Click HERE to shop NOW!

Posted in Customers, Events, Products | Leave a comment

Isolation – End of March 2020

Good Afternoon,  I hope all of you readers are safe and sound and practicing safe viral isolation.  The Mrs and I were house-bound from Wednesday last week until Wednesday this week (had doc appt and grocery curb-side pick-ups).  Our experiences of social distancing in the public sphere were not smooth, nor are we eager to try that again.  But that’s not the subject of my writings today.

What many in the country (and world) are experiencing now is not much different than my day-to-day since my retirement 3.5 years ago.  I stay at home, do my stuff, and only went out in the evening or weekend if the Mrs said “let’s go”.  So, this is nothing new to me.

Strangely, it feels new – and not just because she is teleworking every day now, but mentally and emotionally, it is different.  2020 has proven to be a trying year, and we are only through the first quarter.  I’ve had web-site issues that I had to battle, supplier issues, increased prices for materials and postage, drop in sales, my mother passed away, our sons opened a new coffee shop – which is now closed indefinitely, and this virus thing is affecting the world in a myriad of ways that we couldn’t image in late last year.

Our near-future flying is in doubt – our indoor sessions are cancelled indefinitely, and outdoor sessions will be uncertain, and this time not just because of the weather.  All you have to do is look at the chart of infections to realize that we haven’t come close to peaking on this yet.  Here in Michigan, we have been hit hard – the Detroit Metro area is taking a big hit (where most of our aging Cloudbusters live), and according to the numbers I saw this morning, the county where we fly outdoors has an inordinately high count.  AMA has not cancelled the Indoor Nats – yet – but who would be surprised if they did.  After all, according to statistics in the end of May, we will either be on the tail end of an overwhelming spiked curve, or we will be in the middle of the flattened curve.  This isn’t going away any time soon.

All of this is taking a toll on me.  I consider myself level-headed and not given to irrational fears or panic – and I am not panicking or fearful.  But I am being dragged down emotionally.  It is hard for me to stick to any of my projects:  I can draw for a little, but I’m not eager to create something new.  I can pack orders, but I get tired of that, especially if a tedious task pops up where I have to “do something” (make parts, cut boards, count out a large number of things).  I am even struggling to build anything.  I currently have three planes in process.  I am finishing one that I started yesterday (see below) but I just don’t have much motivation to build anything.  And, I am more irritable than normal (not that anyone notices – HAHA!)

Of course, we all go through slow patches.  But I truly feel this is different.  I just don’t feel like doing anything.  I get up and do some of the stuff I mentioned above, but I take many more breaks than before and I get sucked into social media.  It is easy to see that and say “don’t go there” but there is little elsewhere to go – it is still cold and wet outside, so I cannot go work outside or on a car or stuff like that.  I cannot responsibly go away from the house.

On the positive side, I can see all of this in me.  I know it is happening to me and, because I know, I can try to do what I can to improve my lot.  I know that when I DO feel inspired, I need to take advantage of it.  I know that I MUST get orders out, so knowing certain things are less pleasant than other things, I tackle the more difficult stuff when I am feeling a little bit better.  And I know that building models will come back, even if flying doesn’t right away.

I have started on the Mega Caudron C.640 (as seen a few weeks ago), but it is stalled.  I started another Indoor Embryo (Hobo), but set it aside while I worked on the Corona Home Front Combat 1/2 Sized NoCal event.  I’ll get back to the Hobo soon, but I probably won’t have anywhere to fly it.  But, I did build something simple (nearly – it’s not quite finished).

I started on a Sky Bunny for the McCook Squadron’s Bill Warner Memorial.  This will take place in June at Muncie (all things permitting).  This plane is so simple, you can build it in a day.  And it is durable – everything is at least 3/32″ square (except for the sheetwood – ribs and pylon – which are 1/16″ sheet).  I’ve got to make the motor stick and landing gear, but all of the surfaces are built and covered.

