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Old Feb 10, 2005, 12:50 PM
I broke my kerpellor.
Artemetra's Avatar
Salt Lake City
Joined Sep 2004
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When did the first e-flight planes appear?

I'm wondering when this electric thing caught on. I know some guys tried a few things as long as 15 years ago, but when did it start going really nuts? I think about 1999 or so? Brushless motors for eflight came on the scene about 2001? Would anyone mind posting when they first got into electric flight? Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 01:56 PM
Registered User
Lawrence, Kansas
Joined Dec 2001
588 Posts
I started flying electric about 14 years ago, when 1400 mAH sub C's and Astro brushed cobalt motors were cutting edge. My experience is that it was not brushless motors that caused a huge surge in interest but parkflyers and indoor flyers. Parkies allowed people to get into electrics on the cheap, and also gave people more flying site options. (Lots of my club mates fly parkies and indoor, but none has switched from glow for big models.) My guess is the Wingo and its clones were what started the rush, and they've been around a while. I remember seeing Wingos at the last couple KRC shows, and that has to be more than 5 or 6 years ago. Think about it: a lot more people are going to be interested in a plane that gets you in the air for a couple hundred bucks or less, than in a plane who's motor & ESC alone cost $400-$500(US). Don't forget, when Aveox motors first came out, they were pretty much the only game in town, and this big diversity in brushless motors (& prices) is really a phenomenon of the last year or 2. (I am pretty sure Aveox, and soon thereafter MaxCim, brushless motors were available before '99.) Frankly, I am not convinced that brushless motors are such a dramatic improvement over quality brushed, cobalt motors. The real, serious, important improvements have been in battery technology, and especially the easy availablity in a wide variety of types and sizes of batteries (and in the ever-increasing energy density).

My $0.02.

- - Dave
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 02:06 PM
IWC
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Joined Feb 2003
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The engineers who developed the Vought Flying Pancake had an electric powered fly by wire scale model back in 1944.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 03:16 PM
Zzzt! Buzz! Click!
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State of Confusion
Joined Jan 2004
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When I was a kid in the late '70s, I had a Cox control-line spitfire that I charged off of a 6v battery. I flew it quite a bit, until I accidentally arrowed it into the pavement... RIP
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 03:40 PM
Visitor from Reality
United States, VA, Arlington
Joined Dec 1996
12,788 Posts
I flew my first electric in 1985 - a kit review project for RC MOdel World mag in England - in the early days of the first mag from the publishers of Quiet & Electric Flight International. It was a three channel high wing trainer type, with a decent battery access system, formed motor mount and an on/off switch.

In the same issue my review appeared in, the electric flight column had details of a 16 cell, 52" span scale Hawker Tomtit trainer biplane from now-defunct "Veron Kits". Motor was either an Astro 25G or something German. The guy behind it was part of a thriving electric flight group in mid-west England, IIRC.

Certainly, they were a lot further along than me!

Not exactly sure when BL appeared, but there may have been a couple of Aveox at the last KRC on a grass field, which would be 1996. Certainly there were plenty at KRC 97 on Queen City Airport, though you had a choice of Aveox with early controllers that were basically complex on/off switches, or MaxCims with speed control that still leads the field today.

I watched Keith Shaw fly his 20 cell MaxCim powered Me 35 semiscale aerobatic at KRC 1997, bought my own set and was flying it in a Four Star 40 by '98. Was so impressed I bought another for my CAP 232! At that time, I was virtually out of oilburners, flying ten cell aerobatics on an Astro 035G, amongst other electrics, and the 20 cell ships finished them off for me.

Still have that Astro 035! They work fine, but a brush-imposed limit of 30A limits them to lower levels of aerobatics compared to BL motors that will happily function with a 40 - 45A maximum. Not always needed, but real nice to have access to Don't plan on buying any more brushed motors for my 'regular' sized sports models - parkfliers, well, about anything will do to waffle one of them around on nice nights down the park.

The onset of "Buy a Hobby" electrics was definitely the moment many thought "there goes the neighbourhood". It's been real impressed how quickly electric flight has gone from being the ultimate for the tinkerers, builders and aeromodellers to the province of about anyone with a credit card - we got from enthusiasm to borefom far faster than the oily lot.

Regards
Dereck
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 03:41 PM
ElectriGlo Pilot
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Ashburn, Virginia, United States
Joined Dec 2003
878 Posts
AHHH squidbait - I fondly remember my COX P51 (I believe) control line plane that you charged with a lantern battery by just touching contacts on the belly to the battery springs! I wonder what kind of motor and battery that was. I wish I still had that thing!

