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Posted by rdstarwalt | Sep 02, 2018 @ 10:12 AM | 5,950 Views
It has been a long time in development but, this week the Jack Headley biography has been posted online for all to read.

HERE is a direct link to the biography.

Jack's oldest daughter Lisa Headley-Rist has been essential in helping with this effort. I owe her immensely.

If you know more about Jack and feel compelled to add to the group knowledge feel free to reach out and comment or contact me directly.
Biographies at the AMA are often edited as new information is available and re-found.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Mar 31, 2017 @ 02:27 PM | 9,877 Views
The December 2016 issue of Model Aviation featured a one page plan focus on Jack Headley's "Sportwagon Jr." (see DYK #75). I pointed this out to Lisa Headley-Rist and she was able to purchase a copy locally so her children could see an example of her dad's great work.

In the April 2017 issue Lisa has a published letter to the Editor thanking them for the article and also giving this blog some attention for keeping her dad's name alive in the modern modelling world.

Part of my commitment to her and her family has been compiling all of Jack's known published material into a digital form so that she, and her children (and generations to come) can enjoy the legacy Jack's work. That effort is nearly complete and soon I will be shipping her a USB stick with the digital collection.

The next phase of this legacy project will be building Jack's (and some of Kevin Flynn's) airplanes for modern times. They all are simple and economical in scope and should provide some interesting blog posts to come. I am setting no deadlines on this next phase simply because my project 'in box' is overflowing at the moment.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Nov 11, 2016 @ 10:47 AM | 10,436 Views
...that in Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing by Ted Coleman, the name "The Yellow Peril" was given to a building? On page 57, the text is:

After initially establishing the company headquarters in the Bank Huntley building in downtown Los Angeles, temporary offices were rented in an old abandoned building in Hawthrone, a building nicknamed, "The Yellow Peril," on account of the closets being full of deadly Black Widow spiders.

If you refer back to my post DYK#78, I think that Jack Headley was having fun with some of the older Northrop engineers by naming his RTP model 'The Yellow Peril'. Coleman's text does not tell us specifically when the Hawthorne building was occupied (and probably treated for the spiders), but a subsequent sentence puts the renting in the context of 1939.

Coleman's book provides more historical references to the contribution that Northrop had on WW2. In December 1940, the US Army Air Corp signed a contract with Northrop for two prototype aircraft. This aircraft, designated P-61 was named called 'The Black Widow'.

Coincidence? Not really. On pages 68,69 Coleman tells us:

A secret proposal from Northrop resulted in the award of a 1,000 plane contract to design, test, and produce the P-61 night fighter. Northrop engineers who had joined the company when their only office was in the abandoned Hawthorne hotel, suggested the name for the plane when they remembered seeing, and being uncomfortable with, the numerous black widow spiders...Continue Reading
Posted by rdstarwalt | Sep 27, 2016 @ 08:39 AM | 14,131 Views
What have I been up to? Scanning and working through the amazing heirloom information Lisa Headley kindly shipped me from her family collection. Soon enough I will incorporate much of some amazing images in additional blog posts about her dad, Jack Headley.

As mentioned on an earlier blog HERE, the number of views your post receives will vary wildly. You post will eventually become a search result for the net and will probably quickly show up quicker than you think... usually. To make your post even more visible, cross links to other sites and posts here on RCG will certainly get bot attention.

That said, here is my latest view charting. The 'break' to work through Lisa's materials gave the blog time to normalize.

The highest viewed post is DYK #55 - Caproni Vizzola CJ-22J It has (as of this post) 88 views of the Gimped plan work. This is not the set of plans with the highest views.

The Hot Canary full size pdf is at 288 views (as of this post).
The F-18 Hornet pdf plans are at 157 views (as of...).
The General Aircraft Hamilcar is at 107 for the side view, but half that for the wing view (go figure).

I tend to think that views of pictures are closer to real people viewing a post rather than a bot. Then again, what do I know?


