What Went Wrong at Kiev?
1963 American Modeler Article
were no punches pulled in this article subtitled, "Why America's
Control-Line Teams Flubbed so Badly at Russian-Run F.A.I. World
Championships," that appeared in the January/February edition of
American Modeler. The author is not named, but whoever wrote it
was obviously highly perturbed at the USA's showing - or lack thereof.
He roundly criticizes both speed and stunt teams and individual
flyers for a very weak showing in the 1962 FAI international control-line
championships at Kiev, the Ukraine, a former member of the now-defunct
USSR. Unlike today's environment where everyone - even the losers
- must be coddled and reminded how special he is, USA team participants
and those whom he believed should have vied for a position on the
team are repeatedly accused of being afraid of the competition.
Having to accommodate the FAI's rules departures from the AMA's
rules is presumably the reason for lack of interest in the event.
The author suggests that, indeed, the AMA might someday adopt those
rules here at home, so those who are already up on the particulars
will have an advantage.
Well, as it turns out, not only are
the FAI competitions still unlike AMA competitions in a lot of ways,
but the AMA has recently publically considered removing itself from
the FAI contest realm because of difficult relations with its governing
body and for the very high membership costs.
not considered by the author as a reason for lack of top competitors
is that at the time the Iron Curtain was still up and a lot of the
modeling community was employed by the military, government research
facilities, or defense contractors and therefore would not have
been able to visit a Communist country like the Ukraine.
Went Wrong at Kiev?
Why America's Control-Line Teams Flubbed so Badly at Russian-Run
F.A.I. World Championships
An A.M. "International"
didn't the U.S. do better at Kiev in the Control-line Championships?
There are several reasons. Chief and most important factor is the
lack of interest shown by majority of the competitive control-line
This lack of interest is surprising, considering
the benefits derived from FAI participation. These benefits extend
beyond a trip to Europe for the successful flyers. The information
gathered from FAI competition is directly applicable to AMA jobs.
The FAI approach is different enough to point up any shortcomings
in the usual AMA-style Speed or Team Racer. The speed model to·FAI
specs is a better flyer than the "semi-stabilized engine" AMA type.
This also applies to the Team Racers. With but half the power in
a larger plane, they are as fast as the AMA jobs.
the events are unpopular because they differ from the normal AMA
events, by model or engine specifications. However, if you are able
to read the handwriting on the wall, such planes and engine specs
may be adopted officially over here. In that case, the people with
prior FAI experience would have a large advantage over the newcomer.
For example, 5 of the six International Team Race groups have come
from the Washington, D.C. area. These fellows started flying as
soon as the rules were established for the 1960 World Champs, late
in 1959. They ran the first FAI Race in January '60. Look back through
Model Aviation for the past two years and count the FAI races held
in the country. Note almost all were held in D.C.
number of engines, fuels and models tried in this area gave them
the lead. They still hold it. The first four places at the Nats
in FAI Team were won by East Coast Flyers. Any other section of
the country could have done the same. The fellows in D.C. felt the
effort was worth it, why don't you?
The story in Speed is
almost the same, with even less of an excuse. The airplane does
so little in the final analysis, it can't be said its unique size
is the reason for the lack of competition. Here the West Coast has
dominated the event, with Huntsville, Ala., sending its representative
twice. There is no reason why the Team has to be made up of the
same people every time. Since speed is almost all engine for determination
of performance, experience in AMA Speed is directly applicable.
Perhaps the competition is too tough?
There is no excuse
at all for the pitiful showing in Stunt. Only in the Cleveland area
is there any real American competition. No one else seems to be
able to fly his AMA Stunt ship in the AMA pattern to qualify for
a trip overseas. Again, the competition must be too tough. I know
there is almost no interest on the East Coast. People who could
have done well didn't even bother to find out when the qualification
flying was to be held. Must the Stunt flyers be lead by the hand
to the jumping off place for the free trip?
It looks like
the U.S. will have to be content with 3rd place or less ... and
in events which originated here! It's good the R/C and F/F boys
have some slight interest in this type of worldwide competition!