For the tail, I dug in my scrap tissue box (you DO have a scrap tissue box, right?) the black tissue is scrap black Esaki, the yellow rudder is left over airbrushed (from a Durham Air Limo, I think) and the wings are some “domestic” tissue that I saved.  This tissue came wrapped around a bottle of gin we brought back from the Hebrides last summer.  Because of this, I will be calling my model the “Isle of Skye Bunny“.  Technically, the distillery was on Harris, not Skye, but it’s close – both islands are in the Hebrides!

I’ll be giving the surfaces a coat of Future to seal them up.  And, yes, building this made me happy(er).

 153 total views,  14 views today

Posted in Builds | Leave a comment

“Postal” Contest – Home Front Corona Combat!

Bored at home and ready for action?  Here is a fun event for everyone, but that must be flown in your own home.  THERE WILL BE PRIZES!  Here are the basic rules, with expanded reasoning below:

1/2-Scale NoCal WWII Home Front Corona Combat

  1. any WWII Combat eligible aircraft
  2. FAC NoCal Rules, excepting
    a. maximum 8″ wingspan
    b. maximum 4.5″ propeller
    c. must use a LOOP of 1/16″ rubber (only this size)
    d. minimum wood size: 1/16″ square (laminations ok, all-sheet build ok at 1/32″)
    e. minimum motor stick: 1/8″ square (no rolled)
  3. Flying – inside your home only
  4. Scoring
    a. unlimited attempts and submitted scores
    b. flight time in seconds (no max)
    c. weight multiplier: flight time x grams w/o rubber (penalizes ultralight models)
    d. video multiplier: subtotal x 1.5 (shared video bonus)
  5. Submission must include
    a. Builder Name
    b. Model Name
    c. Weight in grams
    d. Flight Time

Since we are all home-bound, photos of any stage of construction, finished models, weights, and videos of flights will be most welcome.  Contest will run through the end of April.

I will do my best to share submissions and keep track of times.  It is best to post on one of the Contest Posts on the Facebook Groups, or on my post on my web site.


  • a NoCal Short Kit from my Production (winner’s choice)
  • a 3D-printed Prop-Form or Winding Stooge from Archie Adamisin

Let the (isolated) fun times begin!  Share this (virtually and online) with as many as you like!  The more the merrier!

Background and Explanation:

Archie and I were talking and, in light of the Indoor group’s “Scraps” contest, Archie casually mentioned a 1/2 Scale NoCal event.  Not having enough to do, my mind started planning – and the rules were born.  Note that the rules are designed for FUN – no real benefit of building ultra-light or being super-competitive.  Here are explanations:

  1. Follow FAC NoCal rules.  Any dihedral or covering or coloring or marking or such questions are referred to the FAC NoCal rules.
  2. Must be half size:  8″ max span.  This is to fit in your living room.  Some of us will suffer with our smaller rooms and some will have huge multi-story rooms, but so be it – IN YOUR HOME ONLY.
  3. Max 4.5″ propeller – this is plenty big enough for a 8″ plane.  You can make it smaller, if you like
  4. Use a LOOP of standard size 1/16″ rubber only.  No single strands, no stripping rubber (this levels the playing field for those without strippers).
  5. all wood needs to be a minimum of 1/16″ square.  You CAN laminate to get that dimension.  Any sheet wood needs to be 1/16″ thick UNLESS your ENTIRE model is sheet – then you can use 1/32″ sheet.
  6. the Motor Stick must be no smaller than 1/8″ square – NO Rolled Tubes
  7. Flying must be done inside YOUR HOME – i.e. Home Front, participating in self-isolation due to the current health situation
  8. You may make unlimited flights.  You may submit as often as you like, but each time must be a separate submission
  9. Flight time to be submitted in SECONDS with no maximum flight time
  10. Since some of us are heavy-handed builders and not indoor artistes, there will be a weight factor applied.  Your flight time in seconds will multiplied by your weight in grams.  A 4-gram plan flying for 10 seconds will beat a 1 gram plane flying for 30 seconds.
  11. Since everyone is alone and cannot see others flying, there will be a video submission bonus.  The above sub-total will be multiplied by 1.5 if a video of the flight is submitted.