P.S. I have a very good theory as to why Jack named one airplane 'The Yellow Peril' . During the break I read Ted Coleman's book 'Jack Northrop and the Flying Wing'. My theory came from there and will be the subject of an upcoming post.
Posted by rdstarwalt | Mar 11, 2016 @ 09:48 AM | 12,177 Views
...Jack Headley and Kevin Flynn built many autogiro / gyrocopters? Courtesy of Lisa Headley's collection and sending me scanned pictures, I am able to show you more of Jack and Kevin's efforts in this area.

Previously I discussed the Rotoruta, an RC autogyro published in January 1978 of RCM, in Blog #32. Additional information on the topic was cited from the material known to me. There is not a lot more to add to that blog post. Here we get to see what appears to be, maybe, a CO2 powered autogiro. The famous 'body-less arm' is holding a Soviet era inspired model. I found a similar real autogiro in a search 'soviet autogyro' and have added it for comparison. The tail of the model has more than one vertical fin. If we could see the other side of the model, we would be more certain of the power plant. It could be rubber powered because the prop looks like that type. There was no date information available at this time.

As previously mentioned, additional posts are going to based on information provided from Lisa Headley. I appreciate her input and the fact that she is an integral part of the story we are compiling is critical to a complete picture of the work of her dad.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Feb 19, 2016 @ 09:08 AM | 12,137 Views
...that Kevin Flynn designed and published a model called 'Cannon Ball'? Published in the December 1977 issue of RCM&E, this aileron /elevator 1/2A model was not considered a beginner's model. In the fall of 2015, Kevin and I exchanged some emails regarding my desire to build a complete list of his published aircraft. With the Jack Headley list nearing completion (at that time), I think Kevin's efforts in this space deserved attention. To describe the relationship between the two of them as 'tight' probably does not do it justice. That love of aviation and aircraft is shared today by anyone that spends more than a few seconds watching a machine move through the sky. Jack often referred to Kevin as the 'test pilot'. Certainly it took quick reflexes and hand/eye work to keep this aircraft out of the dirt.

The Cannon Ball is not for the faint of heart. I think it could make a good electric conversion and still maintain a 'pucker factor' that is high on the Richter Scale (yeah a mixed metaphor, but you get the idea). Anyone for small electric pylon racing? Maybe with the new FPV gear, this could be a real barn burner for tearing up the sky. Regardless, I think the Cannon Ball is just another fine example of how a combined love of a hobby results in more creativity. Well done Kevin! (He had to buy a copy of his own design to get this issue! In fact, that happened with another of his designs, the Short Skyvan).

Posted by rdstarwalt | Feb 06, 2016 @ 12:41 PM | 11,877 Views
...a recent trip to a museum by Lisa Headley resulted in a wonderful discovery? In post #29 I discussed some of Jack's professional work at Northrop. His patent recognition regarding the nose design of the TigerShark was also previously mentioned, http://www.google.com/patents/US4176813 . In that post, I also provide the RCM article Jack authored regarding a scale DF TigerShark model.

While in Portland ( http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/the-museum ), Lisa realized that one of the display aircraft was a Tiger II, an early version of the TigerShark her dad helped develop. The young man you see in the photo is identified as Nicolas. Though not specifically identified, I think that is Jack's grandson (Lisa if you read this, could you confirm?).

The Norair Modeller issues frequently had information on the F-5 and variants. In fact, one issue featured color official paint swatches from the different countries Northrop was contracted to build for. Gus Morfis arranged this series of information and if you ever consider building a DF version of the F-5 in period colors, it would be a great resource.

This post is another example of how Jack Headley's influence continues into today.
His talent was too soon removed from us.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Jan 29, 2016 @ 08:12 AM | 12,487 Views
...that Jack Headley took hang gliding lessons? I didnt' know this either. The attached photo is from Lisa Headley's personal collection. She commented that her dad did not continue the sport after he had finished his lessons. There seems to be no information about the location of this experience. I will probably drop Kevin Flynn an email and ask him if he remembers this. Perhaps even Kevin took lessons? Of course I am assuming the photo was taken in California.

