Suggestions to Preston Briggs
This site was last updated on February 15, 2008.
Combat for model planes is like a dogfight. There are two people flying planes at the same time, each attempting to cut a streamer off the tail of the other. The pilots (us!) control the planes, which makes it a lot more fun. Some people use radio control (RC Combat) and some people use control lines (CL Combat). While this website is devoted to CL Combat, there are are several sites out there for RC Combat.
In a circle laid out over grass, two pilots fly models that have strings with paper streamers attached to the tail. The object is to cut the opponent's streamer with your propeller (while keeping your plane in the air). Points are awarded for cuts on the opponents streamer and for time in the air.
The models are usually a bare minimum: a wing, with the motor pod on the front and a tail attached to a boom. European models tend to be made of balsa, with a foam leading edge, while most American models are made of foam, with a carbon fiber tail boom. They are at the extreme in simplicity, maneuverability and durability. Although they are strong enough to often survive ground hits at full speed, there is considerable carnage in mid-air collisions during a competition. To get through a contest, you typically have to bring about half a dozen planes, plus a few engines.
The high rate of plane destruction leads to the other unique aspect of combat. Active flyers are pretty much forced to become mass consumers or mass producers. While some people will buy many of their models ready to fly, many people still build their own planes. The techniques used for efficient production of their planes is an interesting study in itself.