4x a Grand Champion: What it Takes

It is all well and good to say that one has been a Nationals Grand Champion four times, like Bob Sifleet. But, how does one get to be Grand Champion in the first place?

According to the Official Model Aircraft Regulations for 1959-1960, as published by the AMA, want-to-be-Grand-Champions had to:

  • compete in up to 9 events that will get totaled towards their championship point score. These events had to be declared on the competitor’s entry form.
  • the 9 events had to contain at least 2 FF Gas, 2 FF Non-Gas, 2 CL. The last 3 events were the competitor’s choice.
  • points were awarded for each event by a sliding scale, with all competitors on the scale, no matter of age division, getting points awarded based on the top competitors 100 points and the bottom’s zero points.
  • the person with the highest point total for their declared events won Grand National Champion.
  • at this point, age divisions were broken out and the open competitor, senior competitor, and junior competitor with the highest point totals were awarded those championships.

So, to win Grand National Champion, one had to compete and do well in –but not necessarily win – at least 6 events, with a better chance of winning when one competed in nine events, – all in one week of competition.

scanned from a black and white magazine, a young man is pictured running just after he threw a glider into the air. The glider and is hand are a blur.
Bob Sifleet launches a glider at the 1960 Nats. From “My Life As a Modeler” in American Modeler, June 1961.

How did Bob manage it? In an interview with American Modeler in June 1961, he provided 7 simple rules for those trying for the high prize:
1. Select the events you are going to fly and work on these events only.
2. The better the model is built the better it will fly.
3. Be sure that all gadgets and devices work properly 100% of the time.
4. Always be well equipped for all emergencies, especially fast repair jobs.
5. Enter only consistent models that will fly regardless of weather conditions.
6. Have two helpers with you when flying free flight models – one your ground mechanic who stays with the timer, the other to help chase. Retrieving a free flight model in a car by yourself is dangerous with other contestants after their models on the same field.
7. When flying do not hurry, a slight slip could crack up a model as well as lose a free flight.

Three very large trophies, all varying examples of wood bases and loving cups. The largest is more vase than loving cup and quite tall.
Bob’s collection of Grand National Champion trophies.

Bob was Grand National Champion in 1960, 1962, 1966 and 1976. On exhibit is his 1960, 1962 and 1966 Grand National Trophies. Bob isn’t sure what happened to the 1976 one – he thinks it is still somewhere in his shed. Come see these up close, though, between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2018.

Stay tuned for #SifleetFriday every Friday this summer!

For more information on the National Model Aviation Museum, including our location, hours and admission fees visit: www.modelaircraft.org/museum

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