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Nationals Reborn at Olathe
June 1968 American Aircraft Modeler

June 1968 American Aircraft Modeler

June 1968 American Aircraft Modeler magazine cover Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

1968 was the AMA Nats that almost wasn't. The U.S. Navy, which for year prior had helped organize and finance the Nationals competitions, decided it was no longer going to do so. The reason given was that its primary mission - to promote aviation as a career to boys and young men who might eventually decide to make the Navy a career - had suffered due to a continually decreasing percentage of boys and young men participating in the competition. Thanks to heroic efforts of members of both the Navy and the AMA, the 1968 Nats went on to become possibly 'The Greatest Ever." Alas, the victory was short-lived, because only a couple short years later the Navy forever canceled its sponsorship. 

Nationals Reborn at Olathe

The planning conference for the 1968 National Model Airplane Championships might never have happened. That it did - and with a spectacular climax - was due to a dramatic reversal of a seemingly unalterable trend. The Navy was unable to justify continued spending money and manpower on an event in which the youngsters of yesteryear had become adult hobbyists. There was nothing wrong with that in itself, but the young in heart had done little to seed a follow-on generation.

U. S. Navy photo.

Youngster at Nats planning-conference and AMA Exec. Director preview Olathe Jr. Program.

Without any real evidence of activity which would suggest that the situation would do anything but further increase the average age of Nationals contestants, the Navy at one point last year had actually canceled the 1968 meet. But, fortunately, some groundwork laid some months before enabled the program to be reactivated. No one thing did it - a combination of factors made the difference.

Some good Navy friends played a big part. Those originally assigned to organize the 1968 effort attended the '67 event in California, determined to do the best preparation job possible for the meet to be held at Olathe Naval Air Station in Kansas. By Christmas of last year when other happenings within the Navy were calling for cancellation of the Nats, the Olathe people had already done a tremendous job of planning. The 1968 Nats project officer, Cdr. Al Shiner, and his assistant, LCdr. Dick Gray, together with the Public Affairs Officer, Cdr. Mac Bailey, had well organized a new concept of Nats operation under the leadership of the Olathe Command-ing Officer, Capt. Frank Culley.

Meanwhile, officers of the Academy of Model Aeronautics had brought to a head various Junior program efforts which had been long simmering but relatively unnoticed. When the time came to prove that AMA could produce and operate an effective youth program for model aviation the evidence was documented (See the Model Aviation section of American Modeler, April 1968, page 45).

Both the Navy and AMA efforts were detailed in a special meeting held in Washington last December, attended by representatives from the civilian and military organizations. Sufficient promise of a successful future National meet youth program was produced that pre-planning for the 1968 meet was allowed to continue. But the threat of cancellation persisted and it was obvious that more vigor than ever would have to be applied so that by Nats Planning Conference time at the end of February more evidence of progress would be necessary.

The planning conference, due to exceptional efforts by the Olathe officers, produced a tremendous community-backed pledge of support. The proof was in an amazing Kick-Off banquet during the conference in which over four hundred people representing all interests participated. Businessmen, representatives of the Exchange Club, Chambers of Commerce, civic and service groups, members of the Kansas City Aero Club, Civil Air Patrol, Boy Scouts, and Junior Chambers of Commerce were on hand - they came from more than a hundred mile radius to join with AMA and Navy officers from all parts of the country, to learn about the planning to date and to offer their enthusiastic support.

The banquet was held in the drill hall at Olathe NAS, where twenty years before a thousand contestants at the first Navy hosted National meet had been housed in hundreds of double decked bunks. Dozens of youngsters were on hand. They were shown movies of past Nats, were given AMA Racer kits by Sig Mfg. Co., and were treated as regal guests symbolizing the spirit of youth for future Nats programs. Many were shown how to fly finished models of the kits they received and some won prizes of more advanced Comet kits donated by the manufacturer.

Special promotional packets, which included literature promoting youngster model aviation programs and a copy of the April issue of American Modeler, were distributed to dinner guests representing all levels of community support. A display, featuring Navy scale models built by members of the Kansas City RC club, was set up in the center of the dining area. And during the dinner the Executive Director of AMA launched a "Fly Navy" version of the Delta Dart model which is to be the basic trainer for the new Navy junior program.

