October Update on Products & Projects – It’s Long!

It’s been awhile since I gave a real update, so this will be a LONG post with lots of information, so stay with me and read it all!

The tile installation is DONE, although we still need to put all the furniture back and rearrange the rooms.  Here is a picture of my little corner of this world; it’s about 1/3rd of the family room.  The tall desk on the right is where all my computer work is done.  I was permitted to add an additional desk for building in the evenings.  This way I can watch tv with my family (my wife Patricia, since Jack and Tristan are pretty much on their own now) and still build if I want to.  The desk was a great find at Salvation Army – the top surface is worn, but since I am using it to build, that’s ok with me – and the price was right:  $15.81 out the door!  I also bought a little folding stool to elevate my building board if I want to stand while building.  I find standing is easier on my back and provides a better view of the building.  The cabinets on the left contain books and paper and other items I use for my business work.  NOTE:  all of this work severely interfered with my order fulfillment and I apologize to all my customers.  I should be caught up this week.



NEW ITEMS FOR SALE – well, one, right now.  Many suppliers/wholesalers require minimum order quantity for their distributors.  I buy my balsa (for the short kits) from SIG and they do have a minimum order quantity to qualify for free shipping.  I am going to try something – I picked up the SIG Mr Mulligan kit to met this MOQ on my last order.  As you might know, the Mr Mulligan is a dominant model in the FAC Thompson Race.  Basically, it is one of the few qualifying high wing racers and currently the only one (high wing racer) kitted by anyone.  SIG has offered this die cut 20″ full kit for years and many modelers do use it to compete (other versions are by Dumas – a kit, and the Dave Rees plan – not a kit).  So, if you want to build a successful Thompson Racer, here you go.  I am sure that I will be offering the lowest price you can find on the SIG kit because I want to pass my savings on to you.


BACK IN STOCK – thanks to an email exchange (Bill Schmidt to Don DeLoach, I believe), we are now back in production of the Superior Prop Freewheel clutches.   As you might expect locating and drilling the tiny holes at the edge of the clutch was a stumper.  At first, we thought we didn’t have the equipment,  so my dad got a vertical mill.  However that caused other problems and we couldn’t make them without breaking drill bits at a high rate.  Mr Schmidt illustrated a drill jig to Don and Don passed that info to me.  When I sent it to my dad (a retired toolmaker), a light bulb went off in his head and he is back in production.  His last shipment to me contained MANY clutches, overflowing my storage and exhausting his supply of aluminum rod.  So, I know many of you will be happy to hear these are again available.

clutchesPRODUCTS/PROJECTS IN WORK – Our VPS Torque meters are a success.  We have sold several, probably a couple more than expected this soon, and we have had requests for custom installations.  Right now we are working on modifying the Morrill meter for a large Wilder Winder.  Also, we will look into adapting the same meter to the K&P 10:1/4:1 dual winder.  that may be a little trickier…  Also, we continue to do custom work on propellers, the latest request is for a 24″ folder of a custom design.

Short kits in the making:  I continue to work on the drawing for Dave Smith’s Judy.  Once complete, we can cut the parts and build a test bed prototype.  Also, Harrison Knapp gave me permission to kit his F-4 Phantom II Jet Cat.  I’ve built 3 and my son has built one as we refine the design.  My latest effort lightened the end product from 32 grams to 25 grams.  That is nearly a 25% reduction. 25 grams may still sound heavy, but the model has about 48 square inches of wing area, so the wing will carry the 25g well.  I think I have the parts done and am cleaning up the drawing, adding notes, etc.  This will be a full kit, like my other Jet Cats, complete with an FAC legal catapult.  Here is a photo of Harrison and me at Muncie in September with our F-4s – my yellow one is the 32g version.

harrisongeorgeOther short kits in the works include a popular 2-Bit, an uncommon Thompson Racer (I am optimistically calling it a Mr Mulligan Killer!), a Goodyear racer, and a NoCal for my Indoor contests.  These all are front-burner projects and should be finished and built over the winter.  I have tons of back-burner projects!

Oh, a question – is there any interest in my Wanderer (OT Stick) as a short kit?  How about an OT Fuselage, should I draw one up?  I’m not sure of the interest and since they are much larger and complicated projects, I won’t go to the effort if there is no interest.  LET ME KNOW.

