What Went Wrong at Kiev?
January/February 1963 American Modeler Article
There were no punches pulled in this article subtitled, "Why America's Control-Line Teams Flubbed so Badly at Russian-Run F.A.I. World Championships," that appeared in the January/February edition of American Modeler. The author is not named, but whoever wrote it was obviously highly perturbed at the USA's showing - or lack thereof. He roundly criticizes both speed and stunt teams and individual flyers for a very weak showing in the 1962 FAI international control-line championships at Kiev, the Ukraine, a former member of the now-defunct USSR. Unlike today's environment where everyone - even the losers - must be coddled and reminded how special he is, USA team participants and those whom he believed should have vied for a position on the team are repeatedly accused of being afraid of the competition. Having to accommodate the FAI's rules departures from the AMA's rules is presumably the reason for lack of interest in the event. The author suggests that, indeed, the AMA might someday adopt those rules here at home, so those who are already up on the particulars will have an advantage.
January / February 1963 American Modeler
[Table of Contents
Aircraft modeling has undergone significant changes over the
decades - both in technology and preferences. Magazines like American Aircraft Modeler, and American Modeler before that,
were the best venues for capturing snapshots of the status quo of the day. Still, many things never change, so much of
the old content is relevant to today's modeler.
Whether you are here to wax nostalgic, or are just interested in
learning history, hopefully you will find what you are seeking. As time permits, I will be glad to scan articles for you.
All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Well, as it turns out, not only are the FAI competitions still unlike AMA competitions in a lot of ways, but the AMA has recently publically considered removing itself from the FAI contest realm because of difficult relations with its governing body and for the very high membership costs.
One possibility not considered by the author as a reason for lack of top competitors is that at the time the Iron Curtain was still up and a lot of the modeling community was employed by the military, government research facilities, or defense contractors and therefore would not have been able to visit a Communist country like the Ukraine.
What Went Wrong at Kiev?
Why America's Control-Line Teams Flubbed so Badly at Russian-Run F.A.I. World Championships
An A.M. "International" Report
Why didn't the U.S. do better at Kiev in the Control-line Championships? There are several reasons. Chief and most important factor is the lack of interest shown by majority of the competitive control-line flyers here.
This lack of interest is surprising, considering the benefits derived from FAI participation. These benefits extend beyond a trip to Europe for the successful flyers. The information gathered from FAI competition is directly applicable to AMA jobs. The FAI approach is different enough to point up any shortcomings in the usual AMA-style Speed or Team Racer. The speed model to·FAI specs is a better flyer than the "semi-stabilized engine" AMA type. This also applies to the Team Racers. With but half the power in a larger plane, they are as fast as the AMA jobs.
Admittedly, the events are unpopular because they differ from the normal AMA events, by model or engine specifications. However, if you are able to read the handwriting on the wall, such planes and engine specs may be adopted officially over here. In that case, the people with prior FAI experience would have a large advantage over the newcomer. For example, 5 of the six International Team Race groups have come from the Washington, D.C. area. These fellows started flying as soon as the rules were established for the 1960 World Champs, late in 1959. They ran the first FAI Race in January '60. Look back through Model Aviation for the past two years and count the FAI races held in the country. Note almost all were held in D.C.
The vast number of engines, fuels and models tried in this area gave them the lead. They still hold it. The first four places at the Nats in FAI Team were won by East Coast Flyers. Any other section of the country could have done the same. The fellows in D.C. felt the effort was worth it, why don't you?
The story in Speed is almost the same, with even less of an excuse. The airplane does so little in the final analysis, it can't be said its unique size is the reason for the lack of competition. Here the West Coast has dominated the event, with Huntsville, Ala., sending its representative twice. There is no reason why the Team has to be made up of the same people every time. Since speed is almost all engine for determination of performance, experience in AMA Speed is directly applicable. Perhaps the competition is too tough?
There is no excuse at all for the pitiful showing in Stunt. Only in the Cleveland area is there any real American competition. No one else seems to be able to fly his AMA Stunt ship in the AMA pattern to qualify for a trip overseas. Again, the competition must be too tough. I know there is almost no interest on the East Coast. People who could have done well didn't even bother to find out when the qualification flying was to be held. Must the Stunt flyers be lead by the hand to the jumping off place for the free trip?
It looks like the U.S. will have to be content with 3rd place or less ... and in events which originated here! It's good the R/C and F/F boys have some slight interest in this type of worldwide competition!
