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Sticky: New SR-7?
Posted by bob57hdt | Mar 24, 2015 @ 01:14 AM | 1,943 Views
Back in early 1980's, after the SR-7 had established itself as the go fast slope soarer, I would occasionally get letters or phone calls (remember, we did not have the internet or emails) asking what was next. Puzzle I would ask, what do you mean next?
They would explain to me that they have a SR-7 and they are looking for something faster. Faster? Have you run out of airplane? After some discussion I found out that when they first showed up at their flying site with their brand new SR-7 they were the king of the hill. Eventually other flyers got SR-7's and soon our hero no longer had the fastest ship in the air. What he was looking for was something that would again put him out in front.

I do not blame him, is some ways I created the SR-7 to do just that.....allow me to show that I could design something that would dominate the slope.

As I have stated before, the SR-7 was a no compromise slope plane that was designed to go fast and roll rapidly. It was not good at a lot of things but those that is was designed for, it did well. We often look for easy solutions to perceived problems. Being the best, fastest, smartest or best at anything else requires effort. Buying the latest may make you the best for a while, but as soon as someone else buys one.....there goes your advantage, now it comes down to effort to stay the best.

As my journey with Katie through the years in this great hobby, I got distracted and found that being a big fish in a small pond is...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Mar 18, 2015 @ 12:39 AM | 1,443 Views
I received this email and it really upset me. I tried to keep politics and religion out of my business activities. I strongly believe in this country, the rights and freedoms we all enjoy every day of our lives here in the USA. Many years ago I had the freedom to follow my dream and create Bob Martin RC Models and successfully pursue it, not only as a hobby but luckily as a business that supported my wife Katie and I.
This all happened during a period of time in our nations history when we were in a war overseas that became very unpopular, particularly with the younger people.
I will not comment on the right or wrong of that war, but many of my friends answered the call of their country and many died for their country in that conflict.
Today I read where the government of the US as well as other countries are arresting people that are trying to go to Syria to join terrorist groups. This is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Back in the days of the Vietnam war, Jane Fonda, because of her celebrity and money, went to North Vietnam, a country we were at war with, betrayed our captured servicemen, posed sitting in an anti-aircraft battery, and in general, gave aid and comfort to the enemy, an act of treason, normally punishable by jail time or even execution. She returned to the US and was never punished in any way and now being honored?
I am sorry if I offend anyone, but read this email completely and make up your own mind.

Jane Fonda was on TV 3 times last...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jan 09, 2015 @ 05:40 PM | 1,993 Views
Hello friends,


For those of you who may not know why there is a Katie Martin Tribute, I will try to explain how it all began and how it has grown into an International Tribute.

When I lost Katie, I spent months wallowing in self pity. Why me, why Katie, why, why, why!
Some close modeling friends saw that I was spiraling out of control and wanted to do something to help me. Thank God for friends! Two of them approached me and suggested a sailplane safari...you know where you grab your sailplanes and go from one flying site to another. There are no known flying sites within a few hundred miles so we planed to start at Torrey Pines and go from there. Brent Daily and Scott Baude suggested we would dedicate this to Katie. Scotts partner at Xtreme Power Systems, Jim Drew joined in and as time passed more and more friends heard about the road trip and my good friend Eric (oldschooler) started a thread on RC Groups and the next thing we know it became the Katie Martin Tribute Fly in. After the great success of the first year, our host, the Torrey Pines Gulls and others suggested we make it an annual event. Each year manufacturers and modelers have come forth with donations for the raffle. I have tried to find things that would be valued by attendees for the raffle. I have donated, the original Talon that was both the kit label aircraft and also Katie's personal Talon, a fiberglass SR-7 that I was...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Dec 31, 2014 @ 11:26 AM | 2,127 Views
Hello everyone,
First of all I would like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. As I have thousands of followers of this blog, many I do not personally know, I wanted to use this medium to pass on my best wishes to all of you for a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year. As we reflect on those things that we did, didn't do, thought about and planned for in 2014 and look forward to new plans for the new year, I sincerely hope that you will achieve many if not all of your goals. Remember that family and health are most important as nothing else has substance without those.
Katie and I always made out New Years Resolutions. We would type them up and exchanged them on New Years so that we could help each other succeed in those resolutions. Not surprisingly was that in each case, we both listed "Finding a way, each and every day to make the other smile, giggle and be healthy and happy." These were our first and most important efforts every day of our married lives.
Having lost my one and only, I realize that those efforts were not in vane as we had so many years of happiness through good times and bad, we always had each other and the constant love that produced.
We live in a different time than when Kathy, or Katie to you, were married. We have been credited with providing many of you with the joy of our aircraft and slope soaring. I would like to offer the above to all of you, that if in time of stress in your life, try making someone else your object of good will, make them feel special, bring a laugh, a giggle or at least a smile on their face and you will find it very satisfying and much of the stress will leave you and you too will be much happier.
God bless all of you and may your New Year be one of great health, happiness and prosperity.
Katie Martin (in Spirit)
Bob Martin
Posted by bob57hdt | Oct 30, 2014 @ 08:17 PM | 2,886 Views
This entry is a little long to post on the thread so I have chosen to make an entry to my Blog so I can clearly explain and answer the many comments on the SR-7 copies thread on RC Groups Slope forums.

