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The BMFA Achievement Scheme: The B Certificate


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JS1, yea i agree that there are loads of very skilled pilots who have no tests to their name at all and i think it very unfair to exclude them from flying a given model type based upon this fact alone. I have known plenty of people with a B that were a complete liability, and plenty without that were not. When my old club tried to put rules in place to prevent non b pilots flying models over 7kg i resisted it for that reason.

 

Cant disagree on the smugness point either. some are just that way inclined i suppose. But i have seen it myself were normally unassuming blokes turn in to know it all's once they get their B and start talking down to everyone else on the field. 

 

Peter, you are right about the B not being a display licence and but it is used that way. Perhaps a better option is to get a display approval on a given genre of model? but that would mean 3 or 4 or more tests which is likely to be rather impractical. 

 

Your point about someone who did their B years ago is also quite valid and we had this issue present itself when one of our older members went for his examiners rating and was required to run though a B routine. It was awful to watch as his flying was so poor we couldnt even tell which item he was attempting. He got most annoyed when the chap failed him, but i dont see what other choice he had. 

 

When it comes to the safety issues the B cert and any other form of testing is meaningless anyway. Safety is an attitude, or a culture or whatever you want to call it. You cant teach someone to care about it. They are either safe and responsible, or they arent. Just look at the way people drive. They all passed the same test, they know about red lights and speed limits. Seems to make little difference though. 

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After returning to the hobby after a 20+ year break I joined my local club where an A test was recommended for unsupervised flying. I duly booked a slot with our friendly examiner and turned up with my 1/4 scale Precedent Stampe, which raised his eyebrow a little. Actually an easy model to fly and ideal for the test although my feigned ‘dead stick’ actually was a dead stick which had my heart racing.

 

My next build was my over 7.5kg P47 and the local club field just isn’t suitable due size and proximity of trees, so I joined another club with a slightly bigger field. However the club safety officer on my first visit told me that if I attempted to fly the P47 without a B I would be thrown out of the club, not a warm welcome. Somewhat irked I checked the club rules and discovered there was not a clause regarding the need for a B. I also checked with our area BMFA representative who said as long as it wasn’t in the club rules I should be allowed to fly the model. I reported back to the safety officer who dug in and duly had the club rules changed at the next meeting. Since he was also the main club examiner I felt taking my test with him may be somewhat challenging. 
 

A few months later I took the long drive up to Buckminster for one of the test preparation and taking weekends. I had a great time with loads of  support/instruction and duly passed the test with a Wot4xl (I would have chosen my Stampe but wasn’t entirely convinced  it would enjoy the ‘bunt’. I also finally maidened the P47 with some helpful advice from Brian Cooper (right rudder on take off? “Yes please do” he quietly encourages as it lurched hard left towards the windsock). I have since found a new club to join that is very friendly.


The irony is that the club that I have left had numerous regular members who at every visit had some new contraption that at almost every attempt at flying resulted in lawn darts. For some reason this was deemed entirely acceptable. For my part I still have so much to learn about flying and since a developing penchant for large warbirds seems to have taken hold, the need to take it ever more seriously prevails. As Jon and others have previously mentioned the B qualification is a just a stepping stone; though one that I applaud the BMFA for and all those who are working towards the levels.

 

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7 hours ago, dave parnham said:

When was the last publication of the Handbook? The Cap numbers seem to have changed so many times its confusing trying to learn Cap 258 says this... but now its Cap XXX etc.

The Flying isn't my problem its the questions about the regs afterwards I find confusing.

 

I made a personal promise to pass the 'B' (or at least attempt it) several years ago but what put me off was precisely that.  The last time I took an exam was when I was 24 (now I come to think of it I've never failed a test/exam - including driving tests - though I've had a few close calls like 45%, the pass mark for 'O' Level French ? )  I just can't be bothered with the swotting needed.  If I was organising a public event, I wouldn't rely on my memory but look up the requirements and I rely on my natural caution and common sense for the rest.  Now?  Well at 82 I can fly adequately well not to endanger either people or (usually) my model and I'm too old to bother.

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Another way of looking at why it's worth the effort of doing a B Certificate is the greatly reduced need for black bin bags!