The following is a composite report from AM. observers in Russia. - Paul Burke, Chairman, AMA Control Line Chairman.
Two perfect circles, surfaced with tar macadam and surrounded by three-metre-high safety fences, laid out in the amusement park on an island in the middle of the Dnieper River in Kiev, were the scene of the Control Line World Championship last September 1 thru 7, organized by the Central Aero Club of the U.S.S.R. There was no room anywhere for practice flying during the contest itself, a sad omission for a World Championship where competitors from other lands had too little opportunity to acclimatize themselves to changed conditions. The American Team in these circumstances was wise to arrive a few days early and devote these to practice. Other teams who followed instructions to the letter and arrived on September 1st were at a disadvantage.
Three World Championships were decided at this "Meeting": Stunt, Speed and Team Racing. Stunt and Speed were run on Sunday September 2 from midday to 4 p.m., on Monday from 10 a.m. until failing light called a halt just after 8 p.m., and on Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Team Racing was confined to Wednesday September 5.
Thursday was devoted to sightseeing tours of Kiev and a boat trip down the Dnieper river, with the final Banquet and presentation of awards that evening in the Moscow Hotel where all the competitors had been accommodated throughout the Meet.
The first few flights in Stunt on Sunday were run off during a downpour so heavy that at times the judges were hard pressed to keep their eyes on the model. The organizers had made no provision for wet weather so the judges were soaked to the skin within minutes. Luckily the weather cleared and rest of the Competition was held in brilliant hot sunshine.
At the end of the first complete Round it was evident that there had been a terrific improvement in the standard of flying not only among the "Iron Curtain" countries but also by some of the Scandinavians - Juhadi Kari of Finland, sixteen, showing wonderful promise. In contrast the American Stunt fliers disappointed many in being no better than the team which represented the U.S.A. in Budapest in 1960. In fact, they did not seem to be quite as polished.
Silhavy undoubtedly made the best F.A.I. pattern flight in this Round. His loops were more symmetrical and better placed for consistency in height than his team mates. The intersection of his eights were also good and his double wingover clean and effective. His score of 892 seemed a little low but compared fairly with Southwick's 857 and Williams' 846 points.
Grondal, the reigning Belgian Champion flew well to score 930 but his deceptively relaxed style deceived many of the "unofficial judges" outside the circle into thinking that he had been overmarked.
Egervary of Hungary flew a really beautiful pattern and well deserved his 926. In fact, his flight and Grondal's seemed better, smoother, and tidier than that of the Russian Champion Sirotkine who topped Round One with 949.
It was apparent that the slower flying models were going to enjoy a great advantage, especially when it came to flying square maneuvers of the A.M.A. pattern. Sirotkine was especially effective in this respect. He flew the whole pattern in a steady fourstroke indicating a lightly loaded model with ample reserve of power. Grondal, too, had a model that refused to "wind-up" when the motor broke into a clean two-stroke. Members of the British Team flew about as well as they did at home, but were just not in the top class in this gathering.
Top ten at the end of round one were:
Scores in Round Two were almost without exception better than in One. Whether this was a genuine improvement in flying or less stringent judging was difficult to assess. An air of partisanship by some of the judges was already making itself felt and murmurs of dissatisfaction were beginning to be expressed by many participants.
Sirotkine's Round score of 1,009, an increase of 60, seemed extravagant. Such an improvement in the quality of his flight was hard to .discern.
Juhadi of Finland who flew beautifully could register no more than 923. Grondal's flight was all that one expects from a World Champion: beautifully rounded loops and eights with good symmetry, accurately placed intersections. He made 983. Silhavy flew a lot better and his improvement was really noticeable. Pull-out height from maneuvers was better and more consistent. Loops seemed a little smaller. Inverted flying was near to perfect and he excelled on take-off and landing. He scored 945, 53 points over Round One, placing fourth in the Second. This looked more hopeful. Southwick improved by 56 points and Williams by 22, but only Silhavy was still in the running. Higgs of Great Britain was the most improved in this Round upping his 724 to 885, yet none of the British fliers looked like a potential winner at any time, nor did the Team rate consideration although they were consistent.
