Control Tower - September 1999

A time to go back, and a time to move on.

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While most of the items reviewed on the E-Zone are personally acquired by the individuals doing the reviews, we do receive a number of kits and other items from manufacturers that we then pass on to our team of reviewers.  Since I have the opportunity to either check out the items as they come through here or personally discuss the items with the reviewers, I've been very pleased to observe the high quality of kits and components that are generally available to the modeling community - and to the electric modeling community in particular.  Any one who has constructed some of the old kits available in the 1970's may well remember how poor the die-cutting could be (lot's of rework required) and how heavily constructed many of the planes were.   Components were often carved out of blocks of wood, and weight added in unnecessary places.  By contrast, nearly every kit I see at the present time has laser-cut parts or very clean die-cutting, and the composite parts are downright beautiful.  In addition to the kits sent out for review, I currently have a Diversity Model Aircraft Skat (being built for my son), a Great Planes Giles 202 (subject of an upcoming review), and a Sig Somethin' Extra (also for review) waiting for construction time.  Each of these kits exhibits exceptional quality.  Some others that we've built recently that were likewise pleasing included the Multiplex Twinstar and the Hobbico Viper.  The only downside I see is the greater difficulty of getting quality balsa, leading to greater use of plywood in many kits designed for glow power.  Even so, I think a number of the manufacturers have been focusing on "adding lightness".  Laser cutting allows the use of complex shapes that would be difficult to develop with other methods.   Another plus is the simplified construction techniques developed by most manufacturers.

ARF's have come a long way as well.  I built an ARF a few years back that looked nice, but had a nearly unrepairable foam/plastic covering.  It was also heavy and left something to be desired in the way quality.  By contrast, the Jerry I just received from Hobby Lobby (this one I obtained for my personal use - it was reviewed previously on the E-Zone) is stunning.  Essentially fully built, the Jerry is so beautifully done that it looks like it couldn't have any drag at all!  I haven't finished it yet, but I'm pleased so far.  I think these really are the golden years of modeling!


New Things

This month I have two new items to report on the E-Zone.  The first is simply a change in style on the front page.  In the past we've scattered the reviews among the columns to break things up a bit.  However, as we've grown in content I felt it necessary to organize things a little better for ease of reading.  Therefore, I changed the front page to organize our content by columns, review items, and regular features.  I hope you find it helpful.

The second item is a new addition to the E-Zone: the Electric Showcase.  This page displays various products sold for the electric market.  The images and descriptive text are provided by the manufacturers and sellers, giving you a better understanding of what's available on the market.


A Trip Back in Time

This weekend (Labor Day weekend) the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association brought in a 1929 Ford Trimotor to the Auburn, Indiana airport and offered rides for a very reasonable rate.  As something of a fan of many of the aircraft of that era, I thought this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up - how often do you get to ride in a plane from 70 years ago?  With my oldest daughter (14) and my oldest son (nearly 13) joining me, we launched into a 20 minute flight back in time.   I think we cracked our faces from all the smiling.  Yes, it was noisy, slow, and drafty, but that only added to the charm.  The old Trimotor seemed to float into the air almost as soon as the pilot throttled up the engines, and slowed down just as fast when he landed it (there's a lot of drag, as well as lift, in that plane!).  They flew us at low level over all the antique car auction activity going on below, then on around the city and out into the country a bit.  I'm sure there aren't very many ways to enjoy the beauty of God's creation like this!   It was well worth every cent we paid.   I've included some of the photos I took of the plane so that you can enjoy an up-close look at this piece of flying history.  It would certainly make a good subject for an electric construction project - plenty of wing area, simple fuselage design with a lot of battery room, and the reliability of electric power for multi-engine endeavors.

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The unique engine configuration of the 1929 Ford Trimotor is shown in these photos.  My oldest daughter and son are shown in the photo on the left; that's me on the right.


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Interior and cockpit close-ups.  The plaque on the door shown in the right photo commemorates the 70 year life span of this plane.


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Some additional engine photos.


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These photos looking down the top of the trimotor were taken from the top hatch, which opens from the inside at the front of the passenger compartment.  Refueling is done by climbing through this hatch and on to the top of the wing.  The photo on the right is over the cockpit looking at the center prop.


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These are some photos of the tail section of the aircraft.  It's intriguing to see a plane with the bellcranks on the outside (the bellcranks were near the front cockpit and controlled cables running to the ailerons, elevator, and rudder - see the photos of the front of the plane at the top).  The person in the middle photo is refueling the Trimotor; the person on the right is an unknown bystander.


Reader Mail


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From: bob(at)
Subject: Scale Masters
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999


I thought that EZONE readers might like to know that I have been fortunate enough to qualify again this year for the US Scale Masters Championships flying an electric airplane. This year's Champs (the 20th Anniversary, which promises to be a big deal) will be held in Phoenix Sept. 29 through October 3. I flew the big Taylorcraft again this year, and managed to come in 2nd at the LaGrande, OR Qualifier, beating a lot of "heavy iron" slimers in the process. Success is sweet!

Randy Smithhisler was there with me, flying his ol' reliable 1/4 scale J-3 Cub. Unfortunately, he was done out of a chance to qualify by a midair with a 1/4 scale homebuilt biplane (gas powered) during round 2. However, some MAGNIFICENT
flying by Randy got the Cub back on the ground with no further damage. He lost the left aileron, strut, and several ribs, and flew the Cub home using lots of rudder and no small amount of skill. It is my understanding that at the time of this writing the airplane is nearly back on flight status.

I have two new scale competition airplanes on the bench, and with any luck the Taylorcraft will be able to retire to backup status next year. I'll let you wonder for now what those new jobs are!

Bob Benjamin



Planes should be seen and not heard.  Pour on the Watts!

Steven Horney
E-Zone Editor



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