A Little Friendly Competition
The world will never improve without competition. I contend that laziness (not necessity) is the mother of invention and competition improves and hones it to a fine edge. FAC members like to get together for a little friendly competition with the outlook for a little recognition and more importantly, camaraderie. A contest or event is invoked whereby three or more FAC members compete with a similar class of flying model. The first place winner is awarded a “Kanone” in the same way that a German WWI aviator was after scoring a victory. Second, third, and sometimes fourth place finishers get to bathe in the glory of the attempt at battle (okay, they win first, second, and third loser). Kanone is German World War I aviator jargon for “big cannon” which could be thought of as “hotshot” or “Ace” in America. Once a German pilot received 16 kanones (eight originally) he was awarded the “Blue Max”. The Flying Aces club tracks kanones awarded at the local and national level, and once sixteen are obtained, the member is awarded a reproduction Blue Max medal as well. This is a good time to bring up rank within the FAC. When you join, you are commissioned a First Lieutenant. You become promoted upwards in the ranks as you accumulate kanones.
Geneseo, New York
Every year the FAC hosts a national competition in Geneseo, NY and on even years it's called the FAC Nats. On odd years it's called the non-Nats. During the Nats, competitors come from all parts of the country and even from international origins to compete in three days of the toughest flying you’ll find anywhere. This event typically lasts for three days. The first day we meet up at the hotel where registration takes place, models are displayed and judged, and vendors sell their products. There is a certain carnival atmosphere on that first day as old friends reunite and new friendships are born over discussions of new models, techniques, products and plans. The number of contestants varies between 150 to 180 who register to fly in all of the 30 plus classes available. More on the classes later. Most competitors enter from 4 to 8 models depending on the classes they like. The toughest competition is the one that forms the basis of the Flying Aces Club, FAC Scale. This class is designed to encourage modelers to build high quality scale reproductions of actual aircraft that also fly well. The display room is usually filled with models in the judged events only. There are more models to be seen tucked away in boxes in hotel rooms and vehicles for the other events.
Scale models are judged by a team of seasoned veterans who evaluate the model on fidelity to the original aircraft outlines, coloring, and markings. Workmanship and overall quality of the model are judged as well. Published documentation must be provided to provide proof of your choice of aircraft and authenticate the color scheme and markings. With over 150 competitors entering several models to be judged, approximately 300 to 500 models must be judged in a very short time. Sometimes, judging takes place out at the field if the number of entries is large enough. Additional points are accumulated during the flying phase. Points are awarded for the length of time the aircraft remains airborn. Bonus points (handicap) are awarded to models that are more complex or have features that would make them more difficult to fly. For example, a biplane gets 15 bonus points because planes with two wings are harder to fly than those with one wing. Flight times range between 20 to 120 seconds and over, depending on the model and the skill of the flyer. 20 seconds is the smallest number of seconds to qualify for an official flight in most cases. Flight times of over 40 seconds used to be rare but now it takes times in the 90’s to place in competition these days.
Every kind rubber and powered (electric, gas, and diesel) model is proudly brought out for display and flying during this three days of fun, food, and friendship. Most people who come stay in either the local hotels that fill up fast, or one of the dormitory rooms provided by the local college. If you stay at the dorm, you get to eat at the cafeteria that boasts a pretty good menu for breakfast and dinner. Lunch can be had by purchasing hot dogs and hamburgers served by the folks who run the museum nearby. This is one event that every FAC modeler and anyone who loves rubber powered models has to see at least once in their lifetime.
Every year in September, a national contest is held at Muncie, Indiana, home of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) at one of the most beautiful and serene spots in America. Once you arrive at the site, laid out before you is a huge verdant field surrounded by corn fields and other crops. These cornfields have exacted their toll on numerous models so it is wise to fly away from them if possible. Contestants can stay at one of the hotels nearby or camp on the premises. The AMA provides amenities. Usually, the weather is perfect in Indiana this time of year for a contest of this caliber and people from all over the country come to participate. This contest is a little more casual than the Nationals held in Geneseo but the seriousness of competition and the general fun of modeling is just as strong. There is no formal judging in an enclosed building as the airplanes are judged on the field.
There is no doubt that competition improves the hobby. One of the most exciting events held at FAC sponsored contests are the mass launches. This event is characterized by having more than three entrants who launch their models ate the same time and the last one down wins. This doesn’t sound like much but there is much to be said behind the scenes. Many times two airplanes will collide bringing them both down to the ground in crumpled heaps. The remaining classes are equally as competitive and require extensive attention to the smallest detail. Models are required to fly a minimum of twenty seconds to qualify for an official flight and they can be hand launched or released from a table top or small runway. There are numerous events that are not scale, referred to as “duration” events where models of vintage designs and even newer designs compete for the clock. These classes are as competitive as any and include Old Time Rubber, Old Time Rubber Stick, embryo, Jimmie Allen and others.
Every airplane entered must prove it’s ability to fly well above and beyond it’s looks. The emphasis is on flying and having fun. The bottom line, the more the merrier. All aircraft entered in competition must be constructed using the traditional materials for the main structural portion of the airframe. There are some exceptions but they are usually for trim items, wheels, and other small parts. There are some limitations applied to the airplane, but they are not extensive. The main idea is to promote stick and tissue construction as it was in the early days.
Aces Club - General Headquarters (GHQ)
There are 30 classes of airplanes normally recognized by the FAC. They are:
1. FAC PEANUT SCALE
I'll need to elaborate more on these classes eventually.
GENERAL FAC RULES
ideals of the FAC are founded in friendly competition that promotes improvements
to the appearance and flights of our models. The intentions of the GENERAL
FAC RULES are to help the competitor understand the most basic of the
FAC rules that all others are based upon.
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