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 (not like in some kits you find), 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.
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.
Gene 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!)
I 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!
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.
It’s not a perfect repair, but I am satisfied and we will be flying again next week at the AMA Nats.
While July is extremely busy (two multi-day contests and filling resulting delayed orders), it is also my first month of full time dedication to Volare Products. We will be releasing two more kits soon, both proven, of course.
The T-37 Tweet Jet Cat glider will be assembled as a FULL kit – It will include plans, photo sheet, 3 sheets of different sized laser-cut wood, bass wood, nose weight, stickers for marking, carbon fiber rod for fuselage stiffness, AND a full-size working catapult. This kit will be $20. At least six of these have been built, proving and improving the design (it may be our most-tested kit). I need a little more time to package some of these, but they will be available soon.
I am really excited about the second kit for this month – it is a popular and well-flying Old Timer that has not been kitted before (to my knowledge). It will fit into FAC Old Time Cabin and FAC 2-Bit Plus One. It is the famous King Harry! Every one of these I have seen flies like gangbusters. I asked Don DeLoach and Pete Azure to build the prototypes -Pete’s flew away at Geneseo last week! Here are some photos of Pete’s model and mine that I built this week (I’ll be testing and flying it next week at the AMA Nats):
The short kit will include 2 sheets of plans, a copy of the Aeromodeller plan, and 3 sheets of laser-cut balsa. The Short Kit is $10 and a Combo Pack that includes a Superior Props 10″ King Harry prop blank is $16 (you save $2). The King Harry kits are available on my site right now.
In the Pipeline:
I have another Old Timer getting ready to ship out as a prototype, a popular simple stick model in development, possibly a larger version of the Tweet JetCat, and I made some deals/agreements to produce some popular models by other designers – these will be in the Peanut/Scale/Dime areas.
Now back to filling orders, stocking shelves, and laundry!
Much is said about “the Spirit of the FAC”, but what is it? Sure, there is the competition, but it is the most good-natured competition – laid back and fun. If I win, that is great, but just being with others of a like mind and hobby is the best. Here are two other examples; one of my own spirit and one of another person.
On Day one, our “camp” was starting to fly or had been flying, struggling with the wind when out of nowhere a young man was passing through our area. We were at the immediate south end of the field, and apparently, we were the first people that could be encountered because this young man found us.
His name is Michael Smith and he is from Texas. Now it turns out he didn’t drive all the way from Texas, but he did drive over 8 hours from New Hampshire to come to the FAC Nats. That in itself is not unusual – what is unusual is that he knew NO ONE at the Nats. he never had built a complete Free Flight plane, did not have a local mentor, and had only watched videos on YouTube of FAC Scale Free Flight. He convinced his pregnant wife to come with him on an adventure where he didn’t know a soul. That’s some FAC Spirit.
We, in the Roscoe Turner and Cloudbusters squadrons welcomed him and gave him the general layout and introduced him to some other modelers. Micheal spent much time wandering, exploring, talking, learning as much as possible. Day2 was going to be a busy day for Jack and I and I suggested that Micheal and Lorena could sit under our canopy and observe how things went, if they liked. They did and Lorena avoided more sunburn.
Because of the wind, things didn’t turn out well for Jack and I – we broke a lot of planes and didn’t have the best contest, but we enjoyed our time with Michael. Around mid-day on the third day, I had an idea. Michael had said that the Stuka was his favorite airplane of all time – he was building a Guillows Stuka. Fate had brought him to the right place.
I had built a Mega Scale Stuka for this contest (here’s a pic). I hadn’t done anything with the plane since I got there other than have it on display on Day Zero. So I showed Micheal and a couple other people my Stuka. One thing led to another and I actually put a motor in and gave it a test flight (another story).
This inspired me to give Michael a real opportunity. Yes, he had seen many planes fly. Yes, he had helped other modelers with their models. He had asked a ton of questions and received more information than he could possibly absorb. He even built a stick model on the field and gave it a flight or two. But I decided to give him the opportunity to FLY his favorite plane. Quietly, I dug out my Peanut Stuka and gave it a test flight.
As I was picking the little model up after the flight, Micheal came running out and said “did you just fly that? I missed it!” I said, “yes, I was making sure it was ready to fly because I am going to let YOU fly it.” I think he was shocked.
