History Accompanies NMA Museum Donations

Cass Engineering Pulsar Biplane comes to National Model Aviation Museum

In the early 1970s there were discussions about the declining interest in Radio Controlled Pattern competition (Model Airplane News Oct. 1973 and Jan 1974). This led Ollie Olson and several clubs in the Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa area to hold the first National Multi-Wing Championships in July 1973. The contest was limited to biplanes and featured Pattern and Pylon events but most notably a free style component. Bill Heger of Peoria, IL won with a Glen Howard designed Knight Twister. At the time discussions also focused on duplicating the maneuvers flown by full-scale aerobatic aircraft using scale-like aircraft. In 1974, this culminated with the formation of the National Sport Pattern Association. In 1975, the name was changed to the Miniature Aerobatic Biplane Association and in 1976, in an effort “to broaden the outlook of the organization and include all types of aerobatic aircraft, the name was changed to the International Miniature Aerobatic Club (Model Airplanes News, Oct 1976).

While initially Lou Andrews’ Aeromaster was the primary aircraft flown by many competitors at these events, new designs quickly emerged. One such notable aircraft was the Pulsar, designed and flown by Norm Cassella, a regular competitor and winner of these early biplane events. The Pulsar was sold through Cass Engineering.  As museum staff researched the history of IMAC, the accomplishments of Mr. Cassella and his Pulsar during these early formative years became obvious. It was determined that this aircraft should be added to the museum’s collection, documenting this early biplane component of IMAC’s history. While we have unfortunately lost Mr. Cassella, his family has some of his aircraft including a Pulsar – which they have so kindly offered to the museum. The aircraft arrived at the museum late in October, 2015.

Drone racing

In the last few years, radio control drone racing has gained in popularity because of advances in batteries, electric motors, and first person view (FPV) video equipment. Go to YouTube and you can watch numerous examples of these events. As with anything, at first the races were flown by friends just trying to see who the best was but rules quickly emerged. In April of this year, as part of the DATA X Conference, in Santa Cruz, CA, this bar was raised with the first AMA sanctioned FPV Drone Racing. Scot Refsland, the organizer of the event, is helping the museum document this event and the winner, Zoe Stumbaugh, even agreed to donate her Spider Hex “Rat” racer, along with her transmitter and FPV googles. These items are now on display in the museum.

Following closely on the heels of this race, the 1st US National Drone Race  was held in July at the California State Fair. 120 pilots participated in this event, with Chad Nowak from Australia taking top honor. Like Zoe, Chad has agreed to donate his winning aircraft to the museum.


Zoe Stumbaugh’s Spider Hex “Rat” Racer, transmitter and FPV goggles