National Free Flight Society

SEN 2816

  1. Whoops
  2. Jama drop, Jama flop and the Kamikaze launch.
  3. Some Musings on the Past and the Future of Competitive Model Flying


We thought that SEN 2815 has been sent but just as we were putting this issue togther we not noticed that we had not pushed the final button ….as I sad Whoops


Jama drop, Jama flop and the Kamikaze launch.

Leslie Farkas

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Bachmann and Mr. Schwendemann for taking the time and providing their reasoning for the F1A proposal.  However, the statements did not include that their athletes were consulted and they supported the proposal.  With the available communication technology, I was able to confirm at ease that the two nation’s F1A athletes knew nothing about the proposal until the publication in SEN.  I also would like to clarify that no organization (FAI/CIAM, IOC, IAAF, or FIFA) or an organizer is legally or morally responsible for an injury of an athlete.

It was a pleasure to read Per Findahl’s comments in SEN 2809. I can only hope that his views represent the majority of FF Subcommittee members and CIAM representatives, which will allow changes of the Sporting Code based on facts and common sense. (This is nowadays not so common in our life)


Some Musings on the Past and the Future of Competitive Model Flying

by Roy E. Smith

The following thoughts were instigated during a conversation in which it became clear that a current FAI flier (in an RC category) was completely unaware of what used to be the ‘Builder of the Model’ (BoM) rule. Please note that the original discussion was primarily based upon the subject of how to attract and keep new members in the activity as a whole, not specifically in FAI free flight.  I will not repeat all of that discourse here.

One thing that occurs to me is that I should also make it clear at the outset that I’m not proposing a return to the BoM rule.  I feel that the loss of that restriction at the FAI level, at the time that it happened, was a big setback for the hobby, at least in free flight.  The reason that it was so damaging, in my opinion, was that the rules were not changed at the time to anticipate what then happened.  What it did, relatively quickly, was to create an elite class of modelers – who basically had to buy their aeroplanes from the few ‘cottage’ industries that evolved, primarily in Eastern Europe, or else they couldn’t be competitive.  Those industries evolved in that particular area of the world as a consequence of the government support that aeromodellers had enjoyed under communist regimes in the cold war era.  Once non-communist governments decided that the objective to prove that their countries led in all fields of human endeavor was not a national priority, some surplus high-tech manufacturing equipment became available for the modelers to use, at just about the same time as the BoM rule was abolished.  Those modelers created models that they could sell to others around the world, not just for the use of their countrymen, and created a cottage industry.  In that respect I think it was damaging to the hobby.  Prior to that, any modeler could aspire to fly at a world championship – it was a test of your building and flying skills, not the depth of your pockets. Getting an aeroplane to fly with maximum performance when the only functions available to you are stopping the engine and tripping the DT to end the flight is actually, in my opinion, a greater challenge to the skills of the flier than reaching the outstanding performance of the factory-produced, high-tech, machines where every aspect of their flight performance can be individually adjusted for different aspects of the flight.  I distinctly remember when, as a response to the increasing performance of the models, the weight limit was doubled.  I believe that happened after the Cranfield World Championships, where five people were declared champion because they would have continued flying maxes interminably.  The response then wasn’t “let’s have longer maxes and bigger flying fields” it was “we must make it harder to reach the max”.  As you will have noticed, my emphasis is largely towards power flying, because that is largely what I do – with a little rubber and glider interspersed from time to time.  I hope, however, that it will be seen that these remarks apply to other facets of free flight as well.  The RC categories are beyond my ken I’m afraid – not because I decry them but simply because I have absolutely no knowledge of them.

As I see it, there is a huge difference between striving for performance in the model itself, through technical wizardry, as opposed to testing the skills of the flier by putting strict limitations on the capabilities of the machine. We can look at just about every field of competitive endeavour – golf, archery, etc., and we see that technical innovations are limited by statute in order to provide a proper test of skill.   I flew F1C (FAI FF Power) models for a number of years after getting back into power flying on a more consistent basis in the mid 80’s.  I had a hiatus between about 1972 and that later date due to the pressures of a young and growing family and a very intensive job and I had previously had a hiatus between about 1959 and 1966 while I attended University and started my professional career.  I later gave up flying F1C when I could no longer hope to be competitive by building my own models.  I bought engines, timers, etc., (I didn’t build my own engines like Dave Sugden did) but the rest I built – as did everyone else who competed back then. As I said before, the cost of International competition was also a factor.  Previously, going to a WC had been something that folks like me might aspire to doing once or twice, but it became clear that the activity had evolved into a long-term, high-cost, commitment.  That realization, however, only came a few years after I had given up FAI flying because of the impracticality of building my own.  For me, the building is at least half the fun.  I know that isn’t true for everyone.  I don’t suggest bringing back the BoM rule, not at all, I don’t think that would be the least bit helpful – but changing the rules so that performance is limited in such a way that competitions can be held in locations that can be found in many places around the world, and a home-built aircraft, using relatively simple materials, can compete with one that is commercially produced, would open the activity to a larger number of people and would still be a test of their flying skills.  Those who wished to fly commercially-produced models, either because of time constraints or because of lack of the requisite skills, could still purchase their models, but it would not confer an overwhelming advantage.

The case is often made that all of the high-tech features of modern FAI free flight models are evidence of innovation – and as such represent a good thing.  I think that case can be refuted on two fronts (for free flight).  Firstly, the innovations that are being utilized are not pushing forward any technology that isn’t already in existence.  The benefits of moulded carbon fibre structures (for instance) in terms of weight, strength, and stiffness, are well-known and were realized commercially long before they were used in model aircraft.  Secondly, the innovations that have been introduced have not found their way down the chain into other areas of aeromodelling – and neither will they, because they are not of value to those who fly on fields with a 2 or 3 minute limit on the maximums.

I hope that these musings will be considered seriously.  I recognize that a radical change of direction will not happen overnight, but I hope that the conversation will continue on how this hobby/sport will have to re-invent itself in order to have a long-term future.  Sometimes we have to recognize that the target that we have been obsessing over for decades needs to be changed.