In the photo we see Jack wearing long pants and a helmet. It is a beautiful day and he is seated on a swing-type chair that, if memory serves me well, was a common training method for new hang glider pilots. The glider is a Rogallo type and I mentioned Jack's version of a bungee launched Rogallo model a few posts ago.

This is yet another example of how flight and flying was a central driving force in Jack Headley's life. With my effort to report here Jack's published work essentially complete, the next several posts will focus on the images and information from Lisa. She is scanning and sending information from her family's collection and has consented to share them with you.

I thank her for allowing us to see more of her dad's love for flying and hope my efforts can help others see his talent and passion.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Jan 15, 2016 @ 07:42 AM | 12,570 Views
... the attached file may be the most complete chronological listing of Jack Headley's work? If you know of missing information, please respond and we can add it to the listing.

I have been unsuccessful in putting the information in the blog entry form to achieve a satisfactory 'look', thus the attached pdf (it will do).

Today's post will be short, but the listing you see was made from many, many months of work, research and traveling. Now that Lisa and her mom are in communication with me, the research can include more information from their family heirlooms and scrapbook.

Thank you for your attention and reading along!


UPDATE 12-MAR-2017
I obtained a missing "Headley" issue of Model Aviation last week and have updated my Chrono-listing of his articles/letters.
It has replaced the original listing attached to this post.

UPDATE 03-SEP-2018
Added 'Bonzo' as found from Outerzone. RCM&E article that may have been previously missed due to 'J. Headley' attribute rather than 'Jack' or 'J.W.'
Posted by rdstarwalt | Jan 08, 2016 @ 08:12 AM | 12,704 Views
...we cannot be certain how many models that Jack Headley designed are lost to us now. This project, unlike attempts to recover Mayan language, can benefit from a short span of time. We have excellent knowledge of most of Jack's work, but some will escape us unless folk come forward with more information not known to us now.

My list of 'Jack's Lost Models':

#1 Blue Max
I asked Kevin Flynn about Blue Max. He thinks that it was an Orange Julius, decorated in blue Monokote (or another iron-on covering).

#2 Northrop Long Range Model
There is one photo on the cover of an issue of the Northrop newsletter, but according to Jack, the model ended up being recycled into the Cyclops, the aircraft in the RCM article about the 8 mm movie camera. Lisa Headley had a very good quality B&W photo of her dad holding the Cyclops and we see that attached. +5 to Lisa! But lost it still is because we have no plans or other documentation to reproduce it.

#3 Hurricane
In Blog #62 I mentioned the Ono-Bird plans from the Northrop newsletter. The wing and tail for the Ono were based on a (currently) lost model, the Hurricane. We have good chance of finding the Hurricane if a complete copy of the January 1968 issue of the Norair Modeller is located. This is missing from the collection at the NMAM in Muncie.

#4 Tennis Rocket
Another Norair newsletter model that we have reference to, but no complete documentation. The July 1967 issue at the NMAM is missing the plans. This...Continue Reading
Posted by rdstarwalt | Jan 01, 2016 @ 03:38 PM | 14,228 Views
...one of the simplest Jack Headley drawings is of a Rogallo wing, seen in the Spring 1973 issue of the Northrop Aircraft Modeler? Jack credits the original design from a Polish model magazine obtained by Lynne Christensen (that's a well known name for any old school modeler). It was a single page sketch from the Spring 1973 issue of the Northrop Aircraft Modeler. The name of the newsletter changed after the company name changed from 'Norair' to Northrop.

In the notes, Jack credits the source of the model and basically admits this is a cover of that source. The Rogallo wing has been employed in many models of various types, but the original idea for the wing is fascinating. You should check out the Wiki article for more information.

This 'wing form' eventually lost out to parachutes when it came to recovery of space capsules. There are several videos on line about the Rogallo that demonstate the difficulties in deployment. Add to this the time crunch to 'beat the Russians' and the Rogallo concept proved less desirable in the long run.

The most significant application of the wing style was a simplified construction of home-built machines. It found a place for hang gliding enthusiasts who enjoyed the low cost that a Rogallo provided.