The following is a composite report from AM. observers in
Russia. - Paul Burke, Chairman, AMA Control Line Chairman.
Two perfect circles, surfaced with tar macadam and surrounded
by three-metre-high safety fences, laid out in the amusement park
on an island in the middle of the Dnieper River in Kiev, were the
scene of the Control Line World Championship last September 1 thru
7, organized by the Central Aero Club of the U.S.S.R. There was
no room anywhere for practice flying during the contest itself,
a sad omission for a World Championship where competitors from other
lands had too little opportunity to acclimatize themselves to changed
conditions. The American Team in these circumstances was wise to
arrive a few days early and devote these to practice. Other teams
who followed instructions to the letter and arrived on September
1st were at a disadvantage.
Three World Championships were
decided at this "Meeting": Stunt, Speed and Team Racing. Stunt and
Speed were run on Sunday September 2 from midday to 4 p.m., on Monday
from 10 a.m. until failing light called a halt just after 8 p.m.,
and on Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Team Racing was confined
to Wednesday September 5.
Thursday was devoted to sightseeing
tours of Kiev and a boat trip down the Dnieper river, with the final
Banquet and presentation of awards that evening in the Moscow Hotel
where all the competitors had been accommodated throughout the Meet.
The first few flights in Stunt on Sunday were run off during
a downpour so heavy that at times the judges were hard pressed to
keep their eyes on the model. The organizers had made no provision
for wet weather so the judges were soaked to the skin within minutes.
Luckily the weather cleared and rest of the Competition was held
in brilliant hot sunshine.
the end of the first complete Round it was evident that there had
been a terrific improvement in the standard of flying not only among
the "Iron Curtain" countries but also by some of the Scandinavians
- Juhadi Kari of Finland, sixteen, showing wonderful promise. In
contrast the American Stunt fliers disappointed many in being no
better than the team which represented the U.S.A. in Budapest in
1960. In fact, they did not seem to be quite as polished.
Silhavy undoubtedly made the best F.A.I. pattern flight in this
Round. His loops were more symmetrical and better placed for consistency
in height than his team mates. The intersection of his eights were
also good and his double wingover clean and effective. His score
of 892 seemed a little low but compared fairly with Southwick's
857 and Williams' 846 points.
Grondal, the reigning Belgian
Champion flew well to score 930 but his deceptively relaxed style
deceived many of the "unofficial judges" outside the circle into
thinking that he had been overmarked.
Egervary of Hungary
flew a really beautiful pattern and well deserved his 926. In fact,
his flight and Grondal's seemed better, smoother, and tidier than
that of the Russian Champion Sirotkine who topped Round One with
It was apparent that the slower flying models were
going to enjoy a great advantage, especially when it came to flying
square maneuvers of the A.M.A. pattern. Sirotkine was especially
effective in this respect. He flew the whole pattern in a steady
fourstroke indicating a lightly loaded model with ample reserve
of power. Grondal, too, had a model that refused to "wind-up" when
the motor broke into a clean two-stroke. Members of the British
Team flew about as well as they did at home, but were just not in
the top class in this gathering.
Top ten at the end of round
Scores in Round Two were almost without exception better than
in One. Whether this was a genuine improvement in flying or less
stringent judging was difficult to assess. An air of partisanship
by some of the judges was already making itself felt and murmurs
of dissatisfaction were beginning to be expressed by many participants.
Sirotkine's Round score of 1,009, an increase of 60, seemed
extravagant. Such an improvement in the quality of his flight was
hard to .discern.
Juhadi of Finland who flew beautifully
could register no more than 923. Grondal's flight was all that one
expects from a World Champion: beautifully rounded loops and eights
with good symmetry, accurately placed intersections. He made 983.
Silhavy flew a lot better and his improvement was really noticeable.
Pull-out height from maneuvers was better and more consistent. Loops
seemed a little smaller. Inverted flying was near to perfect and
he excelled on take-off and landing. He scored 945, 53 points over
Round One, placing fourth in the Second. This looked more hopeful.
