Saturday, August 4, 2012


I am an ardent, always searching reader of model airplane literature that pertains to free flight models, particularly rubber powered model airplanes. I do not possess much knowledge about the highly technical aspects of the science of model airplanes but I read it all hoping to take something away from what I have read. What I like best are stories about famous model airplanes and the modelers who designed and flew them. And of course looking at the plans. Reading model airplane magazines is a passion and the ones that have a lot of content about free flight are mostly read. Some years back Earl Van Gorder wrote an enjoyable monthly column “Flyin' Things for Fledglings” on sport free free flight that was aimed at beginners, duffers like me and everyone else. This column and others should be scanned on put on a cd or dvd disc and not lost to the model airplane world. I ran out of space and got rid of all of my Flying Models magazines and had kept them mainly for Van Gorder’s very interesting monthly column. Model Builder, Model Airplane News and AeroModeller magazines were also sources of superb columns on free flight model airplanes. The short lived (6 issues) of Sig Air- Modeller magazine was a very enjoyable magazine for the articles, pictures and plans. Model airplanes can be written about from many vantage points and we have some excellent examples from contributors to the various model airplane forums and excellent club newsletters and journals such as Sam Speaks, Flying Aces, the NFFS Digest and Free Flight Quarterly. When you live in a place totally isolated from other free flight modelers like Montana these aforementioned newsletters, journals etc. are a godsend. There is much on the internet about model airplanes besides the forums. There are sites like The Building Board, Sticks & Tissue, The Pensacola Free Flight Team, Endless Lift, Tailspin, and many, many other fine sites. Sadly, there is little written about free flight modeling in the few magazines left. Flying Models stands out in this regard with fine columns by Mike Myers, Larry Kruse and Don Ross. Model Aviation has some good columns also and when you figure the membership numbers we are doing well to have one or two free flight columns every month by Gene Smith, John Kagan and Dennis Norman plus others such as David Gee’s safety column, Bob Angel’s Old-Timer’s column and Red Scholefield’s The Battery Clinic. Most, if not all of these columnists are members and contributors to various free flight forums. I can get most of the model airplanes I build to fly quite well. This is a result of using tried and true methods of adjustment and it often takes me more than a few flights to get a model dialed in. I am not in any way much of an aeronautical engineer. I know the standard, time tested and true methods of adjustments and have learned the hard way to only do one at a time. I probably have a lot of company in others that possess intermediate skills in building and flying model airplanes but have a most fervent passion for this insanely great hobby. Modeling is in many ways a training in mystery. I doubt if anyone of us will ever forget the first model ever lost in a thermal and the time frame and place. For me it was a Jim Walker catapult folded wing all ready to fly glider. I was about eleven and had just bought it at Shull’s Tire and Hobby Shop. This was a smelly place back in about 1948 ran by Old Man Shull and dedicated to vulcanizing tires ect. Back then getting your tires retread was part of owning and operating a car. All of the snow tires were retreads and the ones with sawdust in them would occasionally catch on fire if you were going to fast. Shull’s grandson, Bobby a high school kid and pretty good modeler, opened up a hobby shop in this dirty, smelly place. After purchasing this Jim Walker catapult glider along with other kids we went to fly them on a close by empty lot. It was a spring day and we watched a dust devil swirling around and I shot my glider into it. It sort of rode the edge of it up until it was out of sight and the entire gang of us boys were dumbfounded. At this magic moment I was hooked on model airplanes for life. There is much about those long ago days that is not remembered but when it comes to model airplanes I can remember most everything whether it happened or not. What appeals the most to me now at seventy-five is building the models that I built as a boy and never had much luck with in regards to flying well. It is a real rush to build the model and of course stare at it for long periods of time before going out to test fly it. Most of these models were not or ever will be great flyers. They were designed to be sold to young boys for say twenty-five cents. I built all but one of the Scientific thirty-five cents series which featured twenty-five inch wingspans. These were the Hornet, Major, Windsor, Royal, Ranger and Bantam. The only one I did not build was the Royal and suspect that was because it was not sold in my little town. I have built all of them again save the Royal. The Windsor, Hornet and Bantam flew the best for me the second time around. Carving a good prop is a source of much enjoyment and excitement for me as well as building the rest of the model. I cite carving a good prop first as this was a major mystery to me as a beginner. p.s. The morning was dead calm and our hero, Captain Cornell Crawford Neighborhood Hero, left early for the flying field with his Scientific "Major" and Scientific "Victory." These were models that Cornell had built as a lad and now at sixty seven he was alive with excitement. The "Major" had been a well, major disappointment at age ten. It looked good in Cornell's young eyes but did not fly much at all. The "Victory" had been his first success as a young model flyer and this one was a proven flyer. But this was the maiden flight of the "Major" and Cornell had woken up thinking about it, hoping that it was not to be like Charlie Brown kicking the football. Cornell had made up a four strand motor of some good old 1/8" FAI Tan II for the Major. Some right thrust and down thrust had been added to the model. On the first flight Cornell gave the “Major” about 300 turns and turned it loose over the wheat field. It flew but had too much right thrust and needed some up stab. On the next flight with less right thrust and 1/16" negative in the stab it climbed well on a short flight. Cornell decided to go for it and wound the motor to 850 turns. The Major climbed sharply and gained good altitude before going into the glide pattern. Cornell watched the model float down and and disappear into the fully ripened wheat field. Combines were devouring wheat furiously in the opposite field. The model was not that far away but panic set in as Cornell searched vainly for the model. The model was finished in red with black trim, Japanese tissue over mylar and a hand carved 8" prop. Cornell decided to crisscross the area in ten foot intervals and finally stumbled upon the model. Tears welled in his eyes as a vision of himself vainly trying to get the Major to fly fifty seven years ago appeared to him. Life is good. Cheers, Captain Cornell Crawford N.H., aka Karl Gies
I was remiss in not mentioning Hip Pocket Aeronautics, a truly great site. GOTO: cheers, Captain Cornell Crawford, N.H.

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