Round two ended as follows:
Seeger (W. Germany)
Now came Round Three for those who in the first two had made a combined score of 1,600 points or more; 22 competitors out of 42 starters went into Round 3. And then arose an argument among the judges as to the correct method of scoring! The interim arrangements for the 1962 Championship called for the adoption of the "A.M.A. Maneuvers" for the Third Round, and the Chairman of the Control-line Sub-Committee of the C.I.A.M. had circulated copies of the diagrams of the A.M.A. Maneuvers to National Aero Clubs in support of this edict.
It was evident that these diagrams had not been reproduced and circulated by all the national aero clubs concerned, with the result that many of the competitors knew the stunts only by name from the printed schedule and were not aware of any requirement for entry into, and exit from, individual figures.
After considerable discussion three judges were in favor of relaxing the "entry" and "exit" requirement and two were opposed. Had there been a proper briefing of the judges and team managers before the meet and a properly constituted and competent "International Jury", this question would probably have been resolved differently. So it was that some who flew the last Round could feel that they were being penalized by a relaxing of the rules for others. (More regarding this particular point later.)
The performance in Round Three which drew the greatest acclaim - from those who really knew something about stunt flying - was by the sixteen year old Finn, Juhadi Kari. This was as near perfection as is humanly possible. His square maneuvers had to be seen to be believed. He flew his Veco powered T-bird in a manner than would have gladdened the heart of Bob Palmer. Thus it was most difficult to see how his 965 in this Round placed him second to Kondratenko of the USSR team who gained first with a good 992 flight, but nothing to compare with Juhadi's flying.
Sirotkine ruined his chances of certain victory by doing his triangles out of sequence and ahead of his square loops, losing all points for both sets of figures. His 862 gained him fifth overall.
Warburton of G.B. made his best flight scoring 937 ... his squares and triangles were well above average and his pull-out height marvelously consistent at two metres.
American scores were disappointing in this round. With their long experience in the A.M.A. pattern they had been expected to rack up a big total. Williams did improve greatly with 896, fairly close to Silhavy's 904. Grondal flew a new model with a wide-spread landing gear as being better suited for the A.M.A. pattern, but his performance, high as it was, did not equal his second F.A.I. flight.
Final scores for the top twenty:
F.A.I. A.M.A. Total
Grondal (Belgium) 983 944 1927
Kari (Finland) 923 865 1888
Kondratenko (USSR) 895 992 1887
Bartos (Czechoslovakia). 945 930 1875
Sirotkine (USSR) 1009 862 1871
Egervary (Hungary) 947 911 1858
Simonov (USSR) 899 951 1850
SILHAVY (USA) 945 904 1849
Seeger (W. Germany). 922 925 1847
Gabris (Czechoslovakia) 922 889 1811
Warburton (GB) 870 937 1807
SOUTHWICK (USA) 913 875 1788
Brown (GB) 906 873 1779
Masznyik (Hungary) 901 878 1779
WILLIAMS (USA) 868 896 1764
Higgs (GB) 885 875 1760
Herber (Czechoslovakia) 874 850 1724
Bjornwall (Sweden) 880 831 1711
Kaminski (W. Germany) 861 844 1705
Sundell (Finland) 865 839 1704
Leading planes and engines were:
Two models both O/D ("original design") fitted with Fox 35's
T·Bird; Veco 35
O/D; Russian Kometa 35 motor
O/D; M.V.V.S. 35
O/D; M.V.V.S. 35
OlD; Veco 35
O/D; Kometa 35
Nobler; Fox 35
Nobler; Enya 35
O/D; scale-like Jap "Tony"; Merco 35
O/D; McCoy 35
O/D; "Coy Lady"; Merco 35
O/D; Moki M.2 35
O/D semi-scale Caudron; Fox 35
Totaled team results gave the Russians first place.
Great Britain .......................5346
West Germany ...................5240
The Speed Championship which was run concurrently with the Stunt in the upper circle was anything but a happy occasion for the American Team. Nor indeed for the British or some of the other visiting groups. First comment from many pilots was that their speeds were about ten m.p.h. less than usual with the fuel provided and this seemed to be a general complaint. The Hungarians found the Russian fuel acceptable, however. Hungarian Team Manager, Rudi Beck, veteran of many World Championships was understandably delighted that his team developed an extra five m.p.h, This fuel question is one that the F.A.I. control line Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Ron Moulton will have to ponder for future Championships.
From a 41 competitor total only thirteen racked up 200 K.P.H. or more. Three posted no score at all when they failed to make a timed flight in each of three Rounds.