Vice Admiral S. A. Heyward, Chief of Naval Air Training, then delivered a keynote speech emphasizing the need for youth and educational aspects of model aviation. He indicated that if the current planning for the Nats operation produced reasonable success in these areas a new beginning for Navy hosted National and regional meet support could be expected. As proof that Navy thinking went beyond the 1968 Nats at Olathe, it was noted that an officer from NAS Willow Grove, Penna., was on hand to observe and make basic preparations for the 1969 meet.

So a new era of National Model Airplane Championships is underway. Our Navy friends have reopened the door to future hosting. But we still have to prove that we're doing more than just talking about getting more youngsters into model aviation. Both for 1968 and long range, more youngsters - especially in the eight to eighteen range - will have to be in greater evidence. And they will be, due to fast developing special programs being put into effect now - both in the Kansas City area and across the country. It is fitting, therefore, that twenty years after the Navy began its Nationals hosting a rebirth of the program is taking place. AMA members and clubs can help by helping to get more youngsters to the Nats.

Best Nats Ever?

U. S. Navy photo.

February Nats planning conference was on Kansas City TV. Shown are Earl Wilt; Capt. F. Culley, CO., Olathe NAS; J. Worth; TV photog.

It's shaping up that way! Despite restrictions imposed by the current military mission Navy support for the Nats at Olathe is enthusiastic and substantial. From one standpoint alone this year's Nats will be the best ever: The site itself. Free Flighters should drool over the wide-open spaces - an unobstructed runway 7500 feet long with many thousands of empty acres beyond the downwind end of the field. The Olathe Naval Air Station is bigger than it was during the last Nats there in 1949, mostly in land acquired for longer runways and approach zones. Advance observers rate it the finest free flight site in all of Nats history.

Radio Control and Control Line sites are also excellent, each able to operate on a completely independent basis from the other. And, barring freak wind shifts in case of abnormal weather, there should be no cases of free flight models dropping into the other areas.

The tight housing situation of other stations in recent years does not apply to Olathe. At least a thousand bunks are available. And trailer camping on the station is also available, convenient to the drill hall for access to showers and lavatories, for males and females. Eating on station is also simpler - pay-as-you-go, meal by meal, rather than by advance commitment.

And even though a whole day has been chopped from the competition schedule, the total hours needed to permit as many events as last year have been maintained. Instead of the usual 8 AM to 5 PM outdoor contest day, the '68 hours are 7 AM to 7 PM. And housing is available earlier - on the Friday before the contest starts.

If ever there was a Nats worth attending, the '68 event rates highest. The "inside" advice to AMA members is "Don't miss this one - and bring a Junior."

Nats Entry Details

To enter in advance, by mail, entry forms must be postmarked no later than July 7. After that date, entry forms must be presented at the Nats, in person, and will be subject to late fees.

Advance Basic Entry Fee: Junior and Senior AMA members - $2.00, includes two events; Open members - $10.00. Additional events (all age categories) are $1 per event, except RC which are $5 per event.

Late Basic Entry Fee: Same as advance fee for Juniors and Seniors, $15 for Open members. Additional events (all age categories) are $2 per event, except RC which are $5 per event.

Event Additions at Nats for either late or advance entries: $2 per event, except $5 for RC events. Note: no event additions after 11 am Sunday, Aug. 4. No changes or substitutions of events may be made, nor will any refunds be made for any events not flown.

Mechanics fee, advance or late is $2. Provides identification and field access privileges equivalent to contestants. Available to AMA members only.

Note: Nats entry forms available upon request from AMA, 1239 Vermont Ave., N. W., Wash., D. C. 20005. Send stamped, self-addressed envelope for priority return.

Nats Housing, Meals. Ample housing appears to be available aboard NAS Olathe in barracks and drill hall, for males only. No charge for housing, but no linens can be supplied - users must provide own sheets, blankets, towels, toilet articles, etc. Some locker space may be available, but probably not enough for all.

Meals are available to all contestants and mechanics, male and female, on a pay-as-you-go basis: pay at dining hall for each meal. Costs: breakfast - 27c, lunch - 60c, supper - 45c.

Camping trailer area available, on station, adjacent to drill hall - no charge. Trailer units must be self-contained; no electricity or water on site. However, drill hall lavatories and showers (both male and female) are close by.

Nats Entry and Competition Schedule

Friday (Aug. 2). Registration (including housing) for all those pre-entered by mail - noon to 9 pm. Late Entries accepted from 2 pm to 9 pm. RC processing from noon to 9 pm.