I gave him the little model and had him do everything with my coaching and direction. I told him how to stooge the model, how to pull out the propeller and grab the rubber, and take off the prop assembly. I told him to take the blast tube and hook up the wire and insert the tube. I told him to hook up the winder and stretch out the motor. I told him to count his turns on the 15:1 winder and stop when he got to 100. Then I had him feel the rubber, noting that it was still elastic and not yet hard. I coached him to slowly move in while he put in 20 or so more turns. Then I told him how to carefully remove the blast tube and re-attach the prop, noting which side of the nose block was up. Finally he removed the plane from the stooge and we went out into the field.
I don’t know if he was nervous – he was very attentive and listened well. Jack took a video of us in the field. Because of the wind (not ideal teaching conditions), we can’t hear what I was telling him, but I have captioned the video with the important thoughts. The flight didn’t go as I had planned – I think I told him to come off the wind just a little too much.
But I hope Micheal got an experience and a taste of what it is that we do. To me, there is no better way to teach than with hands-on. Watching videos is great – and importantly, it got Micheal from Texas to Geneseo – but the real learning in this complex hobby comes with mentors and hands-on. When I was young, I had to drive a couple hours to Cleveland and it was under the mentorship of the Cleveland Stork Squadron that I finally began to have some success with my models (and I will forever be grateful).
Sharing what we know and passing on our knowledge is the only way that our hobby will survive. The FAC is strong, but we all need to help the next modelers join our ranks.
One of the most satisfying things at the Nats for me – as Volare Products – was the Stout 2-AT One-Design Mass Launch. We, the Cloudbusters, selected the 2-AT as the One-Design to honor our aging member, Stu Weckerly. Stu, who is in his mid-80s and has 411 kanones to date, used to fly a Stout back in the 80s and 90s. It was a light-weight wonder that dominated the Golden Age event.
I took Stu’s plan and developed a laser-cut short kit for an 18.5″ version that was necessarily more robust for a better scale representation and so the model would be buildable by the average modeler. This short kit was given away as part of the registration for the 2015 FAC Outdoor Champs in Muncie last year and many have been sold since. As a vendor, I only get a small amount of feedback on what people think of my kits. It made me a bit apprehensive having a single event at the Nats for one of my designs. Would many people build it? Would the models fly?
Well, about 15 people showed up for the Mass Launch and all of the models looked – the same! One of the issues with this plane is that out of the 11 or so 2-ATs that were built, every one was silver with black lettering. This might make for some issues with following specific models during a mass launch, but that all worked out well, for the most part.
Here are a handful of the competitors with their planes before the first round.
John Houck, sr
Matt King with Ray Rakow
Winn Moore with Jack Bredehoft
Ted Allebone holding Mike Welshans’ Stout – prototype #1 and still flying!
Final Round Launch. L-R: Mike Escalante, Dave Mitchell, Winn Moore, John Houck, and ???
Happy winner, Dave Mitchell
Here is a long (4 minute) video of the first round. At least two planes flew out-of-sight in that first round. The third and final round was nearly as impressive with all planes going up and the victor winning only seconds ahead of 2nd and 3rd. These performances were spectacular – and comforting to the kit designer and producer.
July 2nd will begin a new chapter in Volare Products and in my life, in general. Whereas Volare Products has been a part-time, after-hours “job” for me, I will be retiring from my regular, full-time job on July 1st and will be dedicating those hours to Volare Products. It is my hope that this translates into better service for my customers, improved accuracy on the web site, expanded product line (mostly expanding my kits), and increased activity (sales). We shall see!
July is also the busiest month of the year for me, as I will be traveling to the FAC Nats and the AMA Nats where I will be striving to compete at the top levels and also selling product to eager customers. Selling at contests is a terrible compromise – time dedicated to sales is time away from competition and time dedicated to flying results in sales lost. So, when you go to one of these events and you run into me, please consider the following statements. I will PRIMARILY be competing at the FAC Nats. Of course, I will be set up and selling the Wednesday before competition – that will be the big day of sales. I will have all of my stuff with me, but likely not set up to sell on the field. Orders can be taken and they will be filled after hours, but I am in Geneseo to FLY first, and sell later. In Muncie for the Outdoor Free Flight Nats (I won’t be at the Indoor Free Flight Nats), I will try to do as I have done in the past – that is have my stuff set up and available for purchase, but I might be out on the field flying at any given moment. Please understand and consider these scenarios.