The Americans had more zeros than one would expect from such .an experienced team. Lauderdale suffered a broken Mono-line control in Round One and although the model was not seriously damaged it was recorded as zero. In Round Two he notched 194 and third time around, 209. Schuette did not get a flight in either One or Three, his only score being 205. Carpenter, never hitting his stride, attained 193 in One and had dolly troubles in the other Rounds. There was also an unfortunate misunderstanding between the American Team Manager and the speed circle officials over an interpretation of the rules governing attempts. This resulted from earlier, incorrect instructions given out at the Team Managers briefing.
The British Team were well down on their home speeds. Drewell using a new single-line handle for practice flying had the control lock solid. This resulted in a mighty splash which broke his model in half. An overnight fiberglass repair job was completed and the American Team members offered any of their handles. With one he reached 198 in Round Three. Two of the British Carter Special engines were ruined through lack of proper lubrication, quantities of conrod pouring out of the exhaust ports!
The Hungarians, meantime, were -again demonstrating their slick technique by putting in consistently high speeds. Obviously they were after the individual and team awards and they captured both.
Krizsma turned in speeds of 211, 204 and 218 K.P.H. while his teammate Toth registered 200, 211 and 210.
Italy's Ricci was one of the few to get his highest speed in round one. His 214 gained him second place. Both Prati and Grandesso of Italy had take-off troubles and turned in only two speeds, their best being 209 and 205 respectively.
It was obvious that some type of mono-line was needed. The most successful handles had been developed with the control helix at right angles to the line and the entire control system behind the pylon as required in the current F.A.I. regulations.
One team employed one-line handles with a spigot enabling them to be rested in the fork on the pylon just like a standard two-line handle. This gave much steadier control as well as avoiding any possibility of being accused of whipping ... still very much a controversial point with some teams. It seems likely that we shall see a lot of new speed handles of this type in the future.
A point of considerable contention around the speed circle concerned the accuracy of the timekeeping. Speeds taken by the three official timekeepers generally were 5 k.p.h. below those obtained by experienced speed men with their own watches. When the unofficial timekeepers all agreed within a tenth of a second and word circulated that there was some variation in the official watches and that the three officials registered times were being averaged, dissatisfaction was understandable.
The Russians were never in the running as indicated by these results recorded by the top twelve.
Team racing, conducted on the last day, was the most controversial contest. One well-known T/R pilot with .ten years of successful flying to his credit summed it up: "If this is Team Racing I might as well take up bull-fighting".
Certainly many of the pilots had little idea of what was required of them as far as high flying or conduct in the center of the circle. There was continuing, and in some cases deliberate interference with other pilots which was often overlooked by the judges.
There was an excellent system of warning lights under the lap counting clocks at the side of the circuit. A green light for the first warning, yellow for a second, and a red light for a third and final offense which brought disqualification. But these warnings were not used impartially. The biased judging would not have been permitted at most club contests!
Against this background experienced teams became quite despondent. Their chances of success were dependent on whether they drew two pilots who would fly fairly, or two who would bump and bore their way through the heat unpenalized.
Stockton and Jehlik showed the most promise in their first heat with 5:38 which placed them 20th. But in their second heat Stockton missed seeing another model when looking into a low sun; his chance for a much better time was ruined by a spectacular crash when the two models locked together after a middair collision.
The Edwards-Edwards team's times of 5:54 and 6:35 were not in the running. 4:40 was the mark the experts had been forecasting for some time as essential at this Championship, and this proved to be about right.
Sirotkine of U.S.S.R. scored a zero in his first heat due to a ground collision, but notched a magnificent 4:38 in heat two, due largely to the expert work of his mechanic Chkourski whose efforts were an eye-opener to many present. Most Sirotkine pit stops were under four seconds.
Gelman-Radtchenko of the U.S.S.R. returned times of 4:57 and 4:41 to earn a place in the final, the third finalists being Purgei-Katona of Hungary who scored one time of 5:40 and a zero due to a crash in heat two.
The best British team was Long and Davy. In their first heat they had not quite got things sorted out and returned a time of 5:06. In their second heat they had covered the half distance in 2:05 and 68 laps on the first tankful. Then at their only pit stop the model struck Long's leg hard and half the wing broke away from the fuselage. Such is the luck in Team Racing.
The "final" produced a high pitch of excitement - especially among a partisan crowd who was cheering every move that Sirotkine made - that has not been duplicated at any other Championship.