Saturday (Aug. 3). Test flying, where and if facilities permit, and Goodyear qualifications (both only for those registered) - 7 am to noon. Goodyear qualifications have air priority - other RC testing on a non-interference basis. Registration (including housing) - 8 am to 5 pm. Late entry - 8 am to 11 am. RC processing - 4 pm to 9 pm. Navy Blue Angels Air Show- 1 pm to 3 pm. Note: due to traffic problems in connection with the afternoon air show, all contestants are warned that they may have to park in general public spectator areas if arriving on station between 10 am and 3 pm.

Sunday (Aug. 4). Test flying and RC Goodyear qualifications, under same conditions as for Saturday (see above) - 7 am to noon. Final Late Entry period - 8 am to 11 am (no late entries accepted after 11 am). Registration (including housing) for those pre-entered by mail - 8 am to 5 pm. RC processing - 4 pm to 9 pm Navy Blue Angels Air Show, with same traffic problems as Saturday (see above) - 1 pm to 3 pm. Official Indoor flying, Kansas City Municipal Auditorium - 9 am to 9 pm. Events are HL Glider, Stick, Paper Stick, and Cabin, with separate time periods to be assigned for glider and rubber power. The auditorium has a 96-ft. ceiling.

Monday (Aug. 5). FF Scale (models must be flown before being judged, - 7 am to noon (1/2 day only). FF Outdoor HL Glider - 1 pm to 7 pm (1/2 day only). FF C Gas and Nordic - 7 am to 7pm*. Control Line: FAI Speed. A Speed, Rat Race (Open only), Stunt (Sr. only), and Combat (Jr. only) - 7 am to 7 pm*, Radio Control: FAI (abbreviated pattern). - 7 am to 3:30 pm*. RC Scale (models must be flown before being judged, all flights are official) - 3:30 pm to 7 pm,

Tuesday (Aug. 6). FF B Gas, Rocket, and Wakefield - 7 am to 7 pm*, CL B Speed, Rat Race (Jr. only), Stunt (Open only), and Combat (Sr. only) - 7 am to 7 pm*, RC Pattern and RC Scale - same as Monday.

Wednesday (Aug. 7). FF A Gas and FAI Gas - 7 am to 7 pm*. Helicopter - 7 am to noon (1/2 day only). CL C Speed, Jet Speed, B Proto, Rat Race (Sr. only), Stunt (Jr. only), and Combat (Open only) - 7 am to 7 pm*. Radio Control Pattern Finals (full FAI maneuver schedule) - 7 am to 4 pm*, RC Goodyear Finals - 4 pm to 7 pm. Note: CL Stunt J. Walker Champs after Jr. flying.

Thursday (Aug. 8). FF 1/2A Gas and Unlimited Rubber - 7 am to 7 pm*. CL 1/2A Speed, 1/2A Proto, FAI Team Race, Scale, Carrier - 7 am to 7 pm*. RC Pattern and Goodyear - same as Wednesday.

*Note: Model flying will be shut down Mon. thru Thurs. from noon to 1 pm.

Special Nats RC Notes

Pattern event will be conducted in two stages. Top fifteen winners of the first stage will be eligible to compete in the second. First stage (Mon. & Tues., Aug. 5 & 6) will be flown with an abbreviated FAI maneuver schedule, as follows:

Unassisted ROG, FAI Top Hat, FAI Rolling Circle, FAI Double Stall Turn, FAI Horizontal Eight, Cuban 8, Slow Roll (5 secs.), Tail Slide, Traffic Pattern Approach, and Landing Perfection.

Separate awards will be presented to winners of first stage in all age categories and for Novice and Expert classes of Class C entrants. Best two flights will be totalled. Number of flights will be limited only by time available. After initial flight line balancing no attempt will be made to maintain equal rounds in first stage.

Second stage (Finals) contestants will consist of top fifteen winners from first stage, plus fifteen pre-qualified winners of FAI-approved regional meets, plus three 1967 FAI RC team members. The highest placing second stage winners, who have previously paid FAI program entry and stamp fees, will comprise the 1969 US RC team. They need not be the three top winners of the second stage, if any of the latter did not pay FAI fees - Nats second stage RC pattern awards will be presented to top finalists regardless of FAI status.

Note: pre-qualified Finals contestants are also eligible, but are not required, to compete in first stage - they may win first stage awards for their class of entry but will not be included when top fifteen first stage qualifiers for second stage are determined.

