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Old Jan 26, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Avian - First RC Plane in New Zealand


A couple of weeks ago, while I was visiting family in NZ, I had the opportunity to visit the Southward Car Museum on the Kapiti coast. Among the exhibits was this RC plane hanging from the ceiling. It is the `Avian' built by Alan Vause in 1938, and is touted as "New Zealand's first radio-controlled model aircraft".

It appears to be rudder-only and have a wingspan of about 8 feet (possibly longer, I didn't measure it).

I thought it might be of interest, and would appreciate any additional information on this pretty plane.
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaurak3 View Post
A couple of weeks ago, while I was visiting family in NZ, I had the opportunity to visit the Southward Car Museum on the Kapiti coast. Among the exhibits was this RC plane hanging from the ceiling. It is the `Avian' built by Alan Vause in 1938, and is touted as "New Zealand's first radio-controlled model aircraft".

It appears to be rudder-only and have a wingspan of about 8 feet (possibly longer, I didn't measure it).

I thought it might be of interest, and would appreciate any additional information on this pretty plane.
That engine up front looks like an Ohlson&Rice 60 and that would fit the date.
Old Jan 26, 2013, 07:14 PM
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Not an Ohlson, exhaust on wrong side !

Ross
Old Jan 26, 2013, 10:49 PM
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It may be a Brown, I don't see the exhaust, but the intake looks like a brown. Also there were no Ohlssons in 1938.
Old Jan 26, 2013, 11:25 PM
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It may be a Brown, I don't see the exhaust, but the intake looks like a brown. Also there were no Ohlssons in 1938.
I looked in the engine encyclopedia to see if I could find something that matched the engine but came up blank, but it only covers American engines. As CC said, it has Brown looks with the soldered on bypass. I did some blowups, they're not real good, but here they are for what they are worth.
Old Jan 27, 2013, 12:49 AM
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Not a brown, appears to have left side bypass, bolt on right side exhaust, front crank, points etc. too far uot from case. ??

Ross
Old Jan 27, 2013, 02:18 AM
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It may be a Brown, I don't see the exhaust, but the intake looks like a brown. Also there were no Ohlssons in 1938.
Yes my mistake. But Brown does have the bypass at the front and also I do not see the timer arm ?
Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:09 AM
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I'm surprised the Kiwi's have not come in yet.
Perhaps they are still on holiday???????????????
Old Jan 27, 2013, 06:30 AM
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I think it's a lesser known type.
For C/C, it's not true that there were no Ohlssons in 1938!
The Miniature dates from '37 and the Gold Seals from '38.
I don't think it's a Brown, because the Brown fin profile is dead straight (parallel), whereas the profile on this engine appears to be tapered, like an Ohlsson.
However, I don't think it's an Ohlsson because there are no fins on the top of the head. No Ohlsson ever had a "flat top".
Thanks to Leadchucker's blowups, you can just see the timer arm, sticking out from behind the propeller.
OK, I just looked in Mike Clanford's book and this engine looks like an NZ Acme .99 to me...
Last edited by brokenenglish; Jan 27, 2013 at 06:46 AM.
Old Jan 27, 2013, 10:58 AM
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I think it's a lesser known type.
For C/C, it's not true that there were no Ohlssons in 1938!
The Miniature dates from '37 and the Gold Seals from '38.
I don't think it's a Brown, because the Brown fin profile is dead straight (parallel), whereas the profile on this engine appears to be tapered, like an Ohlsson.
However, I don't think it's an Ohlsson because there are no fins on the top of the head. No Ohlsson ever had a "flat top".
Thanks to Leadchucker's blowups, you can just see the timer arm, sticking out from behind the propeller.
OK, I just looked in Mike Clanford's book and this engine looks like an NZ Acme .99 to me...
All quite true brokenenglish.
Old Jan 27, 2013, 03:57 PM
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I'm researching! Will be in touch. Takes a while to work the holiday spirit out of the system!
Old Jan 27, 2013, 06:45 PM
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I'm researching! Will be in touch. Takes a while to work the holiday spirit out of the system!
From the placard, the builder, Alan Vause, had recently rebuilt it, so someone in Auckland may know him. It would be interesting to learn a little about the radio system, as well.

Good luck with the research, Teals1. About the only research I managed while there was with the local `Tuatara' brews, the porter was my favourite!
Old Jan 27, 2013, 07:27 PM
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Alan sadly passed away, 2005:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NZMAA-News/message/2222


There is some information about Les Wright, the radio manufacturer who also cooperated with Frank Bethwaite, read this web page:
http://www.modelflyingnz.org/hallofframe/wright.htm
Last edited by Taurus Flyer; Jan 27, 2013 at 07:33 PM.
Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:33 PM
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Thanks for the links, TF. Alan and Les were obviously major contributors to the realm of RC aircraft.

It's commendable that Alan made the effort to rebuild the Avian and place it on display so that we may enjoy this bit of RC history.
Old Jan 28, 2013, 04:24 AM
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I believe that the motor fitted to the refurbished Avian is an Acme - most likely a 60 but possibly a 99. Acmes were made in small numbers and various sizes by a small business in Christchurch, New Zealand, before and for a few years after WW2. I owned one until recently.

PS I am a New Zealander, living in Hamilton.


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