SPEAKING OF INDOOR – I am an Outdoor modeler and flyer.  I don’t do much indoor, because I never have the opportunity.  That is likely to change.  The Cloudbusters are changing their indoor contests.  They used to be in a small, small gym far away on the east side of Michigan in the evening on a weekday.  This year they are trying something new, as those were poorly attended (I went to one, it was a terrible site and I got back home about 1am – never again).

They have been having weekly indoor fun-flys on Thursdays during the day at the Ultimate Soccer facility in Pontiac, MI.  Now they are converting one of those per month to a Contest.  They will be flying several FAC events and some AMA events on the Second Thursday of the Month from 10am to 2pm.  The site is a full size soccer field in an indoor facility – where the Indoor Fling is held ever Spring.  This is a great site and  I will be trekking over to Pontiac once a month, weather permitting, since I am now retired and available during the day.  The facility only asks for a $10 fee from each flyer.  So, if any of you are within a comfortable distance, you are welcome to stop in and fly!  This is FREE FLIGHT ONLY – no r/c!

Lastly, I have some additional products to mention.  As  some of you might know, my wife of 32 years (this December) is from Costa Rica.  Costa Rica has the BEST coffee I have ever tasted.  After years of sampling their variety, I have settled on Cafe Naranjo as the best of the best.  Our family decided to start a little venture and import this coffee and make it available here in the US.  My sons, Jackson and Tristan, are operating the business, online only at this point.  They opened the online shop at the beginning of the month.  You can find their site at www.cafe-rica.com and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CafeRicaUSA/  I am going to help them out a bit, too.  You can order from them – OR – if you are buying model products from me and want to buy your coffee in one stop (saving shipping charges!) you can now order on my site.  Trust me, all of the money will go to them.  This is the smoothest and richest coffee I have ever tasted!

OH!  When we mentioned the coffee to Vance Gilbert, he graciously sent 5 AUTOGRAPHED “Nearness of You” CDs as promotional give-aways for the coffee buyers.  So, if you want great coffee and great music, order coffee from me and mention (add a comment to your order) you want Vance’s CD – only four people get this opportunity!




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Report #3 – JACK MOSES – Smilin’ Jack – Gone West

Just as we were getting underway at the FAC Outdoor Champs on Thursday morning, fellow Cloudbuster Ted Allebone, came around to a couple of us and informed us of the news that we were all dreading to hear – our good, good friend, Jack Moses had passed away – “Smilin’ Jack”, as he signed his letters. (continued below picture)


at the 2014 Cloudbusters Picnic. the guest is unknown, but the model is a Big Cat Embryo.

Jack Moses was the epitome of the Flying Aces Club Modeler:  he loved the hobby and I believe he loved everyone he met through the hobby.  I don’t ever recall seeing him in less than a good mood and he almost always had a new plane to fly.  I am pretty sure he built every Dimer that Mike Nassise published in his newsletter.

Jack was a regular fixture at our Cloudbusters contests.  He would show up and fly all those new planes.  In his later years, he wouldn’t be flying for competition, just for fun.  He would throw up a model if we needed a third, but he was just out there because he loved flying models. (continued below picture)


at the Cloudbusters 2104 Picnic. This is Jack and his grandson, Eli, flying a Phantom Flash. This photo was taken and published by the Flint, MI newspaper.

Jack was a fixture for the Flying Aces Club, too.  At this year’s FAC Nats, in July, he was one of a literal handful of attendees that had attended EVERY FAC Nats, since the very first one – and this one was the 20th Nationals contest.  The FAC holds their Nats every two years.  So for 40 years, Jack had been making the trek, bringing his models, flying, and sharing time with hundreds of other people.  Jack was elected to the FAC Hall of Fame in 2004.  He earned a total of 78 kanones and won twice last year. (continued below picture)

Jack Moses with Vance Gilbert when Vance came to Ann Arbor, MI in June 2016

Jack Moses with Vance Gilbert when Vance came to Ann Arbor, MI in June 2016

At the 2012 Nats Banquet, the FAC presented Jack with the FAC Nats flag – it flies over every Nats.  Jack’s late wife, Dorothy, had made the flag and as she had just passed away, the FAC felt it appropriate to retire the old flag and give it back to Jack.   It was a touching moment that brought a tear to many an eye. (continued below picture)


in the Spring of 2016. This is one of Jack’s last models, a Kokusai Ta-Go dime scale.

