History of USSMA

The Scale Masters History

A long time ago, in the early age of radio control (1976), Harris Lee and Bert Baker came back from flying at Miles Square Park, sat in Harris' garage and pondered the question; how could they create an event strictly for radio control scale aircraft? An idea came forward and the vision was born. Have a contest and split the event into two sections, static judging and flight judging and have the contestant with the highest combined score win.

One day, the two men decided to challenge their own Garden Grove RC Club (which later became the Orange Coast R/C Club) about sponsoring a trial contest to test out the concept. After sharing the vision again, an idea began to formulate in one of the listeners, Bob Olsen. Then there were three. After the meeting, Jerry Ortego came and offered his support. The core team of four had formed and the first contest was about to begin.

In order to get pilots interested in coming; prizes were to be offered. Money was needed to buy the prizes and trophies. Harris asked the president of the club for an advance of $500. After much debate and persuading, the club agreed. The challenge was on. Putting out the word would be the job of RCM's Dick Tieschner and fliers were printed along with a full page ad in RCM.

Asking for volunteers from among the 350 members produced not one person. Harris went out to the RC Bees RC Club with Gordon Truax and Jerry Heaton who were great proponents and gave a lot of help. The contest was called the Western Scale Nationals. The USPGA pattern judges offered to flight judge. Bert convinced Bill Northrop, Jack Stafford, and Dave Lane to be static judges. Pepsi Cola became the first sponsor donating the use of a pop and hot dog trailer used for park events. Again, no one offered to help so their wives came to the rescue and ran the concession stand all weekend. The contest went without a hitch, 38 entries and everyone had a great time. They were able to pay back the $500 plus $1000 they made from selling hot-dogs and pop. The Garden Grove club thought this was great and offered to let them do it again the following year (1977) which also went very well. Interest in scale was growing. They now had a good organization and decided to break away from the Garden Grove Club and form a club with all those who made the contest a success. That is how the Scale Squadron of Southern California was formed in 1978 and is believed to be the first all scale clubs in the United States. Don Lien was the first club president.

During the third year (1978), Jerry Ortego, Bob Olsen, Bert and Harris met with Pat Potega, editor of Scale R/C Modeler, and formulated the Scale Masters concept on a national basis and the regional qualifier was born. They raised money from holding "UnContests" and AT-6 sales, which Bert designed, Don Lien made foam wings and Alan Arnold made the molds. Five kits were made but no one wanted to race them (way ahead of their times!) so they sold the plans, molds, and wings to Joe Bridi. The money went to the Scale fund, and Joe went on to make the famous Bridi kits.

They wanted to name it something special and as it happened, the weekend they met the Masters golf tournament was on so Jerry, a golfer, suggested Scale Masters, the name stuck and the rest is history!

For 18 years Harris Lee kept the Masters in the forefront of the scale community with a lot of help from technical director Kent Walters and his daughter in law Robin Bisogno who did all the program fliers. The Competition Guide was refined each year and the regional qualifier count increased to 22 contests all across the United States and Canada.

In the fall of 1997, Harris attended what would be his last Masters in Dallas Texas. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer and wanted to attend the Championships before starting the process. He contacted Earl & Josie Aune (CD for 9 years of the Evergreen Scale Rally Qualifier) to help him while he underwent the various treatments. The fight was courageous but Harris left us April 30th 1998 leaving Earl & Josie to "keep the dream alive". Before he passed away he commented that he was very pleased with the "things he always wanted to do" with establishing a Judges Certification Program, Scale Masters Membership Program, an Internet Website, a Masters Quarterly Newsletter (many thanks to Josie Aune) and eventually obtained a 501c3 non-profit organization status thanks to Chief Financial Officer Gary Norton.

Going forward, the Scale Masters Association continues to be refined and most importantly-- support the interest in scale aircraft modeling by hosting the annual U.S. Scale Masters Championships thereby giving the 22 Regional Qualifier contests the excitement they need to attract their contestants.

Taken from Earl Aune's Letter from the National Chairman Nov 8th 2006

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