Modeling thought for the month:
"He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the
great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on
the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind."
Rules, as we know, are a necessary evil for all of us who enjoy model airplane competition. We need them to make sure that the games we play are fair. Sometimes, it involves a lot of reading and memorizing. Oh, sure, we can just ignore the rulebook and "learn the ropes" on the flying field, but that can lead to some unpleasant surprises on contest days. There's nothing more discouraging than spending all winter building a plane for a particular event and then being told it's not legal for the event you want to enter.
So we read the rules and make sure we know what they say before we try to enter a contest. We do, don't we?
And then, after we've gotten them all memorized, somebody goes and changes them on us. Gotta read 'em again.
I find it helpful to get out the rules and go through them before the contest season each year, just so that I remember all the nuances. I always seem to spot something I had not noticed before. This is especially helpful for anyone who is acting as an official in a contest, but the officials' job is certainly made a lot easier if the competitors know the rules, too.
Well, we officials and competitors have our work cut out for us this competition season, because the AMA two-year rules update cycle has produced a new rulebook for 2007-8.
AMA doesn't mail us rulebooks anymore, but you can get yours instantly. Here's what you do: Go on the AMA web site and go into the Competition area; find the pulldown menu and go to "Competition Regulations." You can there download and print out all the control-line rules for 2007-8. They're in separate files for each event, so you don't have to print out rules for events you don't participate in. I find it helpful to print out the rules and keep a copy in my pickup, so I always have the rules to refer to when I'm at the flying field. A printing hint: If your printer has the "duplex printing" option, use that, so that you can print on both sides of the pages it will save a lot of paper.
There are changes, mostly minor but some major, in every category. The most significant changes are in the racing rules, so anyone planning to race in 2007 should familiarize themselves with the new rules. There are changes in field layout, pilot behavior, pit crew behavior, flying heights, penalties, and other items. Quite a few gray areas are clarified. And, oh yes, you'll have to wear a helmet in the pits. Have fun reading.
If you're new to competition, you might not be aware that there are more than one rules-making body. Some events are covered by the Academy of Model Aeronautics rulebook mentioned above. These cover Combat, Navy Carrier, Precision Aerobatics, Racing, Scale and Speed. However, there are national and regional "unofficial" events that are not covered in the AMA rulebook. Those events do have rules, however, which are adhered to in contests just as strictly as the AMA rules. Here are some of the details:
National rules for Old-Time Stunt and Classic Stunt are promulgated and maintained by the Precision Aerobatics Model Pilots Association. You can get those rules from the organization web site.
National rules for some of the Racing events are maintained by the National CL Racing Association. You can get those rules from the organization web site. Of particular interest in Northwest contests are the rules for Quickie Rat Race and Super Slow Rat Race, which are NCLRA events that are run in Northwest contests. Be aware of one subtlety in racing rules: Northwest contests use the Northwest rules for Flying Clown Race, not the NCLRA rules, which came later. Also, Northwest contests use Northwest rules for Northwest Sport Race, which is similar to but not exactly the same as NCLRA Fox Race, another later-created event.
Finally, there are several events native to the Pacific Northwest. The rules for these are coordinated by Flying Lines and all the rules can be seen on the Northwest Rules section of this web site. These rules include, among others, Northwest Sport Race, Northwest Super Sport Race, Northwest Flying Clown Race, P-40 Stunt, Nostalgia Navy Carrier, .15 Carrier, Northwest Sport Jet Speed, 80-mph Combat and Vintage Diesel Combat.
The Northwest rules have been relatively stable, with changes coming only occasionally. There have been no changes since last year, though there is one potential change on the way. People interested in flying the P-40 Stunt event should watch the discussion and ballot process under way at this writing (January 2007) to make sure that you are informed if a current rules proposal is approved. See the Northwest Rules section for more information on that proposal.
Do yourself a favor and also do a favor for your fellow competitors and contest officials. Read the new AMA rules. Review the PAMPA, NCLRA and Northwest rules. When you arrive at a contest, know the rules! You'll have more fun, and so will everyone else.
E-mail John Thompson
This page was updated Jan. 25, 2007