Click HERE to shop NOW!

Posted in Customers, Events, Products | Leave a comment

From the Contest – Report on F-86 and Other Fun

First, contest fun, then a report on the F-86 and its high point and low points.

As I posted elsewhere (Cloudbusters Facebook page), we had a great day for the June Contest.  I covered the general report there, but will give some of my personal highlights here.

My Flying Aces Sportster had a little assistance (light thermal) and clocked a 71-second flight.  It went off the field and came down on the road, as seen here.  There was no damage.

FA Sportster in the road!

My 5-year-old Peanut Fairey Barracuda pulled out a win in the WWII Combat Mass Launch.  The loop of 3/32″ rubber is too powerful – at first.  There are many aerobatic maneuvers performed as it struggles to find a stable pattern.  After about three high-powered circuits, zooming and then skimming the grass, it finally settles into a circuit and climbs up for a long cruise followed by a great glide pattern.  That’s six kanones for the little model that was smashed at Muncie years ago, five of them in WWII Combat.

I brought my Elmendorf Special for the Races Mass Launch.  I built it for indoor, but had some prop issues in test yesterday.  I had brought my 24″ Caudron C.460 because I had repaired it and it was ready to go.  But it is a “big field” flyer – it does huge circuits and need lots of space.  When I won at the AMA Nats last year, I was really torquing it up and it has a beautiful glide and would have been lost (instead of smashed) if it had not had the DT on it.

Well, when the Elmendorf was acting finicky, I decided to give the Caudron a try.  It still has the year-old motor in it that had one knot in it already.  I gave it a test flight with less than half torque and decided I would fly it in the races if we launched from somewhere that would allow the long cruise not to go over woods or neighborhood.  While winding for the test flight, I got another broken strand and tied a knot.  Here is where the test flight landed.

It didn’t hit the tree, just landed there.  Strangely, I had three planes throughout the day land withing 10 feet of that tree – my Heinkel JetCat, the Barracuda, and the Caudron.  All were launched from different locations and all have different flight characteristics, and to my knowledge, no one else went in that direction all day.

With about half of full torque, the Caudron easily made it to the second round of the Races.  Because I am pretty much launching at cruise power, the model never climbed very high, but did its stable circles and gentle glide.  All of the time the two Cessna C-34s of Ron Joyal and Winn Moore were climbing out high and looking like winners.

Back at the base while winding for the last round, I started talking smack to Winn.  We pit right next to each other and that is typical of our contest banter.  I would say things like “man, I’m packing in the turns this time” and “wow, look at that torque climb!”  The reality was, I did put in more turns, but my torque still was only about 70% of max torque.  I just didn’t want to lose the model.  On the way out, I decided to use the DT.  It is an electronic band burner, and I turned it on on the motor-bike ride out to the launch point.  When we got there, it had actually counted down and burnt the band.  Fortunately, I had two dental bands looped together – it only burnt the first and I was able to stretch the second enough to set the DT.

We launched and went up together.  The Caudron still was not getting the altitude of the Cessnas, but that was ok with me.  Ron’s came down and mine was cruising.  I had added a small blob of clay to (hopefully) prevent porpoising and that was, indeed, lessened.  Winn’s plan and mine went in different directions and his was much farther down field than mine.  As mine hit the ground, I hollered “DOWN” in their direction and would rely on them to tell us (Chris with the scoreboard and me) who won.  Winn’s model was lost in the trees, but both Ron and Winn reported that it had gone in while mine was still in the air.  Two contests, two victories.

Our home field (Alkay Airport) is long but a little too narrow for my comfort and I rarely fly my “big field” models there – I’ve lost enough models at Alkay and don’t want to risk my big ones.

F-86 Sabre JetCat Report

Maybe some of you had to plod through the above (or just scrolled past) just to get to this part.  I know there is interest.  I decided to build an F-86 – they are one of the cleanest designs.  I had thought about doing a John Glenn F-86 (as an Ohio boy, he was a childhood hero), but I found this striking livery of the late 50s Italian Air Show crew.


I designed and cut out some parts and then worked (for an inordinately long time) laying out tissue prints.  Confession: I did use light wood for my version.  I am solidifying my various techniques and think I am pretty set now on how I will be building JetCats.  They all have a laminated fuselage.  This starts with a 1/16″ sheet center, with an inset carbon fiber ribbon for flex resistance.  Also, there is a 3D-printed nose hook that is keyed into the balsa.  This “spine” is cut with the grain going in a certain direction and the laminating sides are cut with the grain going in a different direction (the parts are angled on the balsa sheet, as the sheet dimensions permit).

I’ve had difficulties in the past with these laminations.  The first several iterations used CA – but CA is heavy and not forgiving as to locating the parts and adjusting.  I’ve used wood glue.  It is lighter than CA and much more forgiving regarding the alignment, but it can warp the wood and requires weighting the assembly, which is either not enough or shifts the pieces.

