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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Student places first in precision aerobatics competition at airport

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Contest Director Todd Schmidt of Fort Scott, who placed first in the Masters class, presents 13-year-old, Jarrett Lyon, also from Fort Scott, his framed first-place Intermediate Certificate.(Submitted Photo)
Jarrett Lyon's enjoyment of competing against adults in precision aerobatic pattern contests has yielded a first-place certificate for the Fort Scott Middle School student.

His win came at a Bourbon County RC Flyers radio control model airplane club event held in late September at Fort Scott Airport.

Twenty participants from six states entered the competition with competitors traveling here from as far away as Minnesota and Texas. Participants fly precision aerobatics, also known as "pattern" and are judged on a predetermined sequence of maneuvers that must be flown within a defined airspace box, a news release said. Levels of difficulty are sportsman, intermediate, advanced, masters and FAI, or Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world air sports federation, according to references.

Thirteen-year-old Lyon has been flying patterns for five years and radio controlled airplanes for six or seven years. "My grandpa (Ken Lyon) and dad (Kevin Lyon) had flown them for years before," he said.

Still, flying with people looking over your shoulder can be awkward. "You get nervous sometimes when you get several people judging you," Jarrett said. "We can practice the maneuvers because you memorize them and you have to do those in order. ... Dad and grandad hadn't done those before. Up at the airport there's one other guy that does it (Todd Schmidt of Fort Scott, who placed first in the masters class) ... Eventually he got me into flying."

He said he's proud of his win. "It took forever, a lot of practice every day for a full year," Jarrett said.

His grandfather praised Jarrett for his accomplishment.

"Obviously I'm very proud he does a great job for as young as he is competing against mostly adults," Ken Lyon said, adding there was only one other teen, but he was 18. "... I tell people I'm his crew chief. I started flying a long time ago when I was a kid. I had a crew in the Air Force. In 1975, I started flying radio controlled (planes) and have been doing it off and on ever since then. ... Jarrett expressed interest in flying airplanes when he was just a little boy.

"What really helped him was that we have a flight similuator program on the computer that we bought for his brother (Daniel). When Jarrett was just 5, he flew flight simulators. By the time he was 8 years old, he had no difficulty in transitioning to flying the airplanes out at the flying field.

"It's not an easy thing to do," Ken Lyon said. "Even as a rated pilot, it was not easy for me or any other rated pilot to fly," because of the orientation problem with RC planes. The controls are the same as on a real plane, but when the craft is flying toward you, everything is reversed.

"It takes some time to overcome the orientation problem. It just takes practice like everything else," Lyon said.

Lyon noted Jarrett also enjoys testing his knowledge against more experienced flyers.

"I'm probably the youngest kid they'd ever seen," he said. "They're all in their 40s and 50s and even older in that."

Along with his grandfather, Jarrett has built -- or is constructing -- at least 30 planes, but not all of them are flyable since they're not all finished. He enjoys spending time doing that. "Normally we built it (planes) over the winter because it takes a month to build and then they'll be ready by summer to fly. At least every winter, we have one plane we build or work on or get ready to fly," Jarrett said.

The most recent craft he and Ken Lyon created took two or three months to build and another five months until they got it to fly. The size of the plane is what made it so time intensive.

Although this plane is larger, Jarrett likes flying the smaller craft and it will be at least another year before he moves up to the larger ones. The difference? "The bigger ones have more power and it's easier to do the maneuvers. (With) the smaller ones, it's more of a beginner type airplane. Before, I had a lot smaller plane," he said.

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