Archive for October, 2014


Guidelines for Spectators

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2014 by propblocks

My first time at West Baden two years ago, I lost an F1D to a spectator who grabbed it out of the air after a prop tuck.

Flying there was wonderful – lots of questions, lots of interest from the dozens of spectators. At the time I thought we should really have something posted that explained what we were doing. Even better, if we had posted information at all of the entrances and included a table set up with different model classes. We could have used the time for education and potential new flyer recruitment. Informed spectators may not destroy more models.

Earlier this year I found myself again at West Baden. And realized that even though I had talked about this to several other flyers, none of us done anything to make it happen. Nick pushed me a bit, I wrote something up and got some feedback. It sat again for several months until Nick pushed me again. I approached a co-worker who really is a great wordsmith and asked her for help. The promise of homemade cookies probably helped. So with special thanks to Elizabeth Harmon Miller for her edits, and to Nick for keeping at me, this is what I came up with. Feel free to edit, personalize and use at any indoor flying event.


Welcome to the wonderful world of Indoor free-flight model airplanes.
We are hosting a competition here today. To the ____________ you can see some example models of various classes.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics has created classifications based on ceiling heights. This building is a Category ____ site, with a ceiling height of ________ feet. (Add comment: The West Baden Springs Hotel atrium is considered to be one of the premier Cat3 sites in the world.)
We love to talk about our models, and of course you can take pictures.
Maybe you’re wondering …
What are the model planes made of?
The models are built with balsa wood, and most are covered in a thin Mylar film. Some use bracing wire made out of tungsten that is 1/3rd the size of a human hair. Some use composites like carbon or boron fiber.
How are the models powered and controlled?
All of them are powered by rubber bands and, once we launch them, we can’t control them. We are allowed to steer, however, and you might see folks use balloons or long fishing poles to do this. We also use them to retrieve models that occasionally get stuck. Please excuse us if we suddenly walk away from a conversation to steer; things can change rather quickly.
Why do the props turn so slow?
Because the models are very light, the propellers are very large, and there isn’t that much turning force in a tiny band of rubber.
Where can you buy these models?
You can’t buy them, so we have to design and build them ourselves. Some models can take up to 60 hours to build and fly at walking speed. If you see us shuffling along with a large model, it is because walking too quickly can destroy it. That’s how fragile they are.
How do you win the competition?
The model that stays in flight for the longest time wins. {enter details about most impressive current records}
Guidelines for spectators:
• Look but please do not touch.
• Walk slowly and look around for models.
• It is best to let a model crash. Please do not try to catch or grab a model.
• When you see someone launching a model, give them some room. Some folks are trying to set U.S. or even World Records here today.

If a collision between you and a flying model is unavoidable, please stand still and let it hit you. You will not be hurt, and you’ll have a terrific story to tell about the time you survived a plane crash. Let the model come to rest on the ground and the owner pick it up.