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Jan 30, 2018, 10:49 AM
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My RC History- Part 2


I dug this up from my old website- long gone but I found it on the waybackmachine -this one from 2009

This second installment will cover my middle school and high school years, ending with my graduation from high school at the turn of the century. When I left off in the first part, I was writing about my trusty Gentle Lady glider. Shortly after starting middle school, my Gentle Lady met its fate when the radio was shut off in flight while flying at Mary S. Young State park. I had the switch mounted on the hatch, just below the propeller for the pod-mounted .049. My little Cox engine had the really old sping starter which hooked around the prop, newer versions used a plastic cam, but mine actually grabbed the prop itself. I had so many flights on it the spring cut through the prop, and the loose blade hit the switch, damaging it and shutting off power to the glider in the middle of a nose down turn. My Gentle Lady hit the ground and just crumpled after all the repairs I had done.

Stepping Up

Early in middle school I received another model from my cousin Leon, scratch built from a pull out plan construction article in Model Airplane News. The low wing Be-Tween (plan number X07912, still available from Model Airplane News!) was typical of Leon’s builds. It was built straight, strong, and lightweight, and I felt mine was even better looking than the one in the magazine! Although the Be-Tween was a great little plane, it wasn’t until a year later when he sent me a Carl Goldberg Eaglet covered in bright yellow that my flying finally matured. The Eaglet was my first airplane with full controls. It had an OS .25 FP engine, a Futaba 4 channel FM radio, and it had rudder elevator and ailerons. I was finally able to fly a “full house” airplane. I could take off and land accurately, perform aerobatics including inverted flight, and more! It was amazing how much better my Eaglet flew than anything I had flown previously.

Too Much Too Soon

With the Eaglet flying well, I was itching to fly faster, more aerobatic models. I built a Sig Hummer, a simple low wing sport plane, with a hot Cox TD .049, in a matter of a few days with all my excitement. That airplane flew better than any .049 model I had flown before, and it lasted several years, which was unheard of for me at the time! With the flying experience I had gained from the Eaglet and the Hummer, I felt it was time for an aerobatic airplane. I spent a long winter building a Tower Hobbies Uproar, which I had purchased in a combo with a Tower .40 engine. The build went well, the engine ran well, now it was time to fly! The Uproar featured huge control surfaces for slow speed aerobatics, and it was intended for advanced flyers. I didn’t even consider how much control I would need, and set out with full control on my 4 channel radio, with no low rate setting. The poor airplane lasted about 5 seconds after a smooth takeoff. It was probably entirely capable, but with the extreme throws, no expo or low rates, and no experience with nimble airplanes I over-controlled back and forth a few times and then SPLAT!!! I can still visualize the rainbow of parts across the schoolyard, and one nasty kid I grew up with happened to see the crash and teased me about it for years afterward.

Super Durable

It was around that time I saved my grass cutting money and bought a Hitec Flash 5 computer radio. It only had two model memory, and it didn’t have many features, but it gave me rate switches and allowed me far more flexibility than I’d had before. After the crash of the Uproar, I decided to go for something more robust. I found a model manufacturer out of Florida who was building super tough airplanes out of corrugated plastic and aluminum. The “Airmadillo” was built like a tank and just the thing I had been looking for! I flew the daylights out of mine, at first with the Tower .40, and later with a Super Tiger .45 that was older than me. I had numerous severe crashes with mine, and only one time did I end up having to buy a new fuselage. A website is still up for the Airmadillo, click here, but the factory was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and the airplanes are no longer available.

A Good Friend

At some point I was invited to come fly with a club half and hour from my parents house. On a busy day at the Canby Dusters club field, I showed up with my Airmadillo to see about joining. Someone suggested I meet Bob Dutton, who had retired from the Air Force, because he lived in the same town I was from. I walked up and introduced myself and found out he lived within biking distance from me. I brazenly asked him if he would be willing to give me rides to the field, and so began a long friendship. Bob and I were soon hitting all the local fun flies and every club meeting, and before long I took on the editor position for the Canby Duster’s News Letter; Bob made sure I made it to all the executive meetings.