First of all, I have read all the comments from Johnfh, Tspin, Douwe, droydx, MATIN, ClayH, 67econoline, Speedfreeeek, chip.greely and TFLG.
Let us first address the idea that when a manufacturer stops production he is abandoning his customers. As much as we like to consider it a sport or hobby to us, it is a business to the manufacturer and if sales drop too low, it is not cost effective to continue to produce that product.
As for the aspect of copyrights or design patents. Copyrights do not cover designs and design patents are very expensive and few if any model airplane designs warrant such protection. As mentioned, Ford or Boeing offer products that cost tens of thousands or millions of dollars and are protected because they warrant it.
So the bottom line is "Does Bob Martin or any designer have the right to prevent someone else from producing his design?" The answer is NO!
"How does Bob Martin feel about other people making replacement parts for his designs?" I am flattered by the idea that people would still want to build and fly my designs, especially as one poster mentioned, there are faster and more maneuverable planes available today.
I am also honored that there are a large number of flyers out there that have come to my defense. Some...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Sep 12, 2014 @ 11:58 PM | 2,642 Views
Katie vs Katie II vs Katie II v 2.0

I noticed Kathryn A. Kolan during my senior year in High School. There was something really special about her but we never really got to know each at school. The year following our graduation a mutual friend of ours was going into the Army and so we had a going away party for him at a roller skating rink. I was floor manager and told Kathy that I would let her in free if she wanted and she excepted. This was our first sort of date and I found she was a very good skater and we danced to almost every song. I asked her out the following week, she accepted and four months later we were married.

I bring up this early meeting because she was Kathryn or Kathy in those days. It was many years later that she acquired the name Katie.

It was in the spring of 1968. We had moved from Oregon to Southern California a couple of years earlier to seek our fortune in the land of plenty.....so we thought. We each had held a couple of jobs and Kathy went to work for Douglas Oil Company, downtown Los Angeles. This worked out great because I was working for Crocker Citizens Bank in administrative headquarters only a couple of blocks away.

It was during this time that Kathy was asked to pick another name. Kathy was hired into the data processing department of Douglas Oil. There was a very unpopular girl there that approached Kathy and said, “My name is Kathy and there can only be ONE Kathy in this department!” Kathy is a strong person and in...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Aug 26, 2014 @ 10:06 PM | 2,295 Views
Recently a gentleman place a Limited Edition of the SR-7 up for bid on ebay. It started at $1 but rapidly reached $618.00. I was amazed and then I received an email from him telling me the story of him growing up, the sacrifices his father made so he could enjoy this great hobby. He also mentioned he had read this blog and asked that I expand on the history of Katie and the Katie II. I will put on my thinking cap and in the next few days I will add a chapter to this blog about the history of the Katie II.
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 08, 2014 @ 10:02 PM | 2,816 Views
I do not know why, maybe June 6th was Katie and my 50th anniversary, we learned a close friends brother died , or what but I was not in the mood to fly during the Tribute this year. I chose to read the dedication instead of flying Katie and her Hobie Hawk, so I asked Brent Daily again to fly her, and he did so with great skill and grace.

I spend time to compose a dedication that is worthy of the people we are honoring. Sometimes rewriting several times, as I am not a great writer. Because of the deep emotions I still feel for Katie, I was unable to get very far along on the presentation and so I offer it here for those that would like to see what I was suppose to say. Here it is:

Katie Martin Global Tribute 6-7-2014

I want to thank all of you, our friends, family, partners, business associates, raffle sponsors and the Torrey Pines Gulls for making this all happen. I would also like to thank our friends again in Great Britain, Spain and Venezuela for making this Tribute to Katie Martin a Global event. As with Katie, I am honored and humbled that you here and around the world have chosen to come together to pay respect and to honor Katie Martin.