One of my thoughts on Thursday morning, the first day of the Cloudbusters-sponsored 2016 FAC Outdoor Champs, was that it was somehow appropriate that Jack had passed on a day of the Cloudbusters/FAC contest.  The day was beautiful; in fact, all of the days of our four days of flying were beautiful.  It felt almost as if Smilin’ Jack was smilin’ down on all of us.  Just maybe he was there in spirit, since he couldn’t be with us in body.  While I was sad that we will no longer be flying with him, I celebrated flying and celebrated having known him.  His spirit was and is the Flying Aces Club Spirit.


this photo of Jack was found in his online obituary.

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FAC Outdoor Champs & Ted Dock Contests – Report #2 – OT Stick & Miscellaneous

Video at the bottom…

Mini vs. Mega

When we arrived Wednesday afternoon, several people were already on the field test flying.  The weather was beautiful.  As we test flew planes, you could not help but stand and watch Tom Hallman flying his Mega (54 inch wingspan) Nicholas-Beazley NB-3.  It flies in the most calm and amazing way.

I had my new Found Centennial Peanut out test-flying during one of Tom’s flights.  His plane went into the beans, but he had no problems finding that huge plane  (video of that flight here).   As he was returning, I had an idea for a photo op:  here is what we believe to be the largest and smallest (the Found is a rather small Peanut) rubber-powered planes at the contest:


A Jumbo Flight

I fly a lot with my Indiana flying buddy, Pat Murray.  Earlier this year, at the AMA Nats, I filmed his Beriev twin-engined flying boat when he achieved a 90+ second flight.  He has been flying this plane for a few years now and it is flying better and better.  His goal has been to get it to max; to get that elusive 2-minute flight.  Well, Friday, he got it!  It was a spectacular flight.  I didn’t get any of it in video or photos because I was out in the field doing Jet Catapult.

Pat came in second in Jumbo to Tom Hallman and his twin-engined low-wing- by 1/2 point.  I know this was a disappointment to Pat, but he has to realize that Tom is an artist – by profession – and he beat Pat in the artistic areas of judging.  Pat needs to take pride in his accomplishment – it was a long time coming.  Well done, Pat!

***EDIT*** Click here to watch a video of his max flight, thanks to Tom Hallman.

Chasing Ted

Last year, I came home from the Outdoor Champs vowing to build an OT Stick.  I selected the Wanderer from Bob Horak, published in the March 1945 Model Airplane News.  I’m a sucker for twin-fins and this appears to me to be more graceful than the Casano Stick (my second choice).  I had started laying out the drawing, I finished that and designed parts, and laser-cut them.  I had the plane finished before Christmas, but couldn’t fly it until I went to Muncie in June.

I’ve been able to fly this at 5 events this year:  McCook @ Muncie in June, FAC Nats in July, AMA Nats in July, FAC Outdoor Champs in September, and the Ted Dock in September.  I placed 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, and 2nd at those contests.  Until this weekend, I had not been able to stack three maxes together.  And every time that I finished 2nd, Ted Allebone has won.  Here’s the story of this weekend.

In OT Stick on Thursday, I maxed out and so did Ted.  No one else did, despite the beautiful weather.  The flyoff was determined to be a Mass Launch – Ted and I would wind up, travel to the launch spot and launch when directed – last man down wins.  While I was winding, Jack spotted a broken strand in my 12-strand motor – no big deal.  As I continued, I spotted another.  I finished my winding and kept my torque down about 15-20%, just so I wouldn’t pop the whole motor.

Just as I was finishing up, Ted announced that he had a broken motor and I said he could replace it – this wasn’t a combat match and I was fine with it.  He took a few minutes and I walked out to where I wanted to launch from – on the far west end of the field.

We launched and Ted’s Casano Stick went sky-high while my Wanderer nearly stalled out on launch, but recovered for a decent, but not high flight. we chased in different directions and I noticed Ted had a terrible glide and was falling rapidly and mine was gently gliding.  I waved and called mine down and turned around just in time to see Ted wave his down – I had lost by less than 5 seconds.  When I got back to my table and pulled out the motor, I had 3 broken strands in the front of the motor and 2 in the rear – but I ALMOST won!

