Round & Round

The Control-Line Modeler at Large

By John Thompson

December 2009

Modeling thought for the month:

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment."
-- Barry LePatner

Triple the fun(-fly)

Recently, control-line modelers in a couple of areas in the Pacific Northwest have been thinking of ways to increase participation through informal competitive events using one airplane for several different tasks. In Washington, the Broadway Bod Busters have conceived the idea of using one commercially available 1/2-A combat plane for several events; in Portland, Ore., the Northwest Fireballs have been drawing up a multi-event activity involving the Flying Clown airplane design. There've been other ideas of this type, usually involving some combination of speed, racing, stunt and combat, all with the same airplane.

Anything that brings out more fliers -- or entices the novice and sport fliers to jump into the contest scene -- is a good thing. The idea of building one plane that can be used for several events can attract some of those who have been on the sidelines in the more "serious" competitive events.

This is not a new idea. Such multi-event activities have been done with some success by many local clubs over the decades. Here in Eugene, Ore., somewhere around 1980, we had a contest or two using a single airplane for speed, racing, stunt and combat. It was great fun and sometimes hilarious, with a wide variety of airplanes being used, from simple sport profiles to screaming fast combat planes. Alas, the combat at the end of the day sometimes left fliers going home without the airplane they came from. But it was fun.

Later, to avoid the little problem mentioned above, we cooked up a three-event/one airplane activity that didn't involve the carnage of combat at the end. In fact, the event lineup was intended to make the activity accessible to virtually any flier, no matter their skill level. It didn't require stunting or multiple-pilot flying. Only one airplane was used, and it could be any plane that flew on 60-foot lines.

Originally, the event was used in a fundraiser for the Flying Lines newsletter, a postal contest called the Turkey Tournament. All over the Northwest, fliers went out and tried the three events, mailing in their results. The winner got a gift certificate for a Thanksgiving turkey. Later, I wrote up the rules under the name of the Three-for-All event.

It's pretty simple. Contestants use one airplane for three simple tasks:

Despite the lack of stunts, multiple pilots or other traditional tasks, the events can be challenging for novice and expert alike.

I bring this up now, since people are talking about multi-event activities. This is one that doesn't require any special airplane, and no need to invent the rules. You can go out this weekend and try it.

I'm pasting in the rules below and also providing a link to a Three-for-All rules pdf document that can be printed out. These are not official Northwest rules, just something our local club has used. Feel free to change them any way you like. If you do hold a club event or contest, be sure to take some pictures, write up a report, and send it all to Flying Lines.

Here are the rules:

Prop Spinners ThreeforAll Rules

1. Airplane: Any airplane capable of flying safely on 60-foot lines. Any engine, any fuel system, etc.

2. Lines: 60-foot lines appropriate for the airplane.

3. The competition: Each contestant will perform three separate tasks, all using the same airplane. The airplane may be repaired between tasks if necessary.

A score will be assigned for placement in each task. Scores will be added to determine the overall winner for the day. Scoring for each task will be as follows: 1st place = 10 points. 2nd = 9. 3rd = 8. 4th = 7. 5th = 6. 6th = 5. 7th = 4. 8th = 3. 9th = 2. 10th = 1.

4. The tasks:

Hi-Low: This task involves two separate flights. Flight No. 1 is timed for high speed; the 7-lap (1/4-mile) time is converted to speed using the AMA rulebook speed chart. Flight No. 2 is for low speed, again timed for 7 laps. One low-speed flight, the airplane must become airborne within one lap for the flight to be judged official. The difference in miles per hour is the score. (Example: If a participant's high speed is 80 mph and his low speed is 40 mph, the score is the difference between speeds: 40.) Between flights, the participant may change plug, prop or fuel; no other changes may be made to the airplane.

Time Target: The object is to make a flight of exactly 2 minutes. Each contestant starts with a score of 120. Each second over or under the 2-minute target is deducted from the score. (Examples: A flight of 2:10 would result in a score of 110 (120-10). A flight of 1:50 also would result in a score of 110.) Timing is from the moment of the plane's release by the pit crew to the moment it touches down. The pilot is not allowed to carry any kind of timepiece or receive any kind of signal from the ground. Shutoffs are prohibited.

Spot Landing: A mark will be made on the edge of the circle. The pilot attempts to land the plane on the spot. Judges will mark the point of initial touchdown. The distance between the target and the point of touchdown, in inches, is the score. (Example: A plane that touches down 13 inches from the target receives a score of 13.) Low score wins. Only dead-stick landings count.

5. Official flights: Each contestant is allowed three attempts at two official flights. In the high-low event, each pair of flights is counted as one attempt.

6. Disputes: All disputes, arguments, interpretations of gray areas in the rules and other questions will be settled by the event director. The event director's decision is final.


Questions or comments always welcomed. E-mail John Thompson

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This page was updated Dec. 9, 2009