Sky Skills

Minor on model plane combat mission

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Dr. Cary Minor of Iola competes in control-line flying of miniature aircraft. His passion is in the combat flying division where he has set his sites on qualifying for the U.S. national combat flying team and competing for a world championship. He put one of his combat planes through its paces in a practice session at the Allen County Airport this week.

Dr. Cary Minor is on a flying mission.
He stays on the ground and sends up his miniature aircraft into combat. From an eight-foot circle he shares with an opponent, Minor and his flying wing goes for the cuts.
Minor, who has been flying miniature aircraft (model airplanes) since he was 3, has a mission in the control-line sport.
“To become world champion and to do that you have to make the U.S. national team,” Minor said after a practice with his airplane this week.
Minor will demonstrate control-line combat maneuvers Saturday at Riverside Park.
“It’s too bad my brother had a family commitment for this weekend. Combat flying is a fun to watch for spectators.
Control-line flying model aircraft is a family tradition for Minor. He was introduced to the sport when he was growing up in Amarillo, Texas. His parents, Gary and Sharon, still live in Amarillo.
“My dad was a shop teacher and he had a former student who told him about the sport. It was something we could do since Dad had the tools to build the planes,” Minor said.
Minor and his brother, Andy, who lives in Lee’s Summit, Mo., have grown up in the sport of control-line flying and have competed in tournaments in the various divisions since they were in junior high school. Now the Minor brothers — both are chiropractors — are flying with the top competitors in the sport in the United States and in the world.
The Minor brothers were among four Americans to compete in Dnipro F2D World Cup in Novomoskovsk, Ukraine, last October. Each brother got through several rounds before being eliminated.
“The airplanes we have are simple wings with an engine and a stabilizer, which the control lines are connected to allow the pilot to control the pitch of the airplane,” Minor said. “In combat flying, everybody has the same type of plane, engine and the lines are 52-feet long.
“In competition, each airplane has a long ribbon on it and you score points by cutting pieces off your opponent’s ribbon. The most cuts made in the four-minute match wins.”
Minor said competitions are triple elimination so a pilot may have three matches or 15 or more matches in competitions. He said there were 92 pilots competing in the event in the Ukraine last year.
This year has been about working toward the U.S. national team trials, which are Labor Day weekend in Detroit, Mich. The top three pilots plus two alternates make up the national team which will compete in the 2010 World Championships. The Minor brothers have been practicing together every Thursday and Saturday plus doing several competitions.
“Skills and strategy. That’s what it comes down to in combat flying. You develop your skills by practicing. In the circle, it’s like being in the paint area in a basketball game. You’re blocking your opponent, doing defensive moves by controlling your plane with how you turn the control handle in your hand,” Minor said.
Pilots go after cuts using their plane’s propeller, wing or line, Minor said. Propeller cuts are the preferred option, Minor said, because it is about the most cuts in a four-minute span. He said sometimes using a line could cut the opponent’s whole ribbon off or result in a cut line.
Dog fights are the most exciting flying competition for pilots and spectators.
“The planes are going 104 miles an hour up there and you’re dodging and weaving. You’re trying to score points with cuts and air time. There are a lot of crashes in combat flying and accidental mid-air collisions happen. If you cut off an opponent’s whole ribbon, you have to stay away from him the whole time or “crash” him,” Minor said.
Minor moved to Iola and opened his chiropractic office in August 2006 about a year after returning to the sport. While in college at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, he said he competed on a limited basis then got out of the sport from 2000 to 2005. The Minor brothers graduated from Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, Mo.
“My brother was involved in the team trails in 2005 and I pitted for him. Then I competed at the World Cup in Kiev, Ukraine, that year and took seventh. That lit the fire again,” Minor said.
“I enjoy the intensity of it (combat flying), the critical thinking involved to outsmart your opponent and the creativity of the sport. The planes we use in combat are already built and a person just has to add the engine and stabilizer.”
Minor also flies the “stunt” aircraft but concentrates on combat flying. The precision aerobatics division consists of flying a set pattern of maneuvers judged for accuracy and precision. Stunt models are larger and resemble a real airplane.
Minor’s stunt models were built by his father. He said his mother, who is a graphic artist, provided some of the painted designs on the planes over the years.
“Everyone needs a sport or hobby to have some fun time. This is fun for me and helps me clear my mind. Having something you enjoy away from work is important and makes life better,” Minor said.