FAC Old Timer Dawn Unlimited

At the Ted Dock on Sunday, we didn’t have OT Stick, but we tried something new for us: we got approval to run an FAC Old Timer Dawn Unlimited event.  Our rules were any FAC Legal Old Timer (OT Stick, OT Fuselage, 2 Bit, Jimmie Allen, NOT Phantom Flash), in the tradition of Free Flight, we would gather near dawn for dead air and provide a 15 minute window for a single attempt with no max flight time.  Flyers would record and report their times and highest time wins.

We had a better-than-expected turnout – 10 flyers showed up ready to go!  And they preferred to do a mass launch as they are great fun and part of the FAC tradition.

So the 10 flyers arrived at the appointed time (7:50am) all wound up.  They lined up as follows, left-to-right.  Also, this shows their models, their original categories, and their flight scores and final positions:

Terry Hreno (Indiana) – BA Parasol –  Jimmie Allen – 71 sec – #9
Matt King (New York) – Black Bullet – OT Fuselage – 15 sec – #10
Wally Farrell (Virginia) – JA Skyraider – Jimmie Allen – 97 sec – #6
Jim DeTar (New York) – King Harry – 2 Bit plus 1 – 93 sec – #7
Winn Moore (Michigan) – Wisp – 2 Bit plus 1 – 86 sec – #8
Pat Murray (Indiana) – Jabberwock – OT Fuselage – 136 sec – #3
George Bredehoft (Michigan) – Wanderer – OT Stick – 149 Sec – #2
Mark Rzadka (New York) – Miss Canada – OT Fuselage – 130 sec – #4
Ted Allebone (Michigan) – Casano Stick – OT Stick – 175 sec – #1 – WINNER
Stu Cummins (Ohio) – Smith Mulvihill – OT Stick – 126 sec – #5

My Wanderer put in a 2:29 dead air flight, but came in 2nd – to Ted Allebone (again!)  With a new motor, my plane put in a beautiful flight, but I could tell something was different about Ted’s plane – his terrible glide was gone!  When we were done, Ted confirmed that he fixed the glide with a 1/64″ shim under the leading edge of his wing.  Mike Welshans asked me “you didn’t really think he wasn’t going to fix that glide, did you?”   Nope, I expect nothing but the best from Ted!  One of these days, I will catch him – when he’s on a bad day.

I think everyone agreed that this was a FUN event.  Getting out there early was a challenge, but worth it on that day – what perfect weather we had that morning, that day and all four days of the contest.  What a last hurrah for summer and flying!

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FAC Outdoor Champs & Ted Dock Contests – Report #1 – Do You Still Beat Your Kids?

This is the first of at least three articles I plan to write about the contests this weekend. I will be writing them in order of most recent to that which occurred first (reverse order).  This is the most recent; happening in the last hour of the second contest.

I have waited all of August and September for the big Flying Aces Club Outdoor Champs & Ted Dock Contests (from here on called FACOC/TD), hoping that the combined four days of FAC Free Flight Flying would be everything that we envisioned when Pat Murray, Winn Moore, and I sat around last year in Pat’s RV planning for this year.  We had hoped that the combining of the two end-of-year contest would attract more flyers and create more fun and good times.

We had THREE DAYS (Thursday, Friday, and Sunday) of EXCEPTIONAL weather, and the other day (Saturday) was very good in the after noon and the “bad” part of the morning was much better than nearly all of the time at Geneseo this year – it was overcast on Saturday morning.  For all the rest of the days, we had light breezes and sunny skies, with temperatures in the high 80s.

Attendance (strangely) was down with about 40 registered for the Outdoor Champs; usually we get 50 or so.  However, many stuck around for the Saturday and Sunday Ted Dock contest, doubling previous attendance there.  One of the events on Sunday was Phantom Flash.  My model was the last one I packed getting ready, as I looked around my shop, looking for models that I forgot to pack.  I built it (my 9th PF) in April for the Cloudbusters Indoor Fling.  I built it light and trimmed it and got about 2:30 on it indoors and won the event.  I took it to Geneseo and couldn’t get a flight at it was way too windy for this particular model.  But, I took it to the FACOC/TD just in case.

Well, the weather was perfect for MY plane.  You could just tell on Sunday that there were little bubbles of air all around the field, all day long.  My plane has a 4.75″ prop and a long loop of 1/16″ rubber, so it isn’t very powerful and actually it flew around about 10-15 feet high, looking a lot like a wounded duck (slightly tail heavy) until it would find one of those bubbles and then, up it would go.  My first flight in the morning was a 6+ minute flight that went from the south edge of the field and landed at the r/c “center stage”.