As you all know from past events and my blog, I bought Katie a Hobie Hawk, the same one we fly here today, as her first RC sailplane and that put us on a course and directed us toward the business of Bob Martin RC Models. This year, someone else that indirectly helped us toward being in the RC Hobby and that was
...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | May 18, 2014 @ 01:38 PM | 18,721 Views
A friend stopped by my house the other day and we had a long talk about many things. He lives here in Lake Havasu City, AZ, is a member of our local RC club, knew Katie, bought from Major Hobby and bought some our balsa wood that we liquidated when we shut down Bob Martin RC Models.
He told me that he and his family are planning on coming to the Katie Martin Global Tribute this year and has found and built a Katie II for the occasion.
During our conversation he mentioned he had read this blog and although he knew much of what I have revealed, he discovered things he did not know.
One thing he thought would be of interest to many modelers, is the time frame that each of these event happened. If this is of interest to you, let me know and I will put dates to go with all of the events presented in this blog. If there is anything that you did not discover and wish to know more about, also let me know.
Right now I am building a mini-Coyote from Venezuela for the Katie Tribute next month. It is strange to be building something you are so familiar with yet it is different. It is nice to be building again.....Thanks Gonzalo.
Posted by bob57hdt | May 09, 2014 @ 06:47 PM | 3,585 Views
Back in early 1980 we purchased the tooling to manufacturer Hobie Hawks. Along with this purchase we were fortunate to have many visits from Hobie Alter and we hired his engineer that developed the tooling to get the tooling back into shape. Long story and maybe if the interest is there, I will write a separate blog on that whole adventure.
Back to this subject. As the elliptical wing shape causes many problem in covering with monokote or any film covering, I will tell you how the original wings were done. You may have one of the original Hobie Hawks that came painted, covered and in some cases radio installed and balanced.
There was a board, like an ironing board that sat approximately 4 inches above the table the exact shape of the wing panel but was approximately 1/4 inch smaller. On one end there was a metal plate that had a hole in it and when you inserted a wing rod through the hole and into the wing, it would hold the wing down against the table. At the other end there was a U shaped plastic clamp that would hold the wing down flat against the board. YES, the wing was flattened out and covered. Once covered, it was removed and a heat gun was used to tighten up the covering.
The bottom is much easier, however the under-camber can cause some problems if you do not follow this procedure.
It helps if you have the right tools. Like the top, you will need a good, I prefer 21st Century iron and any of the many heat guns. An added tool that can be of great help on...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Aug 10, 2013 @ 12:09 AM | 3,750 Views
The beginning of the end

Katie and I loved the model airplane hobby and had dedicated ourselves to it for about twenty five years. We had survived economic recessions that devastated hobby sales. During the down turn in the countries economy, the first thing that goes is the recreational items. Keeping the family fed, the house and car paid for naturally come first and if there are additional funds, and then you think about your hobby.

We had survived three business situations that were financially crippling and caused us to find another way to stay in this business we loved so much. We were surviving, but we began to doubt ourselves and our future in this business.

We had become the sole hobby shop in Lake Havasu and we were surviving because of the mail order business of Major Hobby. The sales of Hitec and our proprietary products was our main source of income. In order to be competitive with all the other stuff, we had to sell it at near zero profit. It always amazed us how customers would come in, look at a product and then order it from another mail order company whose price was the same. It was not that they did not like us but they did not want to pay the sales tax, even though they could take it home today. Instead, they would pay shipping and wait a week. We never could get use to this. Don’t get me wrong, many customers, mostly those who would come to Lake Havasu for the winters, would come into the shop and be grateful to have a hobby shop with great...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:26 PM | 4,175 Views
Trying to Survive

I felt really good about being in control of our production. We had achieved a manufacturing facility that was capable of producing a large volume of kits at a very high level of quality. We had our new oven operating very well with high quality Dura-lene fuselages. We had done everything possible to survive in this very competitive business from a manufacturing standpoint.

It is not enough to produce a good product, nor one that was of high quality, it also had to be competitive in price. Even then, you had to have a distribution network that could stock, promote and sell the volume you could produce.

Let us discuss price first. By processing nearly all of the contents of the kit in house, you would be manufacturing them at the lowest possible price. Our costs were a little higher because we rejected more parts because of flaws or stress cracks in the wood or other irregularities than most other companies.

The industry as it was in the 70’s consisted of a distributor, dealer network. In this world, a manufacturer would advertise his products in wholesale and retail magazines to get dealers and distributors to buy and stock your products. This was difficult for small or unknown manufacturers as the dealers and distributors wanted to see consumers asking for the product at a dealer before they would risk investing their money. This is a catch 22. Most small manufacturers began selling in person directly to individuals or to hobby stores....Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jul 21, 2013 @ 08:21 PM | 3,933 Views
Starting over

We owned a home in California that we needed to sell. We had taken out a 2nd mortgage as part of the down payment to buy HOB but when it sells, we will again have some cash to operate on. At the moment, we were trying to move our home and business to another state and we were pretty much broke. Thank goodness we still had good credit and so we borrowed some money to tide us over.