Goodyear Event. Contestants eligible for finals must be qualified in either of two ways: by performance at Tulsa Tahlequah, Okla. meet on Aug. 3-4, or by performance at qualification trials at NAS Olathe on Saturday and Sunday mornings, Aug. 3-4 (7 am to noon).

Scale. In order to provide more hours (and flight opportunities) for this event, and a more suitable time period than has been available in past Nats, it is necessary this year that flying precede judging. All flights will be considered official, and as many flights as possible within the time period may be made. Possibility of damage during flying, and such effect on scale judging score, is at contestant's own risk.

Special Nats Youth Program launched

A new Nats feature this year will be a special AMA directed four day competition operating side-by-side with the usual type event program. The competition will be open to non-AMA members and no entry fees or other charges will be involved. Special age groups will be set up, to provide several separate competition categories for kindergarden through teenage contestants.

Kits for a "Fly Navy" version of the AMA-designed Delta Dart (AMA Racer) rubber powered model are being donated by various sponsors in the Kansas City area - several thousand have already been assured.

RC Team Regional Sites and Nats Finals Details

Selection of the 1969 RC team to represent the US in the World RC Championship will take place at this year's National Championship, Olathe, Kan. Prior to the Nats there will be 15 regional contests, which may use either the FAI pattern or the AMA Class C Expert pattern:


27-28 Phoenix, Ariz., Arizona RC Society.



1-2 Atlanta, Ga., Greater Atlanta 4th Annual.

8-9 Los Angeles, Calif., Valley Flyers.

8-9 Rochester, N. Y., N.Y. State RC Champs.

22-23 Wallops Isl., Va., M. A. R. K. S.

22-23 Decatur, Ala., Decatur M. A. C.

22-23 Dayton, O. Wright Bros. Memorial.

28-29 Denver, Colo., Mile Hi RC Club.

29-30 Bridgeton, Mo., Spirits of St. Louis.


18-19 Los Angeles, Calif., LAMHA

18-19 Port Arthur, Tex., The Oily Birds.

25-26 Fresno, Calif., Fresno Radio Modelers.




6-7 Chicago, Ill., Chicagoland RC Modelers.

13-14 Turlock, Calif., Pioneers.

13-14 Minneapolis, Minn., Twin City RC.

On Monday and Tuesday of the Nationals contest there will be additional qualifying trials using the FAI maneuvers.

The winners of each of the 15 regional trials will be eligible to compete in the Team Finals as will all those among the top 15 qualifiers at the Nats who have registered for the FAI team program. Thus, up to 30 qualifiers, plus the 1967 team (automatically qualified) will then vie for the three team spots in the Team Finals to be staged on Wednesday and Thursday of the Nats.

Flyers trying for the team must pre-register by sending a $5 FAI RC entry fee to AMA Headquarters, postmarked by midnight prior to the regional qualifying meet being entered. Advance registration will also be applicable for the Nats qualifying trials; however, program entry fees will be accepted at Nats AMA HQ but only up to the deadline time of regular Nats registration cutoff, which is 11 am Sunday.

Although the 15 regional finalists will not have to pay the program entry fee again, they will have to enter the Nats and pay the normal Nats entry fees (applies also to 1967 team members). In addition, Nats finalists in the team program will be required to pay an additional $10 FAI Finals fee. It should be noted, however, that these FAI entry and finals fees all go into the RC team fund, to help pay team travel.  

New Navy Regional Program Developing Fast

Official AMA monoline construction instructions - Airplanes and Rockets

Official AMA monoline construction instructions.

Prompt and extensive cooperation by AMA, HIAA (Hobby Industry) and Navy officials has kicked off a big, new and special model competition program a year earlier than originally anticipated. The program, aimed at encouraging the sending of youngsters to the Nats and producing many new elementary and high school age model flyers, features a commitment of well over $5,000 in prizes from the hobby industry, use of naval air stations all across the country, free AMA sanctions and contest direction by AMA clubs and leader members.

At press time, meetings between local AMA and Navy people were being held to determine dates and contest events which might be accommodated by the various stations. Contest timing in most cases is expected to be in June or July, although some were being planned to May and the annual Armed Forces Day observance.

A key element is the seeking of local community support for sending one or more young meet winners to the Nationals. Such male winners as could get to the Nats were also to receive berths on an aircraft carrier cruise out of Pensacola, Florida; with transportation to and from the Nats being furnished by the Navy.