I put it away for awhile and concentrated on other things.  I got it out in the afternoon to work on the remainder of the best 3 of 6 flights.  I kind of alternated between 50-60 seconds (no lift found) and maxing.  I was down to two remaining flights and needed a single max.  On one of the earlier flights, I would up and headed to the table to find Wally Farrell waiting for some good air.  I told my timer, (my son, Jack) that I would launch when Wally did and follow him right on up.  Wally maxed and I missed the bubble.  My 5th flight also failed to max.  By the time my last attempt rolled around, there was Wally, again at the table, in the same situation as me – needing a max to have 3 on the books.  By the way, no one else was recorded as approaching 3 maxes, so it looked like it was going to be between Wally and I for the number one spot.

Wally was there, waiting for that thermal.  As I walked up, I made a decision.  When I got there, Wally said “George, I will certainly let you go if you want, don’t let me hold you up.”  I said, “I’m going first this time, Wally.  We both need a max – see you in the Winner’s Circle!” and launched, not even waiting for air.  It wasn’t 20 seconds before my wounded duck was going up, up, up.  Wally launched about that long later; I assume he saw my plane.  This time he missed the bubble and I maxed out.

That’s just the first part of the story!  Now there was about 1 hour left in the contest.

My son, Jack, has more success at our small, local meets, than bigger meets – he always struggles at the big meets, crashing planes, etc.  These four days were no exception.  After I flew my Phantom Flash, he casually said that he would fly his – the first one he has built.  We had about an hour left, so he had time to log some flights.  Well, his first one was a max.  He was powering his with a Sig Sleek Streek-type prop and a used loop of .080″ rubber from my recently departed Peanut Barracuda – because he had to make a motor and this was laying on the table – easier and faster than making up a loop of 3/32″.

He brought his plane back and wound up again, but didn’t max.  On his 4th flight, he got his second max – a 9+ minute flight that appeared to be lost.  I watched it with binoculars until I lost it – but it was coming down.  I used the android app that plots a bearing and when he came back, we took off to the other side of the cemetery, with a 50% hope of even finding the plane.  We got back on the line on the other side of the cemetery and I explained that the possible location was a wide path because a) I lost it in the air and b) the bearing line is just a general direction and should not be considered perfect.

We quickly exhausted the cut grass between the cemetery, the AMA HQ farmhouse, and the soybean field beyond.  If it was in the beans, we both knew the search woudl be futile.  We both took a couple pathways that were between the fields but couldn’t spot anything.  Here he was with 2 maxes, 2 flights left, and no plane.  I turned around and started back, as did he.  I wandered on my bike to the HQ house and looked around there, basically to get a glimpse of what looked like full-sized aircraft bones around the barn.  As I turned to look to my left, where Jack was coming from toward me – I spotted his plane on the yard!  He picked it up and we headed back, knowing we had limited time to get in one more max.

Jack broke that motor winding and as he made a new 3/32″ motor, I went out to help Winn Moore with his last Jet Cat flights.  I asked Winn, “you know what would be neat?” He knew and replied, “if you two had to have a fly-off?”  All Jack needed to do was put up another 2 minute flight and that would happen.  He came out with his plane with the new motor and did just that, landing at about 2:15.

Winn and Pat Murray decided a Mass Launch single flight would be the fly-off, so Pat stooged for me and Winn stooged for Jack.  We walked out in the field where Pat had pushed together two card tables and we lined up – Three!  Two!  One!  LAUNCH!  As my plane gracefully lifted up, I heard Jack’s plane hit the ground right away and he said “well, that was anti-climactic” – he had torque-rolled in.  Probably the fatter motor, imperfect wind angle, and unfamiliar feel to Pat’s winder combined to give him a bad launch.  I won with no contest.

However, at least for me, it was so much fun to max out and then help him max out and have the two of us compete for 1st and 2nd in the event.  It was a perfect cap to a perfect four days of flying.  Yes, sometimes I still beat my kids – on the flying field!


two tired guys after four days of flying.