This time, I thought I would try something different and it seems to work well:  spray adhesive.  I used Gorilla Glue spray, but I don’t think the brand matters.  I sprayed the center and located one side and pressed it into place on a flat surface.  I then sprayed the other side of the center and placed the other fuselage side.  It worked well.  I suppose you could spray both sides, if you were worried about the glue holding.

I used the same spray for the printed tissue.  That was a little more critical regarding placement – you can’t really pull up the tissue after you tack it down.  I made sure reference points were properly set and then started at the center of the piece and rubbed outwardly to smooth the dry tissue over the sprayed panel.

After it was fully assembled (I was going to do the individual pieces but got carried away), I sprayed the entire model with a couple of light coats of Rustoleum Gloss (again, I don’t think the brand name is critical).  As you can see, it looks great – maybe my best JetCat.


In my backyard on Saturday, after I completed the model.  I could only go about half-pull on a single loop of 1/8″ rubber.  My yard is surrounds by trees.  Either I can get stuck in the trees, go through the trees into a creek, or go over the trees – never to be seen again.  This model, right off the board, would go straight and true on a hand toss.  Under very light pulls, it would arc up, flatten out and go into a flat spin to the ground.  I added what turned out to be 0.3g of clay to the nose and got wonderful flat glides – right into the trees, nearly every launch.  It’s really hard to trim a model when you can’t fly it.  But the promise was real.

At the field yesterday, I could finally put some power on the model.  It arcs up and transitions at the top and glides pretty well.  I did add a bit more clay, but this seems to be a little touchy (what JetCat is not touchy?) as the glide is now slightly nose down.  But the model is very reluctant to turn in glide.  I tried gurney flaps here and there but they made the model do violent snaps under power.  It tried weighting the left wing tip, only to induce the spin again (I realized that the wing tip is behind the CG – I was shifting the CG by quite a bit).

So here’s the conundrum:  The glide is very stable and floaty (but it won’t turn much).  The launch seems to have too much arc – it’s too tight for my liking – so altitude is limited.  If I could get it to go higher and get it to circle in the glide, I just might have a pretty good JetCat.  Any ideas?  By the way, my top three times were 20, 19, 17 – so it does fly.












 181 total views,  6 views today

Posted in Builds, Events, Products | Leave a comment

A “New” Embryo – the “DeHavilland Discard” (or Bristol Bullhorn)

Two weeks ago, while I muddled about my house, trying to get re-motivated, I read the McCook Squadron’s latest newsletter.  In that issue, was a plan for an Embryo designed by Frank Scott, way back in the very early 1980s.  (Thanks to Mike Smith, editor, for thinking to publish the newsletter on Facebook and via email – I never would have seen this model.)

This was inspiring to me, for several reasons.  I am glad to see Frank come back to the FAC; he was an inspiration to me when I was starting out, as the CD of the Dayton Sector Skirmishes (contests) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  In fact, my first kanone was won at one of his contests.  Frank would also write (and have published in the FAC News) the occasional fictional story (Hysterical Hystories – find them in the FACN Back Issues – you might check the News Index) of the adventures of Captain Derek DeBris in the spirit of the old stories in the original Flying Aces Magazine – this model was attributed to Derek DeBris!  Looking at the plan, it has fantastic proportions – a 17.5″ long fuselage and a 20.5″ wingspan – and it is all square construction.  Even more fantastic, it has retractable landing gear!  Who can resist this much fun? (much more story below the photos!)

my new (2020) build of the DeHavilland Discard

Frank’s very vintage Discard



Check out my BUILD article (click HERE) – complete with VIDEOS!

I asked Frank if there was documented history on the model, which he called both the “DeHavilland Discard” and the “Bristol Bullhorn” from the DeBris Model Works (note, in the spirit of Derek DeBris, these are not actually scale models, they are fictitious – these factories never built these planes (except the DeBris Model Works DID build the models).  He told me he had none, – but I was able to dig up the “true” history and Frank verified that it “was exactly how the Discard/Bullhorn came to be”.

Before we get to the story, Frank and his son Chris built these models in the 1981/82 time frame and and Frank reports one of them flew OOS at the 1982 FAC Nats. (story below the photo!)

Chris Scott and his Bristol Bullhorn (single cockpit, aileron balance tabs, weird fin shape) in the early 80s.

Here we go – the Hystory of the DeHavilland Discard and the Bristol Bullhorn (discovered by George Bredehoft and verified by Frank Scott):

The DeHavilland Discard

At some time in the 1930s, some young engineers at the DeHavilland factory were inspired to work up an internal proposal for the upper management. They did not have tacit approval to work on this project for a light transport, but were able to cobble together a simple (and low-cost) aircraft after-hours from excess and scrapped parts. This is how the one-off DeHavilland Discard (from discarded parts) was born. Although it flew, the prototype was rejected for production and was pushed from one hangar to another and finally behind a hangar after a few years.

