Most history books attribute Jim Walker as the farther of Control Line Flying. However, according Charles Mackey's research, Oba St. Clair has documented and flown his four-line system as early as 1937. His system of controlling the model airplane was shown to Jim Walker in the later part of the 1930's. In the early 40's, Jim Walker developed and patented the basic two-wire control system to control a model airplane. He eventually perfected his idea and and established the innovative American-Junior Aircraft Co. which produced the A-J Fireball, which was the first C/L model, complete with control handle and flying lines. The later produced Firebaby, was the first Control Line RTF "Ready to Fly" model.
He would demonstrate his incredible flying ability by flying 3 models at a time, two of them in each hand and one on his head using a special beanie with a control handle attached to the top. With the development of the glow engine, the hobby of "Control Line" or "U-Control" was born. The 50's was know as the "Golden Age" of modeling. Innovative model designs such as the "Nobler" along with improve engine performance allowed the model to do aerobatic maneuvers. Speed records were broken as technology improved.
Control-line fliers are generally more competition-oriented than their R/C (Radio Control) counterparts. There many aspect on C/L (Control Line) flying. The four types of competition are: Speed, Racing, Precision Aerobatics and Combat. With eash type, there are many different classes base on model design, engine displacement and skill level of the competitor.
The Speed competition is based on building and flying an airplane as fast as it can possibly go, given the limitations of fuel, engine displacement and model design and line specifications. The designs are usually small, streamlined, with long, thin wings. Several classes are flown, based on engine displacement. Everything from the standard two-stroke engine to pulse-jets. The models are timed for a certain number of laps to determine their speed. Speeds can reach an awesome 200 mph!!
Racing events involve the flying of two or more airplanes together in the same circle. The idea, of course, is to complete a given number of laps before ones' opponents do so. Racing events usuall involves a minimum number of pit stops, where the planes are landed, refueled, restarted and relaunched by a second team member. Racing type competition takes many forms. Some require that a given amount of fuel is carried, and some require a mandatory number of fueling stops. The international event, F2C is known as called "Team Racing". In F2C, 2.5 cc size engine are used. Other type of racing, know popular in the US is called "Sport Racing". This type of racing using as standard inexpensive "Fox 35 Stunt" engine. Many clubs have adopted a form of the event to attract beginning into the world of Racing. The most popular version of the racing was founded in the Pacific Northwest are, so the name "Northwest Sport Race" was coined. Other racing events such as "Flying Clown Race", uses model of the same design.
Precision Aerobatics, or "Stunt" is the premier event in the world on Control Line. It involves flying of a set of acrobatic maneuvers, such as squares, hourglass and four-leaf clover. The models are large compared to Speed, Racing or Combat models, and are often beautifully finished with hundreds of hour of work. George Aldritch, who design the famous "Nobler" stunt model, developed the modern pattern still flown today. The unique design of the Nobler incorporate the use of flaps which work in conjuction with the elevator. This provided a substantial increase in maneuverability for the time. Flapped stunt ship are common in most designs today. Pilot spent many hours perfecting their pattern. Each maneuver is judge from 10 to 40 points. A addition 25 point is awarded for completing the pattern. Also, a maximum of 20 point is given for the appearance of the model.
Recently new events have been added to stunt, such as "Old-Time", "Classic" and "P40". "Old-Time" and "Classic" are nostalgic event which celebrate model designed in a centain period. "Old-Time" model is and before 1953 and "Classic" model is from 1953 to 1967.
The "P40" or "Profile 40" event are model designed with flat or "Profile" type fuselage. The engine displacement can not go over .40 cu inches. Thus the name "Profile 40". The "Profile" model are usually what most beginner start with because they are a lot easiler to build, simplier to repair and are able with with stand crashes versus the built-up counterpart.
"Combat" event is the simulation of air-to-air combat or "Dog Fighting".
These models are very minimal, simply a wing and an elevator. They are constructed
to be tough and very maneuverable. Two pilots fly in the same circle, towing a
crepe paper streamers. Points are awarded for cuts on the opponent's streamer.
In addition, points are awarded for "airtime". As with other events,
several classes are flown.
The Carrier event is designed to mimic actual naval carrier-based operations. These model area fown from a simulated aircraft carrier deck and must simulate naval carrier flight with includes several things: high speed; slow flight; and precision arrested landing. Scoring is based on the accumulate of these flights plus additional point for scale-like apperance. Like other event there are many classes of Carrier from Class II, Profile, Profile 15, etc. Each class has limits on engine displacement and design type.