Building My Dream Plane

My next big build was a House of Balsa Extra 300L. I remember asking all my friends for cash instead of gifts for my birthday, I had been eyeing the Extra at Tammies Hobbies. I convinced my mom to take me to the hobby shop and I bought the kit and all the accessories I would need to build it. I spent another long winter building another aerobatic airplane, but this time I was determined to make it worth my time and money. I detailed the airplane as closely to the box as I could, and all my experience finally paid off, the airplane turned out better than I could have hoped for. I built it around my old Super Tiger .45, but the Extra was my first experience with a cowled engine, and I was nervous how the Super Tiger would cope. A cowled engine is much more prone to overheating if it does not get adequate airflow, and my Extra had a built up Balsa and ply cowl which didn’t leave much room to breath. My Extra flew fantastic, but I was constantly plagued with engine trouble unless I flew without the cowl. After months of fiddling with the balsa cowl I scratch built a fiberglass cowl, and assumed my troubles were solved.

Joining The Elite PineHollow Motor Pool

I had heard about a float fly held at Pinehollow reservoir by the Portland Skyknights. I convinced my parents to plan a camping trip around the event, and I loaded up my… Extra 300L. Looking back, it was kind of rediculous, but someone had mentioned they had pontoons I could use, and I was ready to fly off the water! I arrived at the campground, tracked down the old foam pontoons, and set about mounting them. They seemed to be a little small for my Extra, and I could not get the model up on plane, the pontoons wanted to submarine under power. A friend made a suggestion to extend the front of the pontoons to help it get on step. A little duct tape and a few pop cans later, and I had the ugliest set of pontoons mounted on my pretty Extra, but I was determined! I fired up the Super Tiger put it in the water and hit the throttle. My mod worked, and the Extra was able to make a clean takeoff. I flew the plane a few times successfully off the water and even made some nice water landings. I’ll never really know what happened, maybe a battery or switch failed, or maybe someone turned on their transmitter, but my Extra bore itself into the lake straight down at full power. I hopped in a friends boat to get it, and from a distance it looked okay, but when we got to it it was obvious something was wrong, very wrong. Not only was the airplane completely destroyed, but the whole front of the plane was missing. My Super Tiger .45, my new fiberglass cowl and pitts muffler, the fuel tank and everything around the firewall sank instantly. And that is how I became an elite member of the Pinehollow Motor Pool….

Getting Into Helis

I had always eyed helicopters fondly, when I was in high school Bob and another flyer began getting into them with a new, super tough trainer heli, the Lite Machines Helicopter (LMH) 116. I convinced my parents to loan me the money to buy it, and I too was soon building my plywood framed fixed pitch nitro heli. I had flown one Bob had borrowed before I bought mine, and a neighbor had loaned me a Dave Brown simulator, so I knew what to expect. I was able to build the heli, and proceed to fly it around the front yard in forward flight and nose in on the first flight. I flew the LMH regularly, I took it to school once I had my driver’s license and would fly it on the football field or parking lot at lunch, and I even took it on a family trip to the midwest.

15 Minutes Of Fame

During my Junior year in High School I saw an article in paper about the state using a manned helicopter for aerial photography, and I decided I could do better with a model. I contacted the state, and submitted a proposal. I never heard back from the state, but I was featured in the newspaper, the local news, and even on CNN. A total of $600 was sent in my name to my high school from a few people who saw me on TV and wanted to support my idea, and with that money I purchased my first video downlink system.

Going To College

I built a Thunderbird 60 my senior year in high school. It was almost the same as a Kaos and was a very high quality kit with very poor instructions. I modified it for retractable landing gear, used a Russian-made MVVS .61 with a tuned pipe, and even sourced 5 spoke aluminum rims for it. The airplane flew great, but never thrilled me. It wasn’t as fast as I expected, and I was happier flying my 40 sized sport plane on floats. I was accepted into Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and in preparation for a move into a dorm room, I sold most of my big models.

Building With Balsa, Once Again

Looking back, I wish I still had one of my better examples of something I built. I haven’t built anything out of balsawood in years, and I am feeling the itch to make some balsa dust! Stay tuned this winter, I will be documenting my build of one of my favorite kits, a Direct Connection Tsunami. The kit is CNC cut, and has very nice quality wood. Its designed for a .40 size nitro, but I’m going to adapt it for electric power and add retractable landing gear. *edit 2018 I still haven't finished that airplane....
Last edited by aaronredbaron; Jan 30, 2018 at 11:52 AM.
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