That was 1977 or so. Didn't those only run for a couple minutes at best?
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 04:30 PM
Trapped in California
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United States, CA, Arcadia
Joined Nov 2003
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I started dabbling with electrics in 2000, and now have been glow-free for several years. Like DaveA said, electrics really took off when parkfliers were invented.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 06:50 PM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar
Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
7,487 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artemetra
I'm wondering when this electric thing caught on.
I know that this e-nonsense is mushrooming wildly nowadays, but perhaps Mattel had the first commercial stab at it in 1972 with their freeflight Superstar. I had one, and it flew beautifully!

tim
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 07:14 PM
Go get them Meg!
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Cabin 21...
Joined Jan 2001
2,118 Posts
The wild popularity seemed to have started right after GWS started producing cheap micro servos, ESCs, & receivers. I had been flying E Free flight stuff since at least 1988-89, and bigger sub c battery RC at the same time, but all that stuff was stolen from the RC car industry.

Back in the early nineties, the only "Micro" radio gear available was really expensive Cannon gear. I bought my last Cannon 4 channel in '95 at the IMS show for $400.00 with 3 servos. The 4th servo was $73.00. The ESC I bought at the same time was $49.00.

As soon as people could by a Slow stick with all the gear they needed to be reasonably sure it would fly for less than $250.00, it opened up for everyone.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 07:40 PM
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United States, SC, Irmo
Joined Jul 2004
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Actually I think Polk's hobby shop was adverising a free Flite electric model in the late 50s or early 60s.
Funny about Cannon. I went around the Toledo show about 88 and inquired with most of the radio manufacturers about the 1991 standards. All kinds of crying about how they might not be able to do it. Then when I asked Bill Cannon about it, he handed me a box, had a fully tight band transmitter and a reciever to match. Said with some new chips available, he was not only ready to go into production, but he was able to reduce the airborne weight, meet the standards, AND cut his price by about $20.00.
Cannon was never able to compete with teh big European and Oriental guys, but he said something about those who cry it can't be done, and those who find a way to do it.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 09:40 PM
DKB
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Northwest Ohio
Joined Oct 2003
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Fred Milikty (not sure of the spelling) who worked for Graupner is generally considered to be the first person who flew electrics and developed them for model airplanes. This would have been in the late 1950's or so.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 10:20 PM
RCAPA #005
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USA, VT, Springfield
Joined Jan 2004
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I had one of those electric control line planes too- had to be around 76-77.
Mine was a yellow pattern racer lookin thing. Ah, the memories.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 11:04 PM
Love them P-40's!
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USA, MO, Kansas City
Joined Feb 2004
509 Posts
I visited a hobby shop in California about a year ago. I believe it was in a city just west of Burbank,CA. It is run by a mother, father and son. If I remember right, he said they started flying some of the first R/C electrics in the early 70's. Whether they were the actual first or not is probably impossible to say, but they were fascinating none the less. The place was extremely messy with 30-40 years worth of stuff laying everywhere. He knew where everything was though. The place was awesome and should be visited if you are ever in the LA area. I'll try to remember the name of it and post it. The son, and even his mother (she looked to maybe in her 70's), were very knowledgable about electric flight.
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Old Feb 10, 2005, 11:09 PM
WAA pilot #167 (yeah baby!)
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Far, Far, Far West Texas. ie. El Paso
Joined Aug 2002
950 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by squidbait
When I was a kid in the late '70s, I had a Cox control-line spitfire that I charged off of a 6v battery. I flew it quite a bit, until I accidentally arrowed it into the pavement... RIP

Omigod!!

I had totally forgot about that one. I can't remember if it was a Spit or P-51. I do remember setting the plane on the battery to charge.

If i remember correctly you would give the lines a shot of "up" to start the motor.

Really neat because you could fly by yourself with no need for a helper like with the I/C models.

Thanks for the memory!!
-Adam
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Old Feb 11, 2005, 01:34 AM
Xenobiotic Liaison
Tempe, AZ
Joined Jan 2005
684 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artemetra
I'm wondering when this electric thing caught on. I know some guys tried a few things as long as 15 years ago, but when did it start going really nuts? I think about 1999 or so? Brushless motors for eflight came on the scene about 2001? Would anyone mind posting when they first got into electric flight? Thanks in advance.
I started electrics in '88 or '89. I stopped when our daughter was born in '92 and electric was still the oddball out at that time.
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