Without doubt Sirotkine had the fastest model continually passing both Gelman and Purgai. Even so it was obvious that he was flying unnecessarily high. In Great Britain or Belgium, hotbeds of continental team racing, he would have been penalized. Purgai failed to finish; he did not restart after his first pit stop. This made it easier for Sirotkine who then had only one pilot to fly against.
Not a satisfactory World Championship - mostly due to lack of experience in this event by the officials concerned.
Final results were:
Sirotkine-Chkourski USSR 4:38 4:48
Gelman-Ratchenko USSR 4:41 4:52
Purgai.Katona Hungary 4:40 0
Bjork-Rosenlund Sweden 4:44
Uhl.llg W. Germany 4:49
Rosier-Malik W. Germany 4:51
O. Sundell-G. Sundell Finland 4:55
Davy-Long GB 5:06
Lerf-Frigyes Hungary 5:08
Grondal·Lecuyer Belgium 5:08
Trnka-Drazek . Czech 5:09
Richter-Turk Austria 5:14
Gurtler·Klemm Czech 5:15
Schlucter-Fromm W. Germany 5:15
Berglund·Kjeliberg Sweden 5:17
Babitchev-Krasnoroutski USSR 5:16
Smith-Edmonds GB 5:20
Vassilev-Vlaitchev Bulgaria 5:21
Bugl-Kirchert Austria 5:30
STOCKTON-JEHLlK USA 5:38
Alseby-Bjornwall Sweden 5:35
Czifra-Viszmeg Hungary 5:47
Adams-Lucas GB 5:49
EDWARDS-EDWARDS USA 5:54
Main lesson to be learned from this Championship is that good ground organization, with comfortable accommodation, adequate transport facilities, a fine flying site (but without any practice circles), and a host of officials including interpreters for every team is not enough.
The main essential is a hard core of experienced and knowledgeable officials and judges to run the events ACCORDING TO THE BOOK. As one competitor observed, "I'd sooner attend a World Championship in a school yard, live in a tent, yet have men running it who know what they are doing, than have a load of facilities that the officials waste because they don't know their jobs."
Certainly the standard of judging and application of F.A.I. rules left much to be desired. There was no competent International Jury consisting of three National representatives from the C.I.A.M, as decreed by the F.A.I. The Russian C.I.A.M. member, Sokolov, was absent because of illness, his place was taken by Yermakoff. Czerny, the second member of the Jury tried desperately to fulfill the functions of a Jury on his own - a vote of thanks is due to him for trying to carry out an impossible task. Charles Hennecart, the new Director of the F.A.I. who takes office in January, was present and the Russian officials asked him to serve on the jury. He made it quite clear to them that he was not competent to do so and resolutely refused. Despite this the Central Aero Club's own officials persistently referred to him as a jury member throughout the meeting.
The language difficulty was a very serious one. For example the "count-down" for the start of the Team Racing heats was at first given in Russian with no visual signal. Only after a vigorous protest with pointed reference to the F.A.I. Sporting Code was it arranged that a flag signal should be given as per the rules.
Throughout the five days of the Meet there was a sad lack of communication between the officials and the teams. Often they did not know what was going on and had to send their interpreters out foraging for information that should have been disseminated as a matter of routine. Briefings before the meet were totally inadequate.
TThe Russians seemed to have forgotten that the official languages of the F.A.I. are French and English. It became evident that a higher priority was being given to making announcements over the P.A. system in Russian for the benefit of the spectators than in either French or English for the competitors. The resulting frustration mounted until the free-world teams and their managers became convinced that they were being neglected deliberately,
Complaints made, with justification, to officials at the circles were brushed aside and ignored. Usually the official concerned did not know the regulations as well as he should have and consequently did not realize that the complaint being presented was both pertinent and reasonable.
No doubt many of these points will be considered by the F.A.I. Control-line Sub-Committee for future reference, We can only hope the Kiev debacle will lead to better and more acceptable regulations for future World Championships.
Consider the experience of M. Bienvenu of Belgium, Chief Team Racing Timekeeper. At the conclusion of the final he impounded the engines and tanks from the three models concerned for checking capacities as required by the regulations. As he left the flying site to perform these tests he was confronted by Yermakoff, the Russian Jury member, who took the tanks and engines away from his saying that "no such check was necessary." In the face of such conduct it is difficult to label Yermakoff a responsible official.
And this could have been such a wonderful Championship! What a pity that there should have been so much to mar its enjoyment.