Resources for F3A Flying

Guide for RC Information

Q:  What is F3A?  

A:  As described from page:  


What is F3A?  

The F3A acronym stands for: 

F = Flying model
3 = Radio control
A = Aerobatics 

The FAI class of F3A involves complex aerial maneuvers with a radio controlled model aircraft, where utmost precision and skill in controlling the model aircraft in any attitude and under all conditions is required. The model aircraft is 100% influenced by the wind and all maneuvers in the aerobatic schedules are judged relative to a point on the ground. The competitor must therefore compensate constantly for possible wind drift and other weather elements. 

Typically, an F3A model aircraft will have a fuselage length and a wing span of 2 meters (78.74") or less, and the weight must not exceed 5kg's (11.02lbs). They can be made out of any material, built-up or composite, as long as it meets these 3 elements. 

The motive for power is either an internal combustion engine, with no size or fuel limitations, but the engine has to be adequately silenced, or an electric motor powered by a battery not exceeding 42 volts. There is a 94 decibel limit for all aircraft regardless of power unit. 

The F3A class is a team and an individual competition. FAI member countries may enter a team of up to 3 competitors as a national team for world and continental championships. Team results are the sum of the three competitors' scores at the end of the contest.


Flights are performed directly in front of the judges in an aerobatic zone or "box", which extends 60 degrees to the left and right of a center line, and at an elevation of no more than 60 degrees. Each time the model aircraft crosses the center line, a particular maneuver of an aerobatic schedule has to be performed, involving components such as loops, rolls, lines, spins, snap rolls, stall turns, knife-edge, and combinations of these. At the ends of the aerobatic box, the model aircraft is required to do turn-around maneuvers to enable it to reverse its direction of travel. An aerobatic schedule has 17 maneuvers, excluding the take-off and landing. Maneuvers, or parts of them, performed outside of the box are penalized by loss of points, proportional to the degree of infraction. Generally the model aircraft is required to be flown at 150 meters from the pilot, in a plane perpendicular to the center line. 

Each competitor will be entitled to 4 preliminary flights, of which the best 3 scores will determine his/her placing. Semi-final and final rounds are generally only flown for world, continental and national championships, of which the finals also involve 2 different unknown maneuver schedules along with 2 finals schedules. 

The competitor's performance is assessed by a panel of judges who will award marks, independently from each other, between 0 and 10 for each maneuver, or figure. Maneuvers are assigned a difficulty factor (K-factor, which is a multiplier of each maneuver) depending on the complexity of the particular maneuver. Judging is based on four basic criteria: precision (or geometry), smoothness and gracefulness, positioning (display), and size of maneuvers. Points are subtracted for various types of defects observed by the judges, the severity of these defects, and the number of times these defects are observed. At the end of each flight the judges may award a penalty for an excessively noisy model aircraft, to discourage disturbance to the surroundings.


Q:  How do I find out more about the organizations supporting model aircraft flying?

A:  There are a few that you can find a wealth of information on getting involved with RC flying:

Academy of Model Aeronautics


What is the AMA?


World's largest model aviation association, representing a membership of more than 175,000 from every walk of life, income level and age group.

Self-supporting, non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote development of model aviation as a recognized sport and worthwhile recreation activity.
Organization open to anyone interested in model aviation.
Official national body for model aviation in the United States. AMA sanctions more than 2,000 model competitions throughout the country each year, and certifies official model flying records on a national and international level.
Organizer of the annual National Aeromodeling Championships, the world's largest model airplane competition. 

Chartering organization for more than 2,500 model airplane clubs across the country. AMA offers its chartered clubs official contest sanction, insurance, and assistance in getting and keeping flying sites. 

The voice of its membership, providing liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and other government agencies through our national headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. AMA also works with local governments, zoning boards, and parks departments to promote the interests of local chartered clubs.
An associate member of the National Aeronautic Association. Through NAA, AMA is recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body of all aviation activity, as the only organization which may direct U.S. participation in international aeromodeling activities.


For more information:                Academy of Model Aeronautics
                                                          Marketing Department
                                                         5161 E. Memorial Drive
                                                              Muncie IN 47302


                                                     Telephone 1-765-287-1256



The National Society of Radio Controlled Aerobatics objective is to promote the construction and competitive flying of radio controlled precision aerobatic model airplanes.  To aid, insofar as possible, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and other AMA activities, to further the advancement of model aircraft aerobatics in all of its phases.

Pattern, as it is known in the USA, is flown around the world in many countries, and we have produced some incredible pilots that not only have led the world with their flying but also have led the world in model airplane technologies.  From the late 1960's until today, US pilots have been major contributors to the sport of precision aerobatics.  We've seen our sport evolve from a .60 size glow engine to a 1.70 size glow engine, and now electric motors have made huge inroads into our sport.  All of these innovations have been led by a number of US pilots over the years.

We also produce a monthly magazine which is full of information on the latest airplane kits, building techniques, contest results and flying information.  Another area that we pride ourselves in is our judging program - we have led the way in this area over the years in providing a high quality judging seminar which has taken our judging development to a new level in producing consistent, high quality judges that have gained the respect of their peers all over the world.

The National Society of Radio Controlled Aerobatics (NSRCA) is the US Special Interest Group that supports and encourages R/C pattern across the world through its newsletters, website and the organization of the Pattern Nationals in the United States. You can find more information about the NSRCA HERE.