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September – Distractions and Progress

A discovery was made at the Kit Factory:  retirement doesn’t always mean 100% model airplanes – I got corralled into replacing 400 square feet of carpet with tile in the lower level of our house.  Ok, I volunteered since it would save a couple thousand dollars and I will be able to control when and how access is limited to the basement – where I have all my sales product, the laser cutter, and where I fill all your orders.  Here’s a shot of my progress so far – about 25% completed:

floorI’ve done several tile projects (including a 900+ sq ft floor at our old home in Ohio), but I thought I was done doing tile forever.  My back, knees, and arms will be glad when this is done.

That’s not to say that all things model airplane have stopped – I spend an hour or two each morning and evening on filling orders and drawing plans.  Here are two that have me excited.

The first is Dave Smith’s contest-winning Judy.  I talked to Dave at Geneseo and we he has let me kit this.  I have great hopes that MY build will be contest-winning, also.  The plan is about 70% and I will finish it this winter and should have a model built for spring.


The second is a subject that me, my son, and others have been telling me that I need to do – a new Goodyear Racer.  There are a few Goodyear/Formula Racer plans out there, and even fewer kits for them.  I’ve been studying the two-book set of Goodyear and Formula One Air Racing 1947-1967 by Robert Hirsch for a couple years.  I’ve got little sticky notes on many pages, but one plane, (not previously sticky-noted) jumped out at me.  I am eager to get this finished and built.  I’m keeping the exact identity secret for now, but I think this one has real potential.  The dimensions are excellent for Free Flight and when I got the basic layout done in CAD and printed on paper, I was surprised at what I was seeing.  Here’s a little teaser:

teaserThere just might be enough in that teaser for someone to figure out what plane I am designing.  Look for this to debut next spring, also – earlier if I get it built and tested indoors.

By the way – the tile floor will NOT interfere in my attendance at the FAC outdoor Champs and Ted Dock Memorial – two two-day contests in Muncie running back-to-back 22/23 & 24/25 September.  I’ll have all the Vega Short Kits ready (free in the Outdoor Champs registration package) and Jack and I will again be cooking the dogs at the Volare Products 2nd Annual Customer Appreciation Hot Dog “Supper”.  That will take place on Thursday evening, right after the events are over at the FAC outdoor champs.

What have you got to lose?  A free short kit and free hot dogs for just showing up at the FAC Outdoor Champs!  SEE YOU THERE!


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A Beginner’s Peanut – the Found Centennial

People tell me “Peanuts are too hard to build and fly”.  To me, Peanuts are almost like a sport class.  Because of their small size, I can build them pretty quickly, they don’t require the highest level of detail, and I can pack a lot in a small space – for either storage or transportation.  But when people say that, I later ask myself “what would make Peanuts easier for people?”

Maybe the answer is a simple-to-build kit.  The Found Centennial is nearly ideal for a beginner’s Peanut:  It’s a high-wing (for stability), there are no wing struts (no fiddly details), and it is slab-sided with few curves (for simplicity).  This design – of a commercial plane – is right up there in simplicity with the common Peanuts of homebuilts, such as the Nesmith Cougar, and the ugly Fike and Lacy (never built them – they are ugly!)

So, I looked at the Founds that have been done (there are several plans, in Peanut and other sizes).  One thing that always bothered me about the models out there was that they took the liberty of putting in tip dihedral with a flat center section.  To me, this looked entirely out of place and non-scale.  I have designed this with a mare traditional dihedral layout that keeps the right and left wing spars flat and straight across the top of the wing.

I also designed this to be built using standard material – everything is 1/16″ balsa.  The laser-cut parts are from 1/16″ sheet wood, the trailing edge is 1/16″ x 1/8″ stock, and the rest of the stick wood is stock 1/16″ square, straight from SIG – nothing special or exotic.  You can build this light and strong without extra effort.

Anyway, on to the build details:


How to build those flat wing panels. Build separately. Sand root rib and test dihedral. Cover separately and then glue together, setting dihedral per instructions.

All the parts, ready to assemble the fuselage.

All the parts, ready to assemble the fuselage. This is designed for 1/16″ square stock – nothing special or difficult.


Use square blocks when assembling the fuselage. This keeps the fuselage straight.

All of the parts, ready to cover, weigh only 4 grams.

All of the parts, ready to cover, weigh only 4 grams.

Laser cutting allows for the addition of detail that is difficult to make by hand.

Laser cutting allows for the addition of detail that is difficult to make by hand.

The real plane I chose to model. I created patterns for printed tissue. Gold was done with a yellow-orange color.

