Model Airplane Combat
The sport of model airplane combat has been around now for decades and in recent years has grown exponentially. The human race is naturally competitive and it's only natural that modelers are going to find a way to pit their flying skills against each other.
In combat, competitors tie a lengthy streamer to the rear of their model, and take to the skies in an attempt to cut their opponents streamer with their propeller or wing. Category after category has been created to allow all sorts of planes to enter combat. What used to be reserved for balsa and ply-wood built planes has now expanded to allow for much more durable RC model airplanes that are even capable of surviving mid-air collisions (sometimes!).
Balsa, Foam, and SPAD model airplanes all take to the skies to see who is Top Dog. Combat clubs can be found in just about every country on the planet. The two largest RC model airplane combat associations are the Radio Control Combat Association (RCCA) and the National Sports Combat Club (NSCC).
Just about every model airplane combat group has one thing in common. Your model airplane and you competitor's must both fall into the same category to make the combat fair. A few examples of these classes are; Slow Survivable Combat (SSC), Open Classes, and Scale. Each of these classes have strict requirements about the size of the engine used, the overall weight of the aircraft, the size of the prop, and in some cases even the shape of the fuselage must conform to the rules.
At one time model airplane combat got pretty fast and furious with high speeds and a high attrition rate as planes ploughed into each other and into the ground. The Slow Surviveable Class was developed to counter this tendency and the rules produce a big, slow flying airplane without an excess of power. As a result, this class is much more suitable for beginners, the models survive much better and can often be used for other forms of flying.
When fighting in the SSC class, a single round of combat lasts 5 minutes. You must have a .15 engine and your airplane is required to weigh no less than 2.5 pounds. There are no restrictions on your airplane's wingspan, but the overall wing area must be at least 400 square inches. All combating RC model airplanes use an unmodified Master Airscrew 8x3 prop and the maximum allowable RPM is 17,500rpm at launch. RPM testing is often performed before combat starts to make sure everyone is conforming to the rules.
The other classes of combat, Open Classes and Scale, all have different rules and restrictions regarding weight, engine, and appearance but the objective of all of them is to ensure that it is the skill of the pilot that is being tested and not the airplane.
What all of these classes do have in common is some sort of point system. Combat contestants earn points for things such as cutting their opponents streamers, continuous flying during combat, launching within the set time limit, as well as points for every foot of streamer left when landing. Points can also be deducted for not engaging an opponent in combat. Pilots that avoid fights will be penalized. If your model airplane crosses various safety lines which define the combat area this will also earn penalty deductions.
Model airplane combat whether RC or Control Line can add a very exciting element to an already enjoyable hobby. So what's holding you back? Give it a try, inquire with other flyers at your local flying field. Large combat associations might have strict rules, but feel free to make up your own when you set out pit your model airplane flying skills against your friends.