Southwick improved by 56 points and Williams by 22, but only Silhavy
was still in the running. Higgs of Great Britain was the most improved
in this Round upping his 724 to 885, yet none of the British fliers
looked like a potential winner at any time, nor did the Team rate
consideration although they were consistent.
Round two ended
Seeger (W. Germany)
Now came Round Three for those who in the first two had made
a combined score of 1,600 points or more; 22 competitors out of
42 starters went into Round 3. And then arose an argument among
the judges as to the correct method of scoring! The interim arrangements
for the 1962 Championship called for the adoption of the "A.M.A.
Maneuvers" for the Third Round, and the Chairman of the Control-line
Sub-Committee of the C.I.A.M. had circulated copies of the diagrams
of the A.M.A. Maneuvers to National Aero Clubs in support of this
It was evident that these diagrams had not been reproduced
and circulated by all the national aero clubs concerned, with the
result that many of the competitors knew the stunts only by name
from the printed schedule and were not aware of any requirement
for entry into, and exit from, individual figures.
considerable discussion three judges were in favor of relaxing the
"entry" and "exit" requirement and two were opposed. Had there been
a proper briefing of the judges and team managers before the meet
and a properly constituted and competent "International Jury", this
question would probably have been resolved differently. So it was
that some who flew the last Round could feel that they were being
penalized by a relaxing of the rules for others. (More regarding
this particular point later.)
The performance in Round Three
which drew the greatest acclaim - from those who really knew something
about stunt flying - was by the sixteen year old Finn, Juhadi Kari.
This was as near perfection as is humanly possible. His square maneuvers
had to be seen to be believed. He flew his Veco powered T-bird in
a manner than would have gladdened the heart of Bob Palmer. Thus
it was most difficult to see how his 965 in this Round placed him
second to Kondratenko of the USSR team who gained first with a good
992 flight, but nothing to compare with Juhadi's flying.
Sirotkine ruined his chances of certain victory by doing his triangles
out of sequence and ahead of his square loops, losing all points
for both sets of figures. His 862 gained him fifth overall.
Warburton of G.B. made his best flight scoring 937 ... his squares
and triangles were well above average and his pull-out height marvelously
consistent at two metres.
American scores were disappointing
in this round. With their long experience in the A.M.A. pattern
they had been expected to rack up a big total. Williams did improve
greatly with 896, fairly close to Silhavy's 904. Grondal flew a
new model with a wide-spread landing gear as being better suited
for the A.M.A. pattern, but his performance, high as it was, did
not equal his second F.A.I. flight.
Final scores for the
Bartos (Czechoslovakia). 945
Seeger (W. Germany).
Gabris (Czechoslovakia) 922
Herber (Czechoslovakia) 874
Kaminski (W. Germany) 861
Leading planes and engines were:
models both O/D ("original design") fitted with Fox 35's
T·Bird; Veco 35
O/D; Russian Kometa
O/D; M.V.V.S. 35
OlD; Veco 35
O/D; Kometa 35
Nobler; Fox 35
Nobler; Enya 35
O/D; scale-like Jap "Tony"; Merco 35
O/D; "Coy Lady"; Merco 35
O/D; Moki M.2 35
O/D semi-scale Caudron;
Totaled team results gave the Russians first place.
Great Britain .......................5346
West Germany ...................5240
Championship which was run concurrently with the Stunt in the upper
circle was anything but a happy occasion for the American Team.
Nor indeed for the British or some of the other visiting groups.
First comment from many pilots was that their speeds were about
ten m.p.h. less than usual with the fuel provided and this seemed
to be a general complaint. The Hungarians found the Russian fuel
acceptable, however. Hungarian Team Manager, Rudi Beck, veteran
of many World Championships was understandably delighted that his
team developed an extra five m.p.h, This fuel question is one that
the F.A.I. control line Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of
Ron Moulton will have to ponder for future Championships.
From a 41 competitor total only thirteen racked up 200 K.P.H. or
more. Three posted no score at all when they failed to make a timed
flight in each of three Rounds.
