Approved Aircraft Cutoff Date Changed
March 20, 2018

Fellow SPA Members,

As detailed in the report of this year's Board of Directors meeting, a subcommittee consisting of Dan Dougherty, Jim Johns, and me was charged with updating the rules for the Approved Airplane List with the goal of reducing the number of inconsistencies that had crept in over the years. You will find a copy of that report at the bottom of this page.

While there are a number of detailed recommendations, the main one is that the cutoff date has been moved from 1/1/1976 to 12/31/1979. This has the immediate benefit of removing several inconsistencies. For example, both the Deception and the Bootlegger are designs that were published or kitted in 1978 and later and they were allowed on the basis that they were direct descendants of the Compensator, a design from the early 70s. But other cases were not allowed - the Tiporare was a direct modification of the Curare, but was not allowed. The Arrow is a descendant of the Atlas, but was not allowed. After studying the similarities of designs and the general trend of pattern design in the late 70s it was decided that moving the cutoff date removed many inconsistencies, yet added little in the way of markedly different design features. No currently allowed airplanes have been removed from the list. No dramatically different designs are introduced, so existing airplanes are not made obsolete by this change. This move has the added benefit of making more ARFs from the end of the 70s decade available for SPA competition (see for offerings from Sky Aviations.)

The Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved of the subcommittee's recommendations and they will go into effect immediately.

It should be remembered that the Allowed Airplane List is for example only. If you know of a plane that is not on the list and you can show that it meets the requirements, then let me know and we will add it to the list. Designs that are well documented and that meet the specified criteria may be approved by the President. Approval of all other requests will be by a vote of the Board of Directors. These changes were approved by the Board of Directors at the 2018 annual meeting.

Best of luck on the contest trail!

Jeff Owens
President, SPA L243

Report to the SPA Board of Directors
Legal Airplane List
Jeff Owens, Dan Dougherty, and Jim Johns

The concept of a design cutoff date (currently December 31, 1975) has been central to the philosophy followed by the Senior Pattern Association. A list of designs allowed for SPA competition is maintained by the organization. It is intended that these designs should be built according to the plans (published or provided in a kit). The list is fluid in that members can petition to have a design added to the list. Such a petition must contain documentation that the design was flown in the time period provided by the cutoff date. Over the years the list has grown and, for a variety of reasons, now contains some glaring inconsistencies. A list of these compiled by the committee follows below. At the outset, the committee recognizes that some of these issues have been addressed in a piecemeal fashion over the years. Furthermore, the committee members are aware of the rationale involved in some of these exceptions.

  • All variants of the Kaos/Chaos series are allowed, even those that came after the design cutoff date, e.g., Killer Chaos and Ultimate Kaos. All variants of the Phoenix through the Phoenix 8 are allowed, even though the later members were clearly designs from the late 70s and early 80s.

  • Several other designs from the late 70s are on the list. These include the Deception (published in 1978) and the Bootlegger (anecdotally developed around 1977; kitted in the late 70s by Southern RC and in 1980 by Don's Hobbies.) Anecdotal evidence that the Deception flew before the cutoff date exists. Approval of the Bootlegger was justified by it being a minor modification of the Compensator. Models that are clearly related to earlier designs but that fall after the cutoff date are generally not allowed, although the variations in some cases are very minor. Examples include the Tiporare (not allowed) which differs little from the Curare (allowed.) On the other hand both the Deception and the Bootlegger (both allowed) are minor variations on the Compensator (also allowed).

  • Several ARFs exist and are popular in SPA competition, even though in some cases the models differ markedly from the original designs, and in one case (Phoenix 7) were designed after the current cutoff date.

The committee was charged with formulating some changes that would remove – or at least reduce – the number of inconsistencies in the list. One reason is that we must recruit new members in order for the organization to survive. Inconsistent rules as to which models are allowed and which are excluded can be a factor that discourages new members from joining SPA. With this in mind, the committee has formulated the following list of recommendations and justifications.

  1.  The committee members recognize that it is both futile and unfair to remove models from the list as members may have invested much time and effort in building their models. Therefore, it is recommended that no models on the current list be removed.

  2.  Competing in SPA events can be time-consuming and expensive. With all the other demands of work and family it is no surprise that ARF models have become increasingly popular. It has been a long-standing policy to allow ARF designs even if they do not conform precisely to the original design specifications. Furthermore, some ARF designs come after the current cutoff date – one example is the Phoenix 7 that was widely used when it was available. It is recommended that ARFs be allowed regardless of small deviations from the original plans and that exceptions to the cutoff date be allowed, if approved by the Board of Directors.

  3. The current list allows designs such as the Deception, Bootlegger, Phoenix 7, and Phoenix 8 that were developed after the current cutoff date, yet many designs that were contemporaries of these are excluded. This inconsistency provides an impediment to recruiting new members. It should be noted that all four of these designs were intended to be used with tuned pipes and retracts. Yet the first three are widely used in SPA competition and fly just fine with fixed gear and standard mufflers. Some are even flown with 4-stroke engines with no ill effects, even though they were originally designed for 2-strokes engines. In light of these facts, the committee recommends moving the cutoff date to December 31, 1979. This would remove the inconsistencies noted above. It would also allow the use of closely related designs that are currently excluded. Examples would include the Tiporare (related to the Curare), the UFO (related to the Dirty Birdy), and the Arrow (related to the Atlas). It should be noted that there is a new ARF version of the Arrow being developed by Sky Aviations.

  4.  It is recommended that the current process for approving new entries to the allowed design list be continued.1 This includes requests to approve designs that fall after the cutoff date because they represent small changes from an approved design.

The committee feels that the four recommendations listed above will do much to remove the existing inconsistencies in the current list. Furthermore, they should stimulate new interest with the models that would be added and could serve to help with recruiting new members. The addition of the new models should not be seen as rendering the older designs as being less competitive as they are all flying under the fixed gear/standard muffler requirements and, indeed, many were simple modifications of previous designs as noted above.

Respectfully submitted to the SPA Board of Directors,
Jeff Owens, Dan Dougherty, and Jim Johns

1   Designs that are well documented and that meet the specified criteria may be approved by the President. Approval of all other requests will be by a vote of the Board of Directors. These changes were approved by the Board of Directors at the 2018 annual meeting.