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What I Need To Know About Flying In A Scale Contest.

Compiled from AMA and Scale Masters contest rules
     By: Ed Clayman


The intention of the flying portion of a contest is to determine a pilot’s ability to fly the model aircraft in the most realistic manner possible. The AMA and U.S. Scale Masters scale contest processes differ in just a few ways. The significant difference is Scale Masters emphasizes maneuver combinations wherein the mechanical operations (flaps, bomb drop, & retracts) must be combined with a flight maneuver to demonstrate its use in a realistic manner contributing to prototypical flight realism. Both AMA and Scale Masters recommend that a theme or mission be established in choosing flight maneuvers so the flight routine's order is easier to track by judges and is more pleasing to watch. 

While the overall content of this resource is designed to provide specific facts and requirements, these change from time to time in % of their value to a competitor's score. Like all rules and guidelines...rarely do they stay a set way for long.
Participant's are responsible for obtaining a copy of the current rules of the organization conducting any event to assure current requirements are adhered to. Absolutely nothing is worse than a competitor arriving at a contest without having read the protocol for the event and armed with questions to be answered by the responsible parties (typically referenced as the Contest Director.

Emphasis is placed on scale realism so contestants beware, your choice of aircraft type will determine the maneuver parameters (speed, geometry, & positioning aka placement) with respect to the judges centerline. Contestants should indicate aircraft type (designated either Aerobatic capable or Non-Aerobatic) by checking the appropriate box on the flight score sheet, if present. To document maneuvers not contained in a Comp Guide, a Maneuver Declaration Sheet will need to be submitted to the CD for acceptance signature then it is presented to flight judges before each flight round.

The Flight Judge will not downgrade items that are beyond the pilots control such as when a tailskid aircraft is slowing down from a landing and at the point where the model "takes control" and turns into the prevailing wind. The judge will stop judging at the point the model takes over and determine the score. This is also true during bumpy wind conditions or when flying over thermals and the aircraft appears to be bumped around. The judge will be familiar with certain areas of the flying field that exhibit unstable conditions when scoring.

Tailskid aircraft will be allowed to attach a non-scale functional tailwheel for flying off of paved surfaces only.

With the exception of electric motors and turbine aircraft, the engine must be equipped with an effective muffler or silencer to limit noise. Tuned pipes are considered silencers.

Each maneuver will start with a score of 10 points and the Flight Judge will deduct for errors noted during the execution of the maneuver. Errors will include mismatches noticed in Precision, Placement, and Realism for each maneuver. Judges need not arrive at the exact same score with each score however they can observe each others scores to see if they are consistent.

Flight judges will confer on the Overall Flight Realism qualities. Identical scoring is not required between flight judges.

 Replacement parts to damaged aircraft are limited to props, spinners, wheels, tires, landing gear units, cowls, canopy, tail wheel units, antenna, flying wires, struts, and wingtips as long as the replacements are of the same size, shape and color. Anything else will need to be repaired and retained as original equipment by the modeler.

Maneuver scoring content: Maneuvers and "maneuver combinations" with scale operations will be scored for three basic content considerations as listed below. These are similar to those found in the AMA Competition Regulations Rules Governing Model Aviation Competition in the United States, except provision is made in Scale Masters for "maneuver combinations" and each content is quantified.
The three contents are:

Scale Masters
Point Distribution
(subject to constant review and change)
Maximum of 5.0 points
Maximum of 2.5 points
Maximum of 2.5 points
per maneuver.

The content elements are scored to the nearest 1/2 point in Scale Masters only.
As a general guide, a maneuver is scored as in the past. A "maneuver combination" is primarily scored with equal emphasis between the maneuver and a timely added scale operation feature. This is further detailed as follows:

1. Precision Content (5 pts.): The pilot’s ability to perform the defined maneuver geometry, and when applicable, the mechanical Precision of scale operation features within a "maneuver combination".

1.1. If the maneuver does not contain a "maneuver combination", the Precision content of the maneuver will be entirely that of pilot skill, i.e. 5 point's maximum.

1.2. When brief scale operations are actively deployed within an optional "maneuver combination", the scale operation(s) Precision content will be equally divided with pilot Precision skill (or a maximum of 2.5 points each). This equal sharing of the 5 points described for total Precision which effectively shares some of the pilot Precision in maneuver geometry for a "maneuver combination" score.

1.3. Should scale operational feature(s) fail to operate or deploy in a realistic and timely manner due to either mechanical malfunction or pilot error within a "maneuver-combination", the result will be a downgrade in the score for "Precision". With this scoring method, a significant error occurring in only one portion of an optional "maneuver combination" may still leave the final score a combination of Placement and Realism instead of 0 as before.

1.4. Precision of Flaps, Slats, and Retracts is demonstrated by the prototypical operation and must be judged on the pilot’s Precision in the "Overall Flight Realism" score. Precision and reliability may also be further emphasized and demonstrated within a "maneuver combination" by selecting the optional "Slow Speed Dirty Inspection Pass". Flaps, Slats, and Retracts shall not be listed with any other maneuvers for scoring as "maneuver combinations" to dilute scoring content. 

