U.S. Scale Masters

USSMA General Discussions => Flightline Chatter => Topic started by: La7 flier on Mon, 11/02/09, 05:05 PM

Title: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: La7 flier on Mon, 11/02/09, 05:05 PM
Hi all

Some of you may know that I posted this over on RC Scalebuilder and RC Universe. I wrote this after giving some considerable thought and having numerous discussions with scalemaster contestants. This is only my own opinion but is intended to prompt some healthy discussion.

I have been building and competing in scale events for nearly 30 years. I am no where close to the real masters...those guys that build and fly superlatively....closely followed by the outstanding builders who find the outstanding pilots to fly their extraordinary creations. I admire those pilots skilled enough to qualify for Top Gun. I have only qualified and flown once in the Scalemasters (and finished poorly). There...now you know this post is from a relatively lowly competitor simply expressing an opinion. My desire is to establish the Scalemasters on the same footings as Top Gun. Years ago, the Nationals would have been the third member of this trioka but somewhere, it lost it's "elan". This is not to denegrate the contestants; many of whom fly in both Top Gun and the Scalemasters but the competition itself has lost something becoming more akin to a fly-in or a low key competition.....

As most of us know, the US Scalemasters was founded on a dream of superlative scale competition. I actually was priviledged to speak with Harris about a year prior to his death. A more humble gentlemen, you would never find. He flew Hellcats in the second world war and had a passion for scale competition. At the time, he was growing concerned that the competition would fade as interest was being diverted away from scale modeling. He annointed Earl Aune to carry on the dream and Earl and his wife, Josie worked tirelessly to keep the competition vibrant and growing but it took it's toll. Covering the costs of putting on a competition and trying to locate a suitable venue each year, alternating between east and west was a tough challenge. Though the numbers are holding relatively steady each year, there does not seem to be the growth that one might hope to see.

Top Gun has established itself as the pre-eminent scale competition drawing contestants from all over the world. One reason is the tireless efforts of Frank Tiano, who is a born promoter. Another is the solid venue at Lakeland Airport in Florida and the third, I believe, is the fact that it stays in the same place every year! Venues really are the foundation of a successful event. Yes, one must have a safe and well organized event but without the venue, no one will show up!

My proposal to grow the US scalemasters championships follows this basic premise. I would propose that this fine competition locate an outstanding venue and stay there! I would further propose that the scalemasters must recognize that Top Gun has the east coast wrapped up. Therefore, the scalemasters must locate in the west! I understand that the great mid-america is left with a drive in either direction but the fact is that the population centers are on the east and west coasts. As far as a suitable venue, I would recommend finding an outstanding site in the Las Vegas area. Picking an Oct/Nov competition date will allow contestants to enjoy nearly perfect weather. For years, the old QSAA held a huge fly-in just outside Vegas on a dry lakebed. This drew an international crowd. Las Vegas provides entertainment away from the competition which is extremely important for those with spouses who grow weary of sitting at model airplane competitions for days on end. Once upon a time, owner Bill Bennett of Circus Circus sponsored the Tournament of Champions, a pattern event. Once Bill passed on, the competition died but during it's heyday, it drew a large crowd. Once comfortably esconed in the area, it may be possible to locate a willing sponsor or two to help the competition defray some of the costs. If potential competitors know the location each year, they can plan to attend much earlier than they can currently do now due to the fact that they may not be close enough to the following year's event to attend.

While I believe these competitions should remain within reach of the "average" modeler (not require a 7 figure checking account to field a competitive plane), I also believe that the Scalemasters will have to start attracting a larger following or risk a slow, spiral into irrelevance and the only way to do this is to plant it in a  venue which will draw potential competitors in greater numbers.

So that's it...my thoughts and only my thoughts. Some (or many) may completeley disagree. I would like to hear others opinions.

Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Jim Hiller on Tue, 11/03/09, 12:04 PM
The first finals I went to was held in LasVegas (maybe late 80's). It was a fun time. I like the idea of spending a week in the sunny SW however LasVegas has gotten expensive and crowded. I now avoid LasVegas when possible.
Jim Hiller
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: La7 flier on Tue, 11/03/09, 12:45 PM
The first finals I went to was held in LasVegas (maybe late 80's). It was a fun time. I like the idea of spending a week in the sunny SW however LasVegas has gotten expensive and crowded. I now avoid LasVegas when possible.
Jim Hiller

HI Jim....thanks for the post....have you tried Vegas lately? $69/night for a midweek room at MGM. It moves up and down with the economy and there are certainly cheap places off the Strip. The point is, it offers an entirely different form of entertainment after the last engine has been shut down and the last model put away for the night....
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mitchell Baker on Tue, 11/03/09, 12:58 PM
One issue, how close would a flying site be to "The Strip"?  I have been to Vegas, and yes it can be very economical. But time to a flying site from hotels is a big issue when planning the hosting of the championships...   We prefer not to have more than about a 30 min drive from the HQ hotel. Shorter if possible. 

Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Jim Hiller on Tue, 11/03/09, 02:39 PM
La-7 Yes I was in LasVegas 2 or 3 years ago for a wedding and swung by Laughlin NV on our way to the Gunsmoke qualifier. Absolutely no congestion by comparison and they have an airport! All casinos look alike to me and I'm not interested in going to the shows.   
Yes things can be more reasonable during a depressed economy and in off strip hotels but the entertainment is on the strip, which can be expensive and commuting is a hassle. I've never seen the strip when it wasn't a traffic jam, except maybe in the middle of the night.
Something else to think of; LasVegas is a tourist draw and off strip hotels tend to attract bus tours that can fill the hotel and trying to get breakfast early in the morning with a couple buss loads of tourists all on the same departure schedule can be more than annoying.
Another thing to consider is the large number of competitors that RV-it and may not participate in after hour activities on the strip. I go to competition events to fly and associate with the other contestants.
I'd go back to the Phoenix / Mesa area any time but I'm not very interested in going to LasVegas, been there too many times.
I really regret not going to Hemet I could have gotten there from the east.
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mitchell Baker on Tue, 11/03/09, 06:23 PM
This is from a my post on www.rcscalebuilder.com in this same titled thread, replying to other posts but still applies to this thread...

I have been working really hard to create a venue for members and non-members alike to be able to communicate... period.  The last few years I have been associated with USSMA, first as a member, then Midwest Regional Manager and now as Director of Administration, there has been a big void in members communicating with each other and with the members of the Board. I am hoping the new web site and forums will do this.

 I try to hit as many that I can afford (both money and vacation time).  I burn about 75% of my yearly vacation time attending events to show USSMA board support for the qualifiers.  I take pictures, post and if possible run a live webcam feed as I did from the championships.

The biggest detriment to U.S. Scale Masters and can be applied to any organization relying on membership, are "part time members" as I call them.  Folks who only join every 2-3 years based on if they think they are going to compete.  We are working on ways we can keep people as repeating members.  It's a two way street, not only is it what USSMA can do for you, but also what can you do for USSMA.  Higher consistent membership numbers can bring about a lot to help.  Then we also have the really dedicated few, who even though they have honorarily membership, and are not required to pay dues, still do and have been for year.

We have several committees currently working on rule changes, minor ones, but that is another story, re-aligning our membership fees and "perks" to help get and retain members.  Check out the web site, and stay tuned for what I feel are going to be some exciting announcements in the near future...

Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: La7 flier on Thu, 11/05/09, 01:52 PM
There is quite a bit of dialogue over on RC Universe (RC Scale Airplanes Forum)  and RC Scalebuilders with a lot of good ideas being discussed.

My point here is to not get lost in the weeds regarding  on the Strip/ off the Strip/ to gamble or not, ect ect....it is the bigger picture of finding a single venue which encourages growth. On the other sites, more foundational thoughts are being put out there...I encourage all to monitor them as well ;D
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mitchell Baker on Thu, 11/05/09, 02:01 PM
Thanks, I am trying but time is limited and I can only monitor so much. My priority is running this site and helping with RC Scale Builder.

I really don't think a single venue is that the Scale Masters needs.  Unlike FT we can't pay everyone for working the event. We don't have a single source for personal. The membership is spread out across the US and Canada, as is with the BoD.  If we find funding some items that we want to do is fly in part of the judging staff.  Help out the local club hosting to make it profitable for them.  Also locations are becoming more and more hard to find.  If you want turbines, then you even limit the choice more.  Yes there are some good ideas out there, and if they really want to be heard, they need to bring them here to the place where they will be readily seen. 

Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: La7 flier on Thu, 11/05/09, 02:19 PM
I hear you Mitch....don't agree.... but hear you nevertheless. If the majority are satisfied with the current state of affairs, this will die quietly and the Masters will continue as it has albeit..no growth... but if more potential participants feel unsatisfied with the current direction....other alternatives will start popping up :-\
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: jlovitt on Thu, 11/05/09, 05:57 PM
There's been a lot of interesting perspective and comment offered between this and the other two forums.  My thoughts...

I don't think that a single venue is good for the Masters, but I would like to see a western world class site and a midwest world class site become regular homes to the masters.  The challenge here is finding those sites, and more importantly the clubs that can and want to take this on with the USSMA.   There's a lot of work to be done and a lot of legwork to be done with sponsors, and to this point, we have not had any clubs (that I know of) ask to host the event annually. 

Membership:  I don't want to see membership made mandatory, but I do want to see a cost benefit (discount) given at qualifiers for members.  I want to see the USSMA continue to build relationships with hobby and non hobby vendors.  We would like to partner with the private sector to generate the funding to help competitors defray the cost of competing. 

Website:  We are on the move when it comes to communications and visibility with this website and the efforts that Mitch has made to bring this into it's newest and most refined iteration. 

There has been a lot of talk about rules and whether USSMA is stagnant and then talk about how Top Gun is evolving.  We've looked at a number of suggestions by members of the past several years, and there's been lots of internal comment on what we can do, should do and need to do to improve the event.  We continue to feel that the framework of competition  that is used by AMA and Top Gun is the best course.  Completely throwing out the rule book and starting over with free style judging and a new scoring system is a risky venture and the majority of competitors have cautioned against radical transformation of the rules.

