It’s very likely that most people, whether they go on to become fully dedicated aeromodelers or not, have their first truly hands-on experience with model aviation – or aviation broadly – in one of two ways: folding a paper airplane or winding up a rubber-powered balsa airplane.
What most people may not realize at the time is that the latter offers a perfect entry point into the wider world of free-flight model aviation. Rubber-powered models may appear at first glance to be toys, but their simplicity means that it is possible to learn a great deal about how flying machines stay in the air and under control from these aircraft.
When the time comes to take the next step up from the (rightly popular) Guillow’s Sky Streak or a similar aircraft, the AMA BETA is the way to go.
The BETA may appear similar to more common rubber-powered models, but close inspection reveals much more sophisticated construction as well as the potential for much more impressive flight performance!
The molded foam airfoils, control surfaces, and adjustable center-of-gravity make it a true flying machine that responds readily to adjustments and corrections, and can stay in the air for remarkable flight times!
To get the most out of building and flying a BETA, however, there are certain things it helps to keep in mind going into it; for example, the foam wings should be handled carefully, particularly during construction, and of course, the competition-grade rubber that it uses is a very different material than what is used in toy-grade models.
Terry Dunn provided an excellent review for Model Aviation Magazine of his experience with the BETA from a beginner’s perspective that you can see and read here, and the AMA even made the aircraft the capstone of our 2021 Jr. Camp program, with instructions and tips for building and flying this impressive aircraft still available on-demand. Best of luck with your own BETA, and happy flying!