Print this articlePrint this article

Written by Mike Zaborowski
This gathering is about more than competition
Event coverage
A digital exclusive from the December 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

The AMA recognizes three Scale helicopter classes: AMA 518 as the primary class and two provisional classes, Team Scale and Sport Scale. AMA 518 is a Precision Scale class requiring documentation, including a declaration page, three-view drawing, pictures, and specifications of the full-scale helicopter.

The documentation is needed to prove and convey the look of the full-scale machine the modeler is trying to copy. The assigned contestant must be the builder and owner of the model, and he or she must sign a declaration page stating that this is true.

Team Scale has all of the same requirements as AMA 518, except for the builder-of-the-model rule. The pilot can be the owner, but does not need to be the builder of the model.

A Hughes OH-6A Loach flown by Team Scale winners Darrell Sprayberry and Paul Holland.

AMA 518 and Team Scale both use a 50/50 scoring system. The static score is normalized between the competitors and then doubled. The two best flying rounds of all rounds flown are normalized and added individually.

Sport Scale is a budding builders’ class. You still need all of the documentation, a declaration page, and a three-view, but the scoring in Sport Scale is weighted on flying, not building. The breakdown is 33.3% static, and then each flying round is 33.3% of the score.

A close-up of the Loach helicopter, the Miss Clawd IV, flown in Vietnam, that was built by Paul Holland.

In simpler terms, one static score (normalized) and two separate flight rounds are added together and totaled. No fewer than three judges (nor more than five) are needed to judge the static score and the flying rounds.

The 2017 Nats Scale helicopter event was good. A total of 13 entries, divided between the three classes, with pilots from five states, competed for a win. Our judges for this year’s event were, Stan Kopresky, Tim Green, and Don Ervine. The contest director (CD) was Mark Allen from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and the entire helicopter event was managed by 22-year contest veteran Craig Bradley.

Monday came and Mark took the reins and got the static judging underway on schedule. We held the pilots’ meeting the previous evening with a fantastic Low Country boil provided by master cook Darrell Sprayberry.

In static judging, pilots place their models on the judging table. The contestants get 5 minutes to describe and show off any of the model’s special features.

On top in AMA 518 in static was Marc Smith’s beautiful electric-powered 1/4-scale Jet Ranger. The top static score in Team Scale was the Sprayberry/Holland team with a great-looking Loach built by Paul Holland. Number one in Sport Scale was Emile Sheriff with his EC-145.

Emile Sheriff flies his EC-145.

It’s worth mentioning that we also added a new contestant to AMA contest flying: Rene Gotiear. This was his first Nats and I suspect he will be back. He stated on several occasions what a good time he was having and that he was looking forward to next year.

We managed one round of contest flying on the same day as static judging. After round one, I was on top in 518 with Darrell Sprayberry close behind. Sprayberry/Holland won the Team Scale round, and Emile Sheriff won the Sport Class round.

As we moved on to day two, we managed to get one round flown. We fly our event with the F class pilots and we started our second round at roughly 2 p.m. The wind was brisk and the Scale pilots did all they could to keep the machines looking good. The winner in round 2 was Bernard Shaw in 518. Pilots pulled their machines in Team Scale so no points were awarded, and Eaton Bryce won round two in Sport Scale. Things were starting to tighten up!

Darrell Sprayberry’s CH-34 makes a run-on landing.

We flew round three early on the third day. The first flight of the day was mine. I came out on top in 518. No flights were made in Team Scale and I was lucky enough to win this round of Sport Scale.

It was at this point that everything was on the table. We all realized that no one had broken a helicopter and nobody was going home with pieces and parts. We witnessed some amazing flying as well as watched new pilots grow with each flight.

In the end, there can only be one winner and so we move on to the final scores.

AMA 518
1) Emile Sheriff (Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota)
2) Darrell Sprayberry (Sikorsky CH-34)
3) Michael Zaborowski (Eurocopter EC-145)

The top three in 518 (L-R): Darrell Sprayberry, Emile Sheriff, and Michael Zaborowski.

Team Scale
1) Loach, Darrell Sprayberry (owner/pilot) Paul Holland (builder)
2) Bell 47G, Marc Smith (owner/pilot) Lee Marshall (builder)
3) Sea Hawk, Eaton Bryce (owner/pilot) Luther Farmer (builder)

Team Scale participants (L-R): Marc Smith, Darrell Sprayberry, Luther Farmer, and Eaton Bryce.

Sport Scale
1) Emile Sheriff (Eurocopter EC-145)
2) Bernard Shaw (Cobra)
3) Eaton Bryce (Eurocopter AS350)

Sport Scale helicopter winners (L-R): Brian Shaw (second place); Emile Sheriff (first place), and Eaton Bryce (third place).

Congratulations to the winners in each class. Emile Sheriff was again on top of his game claiming two of the three classes. Thanks to our CD, Mark Allen, for his guidance during this event. He ran a tight ship and we had a smooth contest because of his hard work. The contest was fantastic.

Emile Sheriff won two of the three events and was awarded the plaque for National Champion in RC Scale.

AMA Scale helicopters are alive and well in the US and their popularity is growing. We hope others will find inspiration next time, as they hear the thump of a set of rotor blades and are inspired to build a Scale heli!

—Mike Zaborowski






Add new comment