2. Placement Content (2.5 pts.): Most in-flight maneuvers (including those with droppables) will optimally be placed directly in front of the judges (judges centerline) beginning on the far side of the active runway (maneuvering line). This will typically be at 0 to 50 feet beyond the far side of the defined runway area for fly-by type maneuvers, but may extend further depending on the horizontal size of the maneuver performed. (NOTE: For fly-by traffic separation and safety, Jet prototypes are encouraged to position their maneuvers to the outer regions described [50 to 100 feet beyond runway] and slower propeller driven aircraft to the inner regions [0 to 50 feet beyond runway]). There are times when the sun may be directly in front of the judges so the contestant will be allowed to offset the maneuver to either side as long as the contestant informs the judges before the flight, otherwise the judges will have to default to the judges centerline for placement.

2.1. Maneuvers with horizontal symmetry (Cuban Eight, Loop, Roll, Figure 8, etc.) should have their midpoint on the judges centerline with equal distance on each side for optimal score.

Placement content will also be divided in emphasis between the maneuver and optimum scale operation deployment position. 

2.2. Some maneuvers due to their asymmetry are offset from judging center for best viewing, such as a Stall Turn or Wingover. Also the Procedure Turn is positioned in the Scale Masters Program where the initial 90 degree turn away from the runway begins before reaching judging center, and the remaining 270 degree turn starts at judging center to the left or right. (NOTE: This is identical in desired position as the start of the mandatory figure eight for optimum judging view.)

2.3. Although the Placement of a maneuver normally represents only 2.5 points content, a greater penalty deduction will be imposed in the interest of safety when maneuvers are performed unnecessarily close to the flight line (over the runway) as described in "Runway Safety and Dead line Infractions" of this Guide. Runway "Placement-critical" maneuvers will effectively have Precision and Placement content combined for needed emphasis in scoring. For all maneuvers some severe forms of Placement problems may impair the judges ability to accurately score Precision or Realism content, in which case all score contents may suffer accordingly.

2.4. Optimum Placement of bomb drops will be defined as the point of impact in front of the judges at the far side of the defined runway. When discussed with judges prior to flight, the maneuver may be performed slightly to the left or right of the judges center line for best viewing. Relative targeting accuracy for determining Optimum Placement score will be dependent on release elevation (high level versus low level bombardment), and the typical accuracy level corresponding to that prototypical mission. Parachute or empty tank drops will be scored for Optimum Placement as point of release rather than impact, since wind conditions may unpredictably affect point of landing.

2.5. The optimum Placement of flaps, slats, and retract deployment is only included in Overall Flight Realism "Continuity" unless the optional "maneuver combination" of Slow Speed Dirty Inspection Pass is also selected.

  1. Realism Content (2.5 pts.): The Realism content of scoring is also described by the AMA Guide in rule 2.3, pp. 141-142. The following is added for further emphasis or definition. Realism content will also be approximately divided in emphasis between maneuver and scale operation when applicable to a "maneuver combination". The Realism content of the score is based upon the pilots skill to perform only those maneuvers capable of the full size aircraft in a manner as if watching the prototype in actual flight. The size, shape, and speed of aerobatic maneuvers performed by a contestant should reflect the capabilities of the full size prototype. For example, it would be expected that a loop performed by a J-3 Cub would be smaller in diameter and egg-shaped compared to a P-51 Mustang if both models were of the same scale. The speed at which such maneuvers are performed should also reflect the capabilities of the prototype. Consideration should also be given to throttle position during aerobatics. In many full-scale prop driven aircraft, power must be reduced at the point of maximum altitude in a vertical maneuver before entry into the descent portion. Execution of such maneuvers by a model at a constant full throttle setting should be downgraded in Realism portion.

    1. Consider the stability or "smoothness" aspects of each maneuver as well as the power management (throttle) expected for that specific maneuver of the model compared to its full size counterpart. Both of these considerations will be influenced by aircraft design and wind conditions. Since slow, light-weight aircraft will be much more visibly influenced by wind than fast heavier aircraft, wind conditions should be taken into account during judging.

    1. Maneuvers should appear realistic in scale size of performance (site and conditions permitting). Attitude, bank angle and g-loading appearance through turns should be consistent with those generally observed in the full-size. With scale-size maneuvers, these prototypical attitude features are achieved through use of an optimum speed relationship to the full size aircraft.

      Kent Walter's Scale Speed Click Here 
      To Calculate Scale Speed Click Here
    1. Realism content of a "maneuver combination" will also have approximately the same emphasis between the maneuver and the accompanying scale operation feature regarding realistic motion or other intended activity displayed for Realism. For dropables, this will include the manner in which it was secured and carried in flight to point of release or the trajectory likeness to that of the full size. A particular maneuver may be downgraded for Realism content if it is apparent it exceeded the performance capabilities of its full size counterpart. Maneuvers that have been classified only for non-aerobatic aircraft will still be judged for all maneuver contents without downgrade for all aircraft. However, the "Overall Flight Realism" score may be penalized if such maneuvers were chosen as options by high performance aircraft.

Flight Competition Pt 2
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