Bucket List (noun): A list of the experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. Example: “If you love model aviation, Joe Nall Week should be on your bucket list.”
Truth be told, I had already checked off my Joe Nall Week bucket list box last year. I flew out there with my good friend & Model Aviation writer, Fitz Walker, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, we only attended the first few days and felt that we missed out on so much more. During our flight home back to Texas, we agreed we MUST return to Triple Tree Aerodrome for Joe Nall 2023. This time, we would bring our own model airplanes, stay the whole week, and camp on-site. On May 15th 2023, we hooked up the cargo trailer with our planes & tools inside and drove 1,000 miles East from Texas to Woodruff, South Carolina (insert song “East Bound and Down”).
Joe Nall Tip #5 – If you can’t bring your own planes to fly, someone is bound to let you fly theirs. Don’t forget to visit vendors selling planes or look through the hundreds of aircraft with “FOR SALE” signs on them next to a car, trailer, RV, or along the flight line.
Quick summary – The large 7000’ long grass runway is divided into multiple sections: Helicopters, Main Line / Giant Scale, Float Planes (and boats), Electrics, Small/3D Electrics, Control Line, and 3D flying (all sizes and power). It’s big, it’s fun, it’s full of friendly folk, and it’s marvelous! If you are unfamiliar with Triple Tree Aerodrome (TTA) and its background, I encourage you visit their website, read a few of the previous Model Aviation articles, and view videos/photos from links below:
Joe Nall Tip #12 – Bring/rent a golf cart, mini-bike, bicycle, or other strange form of transportation to get around this place. Did we mention it’s HUGE??
Glamping. I’m used to primitive camping (Boy Scouts) and I had no worries about sleeping in a tent out at TTA, but why pitch a tent when you can rent a fully loaded and air conditioned RV and GLAMP (glamour + camp) in style? Turns out, a lot of other pilots also rent RVs for the week out there. Fitz and I rented ours through RVSHARE.COM and were happy with the service. It was extremely convenient to drive up and see that the owner/host had the RV set up and ready to go near the electric flight line. We only had to walk a few yards from the RV & cargo trailer. Being able to rest/relax on-site, make repairs in the comfort of air conditioning, cook our own food, and stay out late for night flying made renting the RV an easy decision (albeit more expensive than a tent). I highly recommend considering this option if you want to hang out late at night or get up early for dawn patrol.
Joe Nall Tip #2 – Purchase the steak & BBQ dinner. Not only is the food great, but you get to chat with other people about how much you love this hobby.
Pirates of the Skies. Fitz and I both agree, next to flying a lot of our planes on the electric flight line, some of the most relaxing fun we had this year was float flying on Lake Montana. Kind weather kept the water a steady sheet of glass and we did touch & go landings all day long. There were many pilots out flying out there with a variety of float & sea planes, not to mention a few sailboats and power boats. On the rare occasion of a tip-over or mid-air (yes, it happens over water too), a jon boat called “Boat of Shame” is available for you to slowly troll out into the waters to retrieve your downed plane. I’m happy I didn’t have to use it again this year.
Joe Nall Tip #34 – The showers & bathrooms at the 3D area are the worth the trip. Plus, you can watch 3D planes fly while your hair dries.
Plywood Overcast. The mascot for the RC Roundtable Podcast was a ‘barn find’ from one of the co-hosts, Terry Dunn. After putting it back together and making it flight worthy, I have decided to take it to events and let other pilots have a chance to fly and then sign it afterward. Because the wingspan is over 10’, it qualified to fly on the main flight line. Six more pilots signed up to fly it while several turbine jets and warbirds flew around it. It’s definitely a topic of conversation when people see it.
Joe Nall Tip #22 – If for some reason you get <gasp> bored at one spot, travel down the way a bit to see what else is flying. There are tons of other beautiful and strange aircraft to enjoy.
Control Line. Not many people are aware of the control line pilots hidden down the middle of the runway. Fitz and I decided to join them this year with a few Cox .049 planes. Phil Tallman, AMA VP for District 11, met us over there and we set up our equipment in one of the three CL circles. My Cessna 150 wouldn’t start so I switched to the PT-19. True story: I’ve never owned or have flown the beloved Cox PT-19. I flew other odd Cox & Testor CL models, but the PT-19 never made it into my hands…until now! Boy, that was a ton of fun. All three of us had a chance to fly it and suddenly, we were little kids again. Trust me, if you get a chance to visit Joe Nall, give these CL guys some of your time and enjoy this part of the hobby. After flying, I now have the urge to build a NIB SIG Twister CL model in my collection – the same one my father enjoyed flying when he & I flew together.
Joe Nall Tip #4 – Every time you see one, thank the staff and volunteers who put this event together for you. They deserve your appreciation.
Vendor Row. I counted over 20 tents on ‘vendor row’ and others scattered around the grounds. I kept my cool this year and only purchased food and Joe Nall bling. You’d think Fitz would have bought a plane, right? Maybe that $5K composite General Dynamics F-16 XL? Nope, he bought a submarine. A SUBMARINE! A vendor was selling a bunch of toys and Fitz snatched it up. Just another example that there are a large variety of items available for purchase out there.
Joe Nall Tip #1 – Make plans now to attend next year.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this great quote before signing off. #Truth
“If you’re not having fun during Joe Nall Week, you’re doing it wrong.” – Fitz