 

Before my B, I've lost count of the number of aircraft I brought home in a bin bag.  Since passing my B 11 years ago, I've needed 1 bin bag.  Losing an aircraft now comes as a shock whereas before it was a regular occurrence.

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I was always told, if the flying is OK, safety and preparation, post flight procedures OK,  the man is looking to pass you. Bottom line, he is not scared working with you. 
Perhaps, knowing the core of the question, don’t know the act and section, is not too much of an issue. 

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I can't speak for anyone else but when I ask the questions, I phrase them to check understanding rather than as any sort of memory exercise in learning paragraph numbers etc.  There should never be any suggestion of trick questions - I've always said that I'm looking for reasons to pass a candidate, not trying to find reasons to fail them.

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Examiners not out to get you...ehhh not always. 

 

I passed my B while getting a question wrong.  I was invited to another club field to test fly a 20kg + LMA spitfire. I flew for a bit, and was then told i wasnt allowed to fly my 7kg+ model any more as it came up in conversation doing the spitfire stuff that i didnt have a B. It was beyond stupid as i had been flying all morning and was complimented by several people. Anyway i shrugged and said 'ok, do it now'. Being rather unprepared i got a question wrong (distance of flight line from the punters at a show) but my guess was more than the actual distance so they let it fly...at least one of the two did. I had already annoyed the other (the same guy who said i couldnt fly) and he rage quit the who thing. The reason? I had to do my test with 3 other models in the air as dictated by this particular examiner. When i had to do a loop of whatever else i would call to the other pilots and ask for the airspace. 3 times in a row they got in my way and i aborted. I then stated that i would simply wait for them to land as i was unable to continue with these pilots deliberately getting in the way. He told me i had to complete the test in one flight without refuelling and my slightly sarcastic reply of 'its fine, i have about 40 minutes of fuel aboard' caused the subsequent rage quit. The 2nd examiner then finished everything off quite nicely and was totally fair about it. The other chap...i dont know, i think he was riding his LMA ego and thought he was the big man. Who was i? just the boy from Laser so he had to do...something? i dont know its all very school playgorund and kinda boring. 

 

So, from this and other experiences (like Nick's with his P47) there are examiners out there who are interested in nothing but their own position and power. IF you find one like this just walk away and leave them alone. Dont let it put you off and if anything i would take it as incentive to achieve a higher standard, ideally one they cannot match. The next time you cross paths you just fly, and if challenged you have the paperwork to make the problem go away

 

 

 

A small note on the questions. Given their now legal implications my old club abandoned the A test as our club solo as we didnt think asking an 8 year old questions with legal ramifications was a good idea. We just took the A cert and did the same test but judged by committiee members instead. 

Edited by Jon - Laser Engines
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Noting wrong with doing that but of course, it isn't transferable between clubs.

 

As to your "rogue" examiner, remember it's the club that appoints their examiners (ACEs excepted) and that aspect is out of the hands of the BMFA.  It's really up to the membership to call their committee to account if there are poor aspects of their nominee's attitude. I suppose you could discuss the behaviour with the area co-ordinator though as this sort of thing could be seen to be bringing the scheme into bad repute...

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3 hours ago, Martin Harris - Moderator said:

Noting wrong with doing that but of course, it isn't transferable between clubs.

 

As to your "rogue" examiner, remember it's the club that appoints their examiners (ACEs excepted) and that aspect is out of the hands of the BMFA.  It's really up to the membership to call their committee to account if there are poor aspects of their nominee's attitude. I suppose you could discuss the behaviour with the area co-ordinator though as this sort of thing could be seen to be bringing the scheme into bad repute...

 

The gentleman in question is well known and allegedly of some repute. I suspect he does what he wants how and when he likes as he just intimidates anyone that opposes him. I could have complained to the BMFA but what are they going to do? one moan, he will deny it, and thats the end of it. Also, given his position they wouldnt touch him anyway. 

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One moan - yes, a clash of personalities, bad day, misunderstanding etc. but if several complaints arrived then I'm sure questions would be asked.  No individual should be above the scheme or unaccountable for their actions, Why not have an "off the record" chat with your area co-ordinator, a volunteer member of the review committee (a couple of them are regular posters on this forum and have a keen interest in the wellbeing of the achievement scheme) or Andy Symons?