 751 total views,  8 views today

Posted in Builds, Events | 5 Comments

Tip for Better Flying – Notekeeping

Whether you fly for competition or just for fun, what follows WILL help you.

Background:  When I came back into the Free Flight game in 2012, I had about 75 FAC kanones (competition wins).  My first kanone was in 1990 and the last before my time-out was in 1999.  When I started back up, I continued to do the things that I had done 10 years earlier – I just built and flew – and kept track of things in my head.  This included rubber size used in each model and how the plane flies.

Somewhere within the first couple of years back, I realized that I was older and could not keep track of everything in my head.  (I’ve been told of a theory that there is only so much room in your brain cells and, as you grow older and that space fills up, there is no more room for new information – haha!)  Anyway, I started doing something that all of the better modelers do:  keeping a notebook.  I have a Franklin Planner left over from my corporate days and I buy refills for it.  One refill is a calendar, so I record upcoming events, but more importantly, the other refill is for blank note pages.  I make a page for each model and record characteristics on each model.  See the photos.

Things you can see in the notes (besides my ever-worsening handwriting):

  • The name of the model and size/event
  • The weight of the model and propeller used
  • Rubber Motor Used, Number of Turns, Torque at those turns, Results.

This type of note-taking is critical – not just for remembering, but for analysis and improvement.  Look at the notes for the B.A.T. Monoplane.  The first four entries are testing observations where I was working up to final contest-ready performance.   He same is shown on the Yankee IV page.  I worked up to the rubber size and torque setting until I got optimum results.  Other things to note:  the notes are a) inconsistent and b) incomplete.  There is a lot more that could and should be added and observed.  Keep track like this and your level of success will increase.

The second thing that I do is on the other end of modeling.  I do this during the design and build phase.  Some of the information is created during the drawing and some is applied later after flying.  Take a look (clicking the image will open it in a new tab and it will be bigger):


This is an Excel sheet in which I record every design I am building – or even thinking about building.  There are over 100 entries and this is just some of them.   As you can see, I categorize them according to FAC Event.  Why?  This puts similar models together so that I can compare and predict performance.

This spreadsheet’s primary purpose was to calculate CG Locations based on TVo calculations (thanks to Don DeLoach’s and William McCombs’ works).  Later, I added modifications to the formula for biplanes and also a different TVo formula for Endurance ships.  Finally, there are columns to record observed model weights and grams per square inch (erroneously labeled as g/CuIn!)

Why all of this work?  well, during the design phase, I can predict performance based on the TVo.  This also shows if the tail is too small (see those red and yellow indicators in the TVo column?) so I know when to enlarge the tail.  Through these calculations, I know where to place the CG indicator on the plan.  As you might understand, that much is for the eventual production product, for the customer.  But the notes regarding weight, propellers, rubber, etc – that is basically for me.  I can compare built models to new models and say “I think the new model is a lot like old model X and I can use a similar prop and rubber”.  All of this helps with consistency and such when it comes to flying your models.

(Curious about the other colors on the chart?  Green on the model name = Short Kit in production, Yellow on the model name means a potential Production item.  Over on the weight column, Green indicates actual measured weight of the built model.  no color in that column often indicates a projected weight or a guestimate.)

So what does this all mean?  Well, looking at this and looking back at my history, I just don’t know how I ever got those first 75 kanones!  I did very, very little of this type of analysis back then.  Switching over (due to the fact that my advanced 50+ years made it difficult to keep track of model specs) has made an impact – my current kanone total is 259.  If you want better performance, keep track of what you do.

 195 total views,  3 views today

Posted in Builds | Leave a comment

More NAR Racers – Airmasters and Others!

Awhile back, I documented a Cessna C-34 that raced (and won) which made it eligible for the FAC Thompson Races.  The FAC Rules have changed, but it is still eligible for the FAC National Air Races.  Read what I wrote about Betty Brown’s C-34 here.