An interesting page about the space program tests with the Rogallo:

The Wiki page on the Rogallo Wing:

Happy New Year 2016!

Posted by rdstarwalt | Dec 25, 2015 @ 12:31 PM | 12,676 Views
...Jack Headley published plans for a CL model in the December 1969 issue of the Norair Modeler? In fact, the first appearance of the Northrop XFT-1 was in the October 1968 issue of the Norair Modeler. Page 13 and 14 (listed in the attachments from this issue) were the discussion and 3 views, but Jack questioned if what was seen was actually correct. He thought it represented the XFT-2 instead.

I have not found a single constructed example of the model. The two full size plan sheets from the December 69 issue did not build photos in the issue. If one was built and later submitted for commercial publication, it must have been shelved or rejected. In fact, we have no way of knowing how many articles by Jack were purchased and never published. RCM and the associated piles of office materials are long gone unless someone knows of a storage building somewhere in California, Oregon, Washington, or Arizona containing the original articles of many designer/writers.

In the attachments are two photos of the only copy of the plans from the archives at the National Model Airplane Museum in Muncie, IN taken in 2014. On my 2015 trip, I completely scanned the plans. The Gimped result is also attached.

The Wiki page on the XFT series:

Season's Greetings!

Posted by rdstarwalt | Dec 19, 2015 @ 06:59 PM | 13,333 Views
...that Jack Headley said he was involved in all manner of aircraft modeling? This was well before the rise of RC technology and the eventual reduction in cost of RC. We have today only a few examples of Jack's diverse interest. Good sources are the Northrop newsletters in the archive at the National Model Airplane Museum. Jack was the editor of those newsletters for a few years. There was found previously unpublished designs and I have been able to bring them to light on this website.

One unique and barely mentioned design for a forgotten (mostly) model activity is the 'Yellow Peril' – a Round-the-Pole (RTP) design mentioned in the April 1967 issue of the Norair Modeller. This model was a rubber powered RTP design.

In Jack's words:

'Our Round the Pole activities have come to a grinding halt, and even the pylon is looking rusty'

I will let the reader enjoy the rest of the very short article in the attachment.

This issue was mentioned in Blog #19 with the Wizard of Oz being flown by Kevin Flynn on the cover. Two more photos of WoO are on page 3 of the issue.

You can search online for RTP modeling and there are several interesting videos on YouTube, but the new section of Outerzone featuring books has an excellent discussion that relates to Jack's rubber powered model.


There was even some discussion on RTP here on RC Groups:

The above discussion is very good and brings many aspects of the mode to light. RTP would be a fantastic method for indoor flying on a limited budget such as school groups.

The Yellow Peril build information is, at this point in time and likely forever, lost to us. At least we have the one photo from the Norair Modeller issue.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Dec 12, 2015 @ 12:15 PM | 12,677 Views
...in the words of Gus Morfis:
'Jack was a performance engineer, and worked at a desk, or something like that, while I was a design engineer, and I worked on a drafting board, in design integration. This was at the time of the Northrop T-38 Talon and the F-5E fighter..'?
This is from an email to Gus in April 2014. Gus, as some of you know, went on to sell plans based on many aircraft and his style is unique to him, just as Jack's was unique. Jack's job, being a performance engineer, certainly involved data. Data and the results of Jack's favorite wing construction style were the subject of Jack's article in the March 1976 issue of RCM 'Built Up or Sheet Wings?'

This is another of Jack's short articles and we find one of the smiling Headley girls posing with one of Jack's Orange Julius (See Blog #35 )wings. The question the article asked was 'How did the weight of the aircraft compare with the wing construction method?' (Starwalt paraphrase) Jack does not try to hide his lack of love for cutting out ribs. Frankly, except for the cost of balsa, I think today's obsession with the KF 'airfoil' has its basis in the tedious task of rib cutting. Jack's all sheet wings, a common construction method for many of today's Asian sourced ARFs, uses fewer ribs than an open-bay covered wing. Jack put the question to the test with data collected and with good doses of Headley humor mixed in.

