Bruce Markielewski; Unstable D3 SD model did Boosted Arcas impression
(Ric Gaff PMC pinwheel)
NARAM-39: Bruce Markielewski; 6xC CL Alt model took out V2 on sport range
(John Pursley and Mark Bundick scale prangs)
NARAM-40: Lacey (Apogee dog); snatched Tommy Lyon’s HD model out of the air!
NARAM-41: Dave Schultz; Egglofter splash
NARAM-42: George Gassaway X-1 crashed and burned, headed for Chad Ring
NARAM-43: Lila Schmaker hit CD John Viggiano’s car twice, once with B EL,
again with Scale model (Mark Chrumka HD that danced into returns tent)
NARAM-44: Matt Leveron’s C RG thru the hat of Kathleen Williams.
NARAM-45: Larry Rice Battlestar Impactica chased RSO Jonathan Rains
(Charlie Sykos F16 PMC pranged twice)
NARAM-46: Chan Stevens PMC pranged between Trip Barber and Chad Ring
[rebuilt and placed second in the event!] (Mike Humphrey Astrobee pranged by
Ric Gaff and ???, Brower PMC pranged twice, I-Beam egglofter didn’t stage
and prang bounced 12′)
NARAM-47: Chan Stevens. F-14 PMC carrier landing prang that nailed a
vendors trailer on the range. He should have declared carrier landing for
his mission points. (Dishonorable mentions to Lee Berry’s Skidmark
firestarter and the Booster Boys Egg Splatter.)
NARAM-48: Jim Brower F altitude shread, booster dented CD Matt
Steele’s car (Russ Anthony forgot chute in B ELD model, egg survived!)
NARAM-49: Steve Foster G SR 4 motor cluster
NARAM-50: Carl Johnson III and Carl Johnson IV: Back-to-back assassination
attempts on the RSO and new NAR President, Trip Barber by way of C-PLA
CATOs. (Pat Peterson for D BG control line and model that pranged onto range
NARAM-51: Keith Vinyard Streamer model hit Jennifer Ash Poole in butt (Sport
model hit Larry Rice who said “It’s OK, I was wearing a hat”)
NARAM-52: Chan Stevens Scale LJ2 attempts to take out Jonathan Dunbar while
prepping his LJ2 (Chad Ring scale prang missing new CB chair Humphries, and
converting its nose cone into a rail button)
NARAM-53: Rod Schafer PMC rekitted F14
NARAM-54: Craig Vinyard lit the ground near NAR VP John Hochheimer on fire somehow
NARAM-55: Marc McReynolds twice pranged scale Doorknob
NARAM-56: Charlotte Halinaty’s Quadrathon model lost the launch lug at ignition, model went cruise missile past RSO & NAR President Ted Cochran, then flew between Vern & Gleda Estes, finally ejecting under John Boren’s truck. Gleda quoted “Vern, I think they’re trying to take us out”
NARAM-57: Jonathan Dunbar’s cluster scale that sent the center F motor flying backward over Trip’s head, over range, and either through or over ramada
NARAM-58: Tom Estrada had a superroc go crazy and pierce a tent! 2nd Place: Chad Ring F-15 Plastic Model deployed 25/28 missiles and pilot ejected. 3rd Place: Chan Stevens crashed a PMC jet in front of the contest tent.