CLASA SAMAA Control Line Nationals Barnstormers 2021

By Willie Bodenstein


The Control Line Association of South Africa (CLASA), a special interest group and a subsection of SAMAA (South African Model Aircraft Association), was established to be the centre point for control-Line aeromodelling activity in South Africa, as well as to foster interest in Control Line flying.

This year, Barnstormers on the East Rand again hosted the CLASA's Nationals. Hot and dry and windy at times, the weather held and three days of flying was possible except for an interruption on Saturday when access to the premises was closed for a while due to a crime scene investigation in the vicinity.

CLASA members came from far and wide to attend, testifying to the passion of this small group for their sport that can trace its history back for more than a century. Flying models controlled by lines actually predates man's flight.

Although the origins of model aircraft controlled in flight by wire between the pilots and the aircraft are obscure, it is generally accepted that the first person to use a recognizable system that operated the control surfaces on a model was Oba St. Clair, who in June 1936 using a complicated system of lines, flew a model near Gresham, Oregon in the USA.

The Nationals consists of three disciplines; racing, stunt flying and combat. Only the racing and stunt flying disciplines were contested at the nationals. Racing includes a speed trail flight and for the first time since 2016, when Klerksdorp in the Northwest hosted the event, a jet powered aircraft took part.

Glen Roberts's speedster in its detachable undercarriage.

Getting Peter Lott's Pulse Jet powered speedster started initially was a problem.

Glen Robert's jet powered speedster leaving its dolly and Glen flying it.

Two rather historical aircraft were entered in the speed trials; Peter Locke's pulse jet powered speedster as well as Glen Roberts's entry. Both aircraft were built during the 1970's and the 2021 nationals were their first flights in almost fifty years.

Keith Renecle represented South Africa at world championships in the FAI F2B aerobatic category a number of times.

Glen Roberts and Theo Kleynhans during their aerobatics heat.

Evert Scholtz in action during his aerobatic heat.

Aerobatic or Stunt competitors fly 13 aerobatic manoeuvres which consist off a reverse wing over, inside and outside round loops, inverted flight, inside and outside square loops, triangular loops, horizontal round and square eights, vertical round eights, an hourglass, four-leaf clover and overhead round eights maneuverers during a competition. Each competitor's flight is judged by a panel of judges for accuracy and precision.

Dirk Meyer and Peter Lott during their Goodyear heat.

Henry Kurovski doing pit duty.

F2C-Team Racing Slow Goodyear

Racing is an event for two-person teams; the pilot and the pit crew. There are various racing classes of various levels of difficulty: F2C (the class flown internationally and at World Championships), Goodyear (semi-scale models of 'Goodyear era' full-size racers), Vintage classes and so on. A number of models (up to three) fly together, aiming to complete 100 laps in the shortest time. The model is also required to make multiple pit stops during the race, where it is refuelled the engine restarted, after which the model is re-launched. This is the job of the pit crew. There are rules describing how the pilots must walk around each other and how to pass (harder than one might think, as each model is on the end of a pair of control lines and travelling as fast as 140 mph).

The SE5 flown by Evert Scholz was built by his brother Naas in the 1970's. Through the years, it was used as a toy by the children until Evert convinced his brother to let him have it. He restored it and changed the petrol engine for an electric motor and on Sunday, it flew again.

Percy Attfield's Hurricane was lovingly built by himself and the nationals was the first time that she was flown competitively.

Towards the end of the NATS, two aircraft were entered in the Fun Scale Category:- Evert Scholz's SE5 biplane and Percy AttFields's Hurricane. Judging is rather strict and not just aimed at how closely the model resembles the actual aircraft. Evert has represented South Africa in the World Championships held in Poland and was the winner of the 2020 Nationals, but because of Covid he could not take part in the worlds.


F2A -Speed: 1st Peter Lott 2nd Glen Roberts
F2B-Aerobatics: 1st Evert Scholtz 2nd Keith Renecle 3rd Glen Roberts
F2C-Team Racing, Slow Goodyear: 1st Peter Lott/Henry Kurovski 2nd Dirk Meyer/Conrad Cloete
Fun Scale: 1st Percy Attfield 2nd Evert Scholtz
Glen Roberts won the High Points Trophy

The passion for their sport by CLASA members was evident during the competition. Although, except for the racing discipline, generally not a team sport, its amazing how many are always ready to help a competitor when a problem arises, either by advice or by helping with spares and repairs. This bodes well for the future of the sport. However, the lack of younger participants must be of concern.

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