I have attached the entire artice and an...Continue Reading
Posted by rdstarwalt | Dec 05, 2015 @ 10:33 AM | 13,501 Views
...Jack Headley published several articles that were not specifically about aircraft? In 'The Modeler's Muff' we find a smiling Lisa Headley showing us the solution for an RC slope pilot with cold hands. This one-page article was published in the September 1975 issue of RCM. With Necessity being the Mother of Invention, Jack's freezing hands and the ensuing idea to relieve them led to this innovative, for the time, idea.

The simple article gives us a wonderful picture of Lisa (allegedly) slope flying with the TX bag. We will depend on Lisa's memory to let us know if she was really flying or being a model herself. I sent her the scanned article last week and have not received any feedback. It was quite a while ago and no one will blame her if she does not remember. Regardless it is a great pic and we have her dad to thank for it although no photo credit was given in the article.

Lisa and I have been corresponding. She has been scanning pictures and articles about her dad, kindly sharing them with me. Jack's love of aircraft was lifelong. I hope to find a way to represent this information with Lisa and her mom's approval.

Work had me out of town this week and traveling into late Friday, thus the late post.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Nov 27, 2015 @ 10:23 AM | 12,940 Views
...that Sportwagon Jr. was the last Model Aviation article published by Jack Headley? The August 1983 issue was unique in that many of the photos were in color. Lisa Headley displayed the model while sitting on a wall. This is a park flyer version of the original Sportwagon that Jack recalls in the article. Jack gives us another glimpse into his pre-USA days with information from when he was in college. His modeling interests then were to compete in all disciplines (of the time) it seems.

If it were not for Jack's occasional snippets of information it would not be clear exactly how much diversity Jack had in the modeling world. He was the embodiment of Sport Flying, but enjoyed the gathering of peers for competition as well. Initially intending to build the original Sportwagon, Jack's own words tells the story the best.

A friend in Toronto happened to have a copy of the original magazine, so I prevailed on him to Xerox a copy for me (thanks, Mike). Then I set about scaling it up.

However, as usual, my grasshopper mind took a left turn. Rather than remaking the full-sized bird, I decided to produce a single-channel version to fly in my local park. This single-channel model is the subject of this article.

Jack intended to take the magazine view of the plans and redraw them to full size. His version differs in a few ways and I will let you investigate those as a homework assignment. As our RC tech today has advanced, Sportwagon Jr is an excellent candidate for our...Continue Reading
Posted by rdstarwalt | Nov 20, 2015 @ 07:55 AM | 12,758 Views
...that Jack Headley offers no explanation for the name of this nice little bi-plane? He refers to it as 'The Happy Bipe' in the May 1979 issue of Model Aviation. The emphasis in the text was his indecision on the design features and his final choice was 'all of the above'. The Peliban is an excellent two, or three channel aircraft choice and could even be built for the FF fan. His previous Model Aviation article was about 15 months prior to this issue and the subject of our previous blog. There is one more MA Headley design to feature. It was his last before leaving us too soon.

Like many of his designs, the construction features straight wings of a built up style. The lower wing is permanently attached to the fuselage and the upper wing is removable. The plans are available from the AMA Plans service and I have attached an edited screen cap of the listing. Did you know that the Plans Service can scale up or down any plan in their listing? Perhaps Peliban at 33% larger would make an interesting project? If you think about it, what other business/service has been able to support model aviation plans for as long as the AMA? (I'm a fan for full disclosure).

Clearly missing from this article are any photos of a Headley or Kevin Flynn. Even the 'bodiless arm' is missing. Regardless, today we can enjoy and learn from the simple approach Jack Headley took with Peliban. If only we knew where the name came from? (Yeah, I tried several search engines. Nothing obvious floated to the top.)

Next week will feature the last Jack Headley design/build article in Model Aviation.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Nov 13, 2015 @ 07:49 AM | 13,707 Views
...the Livesy DL5, as modeled by Jack Headley, was a British homebuilt aircraft? This construction article was published in the December 1977 issue of Model Aviation. Kevin Flynn is seen on the cover of the issue holding the model and kneeling next to a Pitts Special. There are several interesting aspects of this article.

