By: Stan Alexander
Wow, it’s been a busy year in the Scale World we live in. There has been an abundant amount of scale activity around the country; from Top Gun Invitational in Florida, to the Scale Nationals in Muncie, to the U.S. Scale Masters in California.
But these were just the major contests – and not the majority of “scale” activity in the USA. The same thing is happening on an international basis also. Less and less modelers are competing in scale competition each year it seems. Sometimes there is an uptick which we saw this year, but the over all trend has been less.
Gee I hope I’m proven wrong but we in my humble opinion need to do whatever we can to “infect” (if you will) others into scale modeling and competition. How to do this? Mmmmmm – have more competitions which are well organized, or we could increase the current number of classes in scale competition, or we could refine the ones we currently have with the help of the AMA Scale Contest Board. This probably needs to be done for both R/C and C/L scale classes.
How to start? Well if NASA has a committee to help steer and help the Scale Contest Board we could help to change some of the classes. Fun Scale for instance needs a name change! This, if you didn’t know, is replacing Sportsman class at contests around the country. Why? Well we aren’t growing builders like we were guys and gals. But we still need to have a class like Sportsman that could get modeler’s feet wet in static competition; like oh, say, Open Scale. While we are at it, have Open Scale Pro and Open Scale Am for those who are just starting. Why on earth would we want to do that? Well scale contests generally have a lot of administrative types associated with the events due to all of the judging. Having modelers with multiple entries helps to off-set expenses so the host club can at least break even with expenses.
These type of events also draw new and younger modelers into the fold. Take a look at the white hair out there guys. There are more of us than any other.
On the FAI scene, we have dropped out due to a seeming lack of interest in this competition. Why are we not competitive? One reason is that over the years we have been told that FAI Scale is the “boogie man” of scale competition by so many “knowledgeable” modelers. It isn’t that bad, but what FAI Scale could be called Museum Scale, as the models which are competitive are all scratch built creations. I don’t mean built from plans, or someone’s kit and modified, but scratch built from sheets of wood, metal, aluminum, fabric, paint, bolts and glue and a lot of work. Take a look at the models on the NASA Flickr pages from World Championships. Transportation expenses in FAI Scale are extreme. One modeler from Australia (their single entry) paid almost $7,000 to transport his model to the last World Championships. So this is a real concern for anyone interested.
But now (when the rules come out next spring) FAI has a international sport scale class which is flying the same flight schedule but relaxed static rules. It will be interesting to see what this does for international competition. I truly hope it helps as most of the international competitions have cut back on the number of non-European countries who participate in recent years. Mmmm – sort of sounds like the same problem we’ve seen here.
But 2014 is coming up soon, very soon. Plans are being made and vacations are being scheduled now for future competitions. Models are being built and its a season to ask Santa for that special engine, model, or huge box of wood for the shop again. So make plans to attend a competition near you or far away and just build something!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Who will be first out of the house on New Year’s Day flying a scale model? Will it be you? Hope so! And bring a friend!
Fair Skies & Tail Winds.