SAA Awards


The Scottish Aeromodellers Association’s Safety Award Scheme was set up to recognise various standards of flying ability from a safety point of view and is not intended as an aerobatic or performance rating. It is also not an indication of how long an individual has been flying. The nice thing is that you cannot “fail” these tests when you sit them, you are merely judged to have not yet reached the required standard.

Click here for the SAA safety manual

Newcomers and Beginners Helpful links and information.

Irrespective of which particular area of aero modelling you fly, whether it’s Fixed Wing, Helicopter, Gliding and so on, you are assessed as being in one of four classes.

  1. Novice – Hey – Everyone starts here! A novice is considered to be a flier who has not yet passed a Bronze Safety Award- a learner – in the discipline being flown and is not “experienced” enough to fly unsupervised. A Novice therefor needs tuition from a suitably qualified person – more on that later.
  2. Bronze – Once you can safely take-off, fly around and land and know a bit about the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of aeromodelling, you are considered a safe enough flier for unsupervised flying. The Bronze is not a difficult test to pass with most fliers taking about four to six months. (Our Club record is a week!). Our Club’s aim (as is that of the S.A.A.) is to get every member to a minimum of Bronze standard. So far we’re at about 50% of total membership but the vast majority of our regular flying members already hold the Bronze with others “there or there-abouts”. “Unsupervised” means that you don’t need a mentor when you’re flying. For safety’s sake, it’s a good idea not to fly or start your engine if no-one else is around – just see “Beware!” for the reasons!
  3. Read the SAA Bronze Schedule in the manual
  4. Silver – With a bit of practice, you can attain the Silver Award. The Silver is an indication that you are a competent enough flier to teach others – Novices – to fly and that you are a safe enough flier to fly in front of the public at air shows and so on. Many of the S.A.A. events round the country require entrants to have a minimum of Silver standard. If you wish to fly large models – over seven kilograms – the S.A.A. recommend that you hold the Silver.
  5. Read the SAA Silver Schedule in the manual.
  6. Gold – By the time you reach Gold standard, you are considered able to assess other pilots flying ability (as an Examiner) and to be able to organise safe flying events.
  7. Read the SAA Gold Schedule in the manual.
  8. Schedules Helicopter Section
  9. Helicopter Hovering read the SAA Hovering schedule in the manual.
  10. Helicopter Bronze read the the SAA Bronze schedule in the manual.
  11. Helicopter Silver read the SAA Silver schedule in the manual.

An award from one discipline does not transfer over to another. You may hold a Gold Award in Fixed Wing flying but if you don’t hold a Bronze in Helicopters, then you are a Helicopter novice and so on.

So… With a bit of practice, you can achieve a higher level of flying. So what? It’s a lot of hassle having to practice. Since you are (extremely!) unlikely to be able to make a living out of flying model aircraft – I keep looking in the “Jobs Pages” and I’ve yet to see one advertised – model flying is for fun. While the Bronze may seem a distant target for the beginner, none of the awards should be seen as a final destination, merely as milestones on the way to something better. From an individuals point of view, it’s more important what you learn as you pass these milestones. What’s the point in scraping a pass at Bronze level? – you’ll probably whack your model into the ground next time round. If you know that you have difficulty flying a model in a strong wind, leave your ‘plane in the car. Even though you’ve passed Bronze, don’t think that you’re on your own. If you’re having problems during a flight, yell for help! Ok, you may have to accept some teasing once you’re back in the pits but it’s a lot better than having to rebuild your model.

Whatever level of flying ability you have, D.M.A.C. positively encourages it’s members to always try for the next level up. The Silver, in particular, is a good level to aim for because it teaches a pilot how to fly in a much more disciplined manner than that required for the Bronze. The average flying ability of our club is probably the Bronze with a good proportion of those passing Bronze going on to greater things.

The strange thing is that the better “qualified” you become, the more you realise how much you still have to learn. It doesn’t matter that you find flying a circuit next to impossible – the guy you see flying great will definitely have a manouevre that reduces him to a nervous wreck in just the same way. It’s pretty safe to say that you will only stop improving when you are satisfied with your own flying performance.

One of the great innovations to come out of the S.A.A. in recent years is the introduction of Safety and Training weekends where pilots of all abilities can go to to improve their flying skills. It’s a kind of mobile Centre Of Excellence. These are held throughout Scotland at participating clubs and this year were planned to run at the rate of one a month – unfortunately, Foot and Mouth had a major disruptive effect on this. No doubt, things will get back to a more routine level next year. Apart from the “fun” side of these events, pilots have access to advice and training from some of the best fliers in the country. This can range from checking out a new trainer to how to fly aerobatics – whatever you want.

Another point about the training weekends is that you shouldn’t get “target fixation”. Very few clubs enjoy the luxury of having several Examiners or experienced fliers who can advise you before you go for one of the awards so you should look at attending a training weekend as an opportunity to have your flying assessed. Whether or not you have actually reached the required standard is irrelevant. You’ll be told what you need to work on and how to go about it. Usually, someone will coach you through areas you’re having difficulties with – even though you may not have known that you had any! If you can’t reach the standard over the course of the weekend, don’t worry about it – there’s plenty of opportunities to get re-tested. It’s what you learn from the weekend that’s important. Just go!

This section of our website is intended to complement the information given in the S.A.A. Safety Award Scheme, hopefully to give you a better understanding of the various standards that are being looked for when you sit the Award Scheme tests.