The most prominent, to me, was the complete omission of Jack's name! He is credited for the article in the table of contents, but not on the intro page of the actual article. Another aspect is the two-page layout of the plans in magazine. Today, we are lucky to even get a partial drawing of plans. I understand, all too well, that copy/scanning tech is much better today than it was in the mid 1970s and even into the 1980s. The plans in this article do look like Jack's artwork and style to me. A quick check of the AMA Plans Service (Plan #207) shows this set only costs $14 and can still be purchased today, 38 years after publication!

More interesting details show up in the article photos. Jack made a hand-drawn control panel for the model and mounted the receiver switch there! It is hardly noticeable and a great way to conceal an out-of-scale device. The wing construction is classic and this model uses rib cap strips, something not seen on too many of Jack's designs. I am currently working on a project to blend two ARFs into one aircraft. The wing uses cap strips and it is amazing how much stronger a balsa rib becomes when this simple feature is added.

This would also be another great candidate for electric. The location of the battery might be a challenge with the smaller fuselage cross section and the (almost) pod style cabin area would be the best location. Use small servos and it should get you the same controls as the original design.

Posted by rdstarwalt | Nov 06, 2015 @ 07:59 AM | 13,251 Views
...that the Bristol Scout by Jack Headley also re-purposed a L'eggs egg container for the prop spinner? This article was published in the March 1977 issue of Model Aviation. I still have my first copy. If you are an AMA member, you can read the entire article in the digital library that is fully searchable; another good reason to join the AMA. Or you can try to find an issue online, but regardless this single channel rudder only model has a unique plans set. In the magazine it was printed to Peanut scale, full size, for the FF builders. The purchased plans are larger for the builder who wants to go RC. Today we would put an nice electric motor in place of the Cox 020, and maybe even go with elevator control as suggested by Jack.

I have provided photos of my issue (with graphic notes added) on the building board to help you see the depth of the article. Jack even provided references at the end for the history buffs. The Scout M1was available in 1916 but never saw deployment in WW1. Only a few were built and those were shipped off to the middle east. Jack had actually modelled the plane prior to this build in FF form. He recounts that model on page 42:

This is the second Bristol Monoplane I've built, the first one being a free-flight version powered by an aged diesel and about firfty percent bigger than the model shown here. This turned out to be an excellent flier, and also a world traveler. Constructed in California, and first flown in the Sepulveda Basin, it was taken...Continue Reading
Posted by rdstarwalt | Oct 30, 2015 @ 06:51 AM | 13,928 Views
...the inspiration for building a model can come from anywhere? Jack Headley admits this in the opening lines of his article for 'Little Willy' published in the August 1981 issue of Aeromodeller. This article was the last he published in Aeromodeller and also is the last CO2 powered FF model to be discussed in this blog series. In this case, the inspiration for Little Willy also inspired another build of 'fantasy scale' that is documented here in RC Groups.

'Flambards' the TV series is the stated inspiration for Jack's model. I won't go into the reading I did on the series (leaving that to you as homework), but Flambards has another connection to UK aviation. The link to the current amusement park is below and if you are very interested, there are several discussions and photo posts about the aircraft that were located there.

I think Little Willy would make a great scaled up electric model. The phrase 'fantasy scale' is from one of the comments seen in the RC Group build linked below. There are several examples of this type in Jack Headley's portfolio. Kevin Flynn also engaged in this genre with the Puffin, seen in Blog #56. I am not aware of a committee approved definition of 'fantasy scale', but it seems the criteria is an aircraft modeled in the style prior to WW1, or there about.

Popular USA examples of fantasy scale would be the Proctor Antic, Antic Biplane, Parasol, and the Top Flite Elder.
There were several versions of these planes for different engine displacements and budgets.

RC Groups build of a model from the TV Series


Next week we start reviewing Jack's published articles in Model Aviation. Some have been touched on before, but now they will be featured.