Soaring History Part 3
Silver Springs NSS Meeting
A meeting of the NSS Board of Directors was held at Silver Springs Maryland
on November 23 and 24, 1974. All but two of the 12 members of the board
were present or represented by proxies, a very good turnout considering
everybody had to pay their own expenses. Major items of business involved
changes to the NSS Constitution resulting from the open meeting of the 1974
Soaring Symposium at the SOAR Nats, establishing rules for radio control
soaring, and conduct of the Nats.
AMA president Johnny Clemens and AMA Executive Director John Worth attended
the afternoon session on November 23. After much discussion with John
Worth, it was agreed that the NSS would run soaring events at the 1975 Nats
to be held at Lake Charles, Louisiana with the AMA providing site,
facilities, winches, and administrative assistance. The S.O.A.R. club
would again host a 1975 SOAR Nationals at McNeese University, however AMA
would provide no funds or assistance. As it turned out, the Lake Charles
soaring events received very little assistance either. Soaring was to
remain a neglected stepchild to other AMA events for many years.
Soaring rules occupied most of the weekend, both at the meeting and at
meals. A set of rules had been submitted by LSF and accepted as
provisional rules while several other groups had submitted also proposals
for various soaring tasks. LSF had established five tasks for conducting
contests in 1970. These included ten minute duration, three for 15, two
minute precision, distance, and speed. These tasks evolved into the T1,
T4, T5, T7, and T8 task in the current rules book. Other groups has
submitted similar rules, however the LSF were the most used. Two events
added from other proposals were Simple Duration (T2) and Precision Duration
(T3). Triathalon (T6) was not added until 1976.
In 1972, LSF tasks were used for the SOAR Nats. West coast contests were
often multitask contests often including speed and distance while the ECSS
contests were more often a simple duration event. Some groups preferred to
fly only duration with a 3 minute grace period in which to try for a
landing while others tried to discourage hard landings by using a landing
judge to give penalties for "non scale landings". The general opinion was
that soaring should not use judges. If it can't be measured with a stop
watch or tape measure, then it doesn't belong in the rules book.
Provisional FAI rules had been released in 1970 and there was a suggestion
that AMA rules be tied to FAI and any changes be automatically incorporated
into AMA soaring tasks. Opposition to this proposal was almost
unanimous. As a result, the title of the basic 10-minute duration event
was changed from FAI Duration to International Duration.
There was much discussion about adding proficiency classes as used in
Aerobatic contests, however there was little support for including them in
the official rules book. In the end, NSS voted against proficiency classes.
About the only thing arousing much controversy was the definition of
Standard class. Standard class was defined as having a 100-inch span with
no other restrictions by the short lived National Radio Control Soaring
Society in 1970. This definition was picked up by the LSF and carried over
to the SOAR Nats in 1972. In 1973, the ECSS decided that they wanted a low
cost class for beginner and restricted standard class to rudder and
elevator only. Nobody noticed that there were no two channel radios on the
market so every radio used for their standard class had at least three
channels. After much haggling, the NSS decided to support the LSF
definition of Standard class since that was what was used in most of the
In 1974, the Radio Control Contest Board (RCCB) voted on all AMA contest
rules for every RC event. Separate contest boards for RC Aerobatics, RC
Pylon Racing, and RC Soaring were not established until about 10 years
later. None of the Contest Board members were sailplane fliers so they
depended on the Soaring Advisory Committee and later the NSS for advice on
sailplane matters but didn't always follow their recommendations.
A rules change proposal to split Standard Class into two groups with one
being restricted to rudder and elevator only was submitted to the RCCB by
some members of the old ECSS. The RCCB went against the NSS recommendation
and accepted the proposal to split standard class. Ironically, the new
class was defined as Standard Class while the original standard class
became Modified Standard Class.
Except for Triathalon and RES, sailplane rules in the current rules book
have not changed significantly from what was recommended in the 1974 Silver
Most of what I have written so far was based on a report on soaring that I
wrote in 1977 for Jim McNeil, AMA District V VP. I concluded that report
with: "The sport of R/C soaring had overcome most of the political problems
and will continued to expand as more modelers discover the joys of chasing
the elusive thermal" Little did I suspect what was ahead for LSF and NSS
The final part will cover problems encountered in the 1980's.
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