Old-Time Stunt: Give it a "whirl"

By Dr. Spark

Many present day contests feature both the "modern" stunt events and Old Time Stunt (OTS). If you restrict your flying to only the modern pattern, you are missing half the fun (and the challenge).

Control Line Stunt wasn't much to brag about until about 1947, and the return of the full-blown AMA Nats. Until then, flyers were happy to do a few loops and perhaps a bit of inverted flying without too many crashes. Early attempts to form a stunt routine were sometimes amusing. A contestant could enter and fly a short pattern consisting of fairly simple maneuvers, which were in keeping with the limited performance of the aircraft of the time. One official maneuver was called "Pair of Spectacles", which was just the horizontal 8 with an X crossover intersection instead of the later round loops with vertical intersections. Serious contestants who placed well on their first stunt flight were permitted a second flight with perhaps a different model where free-style "tricks" gave additional points. Some of these "tricks" consisted of the Sabre-Dance, flying two models at once, touch-and-go, and whatever was a crowd-pleaser. The poor judges never knew what to expect, which must have been a real headache for them.. The 1947 Nats were held on private property in Monticello, Minnesota, and was the first large AMA contest held after WW II. The U.S. Navy later hosted many of the Nats at their U.S. Naval Air Stations revolving each year across the country. Some familiar names flying at the 1947 Nats Were Bob Tucker, of Elizabeth, NJ, Johnny Clemens, JC Yates, and the young Davis Slagle, who captured the Walker Trophy, as he did in 1946.

About 1950, a set flying routine was developed, giving those without special "tricks" a chance to compete equally with the rest. Of course, the pattern wasn't called OTS at the time, because that's all there was! The OTS pattern was and is not easy to fly correctly. However, the required maneuvers make fewer demands on aircraft performance. Few models of the early era could produce blazing corners. Still, the OTS pattern requires some corner flying in the Vertical Climb and Dive, Wingover, and the Rectangular Loop. Although the advent of wing flaps did much to solve the corner problem, the OTS emphasis is on smooth and elegant flying,. as championed by people like George Aldrich. (His magazine article which accompanied the Nobler construction was called "Stunting Can Be Smooth"). Bob Palmer won more than a few OTS contests with his smooth and seemingly effortless flying.

Before deciding what to build for OTS, a few considerations are in order.

1. There are no appearance points in OTS, so many contestants adopt the authentic simple finishing schemes of the period.

2. Many OTS contests offer a "no flap" bonus, which tends to equalize the difference in model performance between flaps and no flaps.

3. PAMPA (and others) rules permit no modification to the OTS external dimensions, although internal construction may be changed to improve model strength and light weight.

4. There are no restrictions on type of engine, wheels, spinners or covering materials, although many OTS models are presented using period materials. The venerable Fox 35 is widely used in OTS.

The years have tended to sort out the better OTS models from the so-so planes. Here is a short list of some of the best non-flapped OTS models of approximately .35 engine size which are often in the winner's circle

A few of the more successful .35 engine size flapped OTS models include:

The OTS pattern can be downloaded from the AMA web site, and from the Brodak web site. Plans for most of the popular OTS models are available from several plans sources, including Tom Dixon. Complete reproduction OTS kits are being produced by several companies. Check the PAMPA website for lists of suppliers.

Personal Note. I consider myself an "Old Timer", having flown C./L and free flight models in 1944 in the Los Angeles area. I entered my first C/L contest in 1949. After four years in the USAF, and then several more years in college, I resumed flying in 1961, and flew in the 1963 Nats at Glenview, IL. I have not stopped since.

"Dr Spark" is also known as Floyd Carter of Eugene, Ore., shown above with his Wildman 60, powered by an Anderson Spitfire .65 -- spark ignition, of course! Flying Lines photo.

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This page was upated April 13, 2006

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