The real plane I chose to model. I created patterns for printed tissue. Gold was done with a yellow-orange color.

My printed tissue, hanging on a window.

My printed tissue, hanging on a window.

The first side of the tail tissue in place.

The first side of the tail tissue in place.

The first side in place as one piece. Note the windows have been cut out and plastic is behind the tissue BEFORE putting the tissue on the fuselage.

The first side on place as one piece. Note the windows have been cut out and plastic is behind the tissue BEFORE putting the tissue on the fuselage.

All covered, but before details such as landing gear struts and wheels.

All covered, but before details such as landing gear struts and wheels.

All done, excepting tiny details, weighing 9 grams without rubber.

All done, excepting tiny details, weighing 9 grams without rubber.

Finished and ready to fly.

Finished and ready to fly.

Short Kit: plan and laser cut wood.

Short Kit: plan and laser cut wood.

Here is a video of a flight test we did on the newly-finished model.

Here is a gallery with all of the photos and documents I could find on the web:

And soon, I will have another gallery that features all the printed tissue patterns for my variety of planes.  These will be free for download.

So, an uncomplicated plane, with a simple kit and basic parts should be able to be built by any modeler without much problem – and it should fly well! The only caution I have is that with the nose being fairly long, any weight up front will cause the model to become nose heavy -keep everything light up front!  I scraped my small prop to get it as light as I could.  I used a 1/32″ prop shaft, again to keep it light.  Even then I had to add tail weight.  This increases the overall weight of the model and since the wing is narrow, it doesn’t have a lot of area to carry extra weight.

Lastly, you can find the Short Kit for sale here:

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Are There Secrets to NoCals? – Video Included

NoCal is one of my favorite classes – they are a quick build and can fly great – often subject to fly-aways.  Recently, I have seen online comments regarding one of my designs – my Cessna Centurion Short Kit.  In my mind, this is the best NoCal I have ever designed, built, and/or flown.   Please keep in mind that I design, build, and fly OUTDOOR, not indoor.  This design is a true thermal-seeker; it builds light and will get up and cruise around for a minute or two and just cruise around waiting for that up air.  In fact, mine “was” flying in a nose-down attitude that would allow it to come down gradually if it was kicked out of the thermal.  My son won our last NoCal contest with his and only needed two flights to beat everyone else’s three-flight totals.

There are no secrets to building these.  Here are some photos of one I just built.  No special wood was selected – it’s just a sheet that I cut for production and sticks of 1/16″ square from SIG.  In fact, the only selection I made was to make sure that the longerons were stiff not fragile.  Oops, one more selection:  I used bass wood for the leading edges – denser and heavier than balsa.

I have no secrets.  You can see below that the frame, including motor stick, came out to be 3 grams on the nose.  The prop, a blue Yoshida 4.75″ plastic, was scraped down to 1.1 grams.  The nose bearing is a bent aluminum indoor-style type.  The tissue is white Esaki printed on an Epson printer.  All up weight without rubber is 5.9 grams.  More info below the photos, including a video of the flight test.

Cent01All the laser-cut parts – the rest is 1/16″ square sticks.

Cent02The bare motor stick is here – I will have details on how to make the motor stick and nose bearings in the next few “Free Flight Friday” How-To videos.

Cent03All up weight of the frame, including motor stick.

CessnaNC03The finished model, without prop.

These can be flown with a 6″ prop and a loop of 3/32″ rubber.  Due to the size of the 6″ prop, this usually requires weight added to the tail.  I choose to go with a lighter power:  the 4.5″ prop and a loop of 1/16″ rubber.  Because of the scraped prop and keeping THAT weight down, I do not need any counter-balancing tail weight.

On the previous model, I lost it in a fly-away, I used a length of 1/16″ that would allow over 2500 turns.  Yes, a motor that long weighs a lot (comparatively) – weight that the model must carry.  But the initial torque will get the model up and then we are in for a long cruise.  This works even in the wind; I lost my last one in Geneseo on the windiest day – it was last seen high over the football field.  Once released, models are in the bubble of air that moves them along, either horizontally (windy) or vertically (thermal).   Long, circular cruises allow for a lot of time in the air awaiting for the model’s bubble to drift into some up air.

