Flight Deck

November 2008

An MO-1 passes the deck in slow flight during the 2008 Northwest Regionals. There are many different classes of Navy Carrier flying, suitable for all modeling skill levels. This is a Class II entrant. Flying Lines photo.

Overview of Carrier events

By Eric Conley

Currently the carrier flyer has many different classes of carrier events that he can enter. These events differ in the type of plane used and also they differ greatly in how they are flown. The NCS (Navy Carrier Society) tracks the following classes for their top 20 list in the ''Hi-Low Landings'' newsletter.

*AMA Profile
*AMA Class I
*AMA Class II
.15 Profile
.15 Sportsman
Nostalgia Profile
Nostalgia Class I
Nostalgia Class II
Skyray 35
Electric Profile
Electric Class I
Electric Class II

*The three official AMA sanctioned events above have an asterisk before them.

This is certainly plenty of events and any aspiring carrier flier should be able to find his or her event listed above. Only the three *AMA Sanctioned Events have iron lad rules that have to be followed in any AMA sanctioned contest. Some of the other events listed above have some varying general rules that can be modified by the event director to suit the locale of the contest. The Sig "Skyray 35" has some rules that are governed by the Sig company and you should be aware these rules before you build the plane. It would be nice if the "Navy Carrier Society" had a web site with information on these non-sanctioned events or for that matter they could be printed in the Carrier section of the Stunt Hanger forum (stunthanger.com). Editor's note: Rules for carrier events specific to the Pacific Northwest can be found in the Flying Lines Northwest Rules section.

I currently fly the three AMA events plus .15 carrier and Skyray. In these five events I have found that my planes last a long time and can usually be handed down to other flyers at some point. These five events if flown well are very easy on the planes resulting in longevity for the airframe and very few if any repairs.

AMA Profile Carrier

This is the event that I like to build for, and fly in carrier. Of the three official AMA carrier classes this is the class that you can be most original and creative in building different planes for competition. Carrier rule states that the ''Profile Class models will receive 10 bonus points if the outlines of the major components of the model closely resemble the actual aircraft as shown in the three view drawing. The'' major components'' of the Profile Class models are considered to be the side-view profiles of the fuselage, engine nacelles, and the vertical tail surfaces, and the top-view profile of the wing and horizontal tail surfaces. ( Judges guide: The model should be identifiable with the full-scale aircraft shown in the three view.) Neither scale dihedral nor scale landing gear location are required. This rule gives you W I D E latitude on which plane you build for this class.

For many years now the Martin MO-1 has been the plane of choice for carrier competition. They are simple to build as a profile and also the most simple to build as a class 1 and 2 entry. These planes fly much the same whether a profile or the full scale class 1 and 2 plane so it makes it that much easier to get lots of quality practice. So what is the hang up? Well the MO-1 is a observation plane that was built and tested aboard the first U S built aircraft carrier back in 1923 or there a bouts. Top speed must have been in the 110 mph category and there is much speculation as to whether they were equipped with a arresting hook for landings on board the carrier as there landing speed was very low. I consider it pretty sad that this plane's performance outclasses all of the WW-II type planes that I was used to seeing during and right after WW-II.

So this is why I like the AMA Profile rules. You don't have to build a purely scale plane, you can build any plane you want as long as the judge can see that it is a carrier plane. To lesson the chance that the judge may not see it my way I try to finish my planes with a close to authentic color scheme and then as a clincher I identify the plane by name or designation some where on the fuselage that the judge cant miss. So far it has worked pretty good.

The WW-II planes that I have built so far are the Bf 109T (German), Seafire (British), Corsair, and the F2G-1 super Corsair. These planes have minimal frontal area (higher speed potential) and adequate wing area (good low speed potential) and can compete with the MO-1. There are many other planes of the WW-II era that could be used ( Hawker Sea Fury) and the scale rule for Profile carrier is a scratch builder dream come true.

Actually you only get 10 points for all this work and the winning scores in Profile are around 360+ points so if you had a real fast plane that could also fly very slow you wouldn't have to build a scale type plane for the Profile carrier event. Oh well.

The engine size for profile carrier has become a sticking point over the last 10 years. The maximum size is .36 of a cubic inch. and you cannot find very many of this size anymore. There is only one competitive engine available at this time and it is the Nelson 36 that is built on the Nelson Q-500 crankcase. If you buy one of these engines along with a Ultra Thrust muffler and some type of RC type carburetor you will have a little over $400.00 invested in your power plant. Sounds like a lot of money and is but you only need ONE and if you are a good builder and flyer you will have a competitive edge over much of your competition. These engines also last forever (well almost) as my quickest engine is the one I bought back in 1995. This engine got stronger every year I used it for the first 4 years I had it and now (2008) it is still my best engine.

Then there is the ''slider.'' Some people hate it and some like it and I'm one of the ones that like them. They are the one and only reason that AMA carrier planes now last so long you have to give them away to get rid of them. Before the slider came along the biggest skill challenge was getting the plane on the deck in a arrested landing without tearing it in two or sustaining some type of damage that would require repairs before the next contest. Now with the slider the biggest challenge is staying awake while you fly the low speed portion of the event. With the low speed capability of a slider equipped plane there is almost no chance of damage on the arrested landing and you almost never miss your first attempt at the landing.

So you want an airplane with low frontal area for high speed, and that has adequate wing area for good low speed performance and gentle landing speeds. Mix that with lots of practice and your sure to be in the single digits in the top 20 list.

I'll go over more of the events in the future.

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This page was upated Feb. 11, 2009