One way that you can help relieve my conflict (sell or fly) is to PRE-ORDER! Go on the web site and fill a cart and place an order and I will deliver it to either of these two events, already packed just for you. You can pre-pay or you can select Cash/Check for payment on the field. For shipping, you should select EVENT PICKUP and indicate which Event to which you expect delivery in the notes. This will result in zero shipping charges. One caution with this – if you are selecting an item that is out-of-stock, either check with me first, or take the chance that I don’t have it for you. IF YOU WANT SUPERIOR PROPS DELIVERED, ESPECIALLY FOLDERS, GET YOUR ORDER IN NOW, as they take time to make.
As I am an FAC Guy, I have been collecting a variety of hardware and tools over the winter and will give my FAC customers first crack at these. There are a couple of boxes of various winders, balsa strippers, rubber strippers and other tools that will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting Wednesday in the sales area. Anything left will be available two weeks later at the AMA Nats. After that, they will go on the web site.
Oh – I will have PLENTY of Gizmo Geezer Nose Buttons! These are the hottest of hot sellers at the FAC Nats and I will be very surprised if I sell out this year (but you never know!)
We plan on being very active at the FAC Nats. Our monthly Facebook Giveaway will somehow be tied to the event (we’re still thinking of how to do that). We would love to see anyone that has built one of our kits and may create a separate promotion for highest-placing Volare Products kit. Don’t hesitate to find Jack or me and show us your model – we’d love to get a photo of it and you – even if it isn’t the top performer in its event!
We will be on the field until dark every night. If you haven’t thought about after-contest evening flying, you owe it to yourself to just stop by and watch, if not fly. It is the most relaxed and enjoyable environment of the contest. No one is scurrying to get flights in, they are only there to enjoy the pure essence of Free Flight. Stop by our area, pick up a cold beverage, have a nice chat about planes, hints & tips, or whatever – camaraderie, mostly!
It’s been a hectic couple of months here at Volare Products. Spring is in full bloom and I am itching to get flying. We had one outdoor and one indoor contest in the past month, but it looks like the next contest will be a cold and windy blow-out.
There are new products just around the corner. As stated earlier, Torque Meters are in their final stages of Production and the first batch of Sidewinder meters should be available this weekend.
My Facebook followers already know that I just released a NEW Short Kit in my Monthly Facebook Giveaway – the tiny, but great flying Pacific Ace jr. It’s already on my site, so you can just pop over to the shop and pick one up for $10.
Wait…you didn’t know about my Facebook page? I post a lot of photos and commentary over there that doesn’t get published here. You can check it out at this link: https://www.facebook.com/VolareProducts/ And, yes, you read that right – I give away a Short Kit, sometimes a Full Kit, every month!
I have more kits on the way, too! One that is near completion (for Production) is the Kokusai Ta-Go Dime Scale Short Kit. You may have seen the plan in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of the Cloudbusters Newsletter. I published it there to comply with the new Flying Aces Club Rules that all neo-Dime Scale plans must be released in a known publication to verify and validate that the original plan conformed to the FAC rules requirements regarding plan size and parts layout. Jack Moses built the first prototype and it has flown well. My son, Jack, has prototype #2 nearly complete and I have one under construction, also. I’ll have the kit online very shortly. Here is a photo of Jack Moses and his model:
I’ve been considering creating a Short Kit of my Barracuda NoCal. I probably will someday. The plan needs a little more work. Encouragement from you readers could hurry that along.
I’ve got one other Short Kit almost ready – two prototypes were sent out and one has been completed. That builder tells me “kit it!” but to my knowledge, his model hasn’t flown yet. The other prototype is under construction and feedback has been received for corrections (which were already applied to the prototype that has been built). I anticipate that this kit will be a popular one, because the plane is a known winner and I don’t believe it has ever been kitted before.
Two other prototypes are out being built – this model will be in the registration packet for the 2016 FAC Outdoor Champs this fall. It’s a reproduction of the rare Comet kit E-2, the Vega Starliner. That kit won’t be for sale until after the September meet. Anyway, I know you will want to go to the contest and get one in your registration pack! Here’s Pres Bruning’s drawing for the T-shirt – oh yeah, you get a T-shirt, too!
I spent Friday and Saturday at the Volare Products Machine Shop so that my dad and I could collaborate and finalize the design and operation of two new products: plug-n-play Torque Meters for two standard winders, the Morrill Sidewinder and the Rees Scalewinder.
