2020 Symposium Call for Papers

Authors are needed for the 53th edition of the NFFS Symposium. Papers on all aspects of free flight are welcome.

Many years ago the old Model Airplane News published an article entitled “After You, Alphonse.” It was an informal history of a French scientist credited with being the first to successfully design and fly a rubber powered model airplane—in 1871. Successful model aircraft flight therefore preceded the Wright brothers’ first successful powered flight by over three decades. Developments since that time in both full scale aircraft and models has been extraordinary, and to some extent chaotic. The evolution of the turbojet altered the commercial aspects of aviation in fundamental ways and brought about drastic changes in military strategy and tactics. Free flight modelling has been altered by both technology and sociology. Many lament the steady decline in the availability of glow engines suitable for free flight while the development of electric propulsion and other electronic technology for models proceeds apace. The steady decline in the active number of participants in our competitions has been a constant source of concern for some time. But changes in the age distribution and interests of the population affect most other recreational activities that compete with free flight. Consider the ebbs and flows of interest in professional baseball, football, auto racing, and many hobbies.
We should celebrate and memorialize our history while still engaging the inevitability that affects every leisure activity. That is the challenge I offer to authors for the 2020 edition of the NFFS Symposium.

Free flight includes those with interest in several distinct areas: indoor, nitro and electric power, rubber, gliders, as well those who participate in the events of Flying Aces and the Society of Antique Modellers. All topics will be considered, but here are a few general suggestions:

Theory and Design

After more than a century of practice is there really anything new to learn about how and why a model airplane flies? Yes! Race driver Dan Gurney secretly tacked a piece of angle iron to the rear wing of a race care to improve handling in corners and increase lap speed. It took a while for aerodynamicists to explain the phenomenon but the “Gurney Flap” is now used as a trim device by FAC flyers and perhaps others as well.

The airspeed of the modern F1C models has increased in recent years. What special problems do higher speeds create for design and practice?

Articles that attempt to empirically test a theoretical concept are especially useful and welcome.


The evolution of the sport compels us to adapt our building practices as well as the structure of our competitive events. The Nostalgia Gas events are popular and the proposed Golden Age category has many supporters. But the number of available powerplants for both are finite. How can we guide the evolution of such events so as to maintain participation?
Changes needed in some of the rules of competition are a frequent topic of hot debate. A useful perspective is that much of the debate is brought about by improvements in technology.


Any field ignores its history at its peril. While we engage the transformations in the sport let’s not forget how we got here. Articles such as Kevin Sherman’s on Sal Taibi, Mike Schwartz on the Satellite (both Sympo #46), or Louis Joyner’s on F1C history (Sympo #49) are examples of the kind of documentation that we should maintain.


The above ideas are just guidelines, so if you have an idea for something else then submit your thoughts anyway. In any case, please send me a synopsis and a working title as a Microsoft Word document as soon as possible to:

Kit Bays, Editor, 2020 NFFS Symposium
2259 Waterford Drive
Winterville, NC 28590
Phone: 252-717-0702
Email: baysc@ecu.edu