Yesterday, an EAA video was posted in the Cessna Airmaster Facebook Group (here) which featured Steve Wittman.  At about 30 seconds into the video we see Wittman flying a red Airmaster with a white racing number “45” on the side.  Here is the video:

I asked if there was documentation – what registration number and what race (all required for proper FAC Race participation) and Daniel Henley provided this image:

As it says, this is from the 1939 Miami All-American Air Races and the specific race was for the Green Trophy; a race for C-licensed airplanes with engines displacing 550 cubic inches or less.

This particular photo is FULL of racers that are eligible for our FAC NAR!  All you have to do is document them!

The Wittman racer was NC-18554 and according to other Cessna Documentation, it was:

  • a C-37
  • manufactured on 09 Aug 1937
  • sold originally to Wittman
  • was Stearman Vermilion, with Diana Cream trim, and an Alexander Blue pinstripe
  • note that the race number appears to be white-whashed on the side.

There are four other Cessnas, two Monocoupes, and a Rearwin registered for this race.  Here is what I can find on the other aircraft:

  • Cessna NC-19491 – C-145  – Stearman Vermilion, Curtiss Blue trim , black pinstripe, race number 10 (or 18?) – no photo
  • Cessna NC-19484 – C-145 – Galetea Orange #55, Marine Blue #71 trim, Drake Blue #70 pinstripe, race number 29 (?) – plane still exists
  • Cessna NC-19459 – C-38 – Lemon Yellow #53, Willow Green trim, black pinstripe, race number 32(?) – plane still exists, but not original colors
  • Cessna NC-19464 – C-145 – Brilliant Vermilion #60, Drake Blue #70 trim, Marine Blue #71 pinstripe, race number 39 – plane still exists
  • Monocoupe – NC508W – Model 110, race number 36, but right now, I can find no other information besides being owned and flown by Larry Cook.  He raced it as early as 1937.
  • Rearwin – NC19415 – Speedster 6000M, race number 23 – unknown original colors, but the plane still exists (I will have details on a different racing Speedster in a future article):
  • Monocoupe – excuse me while I dive deep here – Johnny Livingston is my favorite race pilot.  Livingston was famous for racing a Monocoupe, NR501W – but the Monocoupe he raced here was NOT 501W.  He sold 501W to finance his Cessna CR-3 racer.  This Monocoupe is another clipped-wing 110, NC-511.  This was owned by Clare Bunch (president of Monocoupe) and had a racing history, also.  Here are some contemporary photos of NC511:

Johnny Livingston with NC511

Clare Bunch with NC511 – note the navigation antenna on the top


As I understand it, Livingston went on to win this Green Trophy – and at least one other event at the 1939 Miami races.  Here is a photo with him after the races.

Johnny Livingston with trophies from the 1939 Miami All-American Air Races.


NC511 still exists, although now registered at NC101.  You can read about it in the EAA publication Vintage Airplanes here.  An interesting note on the article below, Facebook friend Harman Dickerson did work on the restoration!

So there is more info than you could have expected for several “new” race-eligible aircraft!

 238 total views,  3 views today

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Random Acts of Thinking

I’ve got nothing – other than this mixture of odd (and possibly distracting) thoughts.

1… Long ago, I sold full kits of the Phantom Flash.  I soon learned that selling FULL kits takes way too much time per kit to assemble.  Today, I ran across an insert that I included in those kits – the original Phantom Flash graphics that I cleaned up and enhanced.  Note that the original plan only included one of the rudder logos and I had to create the second.  Anyway, I don’t use them anymore but maybe someone would like to have them.  You can print on regular paper, cut them out,  and stick on the model (old skool) or you can print them on tissue paper.  Here is the image – right click on it and then Save As.


