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A Little Background Information on Me

I started into the model aircraft hobby when I was about ten years old. I can even remember as far back as the age of three or four, playing with some Cessna type plastic airplanes and I was always so frustrated that they would not fly. It was always a treat when my dad would take one of his handkerchiefs, tie strings to each corner and then tie those strings to a heavy nut. When he would throw that thing in the air, I was mesmerized at how it would float to the ground. The first time I saw a radio controlled airplane, I must have been around five or six years old. It was in Elk City, Oklahoma. I remember how small the plane looked in the air but when it landed, it seemed huge to me. Another memory of model airplanes comes to mind. My dad had a plastic, low wing, control line airplane. It was probably a Piper Cherokee or Comanche but I just don't know. I was probably around 4 years old and that airplane had been crashed and the wings were the only things left. I never saw it fly and can't remember ever seeing the whole airplane. I played with those wings and dreamed of flying!

Here I was about fifteen years old with one of my crudely designed RC airplanes. The plane was cut from balsa sheets and used a Cox .049 for power and my Hobby Shack Cirrus, three channel radio that controlled rudder and elevator. This airplane lasted longer than most of my early designs and flew quite well.

When I was about ten years old, I bought my first balsa wood airplane kit. It was a Jetco Cessna 170, by today's standards, a piece of junk! What parts were die cut, were smashed more than cut and I had to finish cutting each piece out of the wood strip they had been "cut" from. I remember using my mom's straight pins, pinning parts to a piece of wood and using Elmer's white glue to hold everything together. The Cessna 170 could be built as a control line, free flight or single channel radio control airplane. I mowed yards to make my money and I didn't have much but I was able to buy some model airplane dope. I covered the wing with the tissue that was provided in the kit. I knew absolutely nothing about building an airplane or covering one. I was surprised that when I put more dope on the tissue it tightened up. Looking back, it is really too bad that there wasn't someone that could have shown me how to build and how to cover my plane. I never really flew the plane other than tossing it a few times into the wind. When the winter snows came to the Texas panhandle, I cut a couple of pieces of pine and glued some popsicle sticks to them, then I wet the sticks and curved the tips of them making skis for the plane.

I grew up in the small town of Spearman, Texas and the closes hobby shop was 100 miles away in Amarillo. I never had money for too many kits so I bought balsa when my family would go to Amarillo. Then, when I got home, I would cut pieces and make crude airplanes. With the help of a Cox .049 engine and a three channel radio Cirrus radio control system that I bought from Hobby Shack in California, I was able to experience the joy of flying a radio controlled airplane and the heartbreak of crashing it! In the last four decades, I have literally built hundreds of kits and I have built and flown many of my own designs.

Flash forward forty years. Most people in the RC hobby buy their airplanes as ARFs (Almost Ready to Fly). The art of building a radio controlled airplane is not extinct but there are very few people who build anymore. Even fewer design their own airplanes. When I was a teenager, I wrote to a company that manufactured RC kits that consisted of fiberglass fuselages and foam wing cores. I wanted to design my own aircraft and I was fascinated by kits. I would read construction articles in the model airplane magazines and hope that someday, my designs would be in them. As I went through high school, I took a keen interest in drafting and airplane design. All the while, I was building and flying radio control airplanes.

Today, with the advent of personal computers and CAD (computer aided drafting) computer programs, anyone with an interest and knowledge of a few aerodynamic principals, should be able to design their own aircraft.

The goal of this part of my RC web site is to help those who have a desire to design and build their own radio controlled aircraft or those who just want to learn to build a plane. Most of the RC kits available have very good instruction manuals and plans that are included with the kit. I hope that the information included in these pages will help in many ways. If you have any tips that you have learned while designing and/or building a model airplane and would like to pass them along, email them to me and I will try to include your ideas on this site.

If this page is helpful to you or if you find the information to be useful, please drop me a line and let me know. It is always good to know that what you are doing is benefitting someone.

NOTE: This site will be updated as much as I can. I am always learning new tips and tricks and there are so many tucked away in my the dark recesses of my memory that I will be adding things all along. So, check back often and refresh the page to make sure you have the latest information!

Jay S. McMullan
4/3/2010