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F3A competition in the 1970's and 80's

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Martin McIntosh28/05/2020 22:58:59
3416 forum posts
1202 photos


I have always thought that our judges are a bit too lenient with their scores leading competitors to believe that they are doing better than they actually are. At my first W/C my eyes were opened very wide at the difference in flying standards between us and many of the others. It is not necessarily due to lack of effort but as I stated above the financing of a trip abroad and general lack of trade backing possibly has a lot to do with it.

Even when I was at it and the BOM rule was in force we all knew that the top flyers did not have to worry about building models because most of it was done for them.

For instance, Team Japan, Mr OS and Mr Futaba on their luxury bus as part of the pit crew. We had wives or girlfriends and maybe one helper plus a large overdraft at the end of it.

Barrie Lever28/05/2020 23:17:32
243 forum posts
50 photos

Yes aerobatic flyoff's at the Nats used to be great to watch.


I am not sure why the aerobatic pilots have struggled at W/C level, Martin has given some good reasons from his experience.

I certainly don't see that changing with the current crop of F3A pilots/crews.

In pylon racing we have been tantalisingly close on occasions, we maybe heading that way again as we have highly committed and talented younger fliers who are also good engineers/technicians.


Kevin Caton29/05/2020 07:38:45
23 forum posts
9 photos

Good points from both Martins!

In the past you needed to be able to build a straight light model, have reliable radio equipment and a good motor. Then, you had to go out and fly a lot. Nowadays, the radio is fantastic, the electric motors are totally relies le and consistent and anyone can buy the same airframe as the top pilots use. People all over the world are able to do this - then have the time and enthusiasm to put in 600-800 practice flights each year. Try counting how many flights you do in a year and you will see just what a commitment this is - flying 4 flights a day 5 days a week through the main season. All this comes before we get to discuss judging standards.

Some of us regularly travel to mainland Europe to compete at World Cup events and as such are known by the international judges. Yes, we don’t get scored quite as highly as at home, but when we talk to the other pilots, they have the same experience. As the competition becomes more significant, the judging criteria get slightly tougher. To address a specific point by Martin Dilly, we do get some funding from the BMFA training and excellence fund to go towards the cost of competing abroad.

We do have a French F3A judge with multiple World Championships experience who lives in the UK and regularly judges here. Unfortunately at present he is the only non-flying judge in the UK, so that gives us an immediate problem.

We can’t seem to get the “young guns” interested in F3A. It’s a bit “catch-22” as we don’t do very well internationally, so it’s seen as a fringe interest and a bit boring to watch. There is more recognition and exposure in show flying - large scale aerobatics, jets etc.

Any suggestions?

Edited By Kevin Caton on 29/05/2020 07:39:15

Edited By Kevin Caton on 29/05/2020 07:39:50

Barrie Lever29/05/2020 09:37:16
243 forum posts
50 photos


The problem that all serious model flying competitions have is actually to vi for peoples attention and time budgets, as people have so many things to do or can do these days.

Getting youngsters into any model flying competition is the biggest challenge that disciplines face, we spend an enormous amount of time and effort on this in pylon racing.

In my last PAYE employment I was with a bunch of other dinosaur maverick managers, very alpha male types, we were sent on management courses to try and understand how the youngsters minds (generation X,Y, millennials etc) worked in comparison to us baby boomers. This is very helpful in leisure as well.

Martin/Martin and Kevin, contact me off line for a more in depth discussion if you so wish.

Best Regards


Martin McIntosh29/05/2020 13:04:12
3416 forum posts
1202 photos

Interesting to note that our scale boys are also somewhat in the doldrums, strange because as a nation we are known for our inventiveness and creativity.

One problem is that when something is down to individual judge`s opinions things get difficult, i.e. a snappy or slowish entry/exit roll rate or in the case of scale the aircraft type. I may well worship Spits. and Hurries but other nationalities may not.

Thank goodness that pylon is decided by a stopwatch only, although what happened to the four at a time as it was when I dabbled in it?

Youngsters, understandingly, go more for helis/quads because these more closely resemble the computer games which they are used to.

The current format of F3A is to me very boring to watch and quite incomprehensible so what must it be like for the public?

(Don`t want to get into another argument about that).

Barrie Lever29/05/2020 14:09:12
243 forum posts
50 photos


Four up pylon racing with a simultaneous start is great when watching from the outside or if you are the leader in the race !!

However the number of mid airs was rising to an unacceptable level, CIAM (FAI) classes are three up with a staggered start.

I liked the old 1970's format for F3A, everyone flew the same schedule and you could get some idea how you were doing against more senior competitors such as yourself at the time.



Martin McIntosh29/05/2020 14:45:02
3416 forum posts
1202 photos

That was all part of the fun then. Four screaming K&B`s waiting for the flag to drop sent the adrenaline levels sky high. Had my fair share of mid airs too. Another Nats highlight was the pylon final right in front of everyone, not shuffled to some far corner.

The 1970`s schedules were and still are many people`s preference, hence the UKCAA. At one event we counted over 45 models. Easy enough to do but very hard to do properly, plus there is an almost unlimited choice of designs to build, some now re kitted and they do not cost a second mortgage to make.

When I stopped flying comps. it was mainly due to having everything, and I mean everything, stolen after the 1979 W/C, plus going to the Nats to watch the then new turnaround schedule which looked to me like a load of rookies competing for the first time. Very rushed and haphazzard looking.

Zero interest.

Richard Clark 229/05/2020 15:39:51
269 forum posts

All interesting stuff. But within reason the possibly lower 'quality' of UK judges will still end up with our best F3A flyers.

And just how many 'top' judges ARE there in Austria or Liechtenstein

Kevin Caton29/05/2020 16:06:42
23 forum posts
9 photos

Hi Richard

The answer to your question is two in each of those countries.

I think coaching is a bigger problem here - I get most of mine from people in other countries.


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