2… Seemingly Odd Question – Do you (or should you) lube your Jet Cat rubber?  What?!?!!?  Why would you lube the rubber on your catapult?  Well, you could consider the question as a thought exercise – something you can ponder when you’ve read all the magazines in the throne room.  But let me confess to this: I have used lubed rubber in a Jet Cat catapult.  And I may again!  Next subject…

3… I found a use for old broken motors!  If you’re like me and fly a lot of 2-Bit and OT Stick and OT Fuse, at the end of a season (sometimes at the end of a contest!) you have a large pile of used rubber from broken motors.  Since I make most of my OT motors out of 1/8″ rubber, I might just have a secondary use for it.  Yes, I admit, I have made smaller motors from the pile of “waste”, but now I am talking about what I referred to section 2 above – I have made Jet Cat catapults with used rubber!  You need to inspect it for nicks, but certainly in a 12 strand, 36″ motor made of one continuous strand of rubber that broke one strand, you should be able to find 36″ inches that are nick-free.  36″ will make an FAC-legal 4-strand, 2-loop, 9″ catapult motor, like this:
PLEASE NOTE:  while the photo is of a product that I sell – I NEVER sell catapults with used rubber, only new rubber.  But, that gives you something to think about.

4… Sometimes I get distracted easily.  I was looking at an Old Timer as a possible build sometime down the road – and I got caught up in how to do the spinner and nose block.  I put this together the other morning and printed it out.  Yes, the original included a folding prop and a spinner.  I’ll send on of my $11 kits to the first person that correctly identifies the Old Timer in question based on the pieces shown here.


5… Today is garbage day!  The garbage has to go down to the road so they can pick it up at about 5am tomorrow morning.  I wanted to clean off my desk/building board so I can FINALLY get started on the Mega Caudron C.640 – but the garbage can is full.  I have several cardboard boxes to take down, too.  I need to get a trash can here at my desk and be BRUTAL about things that need to go.  Sometimes I wish I was organized and a neat freak so this part would be easy, but I understand that my messes are part of me.  But, the Elmendorf that I built last month had to be built on part of my building board just because I couldn’t move the stuff off the building board – the desk part is literally overflowing.  Time for that garbage can.  Maybe I can put the kitchen bags of garbage into the boxes and fill up the garbage can with all the loose stuff off the desk!  Now, there’s a thought!

 351 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Builds, Customers, Products | Leave a comment

Superior Props Products are Back!

Well, almost – I still have to load Old Timer Folders and Old Timer Freewheelers and all of the hardware onto the web site.

My mother passed away peacefully last Friday and we went to Ohio this week for the service.  My dad is now ready to return to work (his decision)  and has asked that I send him “work”.  So, as soon as I can, I will load up all the products.

As he now lives alone in the middle of nowhere, my brothers and I will be checking on him more regularly.  This means more trips to Ohio for me – which means more time away from the business.  This is good for us, but may hamper the promptness of your order fulfillment.  I caught up before I left Tuesday, but have a couple new orders since then.  With diligence, I can stay caught up.

I still have some voicemails to catch up on – I will get to those soonest.  (P.S. – email is the best way to contact me.)

Anyway, soon, I will be back in full operation and we can provide you with the products you need.  Thanks for your understanding – and thanks for all of the compassionate thoughts I have received to date and for those in the future.  We truly appreciate it.


 334 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Products, Props, and Planes

This morning, I finished up loading all of the remaining products into my new storefront – that is, except for the Superior Props items, which are still on hold (I think I got them all).  I streamlined many items, so you will have to make selections of what size you want.  This reduces the number of items for sale and makes the site a little more manageable, – I think.

Two discoveries:

  1. You do NOT have to register an account to buy product.  I did not import the old accounts (I don’t even know if that is possible), so (as some have found out) your old ID and Password will not work on the new site.  But, as I said, you can complete an order without an account, so I guess that part is up to you.
  2. Shipping should now show two options: Flat Rate and Contest/Event Pickup.  I thought I had the Event Pickup programmed, but it wasn’t working and I had to make some changes.  Event Pickup will not charge shipping.  Obviously, it will be used if we are meeting somewhere and you want a hand-to-hand transfer of products.  Also, I advise customers to use this on a second, active order when they want to combine orders.  Of course, If you choose this, your product will NOT be shipped.

I should now be moving on from site maintenance.  The rest is up to you – go ahead and try it out.

