ROSEWOOD, Ind. (WHAS11) -- It's your chance to see the nation's top radio controlled model airplane masters compete, and it's happening right here in southern Indiana.
The US Scale Masters Championships are where "the best of the best compete," which means the top 30 percent of regional qualifiers from across the nation are in Rosewood, Indiana over the weekend to find out who will be crowned this year's Grand Champion.
But this weekend is not just about competition, it's also about camaraderie and friendship, and of course, the aircraft themselves.
"They have everything from a pre-World War II bomber into the modern jet era," said Contest Director Mike Caldwell. "They model anything and everything. Anything flying in the air, you can see it on the ground."
Bill DeVerna, who has been a part of the competitions since 1963, can tell you plenty about what it takes to really love your craft.
"I built my very first airplane when I was 10 years old," said Bill DeVerna. "At the time, I was at the Boy's Club, we paid 50 cents for the wood and $1 for the motor. Back in 1950, in order to fly the plane you had to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). I'm still a member. I think I have the youngest number here, the numbers are in the five or six digits now, my number is 108."
And although the spirit of competition hasn't changed, the airplanes most certainly have.
"Nothing is like it used to be," said DeVerna. "I remember my airplane back in the 80s I competed with was eight feet, they would see that great big eight foot airplane and just say 'Oh my gosh, look how big that thing is.' Now I bring that airplane out here and it would be dwarfed."
In scale aircraft modeling competition, radio controlled flying is only part of the score. Contestants are also judged on whether their scale aircraft accurately represents the actual aircraft on which their model was based.
During static judging, contestants prop their planes on a table in front of three judges, who compare documentation of the actual aircraft to the modeler's scaled interpretation, or scratch built plane.
Each judge is assigned a specific area to judge, one will compare the aircraft's outline to detailed drawings, the other will compare the color and markings. The third judge will inspect the craftsmanship of the plane even the smallest details down to the rivets. In static judging, each contestant can earn up to a maximum of 100 points after all three judges scores are combined.
Then, it's on to the flying. Builder-pilots must complete five mandatory maneuvers; including take off and landing, a fly pass, a figure eight and realism of flight. Then they have their choice of optional maneuvers, which must replicate what their full size counterpart would have done in real life, such as dropping a bomb or completing an evasive maneuver. After that, the judges take their top three scores out of five flights and paired with their scores in static judging will determine the year's national champion.
East Coast Chairman Mike Barbee knows a thing or two about winning. He's the year's reigning national champion, and although he's not worried about the competition, he says you never know what will happen during flight. He has devoted more than 2,000 hours of spare time to build his aircraft, and is continually tweaking, and making improvements.
"This airplane is four years old," said Mike Barbee. "So, the longer I fly it, the better it goes. Just like a race car or anything else, you do little things to make it better."
The US Scale Masters Championship is being held at the Ohio River View R/C Flyers club, and is open to the public through Sunday afternoon. Admission is $5 per person or $10 per carload. Competitive flying is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
The Ohio River View R/C Flyers club, chartered in 2007, sits at the far south end of Highway 111 past the Horseshoe Casino and hosts about 50 AMA members from the Louisville area. The club features a gorgeously maintained and manicured 800' x 50' air strip with 300' of grass runoff on each end. According to Mike Caldwell, the hard surface runway is big enough to allow turbine powered jets, of which one will make an appearance over the weekend.
For those interested in learning more about the Ohio River View R/C Flyers club, you can check out their website for more information.