Scenes from the 1967 Nats

It’s July!  We’re getting closer to the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 National Model Airplane Championships, which were held at the Naval Air Station in Los Alamitos, CA.  We’re going to share some official U.S. Navy photographs pictures each week, until July 24-30, the anniversary dates of the event in1967, when we’ll share a picture a day.

Learn more about the 1967 Nats in the July 2017 issue of Model Aviation.

2 men, one in a straw hat and one in a baseball cap are working on a Control Line Speed model airplane.
Cliff Telford and Lt. Bob Violett (Navy) pictured with their airplane. They competed as a team in Class B Speed. (Photo Credit: Official United States Navy Photograph. Source: National Model Aviation Museum Archives, #0001 AMA Collection.)


Four men, all in white Circle Burners t-shirts, pose with 3 CL models.
Members of the Valley Circle Burners (Photo Credit: Official United States Navy Photograph. Source: National Model Aviation Museum Archives, #0001 AMA Collection.)


Three Navy sailors inspect the model airplane of a man in a white t-shirt.
Mr. Wildman having his airplane inspected, possibly for registration. (Photo Credit: Official United States Navy Photograph. Source: National Model Aviation Museum Archives, #0001 AMA Collection.)

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  1. Where where “Valley Circle Burners” based at? Just curious. I remember watching an OLD kid’s show featuring aeromodellers flying at the San Fernando Reservoir.

    1. Hi! The caption and information provided with the picture doesn’t provide any information on the home location of the Valley Circle Burners. But, we’re pretty sure it was a club based in the San Fernado area, and it looks like they are still an active club! See here:
      If that isn’t the right group, here’s an AMA club search result that might be helpful:


  2. 1967 Los Alamitos was my first NATs.
    Although my dad had the darndest time keeping his R/C planes under control, he taught me how to fly by just standing behind me and telling me when the airplane looked like it was flying right. At first I only had 1 channel with a rubber band powered escapement – Single Channel. Then, for Christmas ’66 I got my brother’s Hand-Me-Down 6 channel reed setup, he got Dad’s 10 Channel reed setup and Dad got a new Orbit 3+1 Proportional outfit. Then the NATS came to Los Alamitos – just 40 miles away. That was less than 1/2 tank of gas away on my Yamaha 80 or about 30 cents round trip. The “Round Trip” was important because I had a job mopping the floors at a Winchell’s Donut Shop every night near home and that paid $10/wk I couldn’t afford to live without at 16 years old. So even though I slept every night in the Navy Hangars, I rode my Yamaha round-trip each night to mop those floors returning to Los Alamitos to enjoy the camaraderie of the Championship modelers each night.
    I entered 2 events that week. Class I R/C was Single Channel but you could have throttle control too. By 1967 Lloyd Sagar had taught the world how to use throttle and Up-Thrust to act like Elevator Control to do loops and landing flares. I hadn’t gotten that memo yet so I was still spiraling down to get airspeed and timing to do a loop. I didn’t win any trophies but gained a lot of experience flying in front of judges.
    My other event was Class 3 R/C which was basically “Full House”, 4 Channels. But I only had 3 channels. I entered a DeBolt Pea Shooter which was a low-wing airplane with Ailerons. Except, since I didn’t have 4 channels, I locked my Rudder in place and flew with Elevator, Aileron, Throttle and Steerable Nosewheel that was connected to the Aileron channel with a “y” cable. Because I used that third channel for ailerons and not Rudder, I was forced to fly in Class III instead of Class II. I could do all the maneuvers except a reliable Stall Turn and even that worked most of the time.
    At the end of the week, I had a great time, didn’t crash and still have a lot of memories. I went on to graduate High School the next year and joined the USAF for a 20 year career. Three years later, 1970, I earned my Private Pilot’s License just 3 days before heading off to VietNam.
    In 10 years, I’ll tell you about my next NATS adventure. That time it was at March AFB, CA.


  3. The ’67 Nats was a long haul for me, but the experience was wonderful! Some current friends such as Bob Violett was there (as shown in the photo). Unfortunately, others have passed…Cliff Telford, Roger Wildman and Ed Keck are regretfully no longer with us. It was great living on the Navy base for a week, and I miss those times. Some may remember the hot air balloons that were launched late at night, and the dynajet speed models that were flown after dark on base! Good times.

    Dave Gierke (Novi III, All American Eagle)

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