I think that the framework is there, but there are a LOT of factors going on to reduce attendance.  Comparing this event and other scale events to what Joe Nall(and other IMAA events) is doing isn't really relevant although I do agree that a big part of the success of Joe Nall is a park venue that is worth returning to and I will concede that the Masters has been held at some fields that weren't up to the standard of excellence.  The site in Wenatchee this year was not one of those fields.  It was outstanding.   I also know that some people have looked at Hemet and Florida and commented on the low turnout.  I commented on it too.  Look at the trend though--Wenatchee had a fantastic host club, city and site.  The result approx 50 entries and a win-win for contestants, spectators, vendors and sponsors.  The momentum is moving in a positive direction as the Masters heads to the middle of america to another FANTASTIC site and what will probably be a 70-80 entry contest and I know that will make EVERYONE happy.  We are working on sites for 2011 and beyond. 

I am reading all of the feedback with great interest.  The words are being heard, and the care that so many have for the Masters is evident. 

Jeff Lovitt
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mitchell Baker on Mon, 11/09/09, 12:08 PM
Just a question for you Chuck to get a feel for something... Where would the championships have to be in order for you to feel you could get there?  How far would you be willing to go?  Texas?  Kansas? Phoenix?  What is the definition of a "successful championships"  Number of pilots?  How far in advanced would someone have to know the site in order to make plans to attend if they qualify?   With your scenario, there really would on be a championship and grand champion every other year. 

Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mitchell Baker on Mon, 11/09/09, 01:38 PM
Sorry, already took lunch.. hahaha.. Work gets in the way of my fun sometimes.... Well lots... --Mitch
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Roly on Tue, 11/17/09, 04:50 PM
Hello All,

     I find the comments interesting on this topic about the "Future of Scale Masters".

   I read an article to the editor of Model Airplane News last year which the author commented on how nice it was that Scale Masters moved the Championships locations around the country. This allows people to participate and see fine scale models who are otherwise unable to travel long distances to the event.

 I support this idea however the logistics of doing this needs to have good systems in place to support the Championships such as;
•   Pick 5 locations around the country located centrally in the N.E, S.E., Central, N.W. and S.W. to maximize both Spectator and Contestant participation and rotate them each year. (The Joe Nall site could possibly be used, just need to ask)
              o A rotating system of moving from East to West & North - South and Central could be done and we would know in 5 yrs in advance where the event will be held.
•   Develop long term relationships with sponsors through a mutual low cost partnership program "where products are endorsed by Scale Masters and sponsors could advertise".
•   Provide a advertising strategy to host sites which will get paying public out to the event
•   Partner with a national charity to share proceeds of the event with eg; "St. Jude Children's Research Hospital"
•   Look to provide funds to pay judges and cash prizes to Champion winners

   I know time and effort and commitment is required to do this which cannot be left to too few otherwise it is like pushing a rope up hill.

   That's the way I view it.

      Roly Worsfold - Scale Masters - North West Regional Manager
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mel Santmyers on Thu, 11/19/09, 06:09 PM
Hello Nigel.  Thank you for your comments. It has been a while and I am pleased to see you involved.
In my mind this Scale Masters event is past due for some changes and I am pleased to see the people involved. I believe we must do somethings differently where one in this busy world can still compete and feel as though they don't have to have years of experience to do well. Winners wiil always be winners However others just want a fair shake.
I believe my rules suggestion gives us something very new and still requires the high standards of aircraft all the while leveling the playing field where the models will speak for themselves and not for example how well one can mark up a three view.
I know that one got your attention but please think about it.
I know full well that my ideas here are radically different and it is up to me to try and sell them. I am not opposed to the ideas of others nor to changes that could make an improvment to mine.
The goal here is to make the Masters acheive the levels it deserves and that will bring the rewards we all would all like to see.
                                                                                                                                                                       Regards     Mel.
Title: Re: Future of the Scalemasters
Post by: Mike Barbee on Fri, 11/20/09, 06:37 PM
The Futire of the Masters?
I have been involved in competitive Scale modeling for the past 30 years. I have also been involved in planning and acting as CD in four of the Championships. I don't know the anawer but an orginization with focus on their objectives will survive. I would like to see a venue that remains the same each year but remember the Nats way back. We traveled the US using air bases that usualy were abondoned. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed this and would still trave to compete if that were the case. The Nats site now is a great site. Large enough to provide adiquate flying areas but not large enough for all the events to compete at the same time as in the past. There are a couple of things to remember traditionaly Championship events east of the Mississippi have had the largest pilot and spectator turn out. What do we do. First we stick together and focus on  Harris's dream. Secondly make it a fun event, that is the real reason I compete I think it is fun. We also need to make new young people aware of our sport and generate intrest by helping them get started. How many have let a young person fly one of your planes in Team Scale. What's wrong think they will be a better pilot than you,probably. I have done this a number of times even at the Championships. I don't have the answer right now but I am working on it.
Thanks for listening.
Mike Barbee East Coast Scalemasters Chairman