In the UK, things were made more complicated by the addition of bonus points for model age (a sliding scale from 1948 - 1951, with more points for older models) and engine size (a sliding scale from 1.5 - 5cc, with more points for smaller engines). There was also a bonus for not having flaps and a bonus for the model being a biplane. Originally, there was a bonus for using an appropriate engine. At a later date(s), another (large) bonus was added for using a spark ignition engine.
Thus we had an event which was already becoming more than many potential judges could cope with, while in the US they had a contest for pre-1953 stunt models (they do have a no-flap bonus).
The relative simplicity of the US event led to many models being accepted which were of questionable elligibility. They now accept models which were never kitted or published at all. One in particular (Humongous) being based on an undimensioned sketch on the back of an envelope. Can anyone tell us whether the word 'Humongous' (the spelling varies) even existed in 1952?
The rule of thumb for UK events now seems to be that if it is acceptable in the US, it is acceptable in the UK. Fine, but what about the age bonus. They don't need to establish the exact date.
All went along fairly smoothly (some events simply dropped the bonus marks - unfortunately, they rarely told you in advance) until two things happened:
1, The dreaded CLAPA organisation entered the picture. They were only interested in F2B and considered all else beneath them. However, in order to be recognised as a Special Interest Group by the BMFA they had to accept responsibility for Vintage and Classic events too.
2. SAM 35 decided to drop the bonus points and move their cut-off date to 1957.
CLAPA rejected the SAM 35 changes out of hand and proceeded to 'up-date' the BMFA rules. They did this by asking the CLAPA membership (who considered Vintage beneath them, remember) what changes they wanted. Established Vintage flyers who were not CLAPA members (just about all of them) were not asked.
The result was an even more complicated scale of bonus points (now going back to 1947) and no clarification on just how this was to be decided. For the record there is just ONE authenticated 1947 design that fits within the written rules.
So, anything that was even just a gleam in the designers eye in 1947 is now claimed as a 1947 design. This has thrown up some strange results:
1. One of the most successful Vintage designs - the 'Trixter Barnstormer' - which really was designed in 1947, but not kitted until 1950 is only accepted as a 1950 design.
2. The 'Jamison Special', which was mentioned in a 1951 book as being flown in the 1947 US Nats (does that count as published?) is accepted as a 1947 design.
CLAPA's involvement as a Special Interest Group has led to them running the Nationals for a number of years. Their treatment of the Vintage event has led to more and more regular competitors avoiding the event. One regular issue being the amount of time available for the event and the fascilities available. Vintage flyers pay the same entry fee as everyone else and deserve equal treatment. The F2B event gets three days flying, while Vintage gets two or less. When the Nats were held at Oakington in 2003, the Vintage event was flown on a very rough stretch of grass in the lee of a hangar when there were acres of clear tarmac available.
In 2005 the event was held on just about the worst piece of tarmac on the whole of Barkston Heath in an unfenced circle. Two competitors walked away from that event on safety grounds and have not returned. We should all have gone with them.
In 2006, now with just five competitors, I too walked away in disgust. Unfortunately, the weather prevented any further flying and the effort was wasted.
2007 saw just three flyers (there was a fourth but he crashed in the first round) who were forced to fly two rounds on Sunday in the space of one hour and in just about the worst flying conditions I have ever experienced.
I hope there will be a Vintage Stunt event at next years UK Nats. I won't be there.