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Perhaps another way to look at the B test being used as a baseline qualification for display flying is to ask whether a pilot incapable of flying a relatively simple set of exercises under the scrutiny of a couple of examiners and demonstrate some knowledge of model flying and the regulations included show operations (the questions asked are extremely likely to be biased towards this) has the necessary skill set or commitment to perform in public.

 

Used as a coarse filter, it might cut the workload for organisers but it must never be seen as giving blanket permission to fly in public. Where there are good reasons why a pilot doesn't hold one, such as an invited pilot from abroad, a show organiser is free to waive the requirement anyway.

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Thank you gentlemen for so many interesting responses. As the original poster I think that you all deserve a reply.

 

I hold the French Brevet A and the QPDD, the equivalents of the A and B Certificates respectively as well as the BMFA's A Certificate which I gained in 1999.  The Brevet A is more involved than the BMFA A Certificate, requiring the candidate to perform a loop, a roll and a reversal as well as the manoeuvres required by the A Certificate. On the other hand, the QPDD is much easier than the B Certificate. Incidentally, each candidate is examined by two examiners from a different club, in my case, from two different clubs.

 

I may well  return permanently to the UK in the next year or so. A couple of years ago I met a lovely English woman who had to return to the UK because her daughter has MS and we are both tired of living on our own. I have always enjoyed teaching beginners and I will be disappointed if I join a club which insists on their instructors having to have the B Certificate. Just because you can fly well doesn't means that you make a good instructor but of course there are many good instructors who hold that qualification.

 

I suppose that at the bottom of all of this is the fact that I started aeromodelling with free flight models in 1959. I built a few control line models too but never took to models flying round and round on a couple of cables. In short, I have always been more interested in "flight" rather than "control" and I especially enjoy watching something I have built defying gravity. I get equal pleasure, perhaps even more pleasure, from flying my Big Guff, a three channel vintage model in big circles and horizontal eights, than I do out of performing aerobatics with my ARTF Acrowot or WOT 4 Foam-E, fine flyers though they are. Some may find such models boring but I don't. 3Ds and Shockies, whatever they are, leave me cold.

 

And it's not that I can't fly the manoeuvres required by the B Certificate. I can loop, roll and fly inverted and since I've been flying in France, my landings have improved a great deal. We have a tarmac strip on our flying field 80 metres long and 10 metres wide and it's considered a matter of honour to be able to land on the tarmac! I haven't crashed a model for over a year so I consider myself to be a safe and competent pilot. It's just that I'm not keen on having my flying skills put under the microscope and if you look at the models in my collection, they are mostly non-aerobatic models, the Big Guff and my Roy Scott BE2e for example and I have a DB Sport & Scale Auster on the stocks too so that's where my main interest lies.

 

That said, I am also building a Pegasus Models "Mystic" and a DSM Aerostar awaits restoration so you never know...

Miss Blue Eyes Gets On With It.JPG

Super 60 in the bones (3).JPG

Big Guff Maiden Flight 1.jpg

Big Guff Maiden Flight 3.jpg

Photo of the year.jpg

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Our club is small, and quite informal.

 

There is no requirement for an A certificate before solo flying; if we feel someone is in need of some more support or guidance, we'll quietly suggest it.  As far as I know, only one person has taken umbridge and left the club (he was generally opinionated and argumentative). 

 

We have no formal training programme, and the 'main' instructor, has no B, or even A certificate.  But he is very competent, safe, and patient, with a good success record - he's also quite 'available' being retired.

 

We have a B examiner, but he's not readily available and lives some miles away.

 

As far as I know, we have one other recently B qualified member.  By no means is he the best, or safest pilot. Yet.  He wanted to take the tests for his own satisfaction, and has aspirations of flying elsewhere.

 

We have a couple of people who are excellent fliers, and would like to gake the B test but have been put off by the need to travel to take it. 

 

Looking at the sylabus, I reckon about half a dozen of us would quite easily pass the B, but have no incentive.  If the club, or any that I moved to required an A or B, I'd take the test pdq.

 

I reckon it's a good idea, and a good scheme, just not required for me at the moment.