When you have a lot of equipment, long kitting tables, and parts shelves, storage for boxes, plans etc. it takes a lot of room. We found a 2,500 sq. ft. building that was very reasonable and it had a loading dock. We were able to back our trailer up to it and using a pallet jack, we were able to start unloading and setting up our business.

I mentioned before that I purchase the equipment from Gene Walach to process the shaped parts for the Dura-lene kits. I no longer had the equipment to process our sheets, sticks and triangle balsa so I would have to buy them from someone. I knew the cost would be higher but what could I do.

Our newly released Talon, and the Bobcat and Pussycat were selling very well as were the .20 size ET and ET-40 power trainers and we were going through a lot of balsa and lite ply. Balsa wood is a very unique wood in that it has the highest variation in density (soft to hard) of any wood and the grain is very important to where it is used in the kit. These variables make it difficult to order and if you request selected grains, it runs the cost up....Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jul 13, 2013 @ 04:57 PM | 3,608 Views
Product loyalty is important to any business. If you are a consumer of any product, from cars to tools to laundry detergent, if you buy a product for whatever reason and you are happy with it, you will most likely buy that product again and if you need something else that that brand offers, chances are you will try that brand again.

Bob Martin RC Models made only slope aircraft that were intermediate to advance. Not the models that most people would choose as their first airplane or the dealer would recommend. The skill level and cost are both deterrents. We had to wait for a modeler to buy someone else’s entry level model and then ask them to abandon that brand for our brand. It would make more sense to have our own entry level product but entry level products were priced below our ability to produce them.

Around 1981 I got word that House of Balsa was for sale. This company had several things that interested me. First they processed their own balsa from logs, a huge savings as I will touch on later. Second they had a line of products that made this appear to be a self financing purchase. Against the advice of Katie and a partner that helped me buy the Hobie Hawk tooling, I convinced them to let me buy HOB. Their books were at the accountant for tax reason, so I did not see any real proof of the profits they told me about. They owned a T-6 airplane, drove a Cadillac, and had a nice home so why should I not believe them. I am old fashion and believe in a person’s word...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jul 05, 2013 @ 01:20 AM | 3,733 Views
Four reasons to go to Dura-lene….First durability, second every fuselage is identical, third volume of product and once the molds are amortized, the cost is much lower.

Reason number one is obvious and the second is also but the third and fourth reasons required some soul searching. We had put a number of 1,000 kits as being the determining factor for glass or Dura-lene. We figured that our costs would be approximately $12,000.00 for a mold for Dura-lene. Early aluminum molds were cheaper but rework and maintenance brought up the costs. Later nickel molds would cost that and maybe a little more but had very little maintenance and even today, a good buffing job and they would be ready again.

Once we got the Dura-lene going with the Coyote, I designed a fuselage, very similar to the Wanderer that we sold for many years as replacements for the Wanderer, Gentle Lady and other 2 meter kits. We also made one for the Aquila and one for the Oly II/Paragon type of open class kits. All of these sold very well. We created the Katie II around the 2 meter Dura-lene fuselage.

We would always ask ourselves, “Could a new design sell 1,000 units in a year?” This is the question we would consider. When I designed the SR-7 and was being forced to put it into production, Katie and I asked each other his important question. We found that the clip wing Coyote was not popular at that time because it was difficult to fly. The SR-7 was a design I made no compromises and it had some...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 30, 2013 @ 07:18 PM | 3,542 Views
A new plastic Dura-lene

When we finally began production of the Coyote, we had stretched the wing span to 72 inches. We had found two things that caused us to make this decision. First of all, the original Coyote I was flying, 60 inch, struggled in lighter lift. On good lift days it was head and shoulders above anything else out there, but we found that the 72 inch version was still faster than anything else fun to fly and most importantly from a marketing point of view, it could be flown in more locations, thus meaning we had more potential customers. Secondly, the additional wing span made the Coyote easier to fly. The original 60 inch plane was quick to roll and was more pitch sensitive and when we let people fly it, they preferred the 72 inch version. We were always very protective of our product reputation and did not want unhappy customers.

Speaking of product and company reputation. Why did I name the company Bob Martin RC Models? When I decided to become a model manufacturer, having built various brands of models from stick to control line to RC, I had experienced some good and some bad models. Katie and I are quality nuts and we worked very hard to make sure whatever product you bought with my name on it, it would be quality and if not….you knew who to call and complain. Some of you did call and I think we always took care of your problem.

