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One of my homebuilt 1/2A airplanes. I was probably around 15 years old, somewhere around 1975. This little plane didn't look like much but I got several good flights out of it!
I have been building and flying model aircraft for over forty years! I built my first flying balsa wood model, a Jetco Cessna 170 when I was ten or twelve years old. Two or three years later, I saved my money from mowing lawns and bought a three channel radio from Hobby Shack in California. After crashing several Cox plastic control line airplanes, I would take the .049 engines out of the planes. Then, when my family would go to Amarillo, Texas, one hundred miles away, I would buy some balsa with my meager savings. when I got home, I would somehow cut an airplane out of the balsa and strap the engine on it and fly it until I had crashed. Then I would start over. I once built an airplane using cardboard for the wings and yardsticks for the fuselage sides. The plane was too heavy for the little .049 engine and it never got off the ground. I do believe with a .15 sized engine the plane would have flown!
Cox came out with a two channel Cessna type airplane that was equipped with an .049 engine. I saved my money and put the huge servos, receiver and battery pack in the plane. I flew that thing over and over. When I would crash it, I would tape it up and fly it again. I eventually bought two or three of those airplanes and had more fun with them!
Don Piatt lived in Spearman and I remember one day talking to him on a CB radio. We, somehow, started talking about radio controlled
airplanes and he was an RC pilot. At that time I had a foam Midwest Chipmunk with a Fox .19 engine. I never did get that crazy engine to start and I never did fly that airplane. It is probably a good thing. I remember for hinges, I had always used pieces of material interlaced but for the foamy, I used some metal hinges I bought at the local lumber yard. I didn't know that the hobby shops had hinges made specifically for radio controlled planes.
When I was about seventeen, one of my neighbors had a .60 sized airplane for sale and everything that went with it. The airplane was a Lanier Comet II. In those days, if you didn't build your airplane or have someone build it for you, you pretty much didn't fly. The Lanier airplanes were probably the first ARF or "Almost Ready to Fly" airplanes that were put out. They had plastic fuselages and plastic covered foam wings. With the airplane, you were given a little bottle of MEK that was used to "weld" the plastic together. The deal came with an EK Logictrol Champ radio. I believe it was six channels. That was state of the art at the time but looking back, the airborne system was huge and heavy! Don Piatt took me under his wing and taught me to fly in a cow pasture south of Booker, Texas. I'll never forget that day. I didn't land anywhere close to me when I landed that big plane and it wasn't the prettiest landing but I did it! I ended up making several flights that day! I eventually got a job working with Don and we flew RC planes all over the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Don gave me great advice that I always pass on to
My foam Midwest Chipmunk (top) and a little 1/2A combat plane, covered with pieces of iron on covering I had. I never flew either plane. Around 1976.
Me with my Hangar 9 Ultra Stick 60 - February 18, 2010 at the Radio Control Association of Central Florida's Tangerine Field near Orlando, Florida.
new pilots. He told me, "Anyone can take off and most people can hot rod around the sky but not everyone can land and land well." I remember we used to shoot touch and goes over and over when we flew. I will always be greatful to Don for taking time to teach me to fly!
I not only learned to fly but I learned to build airplanes right. You younger guys don't remember the times when we would use Elmer's white glue to build a model airplane. We would cover the plans with waxed paper and pin them down to a workbench. I would use my mother's straight pins to pin everything to the workbench. When you would glue a piece or two together, you would have to wait overnight for the glue to dry. The airplanes took forever to build and they were heavy and not held together very well. I remember when CA (cyanacrylate) glue, like Super Glue, first came. Most of us were skeptical about using it to build an airframe. One of the RC airplane manufacturers, I believe it was Midwest, built an airplane entirely from CA and ran it, full speed, into a brick wall. Most of the breaks
were not at glue joints and then we knew that we could build safely with CA. After that, when I would buy a new airplane kit, I would literally stay awake for three or four days straight until I had built and airplane and had it ready to fly. I loved everything about model airplanes and I have loved the hobby for almost 40 years now.
Nowdays, most flying model airplanes are "Almost Ready to Fly". This probably has been good for the hobby although I think we have lost something by people not building and truly understanding aerodynamics and flight structures better. Undoubtedly, the ease of which people can get into the radio controlled aircraft hobby has allowed many more people entry into the hobby than would have otherwise been able to join.
I have flown helicopters and have built radio controlled boats and cars but I always come back to radio controlled airplanes. There is just something about them that is a passion to me. I have been able to pass on Don Piatt's wisdom through training many other new RC pilots. I have built well over two hundred model airplane kits and I've probably built at least fifty of my own aircraft designs. I've even designed two full scale homebuilt aircraft. You can find more information about them on my website.
I moved to Orlando, Florida in December 2008 and I am currently a member of RCACF, the Radio Control Association of Central Florida. I have been astonished to meet several men that have been icons in the radio control industry and hobby, men like Don Lowe, past president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics and Bob Violett who makes some of the most incredible radio controlled jets available.
Take a look at my website and get in touch with me. i would love to hear from you!
is a list of just a few of the radio controlled airplanes I have
- Sig Kougars
- Bridi Super Kaos'
of Balsa P-51
Quick Build P-51
- Super Duper Joy Sticks
- Sig Kadets
- Goldberg Slylark 56
- Lanier Comet II's
- Great Planes Super Skybolts
Shack foam trainer
- Pica Cessna 182's
- Quickie 500 planes
||2 - Lanier
||Bridi Utter Chaos
||Bridi Dirty Birdy
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