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Frank Haight: Chiropractor's sport of choice is aerial combat

July 15,2016 21:17

Dr. Andy Minor is always looking for a good scrap when it involves his favorite passion and pastime: an aerial combative sport called F2D Combat. The 43-year-old Blue Springs chiropractor got what he was looking for when he recently represented the ...

Posted Jul. 15, 2016 at 6:07 AM

Dr. Andy Minor is always looking for a good scrap when it involves his favorite passion and pastime: an aerial combative sport called F2D Combat. The 43-year-old Blue Springs chiropractor got what he was looking for when he recently represented the United States in Perth, Australia, in the world championship of this little-known aerial sport that utilizes highly maneuverable aircraft traveling at speeds up to 110 mph.In this fast-paced sport, two pilots square off in a 13-foot diameter area with their light, fiberglass model airplanes, tethered on a 52-foot stainless steel cable. Attached to each aircraft is an 8-foot string and a 10-foot crepe-paper streamer. The object of the fast-paced contest, Andy says, is for pilots to maneuver their planes and look for good positions to get their propeller in the streamer of their opponent and cut off a piece of the streamer.“To be successful, you have to rely on your timing, knowing when to turn in on your opponent and cut the streamer. You are trying to maneuver and time your shots where you get little cuts (pieces) off the streamer,” Andy says, noting, “Each cut is worth 100 points. And for every second you are in the air, it's 2 points. If (your plane) hits the ground, the clock stops and you don't get any points.”And this is where the other two members of Team USA factor in. One is an engine man who keeps the planes flying. The other is a runner. He retrieves a downed plane, takes the streamer off and puts it on the team's second aircraft.“If you don't have a good pit crew, you are not going to go far in this sport. You have to have a good pilot, a good pit crew, good equipment, and you have to train for the combative event. It's a group effort on many levels,” says Andy, who was a mechanic on one of the USA teams in the 2012 World event in Bulgaria.As a first-time pilot in the 2016 World Championships, Andy says his biggest concern going into combat was not getting the right match.“There are probably 12 elite pilots you hope you don't have to be matched up against right off the bat. You know you are going to have to eventually beat one (of them) to be world champ. But you don't want to have to face them in the first three rounds . ...You hope the odds are with you, and in the first few rounds, you get somewhat easy draws to kind of get on a rhythm and get on a roll. Then, if you have to meet some of these big name (pilots) later on, it's not a big deal.”Page 2 of 3 - But having to face Alexander Prokofiev, the top-ranked F2D pilot from Latvia in the first round was a big deal and a big challenge. But Andy was up to the task.“I did really good; I tied him. So we had a rematch at the end of that round and it went almost wire to wire as well. But in the last 20 seconds, he got the points to beat me,” he recalls.Feeling “pretty good,” about going toe to toe with Latvian champion, Andy was matched in the second round with another “hot pilot,” Vaclovas Cyzas from Lithuania.“I actually beat him pretty bad,” he recalls. “I think I had about 700 points in that round, which was the high point. I really put a hurting on him. So that gave me some pretty good confidence going into the third round” (of the double-elimination contest).Andy's biggest challenge, though, came in the third round. With one win and one loss after two rounds of competition, Andy was hoping he would face a mediocre opponent; however, he didn't get his wish. Instead, he was matched with two-time world F2D champion Chornyy Stanislav from Lithuania.“At that point you say, 'What happens, happens.' “To beat him would have taken some luck, but I didn't have the luck. I flew (the aircraft) pretty well and (the round) went the full distance. He beat me and I was eliminated from the contest,” he continues, adding: “I certainly didn't go down without a fight. But the odds were not stacked in my favor to be the overall winner. I did the best I could with all things stacked against me; I ended up 17th overall.”What is it about the sport of F2D that is so alluring?“Because there are a lot of things that go into this particular sport, you have to be somewhat intelligent to win one of these big tournaments. There is a lot of thinking on the spur of the moment. You make a decision, and in a few seconds, it can mean the difference of a win or a loss on the board. So there is always that element, and a lot of matches go that way,” says Andy, whose chiropractic clinic is at 801 W. Main St., Blue Springs.Team USA regrets not bringing home a medal from Australia. But there is a next time. And that next time is 2018 when the F2D World Championship will be in France. Should the team qualify to compete, here's hoping the third time will be the charm.Page 3 of 3 - Good Luck! Go USA!Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.

Posted Jul. 15, 2016 at 6:07 AM

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