Here is a video of a test flight.  This is a loop of 1/16″ about 10″-12″ long with only 500 turns.  The model is trimmed to have a gentle climb and a left circle.  I might have to open up that circle when the torque is applied.  And I will have to see how that right glide works out.  But what you see is a model that is ready to fly.  It is 6 grams and I am sure I will lose it, maybe before the end of this flying season.   25 seconds on 500 turns…with no extreme measures beyond scraping the prop – no secrets.

It’s not hard to get these to fly.  Build them STRAIGHT – straight is more important that carefully choosing wood weight.  Keep the nose light, so you don’t have to add weight.



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New Products for August!

As always, it’s been a busy month.  We are releasing FOUR NEW PRODUCTS for you today:  The T-37 Jet Cat Full Kit, the U2 Jet Cat Full Kit, a full-spec Catapult, and a handy Ball Hex Driver for the Gizmo Geezer Nose Buttons.

NOTE:  The Jet Cat kits are FULL kits – they contain all the laser-cut wood, carbon fiber rods, basswood leading edges, AND a real Catapult for launching.

The Ball Hex Driver solved my most frustrating part about the Gizmo Geezer Nose Button – forgetting or losing the tiny adjusting allen wrench.  I would either leave it in the tool box, lose it somewhere else, or just couldn’t find it when I needed it.  Also, with the wrench, you have to have it perfectly aligned with the screw to get it to engage.  Not so with the ball driver – it works at shallow angles.  AND…I have added a stainless steel split ring so you can attach it to your lanyard or stopwatch cord – so it is always with you in the field – when you need it most.

Find all of these items in the Shop!





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PEANUT – the Loneliest Event

I have built a lot of Peanut scale planes.  I have no idea how many, but Walt Mooney’s Peanut plans in Model Builder magazine is what gave me my start and inspiration in Free Flight.  That size remains my favorite size.  According to my records, over the years I have won 62 events with Peanut-sized airplanes – including several times in Mass Launches where I am flying against larger models.  To me, they are easy to build and trim, while many people believe the rumors and misinformation that they are difficult models to fly.  I guess maybe “rumors and misinformation” is a bit strong, as I find larger models more difficult – to each his own.

However, it seems fewer and fewer people are building Peanut models.  Often in smaller contests there just aren’t enough Peanut models present to warrant flying the event – you need three people obtaining official flights of 20 seconds or more to have a “contest”.

It seems the only place where a large number of Peanuts are present is the larger FAC contests:  the Nats, the Non-Nats, and the Outdoor Champs.  Even at the vaunted AMA Free Flight Nationals, is it hard to get three people to fly Peanut.

This year marks the 5th straight year I have won the Peanut event at the AMA Nats – and at least twice, there were less than three contestants.  This year, I thought the streak might end.  Gene Smith from Oklahoma was there with his famous Grumman Tiger Cat twin-engined Peanut.   It is a great flyer and with its bonus points, it could easily beat my Peanuts.  His entry would be the third contestant, along with me and Jerry Murphy from Colorado.

GeneSmithTigerCatGene put up a test flight “on two-year-old rubber” of about 40 seconds.  He was happy with the trim and immediately set about replacing the motors with new rubber.  Unfortunately, he could not get an official with the new rubber.  for some reason, the plane became unstable – sometimes it appeared that one prop was locking, but who knows.

I am posting a photo of the Champion plaque with both of my Peanut entries:  The Fairey Barracuda posted a 77-second flight and the 22-year-old Pegna P.C.1 (it’s been repaired and recovered since first built) posted a 79 second flight.  I am very pleased with both of them, but know that with a little attention to detail in trimming, they both have longer flight times but would be at risk of thermaling away from me.  By the way, the Barracuda placed second in WWII, in a rather close final flight – Pat Murray’s Avenger stayed up about 10 seconds longer than my plane (this is where the better trimming would come in handy!)

2016PeanutChampI urge people to build and fly Peanuts – they are fun and you can pack several into a small box.  Someone meet me in Muncie next July and give me a challenge!


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HOW-TO – Repairing my Elmendorf Special

The Greve Race Mass Launch at the 2016 FAC Nats was held in a veritable gale.  I held little hope that my entry would make it to the last round, and the wind forced it down in the first round – with damage.  Today I repaired it as shown in these photos.

Repair1Repair2Repair3Repair4Repair5Repair6It’s not a perfect repair, but I am satisfied and we will be flying again next week at the AMA Nats.

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