The Americans had
more zeros than one would expect from such .an experienced team.
Lauderdale suffered a broken Mono-line control in Round One and
although the model was not seriously damaged it was recorded as
zero. In Round Two he notched 194 and third time around, 209. Schuette
did not get a flight in either One or Three, his only score being
205. Carpenter, never hitting his stride, attained 193 in One and
had dolly troubles in the other Rounds. There was also an unfortunate
misunderstanding between the American Team Manager and the speed
circle officials over an interpretation of the rules governing attempts.
This resulted from earlier, incorrect instructions given out at
the Team Managers briefing.
The British Team were
well down on their home speeds. Drewell using a new single-line
handle for practice flying had the control lock solid. This resulted
in a mighty splash which broke his model in half. An overnight fiberglass
repair job was completed and the American Team members offered any
of their handles. With one he reached 198 in Round Three. Two of
the British Carter Special engines were ruined through lack of proper
lubrication, quantities of conrod pouring out of the exhaust ports!
The Hungarians, meantime, were -again demonstrating
their slick technique by putting in consistently high speeds. Obviously
they were after the individual and team awards and they captured
Krizsma turned in speeds of 211, 204 and 218
K.P.H. while his teammate Toth registered 200, 211 and 210.
Italy's Ricci was one of the few to get his highest speed in round
one. His 214 gained him second place. Both Prati and Grandesso of
Italy had take-off troubles and turned in only two speeds, their
best being 209 and 205 respectively.
It was obvious
that some type of mono-line was needed. The most successful handles
had been developed with the control helix at right angles to the
line and the entire control system behind the pylon as required
in the current F.A.I. regulations.
One team employed
one-line handles with a spigot enabling them to be rested in the
fork on the pylon just like a standard two-line handle. This gave
much steadier control as well as avoiding any possibility of being
accused of whipping ... still very much a controversial point with
some teams. It seems likely that we shall see a lot of new speed
handles of this type in the future.
A point of considerable
contention around the speed circle concerned the accuracy of the
timekeeping. Speeds taken by the three official timekeepers generally
were 5 k.p.h. below those obtained by experienced speed men with
their own watches. When the unofficial timekeepers all agreed within
a tenth of a second and word circulated that there was some variation
in the official watches and that the three officials registered
times were being averaged, dissatisfaction was understandable.
The Russians were never in the running as indicated by these
results recorded by the top twelve.
Team racing, conducted
on the last day, was the most controversial contest. One well-known
T/R pilot with .ten years of successful flying to his credit summed
it up: "If this is Team Racing I might as well take up bull-fighting".
Certainly many of the pilots had little idea of what was
required of them as far as high flying or conduct in the center
of the circle. There was continuing, and in some cases deliberate
interference with other pilots which was often overlooked by the
There was an excellent system of warning lights
under the lap counting clocks at the side of the circuit. A green
light for the first warning, yellow for a second, and a red light
for a third and final offense which brought disqualification. But
these warnings were not used impartially. The biased judging would
not have been permitted at most club contests!
background experienced teams became quite despondent. Their chances
of success were dependent on whether they drew two pilots who would
fly fairly, or two who would bump and bore their way through the
Stockton and Jehlik showed the most promise
in their first heat with 5:38 which placed them 20th. But in their
second heat Stockton missed seeing another model when looking into
a low sun; his chance for a much better time was ruined by a spectacular
crash when the two models locked together after a middair collision.
The Edwards-Edwards team's times of 5:54 and 6:35 were not
in the running. 4:40 was the mark the experts had been forecasting
for some time as essential at this Championship, and this proved
to be about right.
Sirotkine of U.S.S.R. scored a zero in
his first heat due to a ground collision, but notched a magnificent
4:38 in heat two, due largely to the expert work of his mechanic
Chkourski whose efforts were an eye-opener to many present. Most
Sirotkine pit stops were under four seconds.
of the U.S.S.R. returned times of 4:57 and 4:41 to earn a place
in the final, the third finalists being Purgei-Katona of Hungary
who scored one time of 5:40 and a zero due to a crash in heat two.