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41 minutes ago, Maurice Dyer said:

Hi

So when I take my B sometime this year, can somebody point me to where I can read up on the questions I will be asked ?

Cheers

They will be based on your local flying site rules and the relevant sections of the BMFA handbook covering general model flying safety, model displays etc. There isn't a published list.  They are really nothing to worry about though.

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David

 

If you are happy taking the ribbing off your club mates when you fly and make a mistake, I don't see flying in front of 2 examiners is much worse.  That being said, as soon as someone says the test is underway, the nerves kick in and you can sometimes do some silly things that you can kick yourself for!  When I did my Examiner's Test, I omitted to check that the ACE was watching when I did my range check.  All went well until after landing he said that it was a fail because I had not done the range check!  I said I had but he said he hadn't seen me do it.  Nothing for it but to re-do the whole flying bit and draw his attention to everything I was doing.  You just have to bite your tongue on occasions.  I should say that I had never met the ACE who did my test before that so I was a complete unknown to him as he was to me.

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18 hours ago, Peter Jenkins said:

Another way of looking at why it's worth the effort of doing a B Certificate is the greatly reduced need for black bin bags!

 

Before my B, I've lost count of the number of aircraft I brought home in a bin bag.  Since passing my B 11 years ago, I've needed 1 bin bag.  Losing an aircraft now comes as a shock whereas before it was a regular occurrence.

Peter, you make an interesting point re bin bag 'moments'. Ever since I began in this hobby as a kid over 50 years ago, any damage, or god forbid a crash that's happened to me, I've regarded as a failure on my part - no excuses.  Every wreck is etched on my memory.  I don't like damaging or breaking models no matter what the circumstances and it amazes me when I come across flyers who regard crashing as a totally unavoidable part of the hobby and something to be expected on a regular basis and casually laughed off, even cheap foamies.

I've never subscribed to the "if you're not crashing, you're not trying hard enough" ethos. Imagine if full size aviation had that standpoint (they probably did in the very early days pre WW1).

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I hate the binbag moment. Though the pre event feelings are worse!. Like most, I  am sure, we all wish it hadn't happened and I too put it down to something I did wrong. That said they can be entertaing seconds and provided no one is hurt can be laugh at load moments. That said it costs less to see a comedian!!

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Absolutely agree with you Cuban 8.  As for the folk who like to fly inverted at 6 in off the ground - best of luck but I won't be following in your footsteps.

 

I fly F3A competitively, and while practicing one day, my clubmate said that it all looked very boring.  I replied that it required a great deal of concentration and a lot of practice to make it look boring!  He said a knife edge pass at 10 ft would look fantastic.  Against my better judgement(!), I flew a KE pass at 10 ft - the aeroplane was rock steady - as it always is - and the only issue was my nervousness at risking my competition bird doing this silly stunt.  My clubmate thought it was fantastic and raved about how good it looked for ages.  I said it required very little skill to fly that type of manoeuvre but a lot of nerve!

 

What does that tell us?  Show flying and competition flying are 2 quite different things.  As a full size aerobatic pilot (he was in the GB team) told me, he gets rave reviews for flying air shows that require a moderate degree of precision and he gets paid for it.  Fly in a competition and he has to pay an entry fee and gets told how badly he flew when he was flying to a much higher standard.  The difference is that for the average club modeller who has little or no experience of precision aerobatics, flashy flying low down to a lowish standard of accuracy is far preferred to watching competition flying where a much higher standard of flying (e.g. centre means exactly on centre, roll rates to be exactly the same etc) is on display.

 

In my experience, where pilots have not thought through what they want to fly before getting airborne we have a recipe for disaster.  At least if you have considered the manoeuvres you are going to fly you should think them through and consider what might happen if things go wrong and what to do if they do go wrong.  Preparation for what you are about to fly and staying ahead of the aircraft are 2 good ways to avoid the black bag syndrome! 

 

Those are great learning points to take from the B Certificate and keep with your for the rest of your flying days.

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Instructors are worth their weight in gold. Whilst I have an A cert and "stood with novice flyers" I feel I need more experience of my own flying before teaching. It is my intention to improve myself with a view to tutor the novice.

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