If you became involved with the
Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and its annual Nationals Aeromodeling
Championships (Nats) contest anytime after 1995, then you never were part of the
crowd that chased the venues around the country from year to year. Although
headquarters had been located in Washington, D.C., and then Reston,
Virginia, prior to then the Nats organizers attempted to hold the contest in
East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast areas. Doing so helped to spread out the
hassle involved in packing up models and equipment and traveling all the way
across the country every year. The current Muncie, Indiana, location was chosen
specifically to provide a centralized spot with easy access, relatively decent
weather, and with real estate cheap enough to procure a very large parcel of
land. The 1974 Nats was held in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which though centrally
located, is extremely hot and humid in the middle of summer. Things went well
enough during the 1974 Nats, presented here, but next year, also at Lake
Charles, was a miserably hot and rainy time. Nevertheless, the AMA elected to
hold the Nats again in Lake Charles in 1978 and 1986. Here is a list of
AMA Nats venues from 1932 through today.
AMA Nationals 1974: Control Line Scale
by Mike Stott
There were some new faces and new airplanes around the CL section of the scale
cage this year. Most outstanding from a scale fidelity standpoint was Bill Koster's
sensational Dornier DO 335A-O. Eleven years went into the construction of the push-pull
fighter. Operating features included flaps, bomb drop with bomb bay doors, retracting
gear with functional shocks and wheel brakes. The fine details of access doors,
machine guns, dummy engines and the aluminum covering were amazing.
During research for accurate information, so much data was collected that he
was able to draw his own three-views which, along with his historical material,
have been published in Air Combat and other magazines.
Soon after arriving at Chennault, Bill ran across an old flying buddy, Ralph
Burnstine. When Ralph heard that Bill hadn't been doing any flying for two years,
he dug out an old Corsair from his car and helped out, in a typical scale flying
gesture, with some practice flying sessions to get Bill ready for the big day.
The Dornier had two engines installed, but to get the CG in the right place for
proper balance, the rear Supertigre 19 with an 8" extension shaft had to be removed,
leaving an Enya 45 in the nose. In the flight circle, this wasn't enough power to
lift the 7 1/2 lb. airplane off safely, and Bill wisely decided not to take off.
Since he didn't get in a qualifying flight, the scale score was not announced, but
it had to have been the highest of any scale model at the NATS. We will have to
look out for him when he gets the Dornier flying.
Eleven years in the building, Bill Koster's DO 335A-O was unveiled
at the NATS. Since it didn't make an official flight, its static score was not posted.
An elegant racer won CL Scale. Ernie Violett's deHavilland Comet
"88" also captured the Sterling Award for best scale model.
Bill Rutherford almost completed a loop with his Yak 18. The
Sheik is Duke Fox, discussing what all sheiks discuss ... fuel!
Mike Stott's Meyers 145 could have done much better had it not
been for some sour engine runs.
After long and arduous work, our photographer finally got the
entire CL Stand-Off Scale contingent together. Left to right, they are Lew McFarland,
with Lew's Akromaster (see this issue of AAM), and Mike Stott with his Tigercat.
Bright red and beautiful is the way to describe Ernie Violett's new deHaviliand
Comet "88" racer. It not only ended up in first place in CL Scale Open, but took
home the Sterling Award for the best scale model, any class - plus a check for 100
bucks, the only cash prize of the NATS.
The finish was polyester resin over lightweight glass cloth on the planked areas.
The rib stitches on the fabric covered parts were the best I have ever seen. The
canopy opens and flaps are fitted. It took two years to build the 7 1/4 lb. model,
then one more year to repair and refinish after a test flight that was a success
until the gear wouldn't come down. The neat, white, "Dunlop" brand name lettering
on the wheels was accomplished in a simple fashion. He had a rubber stamp of the
logo made and used that to imprint the tires. The Comet flew well in the gusts at
Lake Charles and he took and held the lead without having to use his retract gear.
Ralph Burnstine returned with his Thorp T-18, flush riveted and with other small
details included since last year, to place third. One clever trick was the way he
got the trademark on the Du-Bro tires used on his model. PVC repair liquid for Naugahyde upholstery (obtainable at auto supply stores) was applied to the tire
with a hypodermic needle. After drying, it was heat-treated with a MonoKote iron
and literally became part of the tire - the "Goodyear" looking like it had been
molded in when the tire was made. Ralph thinks that special tread designs can also
be done this way.
Another returning model was my battle-scarred Meyers 145. Just before the NATS
I put in a new electrical control system using insulated lines and servos to control
the Webra 61 throttle, Rom-Air retract gear and flaps. Unfortunately, I didn't get
it to flying as well as I would have liked, but it did go from fourth in static
judging to second place in the final results by making the best score during flight
judging. (Someday I will get that thing to land!)
Tom Fluker had a cute little P-40 that flew well in the wind, but he needed more
options and placed fourth. Bill Rutherford's fifth-place Yak 18 was a smooth and
steady performer. After a safe flight in the first round he decided to go for broke,
and in the second round tried a loop. A couple of inches more and he would have
had it made, but the nose gear caught the ground and ended the flight. He told me
that his next maneuver would have been inverted flight. Maybe next year we'll see
In Senior CL Scale, Cathy Burnstine won with a Thorp T-18, almost as good looking
as her dad's and with a better flight. (Ralph had some motor trouble.) Dan Arhelger
flew his Spirit of St. Louis Ryan NYP to second spot in Senior. Junior CL Scale
went to Bruce Matthews and his familiar Volksplane.
CL Sport Scale, in its first year in the rule book, was a great disappointment
with only two entries. They were closely flown and made an interesting combination.
Lew McFarland had a semi-scale Akromaster stunter and did a lot of precision aerobatics
for his points. My scale Grumman Tigercat, using electrical controls and insulated
lines, went the mechanical options route by dropping the gas tank, retracting the
gear and using flaps, winning first.
When I proposed this event for the rule book I thought that, considering the
large number of semi-scale stunters around, it would take right off. It has at local
meets. Maybe next year we can have people like Al Rabe, who design their stunters
more toward scale than semi, get into the act. Sport Scale, which is easier to run
for contest officials and doesn't need so much detail, is really catching on in
RC, and there isn't any reason it shouldn't do the same in CL, given time to get
Cathy Burnstine fires up her Thorp-18 for a first-place win in
Senior CL Scale.
Posted October 3, 2020