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Old Feb 13, 2011, 11:01 AM
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United States, FL, Winter Haven
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How did I get involved in model aviation?

Not everyone may care, but if you ever wondered what got me into model aviation, here it is! When I was born in the summer of 1970, my dad (Doug Smith) began a 10 year build on a full scale "Baby Great Lakes" aerobatic biplane. He labored on this airplane construction while creating tooling, learning techniques needed for construction, purchasing materials as he could afford them, working and getting out to fly full scale when he could. I was always fascinated with what my dad did while I was growing up, and his love of aviation was contagious. I always used a good portion of my allowance buying those little balsa gliders and wind up rubber powered airplanes to keep a flying fleet airworthy. I graduated to stick and tissue covered "peanut" and "walnut" scale planes by the time I was 7 or 8, and I even used the 3 views on the instructions for plastic models to make balsa gliders from them.

High school was pretty busy, but aviation still had a hold on me and RC was an option, since mowing yards and other odd jobs could give me some capital to work with. I bought my first RC airplane when I was 15 (CG Eaglet w/ OS 25F, Futaba 5 ch. Gold FM) and began flying on the weekends. I of course then wanted faster, bigger and more aerobatic planes, so I began to design them for myself. I also got pretty good at building doing this, and soon began framing and finishing airplanes for club members to make a few bucks to continue my projects. My downfall from RC came in 1991; Working, College, living expenses and all those things made it impossible to continue RC at this time.

After starting a career, a family and divorcing my first wife, I decided I was coming back to the hobby that was always there for me, RC. So in 1999, I took one of my designs from high school, put it in AutoCAD, laser cut it, built fiberglass molds for the cowl and built Talon. Oh yeah, it also finished in 4th place in a world wide design contest for Model Airplane News. At this point in my life, my flying was everything. I spent every hour of every weekend at the field flying, testing and instructing student pilots. I owned a few planes myself, but I don't think there was but a handful of planes at our club that I hadn't personally flown.

We had had a bit of unrest and strife in our club for a while, so I wanted to change this to a place of escape instead of just another part of a daily routine. Being totally consumed in the hobby now, I spent a year as VP, 3 years as President, 5 years as an intro pilot & chief instructor, re wrote the by-laws, club rules, student pilot program and started a club website. We had to remove some people and modify the way we treated people, but the club became a wonderful place in the end and still is that way today.

I began competing in IMAC, and at my last meet in Venice, I saw my first Q-40 racer and decided to check this racing thing out. I saw my first race in Markham Park, Florida in the spring of 2004, and decided this was for me. With a fleet of Vipers, I began 424 and even decided to become a CD so that I could bring racing to my club too. I also got remarried to the most wonderful woman in the world, who understands that I need my hobby and supports me in it as much as she can. I soon began working on my own Q-500 design and playing within the rules to look for small gains. After 2 different airfoils, 4 modifications to the better airfoil, 2 different tail airfoils and lots of other tweaking, my Q-500 is everything I envisioned it to be, with a wall of plaques to help sell the point! I am now working on a Q40 design that has initial approval from NMPRA, and should take flight by this summer.

So what do I enjoy in model aviation? EVERYTHING! I enjoy the people, competition, sport flying, sailplanes and just about anything that flies. I cut foam cores for my designs, use AutoCAD and laser cutting services and I am learning composites. I have designs for racers, aerobatics, profiles, foamies and even plans for a giant scale "Baby Great Lakes" in Honor of my dad who gave me the desire and drive to follow this dream, and to always take pride in what I do.
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Last edited by ScorpionRacing; Feb 13, 2011 at 08:03 PM.
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