The best British team was Long and Davy. In their first
heat they had not quite got things sorted out and returned a time
of 5:06. In their second heat they had covered the half distance
in 2:05 and 68 laps on the first tankful. Then at their only pit
stop the model struck Long's leg hard and half the wing broke away
from the fuselage. Such is the luck in Team Racing.
"final" produced a high pitch of excitement - especially among a
partisan crowd who was cheering every move that Sirotkine made -
that has not been duplicated at any other Championship.
Without doubt Sirotkine had the fastest model continually passing
both Gelman and Purgai. Even so it was obvious that he was flying
unnecessarily high. In Great Britain or Belgium, hotbeds of continental
team racing, he would have been penalized. Purgai failed to finish;
he did not restart after his first pit stop. This made it easier
for Sirotkine who then had only one pilot to fly against.
Not a satisfactory World Championship - mostly due to lack of
experience in this event by the officials concerned.
W. Germany 4:51
Trnka-Drazek . Czech
W. Germany 5:15
Adams-Lucas GB 5:49
Main lesson to be learned from this Championship is that good
ground organization, with comfortable accommodation, adequate transport
facilities, a fine flying site (but without any practice circles),
and a host of officials including interpreters for every team is
The main essential is a hard core of experienced
and knowledgeable officials and judges to run the events ACCORDING
TO THE BOOK. As one competitor observed, "I'd sooner attend a World
Championship in a school yard, live in a tent, yet have men running
it who know what they are doing, than have a load of facilities
that the officials waste because they don't know their jobs."
Certainly the standard of judging and application
of F.A.I. rules left much to be desired. There was no competent
International Jury consisting of three National representatives
from the C.I.A.M, as decreed by the F.A.I. The Russian C.I.A.M.
member, Sokolov, was absent because of illness, his place was taken
by Yermakoff. Czerny, the second member of the Jury tried desperately
to fulfill the functions of a Jury on his own - a vote of thanks
is due to him for trying to carry out an impossible task. Charles
Hennecart, the new Director of the F.A.I. who takes office in January,
was present and the Russian officials asked him to serve on the
jury. He made it quite clear to them that he was not competent to
do so and resolutely refused. Despite this the Central Aero Club's
own officials persistently referred to him as a jury member throughout
The language difficulty was a very serious
one. For example the "count-down" for the start of the Team Racing
heats was at first given in Russian with no visual signal. Only
after a vigorous protest with pointed reference to the F.A.I. Sporting
Code was it arranged that a flag signal should be given as per the
Throughout the five days of the Meet there
was a sad lack of communication between the officials and the teams.
Often they did not know what was going on and had to send their
interpreters out foraging for information that should have been
disseminated as a matter of routine. Briefings before the meet were
TThe Russians seemed to have forgotten
that the official languages of the F.A.I. are French and English.
It became evident that a higher priority was being given to making
announcements over the P.A. system in Russian for the benefit of
the spectators than in either French or English for the competitors.
The resulting frustration mounted until the free-world teams and
their managers became convinced that they were being neglected deliberately,
Complaints made, with justification, to officials
at the circles were brushed aside and ignored. Usually the official
concerned did not know the regulations as well as he should have
and consequently did not realize that the complaint being presented
was both pertinent and reasonable.
No doubt many of these
points will be considered by the F.A.I. Control-line Sub-Committee
for future reference, We can only hope the Kiev debacle will lead
to better and more acceptable regulations for future World Championships.
Consider the experience of M. Bienvenu of Belgium,
Chief Team Racing Timekeeper. At the conclusion of the final he
impounded the engines and tanks from the three models concerned
for checking capacities as required by the regulations. As he left
the flying site to perform these tests he was confronted by Yermakoff,
the Russian Jury member, who took the tanks and engines away from
his saying that "no such check was necessary." In the face of such
conduct it is difficult to label Yermakoff a responsible official.
And this could have been such a wonderful Championship!
What a pity that there should have been so much to mar its enjoyment.
Posted September 23, 2012
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain
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