Further details are currently being developed and advertised by the model industry and press. More information is also available from AMA Headquarters, 1239 Vermont Ave. N. W., Wash., D. C. 20005.

New Control Line Speed Rules Proposal

1968 CL Speed Proposal CL-68-A-1 has passed preliminary vote. This is an outgrowth of the '67 proposal which failed to pass a final vote of the Board, with some new additions. The basic proposal is divided into five parts so that the failure of one part will not eliminate the entire proposal.

Members concerned should make views known to their district CL CB representative prior to this year's Nats when an initial vote will be taken on this proposal. Additionally, any AMA member who wishes to modify any part of the proposal under consideration should submit a cross proposal prior to the Nats (to the district rep., with copy to AMA HQ). The proposal:

Part a: New Classifications. Add following new paragraphs after para. 6.2:

6.2.1 Classification for contestants: Age will not be used to classify contestants in control line speed as outlined below.

Expert Class: Anyone who can attain 92% (.92) or more of the existing Expert Class record for a particular engine classification is automatically placed in the Expert competition class. The record speed used for classification is that which is currently recognized by AMA Headquarters for the applicable engine size.

Advanced Class: Anyone who can attain a speed which is greater than 82% (.82) but Jess than 92% (.92) of the existing Expert Class record for the particular engine size is automatically placed in the Advanced competition class. The record speed used for classification is that which is currently recognized by AMA Headquarters for the Expert Class of the applicable engine size.

Novice Class: Anyone who attains a speed which is less than 82% (.82) of the existing Expert Class record for the particular engine size is automatically placed in the Novice competition class. The record speed used for classification is that which is currently recognized by AMA Headquarters for the Expert Class of the applicable engine size.

The performance of an entrant in a particular engine class shall only determine his competition level in that displacement class. A competitor may only compete in one skill level for each engine displacement classification.

6.2.2 Contest Entry: The contestant or team shall at the time of entry in each contest declare the skill classification in which he will compete. For the duration of the contest the entrant cannot compete in a lower achievement level than he has previously declared. Contestant skill level classification shall not be carried through to subsequent contests. The participant shall declare competition skill level at each individual contest.

6.2.3 Reclassification Due to Actual Performance:

If a participant exceeds the level of performance permitted for his skill classification, one of the following actions will be taken by the officials: 1. The contestant will be reclassified in the skill level dictated by his performance. 2. The contestant will be eliminated from competition. In general, if a contestant exceeds the performance level for his declared skill classification he shall be moved up to the level indicated by his performance if the contest includes this higher skill classification. If not, he shall be eliminated from this competition. In either case, his previous or subsequent speed will not count in the lower or initial declared skill classification. Note: Corresponding changes will be made to Jet speed to reflect the above.

Part b: Line size Revision. Revise "size and construction of control lines" Para. 6.4 to following:

6.4 Size and Construction of Control Lines: All lines used to control flight shall be steel music wire or metal of equivalent strength, in good condition, and free of kinks and rust. Lines of braided or stranded construction will not be allowed. Line connections to handle and aircraft must have a strength equal to or greater than that of the flying lines. No swivels are to be used as part of the control system of control line speed models. Control lines shall be of uniform diameter from the leadout connection to the handle. No more than two (2) connectors may be used per line.

Line Sizes: The following wire diameters shall be used for each class of model regardless of model's weight:

*for 2 or more lines

Note: As cross proposal -2, consideration will be given to increase 1/2A to .014, A to .020.

Line Construction: Line construction shall be per the two methods described below (Figures 1, 1A and 2). The contest director may allow alternate line terminations if he can satisfy himself that they are at least as strong and safe as those shown. Note: Corresponding changes will be made to Jet Speed Para. 7.3 to reflect the above.

Part c : Pull Test Revision. Revise the pull test in Para. 6.5 and 7.4 to be 40 times the weight of the model.

Part d: Whipping. Add to Para's. 6.9 and 7.8 the following: Any attempt to whip the model more than is necessary to get it airborne during the first lap shall constitute a foul, disqualifying the flight as well as previous flights. This shall apply to all classes.

Part c: Tuned Exhaust. Three cross proposals are being considered concerning tuned exhaust systems, they are: 1. A special "tuned exhaust" division for each engine size will be established for competition purposes, i.e., a "nontuned" division and a "tuned" division. 2. They will not be allowed in normal competition at all. 3. A proper handicap will be established (20 to 25 %).



Posted September 20, 2014

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