4x a Grand Champion: 1976 Nats Trophies

Robert K. Sifleet had the points to win National Grand Champion in 1976, although he didn’t technically do so because that was the year the AMA stopped awarding the title. (Although at first Bob thought he had gotten a trophy and it was still somewhere in his shed. Subsequent investigation found that this was not the case).

Instead, Bob won Free Flight National Champion, as well as Open National Champion.

Trophy made of a metal graceful curve of a paper airplane in flight supports a banner wiht the 1976 Nats information. All is set on two tiered wood bases.
1976 Nats Open National Champion Trophy.
Two wooden bases stacked on top of each other support a metal piece bent to suppport a banner and ending with a paper airplane in flight.
Trophy, 1976 Nats Free Flight National Champion

Awarding a Grand National Champion fell away because of the difficulty of tabulating results. The number of events flown at Nats had grown so much, and the numbers of contestants were so high, that it simply wasn’t possible to keep track everything (remember, this was in the days pre-personal computer). On top of that, by 1976 the Navy was no longer helping with the Nats at all, and the AMA was planning and running the Nats pretty much on its own (although, there was some help from the Air Force in 1976). Offering the discipline National Champions was one way to fill the non-National Grand Champion gap, but even these titles did not last much longer.

 Bob Sifleet, wearing a low hat, posing with a model airplane covered in sheeted balsa. THis picture is in black and white and has been scanned from a magazine.
Bob Sifleet posing with his FAI model at the 1976 Nats. From Model Aviation, November 1976, copy in the Lee Renaud Memorial Library Collection of the National Model Aviation Museum.

Bob had competed in the 1971 Nats, as well as a few contests here and there between 1966 and 1976, but he mainly spent those years getting married and growing his family. He also hadn’t done much preparation for the 1976 Nats – basically just making sure his airplanes all functioned and some test flying.   Watch Bob talk about his experiences by clicking on the picture below!

Bob speaking - this video serves as a video link.
The above pic links to a 5 minute video about Bob’s experiences at the 1976 Nats. If you are interested in hearing his full tale, click here.

Despite these obstacles, as well as the corn that surrounded all the Free Fight flying fields in Springfield, OH, Bob was able to push on to become a champion once more.

Stay tuned for #SifleetFriday every Friday this summer! And, don’t forget, you can see Bob’s trophies in person at the museum between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2018.

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