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Living a dream: Father, son duo bring home national wins

Recently, Peter Plunkett and his 13-year-old son Daran Plunkett took to the skies and brought home some impressive national hardware.

Both Plunkett’s logged a championship at the National Aeromodeling Championships earlier this month at the Academy of Model Aeronautics in Muncie, Indiana.

Peter was crowned championship in the Control Line Combat while Daran was champion in the Junior Beginners Control Line Aerobatics.

“I love it,” Peter said. “I think it’s a great father-son thing to do. He learns what it means to work hard to achieve something. He can watch me and learn from me and watch what I do in competition.”

Peter has been a life-long enthusiast of the hobby, while Daran has only recently picked it up in the last few years. While Peter has logged a number of top ten finishes in the national competitions, this is an unexpected first for his son.

“It was really special. It almost brought me to tears,” Peter said of watching his son win. “It thought it was so neat and unexpected.

The National Aeromodeling Championships is exactly what it sounds like; a hobby that involves building a model version of real aircraft and taking to the skies.

For many, it’s just a pleasant way to pass time, but during competitions it takes on a whole different feel. There is precision (stunt flying) as well as combat that has competitors trying to cut the streamer tailing from the other aircraft.

There are both radio control as well as wire-guided, which strings a wire from the plane to the controller held by the pilot.

The week-long affair saw Peter himself competing in both the precision and combat competitions for wire control. For the precision flying, each pilot is given the same routine to fly with points being given for how good each part of the routine is flown.

Twenty-five points are also given should each pilot complete the entire routine.

In combat, each plane is fitted with a streamer and the point is to try and cut away that streamer.

Every time a streamer is cut, 100 points are given as well as a point per second a pilot is in the air. If the streamer is cut away completely, it counts as a kill and instant win for the other pilot.

Peter was making a return to the world of precision, something he hadn’t flown for 20 years; however, before his second of two runs, he decided to walk over to combat and ended up losing.

But he worked his way up through the loser bracket to take the travelling trophy.

“That’s what can happen,” Peter said. “You can come back from the dead.”

For Peter, this all started from the time he was 10 years old, when he would spend time flying with friends as well as at Nichols Toy and Hobby Craft in downtown Austin.

This came after seeing a neighbor flying a model plain, which eventually led to much more.

“I got bit really bad,” Peter remembered. “I flew as much as I could. There were not many days in the summer I didn’t fly.”

Peter won his first trophy at age 13 in a contest held in Des Moines, Iowa, and has been flying ever since.

Even though he has had breaks of various lengths, he keeps coming back.

However, now it’s with his son, and with both coming back with national titles, it couldn’t be more perfect.

“It was just like a dream,” Peter said. “Everything we did was a dream. The weather was great, planes flew great and kids were great. Seemed like everything was on our side.”


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