Triple Tree Aerodrome leadership canceled the May 2021 Joe Nall Week fly-in for radio control aircraft aficionados for the second straight year because of rising coronavirus infection rates that have spiked in South Carolina since the winter holidays. The celebration for RC pilots is deeply rooted into the history of the Woodruff, South Carolina, landing strip and typically draws RC pilots from all 50 states and numerous overseas countries.
“Out of an abundance of wisdom and caution, we decided to cancel the 2021 Joe Nall Week. We do not make this decision lightly,” airfield officials wrote, adding that medical professionals and statistics “show that the current state of events is now worse in all 50 states than it was just 6 months ago.”
Patriarch Pat Hartness, who is an avid RC and general aviation pilot with a penchant for warbirds and historical aircraft “views this as one of his greatest disappointments in hosting 38 years of aviation events,” they added.
The decision to cancel the 2021 event was solidified after coronavirus infection numbers in nearby Greenville County recently rose to “more than twice as many cases as any other county” in the state.
The Joe Nall event is one of the largest RC fly-ins in the world. AOPA documented the 2015 event that brought 1,700 RC pilots to the 7,000-foot-long manicured landing strip, outdoor gazebo and meeting areas, pine-paneled restroom facilities, lakes, and walking trails.
The annual rite-of-spring RC fly-in honors Joe Nall, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, instrument-rated pilot, and ground instructor who shared an enthusiasm for RC flight with airfield founder and friend Hartness. From 1982 through 1989 Nall served as master of ceremonies of the Giant Scale Fly In at Hartness Field. The event was renamed for Nall after he died in a 1989 airplane accident in Venezuela. The Joseph T. Nall Report published by the Air Safety Institute also bears his name.
The coronavirus pandemic has also taken a toll on GA fly-ins at Triple Tree Aerodrome. The Chilly Chili Fly-In was rescheduled to February 5, 2022, and the inaugural Uncle John’s Fly-In honoring longtime volunteer John Hartness was postponed to 2022, with an exact date to be determined.
The 2020 Young Aviators Fly-In presented by—and for—young pilots was previously moved to June 18. Additional 2020 postponements included the Triple Tree Fly-In, rescheduled to September 20 through 26; the Nall in the Fall weeklong RC event, rescheduled for October 2 through 9; and the Heli Extravaganza, rescheduled to October, with exact dates to be determined.