The VPS Torque Meter for the Morrill is similar to the old Hinson torque meter and it installs the same way: unscrew the hook adapter and screw on the torque meter. The capacity is 120 inch-ounces and the scale reflects this, but needs to multiply by 10 (10 on the scale represents 100 in-oz).
The VPS Torque Meter for the Rees is similar, but is a brand new product. It is a bolt-on to the Rees winder. The capacity is 30 inch-ounces, but I don’t think anyone will (or should) ever take the Rees to 30 in-oz. Most people would max out the Rees between 10 and 20 in-oz. The scale, again, reflects 0-3 (multiply by 10).
We are in production on the VPS Torque Meter for the Morrill Sidewinder is in Production. The prototype has the bugs worked out and we have parts ready to assemble for 8.
The VPS Torque Meter for the Rees Scalewinder has been prototyped, but there are some tweaks needed to be made, but they are small issues and we are ready to go forward with this. It will be a full assembly – with the face plate and everything – unscrew the four small screws and replace the hook and plate with the torque meter and plate.
Both meters utilize two bronze bushings and a ball-bearing thrust bearing. Both of these will be $80. Feel free to inquire about availability; we will take pre-orders without deposit – put your name on the list. The VPS Meter for the Morrill should be available within a week or two, the VPS Meter for the Rees just a little longer.
One parallel note – we are resuming production on the Rees Winder, but are having trouble sourcing the main gear (it is backordered with the manufacturer). At some point, we will offer a new Rees winder with torque meter installed. Also, we are going back to the original long knobs (as shown above).
I’ve had real conversations with friends and customers that go something like this “well, that can be your next kit!” I’ve imagined that some customers don’t understand what goes into producing a kit, even a short kit – at least out of this shop.
Part of my business philosophy for the products I create is that they must be tested and proven. In a way, it even goes beyond what I create; it is also why I don’t carry electrics or gas or r/c – I just don’t know about those areas, so I don’t want to offer and promote something and create a false sense of endorsement or quality.
When I started offering my drawn plans, I didn’t release any until they had flown the FAC minimum official flight time of 20 seconds. This carries over into the kits and short kits that I create: every one has been built and tested and “passes muster”.
So, over a year ago, I started to work on a Jet Cat. It’s a simple event that you can do in a smaller space or in worse weather – or just for fun. Gliders are NOT an area of my expertise and starting from scratch has not been an easy process. Here you will see a photo showing my progress to date. (more story below)
This is my Cessna T-37 Tweet Jet Cat. I chose the design because of the proportions and simplicity. You see three versions. The top version was completed in January of 2015. It featured a laminated fuselage; the layers sandwich kevlar tow. The thought was to strengthen the fuselage. While keeping it light. You can see how “successful” the strengthening was – there are, at least, five fuselage breaks in that version.
The middle version was done sometime last summer to replace the first one. If you look closely, you can see sticks of bass wood instead of the lamination. That was an improvement but not really very much. I did reinforce the front by designing 1/64″ ply sides that did a good job of making the nose stronger. These ply sides only extend back as far as the engine pods. The second version also has bass leading edges on the wings and a penny embedded in the sandwich of the nose.
The third version was built this week. Changes include carbon fiber rod for strength and a smaller horizontal tail area (recommended by a friend). This version hasn’t flown yet, but looks promising as it has a nice glide in a hand toss without weight or adjustment. These all weigh between 17 and 19 grams for the 14″ span model.
If – IF – I can get this to fly, the kit will contain a sheet of 1/16″ balsa (fuselage), 1/32″ balsa tail and engine pods, 1/64″ ply nose doublers (etched with the prototype XT-37 designation, as shown), 1/8″ balsa wings, plus the bass leading edges, carbon fiber rods, adhesive sticker markings, and the penny nose weight. I may never get this into production, because, as I said, Jet Cats are a struggle for me. Much of the damage occurs during test flying; trying to get a predictable flight pattern!
This is why it takes me so long to get a kit to production. I have to be satisfied with the product and its potential for performance. This doesn’t even consider all of the hours of drawing the plan and laying out the parts for laser cutting. At any given time, I have about 3 or 4 new kits in the process of development. That is my short list. Then I have the short long list, those that I intend to work on next. The long long list has those designs I consider viable and good candidates. I would estimate about 20 designs are on these lists, just waiting their turn.