Back to the long and expensive road to Dura-lene. I am sure this is probably boring so I will try to give you the...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 27, 2013 @ 05:39 PM | 4,204 Views
Bob Martin RC Models is born

As I continued to search and research a plastic that would conform to my requirements, Katie and I decided to release the new creation, the Coyote, to the public. To back up a bit, Dave Lloyd of Dave’s Custom Models, a hobby shop we frequented, had created a low wing slope soarer. He flew it and when he crashed, he was not one to rebuild any thing, I asked if I could have it and he gave it to me. I rebuilt it, made some changes and began to fly it. It was fast and maneuverable and cool looking. I told him he should kit it. He says “You kit it”. I thought, how difficult can it be. Although I made many changes from the original airplane, I still gave Dave the credit for designing it on the plans.

I found a young man that was making fiberglass fuselages and he did a pretty good job. I made a plug and paid him to make the mold and asked him to begin making fuselages. I found out how to cut foam cores, located a source of 1/64” plywood but I was unsure how to make shaped parts like the tail feathers. In our club, Sierra Madre RC club, I met Gene Walach. He was making parts for House of Balsa and I paid Gene to make my shaped parts for the Coyote. Later Gene would make the SR-7, Katie, Super Gryphon and Jaguar parts until I bought his equipment and brought that process in house.

Most of the parts were in place to become a RC Manufacturer. I had a garage to work out of, and drafting equipment and board to draw my plans. It is kind of...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 23, 2013 @ 12:38 PM | 3,564 Views
In teaching Katie to fly was easy as she was a natural. I mentioned in the last post that I had her build a sailplane so she understood the complexities and how fragile or how strong a model is. I also mentioned that I became the builder and the one to repair all aircraft, mine and hers’ that suffered damage during the outings.

She was so afraid of hurting the plane that she had difficulty landing them. I had taught her to fly down into the valley below and bleed off airspeed as she flew up the hill. As you reached the top of the hill, if done right, you would pivot into the wind and settle onto the ground, thus a landing with little or no airspeed. It took her a lot of time to master the speed as she would carry too much speed and thus go around for another try. Eventually she mastered this landing technique but there were moments of frustration where she would grab her opportunity by giving down elevator when still a foot or two off of the ground. On these occasions and that of many other flyers frequently the nose would break open.

When I repaired her fuselages I tried many things. I would wrap the nose with fiberglass, add glass and resin to the inside, pour lots of resin into the nose in efforts to make them survive the hard impact. Soon it became apparent to me that rigid means brittle and unless I chose to carve these out of pure nickel or stainless steel, and of course they would not fly, rigid will not work.

OK, let us analyze this problem. If rigid...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:54 PM | 4,538 Views
I grew up in Boise, Idaho. My Mom was a single parent for much of my early life. We did not have very much income and so I found many ways to entertain myself. I never felt bad about our financial situation because my imagination would give me ideas that allowed me to build many things without very much expense.

These early projects taught me to find new and hopefully better ways of doing things. Before I was 14, I had designed and built a car (Featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine) designed a submarine and multi-stage rocket, that I sent into the Navy. Of course many projects were failures but I learned as much from the failures as I did from the successes. I loved science and I read that Edison had the most number of successful inventions and he also had the most failures. If you do not try, you will never know.

With this as a backdrop, picture Katie and I when we first entered the RC Sailplane hobby. Although Katie did not love to build, I made sure she built enough that she understood what it took to build a sailplane, it's strengths and it's weaknesses. Her first built up airplane was a Curio, 100 inch thermal sailplane. Katie's first sailplane was a Hobie Hawk as many of you know. The folks at the Rose Bowl told us it was a terrible airplane and not for the beginners at all, so we bought the Curio. We lived very close to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and there was a large grass area that the thermal flyers used on a regular basis. Our timing was not the best as we...Continue Reading
Posted by bob57hdt | Jun 19, 2013 @ 12:25 AM | 3,941 Views
Hi again.
I am truly touched by the emails, PM's, videos, YouTube, and other threads posted about the Katie Martin Global Tribute. I know Katie would wonder what is this all about, we were just having fun.

As we got involved in the hobby and looked at the technology of the Hobie Hawk and looked around and saw very little progress from the balsa stick floater kits we started thinking about What is Next?

It is late and I am tired, but in the next couple of days, I will add a new chapter or two about what we thought, what plans we made, how we achieved them, looking at what we did 30 years ago, and is there a reason to revisit our dreams.

Until then.......