I’ve been making replacement props for several of my Indoor models.  You might be able to connect my end product with a certain jig that has been online, but I will wait to provide details until after I get some testing done the day after tomorrow, when I go to the Cloudbusters February Indoor Meet.  Here’s a photo – I’ve made 8 props to date and they all are using calculated and laser-cut Larrabee blade shapes.  Performance reports after the contest.



I set aside my Mega Caudron for a bit.  I needed to get a Greve Racer ready for the AMA Indoor Nats at the end of May.  I will be testing it on Thursday, also.  Here it is – The Elmendorf Special.  This is the Keith Rider R-5 in its first livery.  It was later black and yellow and known as the “Jackrabbit”.  The plan is a Tom Nallen design and this is built from my Short Kit   It is the second one I have built.  The first flew into some neighborhood last summer and could not be found.  This is much lighter and, at 14 grams, should do well Indoors.

You can find both Short Kits HERE and HERE.  Strangely, I have seen quite an up-tick in Elmendorf sales in the last year (over the Jackrabbit).  For a long time, the Jackrabbit was the more popular.  I have come to think that it is because of the new FAC Rules and the Greve Race Eligibility List that came out last year.  The list was simplified to list a plane only once, even though it might have had multiple colors and race numbers – and it lists the earliest version.  The old list referenced the Jackrabbit, and the new lists the original Elmendorf Special.  This problem is that it might be confusing – maybe people are thinking the Jackrabbit is no longer eligible – which is not true!

 577 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Builds, Customers, Events, Products | Leave a comment

Storefront RESTORED (mostly) – 07 FEB 2020

***BUY NOW***

Through the process of updating, I found even more import shortcuts.  I now have most of the products online.  There are some things not yet on board, such as the “Accessories” category (includes, tubing, wire, glue, tools, etc.) and all of the Superior Props items.  These still need to be loaded, but first logical categories need to be created.  It’s not a big issue, just part of the process.

Shipping has always been a bugaboo and I am still on Flat Rate.  I’ll be looking into that more in depth since I now have rough weights and dimensions on each product.  In theory, that means the system should be able to calculate a closer price to the cost.  That would be nice, since sometimes the flat charge is less than actual cost – and sometimes vice-versa.

As I said – the store is up and running. Orders have been placed (and even some have been fulfilled).  So have at it, whenever you like.  I will still be learning this interface (like how to create orders for people), so that will take some time.  I do know that some Product Descriptions got truncated, so those will need to be fixed.  If your having issues navigating or find problems, contact me and we will figure it out.  If there is something you want to see online that used to be there, contact me and we will see about getting it up there.

Anyway, I can now get back to filling some older orders, cutting some kits, finishing some models and so on.

 447 total views,  2 views today

Posted in Customers, Products | Leave a comment


Notice I am now saying “restoration” and not “failure”.  We are moving beyond the failure into the new store.  And, it’s moving along.  I am able to batch upload Product Names and Descriptions that I can extract from the old site.  During the upload, I can set price and category.  These are much easier to do on a spreadsheet than on each individual product page.

But I learned that I have to do it in small sections.  Because, then I have to go into each individual product page, set things like product dimensions – and photos.  If I did 500 at once, I’d never be able to make sure all were logged correctly.  So, it is slow and steady.

I’ve now got just over 100 products in the store.  As I load, I am trimming my products, eliminating ones that I no longer sell (or no longer want to sell).  This was coming anyway, as suppliers dry up.  This will streamline your experience – and mine.

Last evening, I received my first order from the new store!  So, YES, IT WORKS!

To see the store, click the SHOP item on the right end of the top menu bar.  That will show a page of the different categories (if they have items in them).  Or you can just jump right to the specific category you want on the SHOP BY CATEGORY on the menu on the right SIDE.

As you can see, it is a fully integrated shop.  If you are having problems, let me know what they are and I will see if I can track them down.  As one person already observed: now the store and blog appear properly on small screens (like phones and tablets).  That’s an improvement right there.  I paid for a “responsive” site back when, but it was only partially realized.

I’ll be packing some orders this morning, and then back at the tedium that is reloading the products.  Onward and upward!

 279 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Customers, Products | Leave a comment