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Aeromodelling, although it did not yet bear that name, predates “full-size” aviation. The greatest pioneers of human flight, from Cayley, Lilienthal, the Wrights and Levavasseur to Blériot, Ferber, Farman and Messerschmitt, initially used model aircraft to test the solutions they were in the process of designing. This just goes to show how long the history of aeromodelling is. Model aircraft contests were organised as early as 1905, designed as entertaining and accessible sideshows inspired by a gradual emergence of powered aeroplanes.
Aeromodelling swiftly gained popularity from the 1930s onwards. Radio control was not yet highly developed – and was not to be so until the 1950s – so it was almost exclusively free flying and control-line aircraft that were used.
Shortly before the Second World War, the first international competitions were organised in England and Germany.
1955 saw the début of aerobatics in competition. The first world championships were held five years later. Model spacecraft were invented in the early 1960s in the United States and the first world championships were held in 1972.
Aeromodelling today is above all the most significant FAI discipline in terms of numbers of flyers: it has been estimated that there are more than a million enthusiasts all over the world. There are now a great many aeromodelling categories, be it for aeroplanes (extensible engines, piston engine, jet engine, electric and even solarpowered engines), seaplanes, gliders, helicopters and space models.