Eventually, the hulk was purchased by one Captain Derick DeBris (ex-RAF in the Big Fuss –  now at DeBris Model Works) for a symbolic 2 pounds 5. He towed the once-again-discarded frame back to DeBris Field where he restored the unloved aircraft to flight-worthy status. It was registered as “G-ERUP” in reference to the early retractable undercarriage (gear up).

He used this as a local “airline” and transport for his remote neighbors. It wasn’t much of an airline as it could only take three passengers. One time, he won a small transport contract for the London Zoo. When he arrived at the zoo, he found that the job required flying a full-grown ostrich to Manchester. The only way they could manage this was to bind the poor bird seated on a nest and have its head poking out of the rear engineer’s cockpit!

After a series of misadventures – including cannon balls falling through the floor on a flight over the Thames, barely missing the Tower Bridge, and that time he rented the Discard to a pilot and a barrel of whiskey “broke loose and shifted to the rear” causing the “improperly balanced” plane to fly as if the pilot was drunk (whiskey was everywhere after that rough landing, including all over the pilot, but no barrel was ever found) that crushed the rear fin and was the last flight – DeBris sold the well-worn transport to some rather unsavory characters who took it west. They did a quick patch job, fixed the rudder, and repainted the poor machine. Not having a clue as to what the original fin looked like, they hacked together an ugly job. They tried to flip this crate as a “new product” calling it the “Bristol Bullhorn”.


 382 total views,  2 views today

Posted in Builds, Products | Leave a comment

Once Upon a Time in Ohio

In 1979, I graduated from high school.  My big plans included going to an electronics school and jumping into that blossoming career field.  That lasted all of one semester and I dropped out of that program.  The next fall, I decided to go back to school; this time I would be studying Mechanical Engineering Technologies.

This was a good fit for me and it would change the direction of my life and put me on the track to where I am today.  This was a two-year Associate’s Degree program and it taught me much of what I used in the rest of my life including right up through today.

Because of this program, I got my job with the US Air Force and it eventually moved me to Battle Creek, where I completed my career with the Department of Defense after 35 years.  That gave me with a stable job that continues to provide well for me and my family.

In addition, some of the classes included Drafting (old fashioned paper/velum and pencil/pen – no computers yet!) and Machining.  I chose the M.E. course because my dad was a Toolmaker and it was somewhat familiar to me.  Probably 1/3rd of the classwork was lab work in a machine shop.  We made several items, including a small cross peen shop hammer, a C-Clamp with a cast aluminum body (we created the sand mold and poured the molten aluminum), and a small machinist’s vise.  I am not sure where the hammer is (the head was loose, due to screw threads cut too deeply), and I think I know where the C-clamp is, although I never used it.

I do use the drafting skills every day these days, and I use the machinist’s vise regularly.  I didn’t for many years, but after I got back into the model aviation hobby and started making things for the business, I found I needed it often.

Here is a photo of that vise in use from this morning.  I am using it to drill out the Superior Props Drive Dogs that we make.  My dad machines the body and sends them to me to finish. He also made the little fixture to hold the bodies to be drilled.   The vise spent many years in the garage and barn, so it is not in the best of shape.  It suffers from the same issue the hammer did:  the chased threads were cut too deeply and the screw action is just a little sloppy.

By the way, we had to make every part.  I don’t mean that we poured the steel, but we did choose the dimensions of each part and we had to design the particulars, like how the screw was captured into the jaw.  We machined each part (including surface grinding) and assembled them and and the finished product was graded for appearance, operation, and workmanship.

Little did I know while making it that I would be using it a few times a week nearly 40 years later.

 352 total views

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NEW PRODUCT – Polikarpov I-16 Peanut Short Kit

Two Items:

First, the I-16 Short Kit is ready!  And it comes with a bonus – I vacu-formed a canopy – and a spinner AND I am including a 3D-printed spinner, too!  You can choose what route to go.  You can download the printed tissue template from the DOWNLOAD page.  And be sure to check out all of the build photos HERE.

Order the I-16 HERE

Second, I have a canopy buck nearly done for my Peanut Fairey Barracuda.  I ran a small batch of these short kits a couple years ago, but made the canopy from wood and was never 100% satisfied with it.  Now I am 3D-printing one and the test canopy is pretty good – I just have to sand it smooth and I’ll have those kits back on line shortly!

Order the Barracuda HERE

the finished model

two short kits -one packed and one yet to be packed

vacu-formed canopy and spinner AND a 3D-printed spinner – all included in the short kit

the new Barracuda canopy test – back in production soon!


 604 total views,  4 views today

Posted in Products | Leave a comment

Stick and Tissue Update – What (Products) do we have?

Our models are all just sticks of balsa, tissue paper, a little rubber, and a propeller.  We use some other hardware and accessories and we go out and have fun together.

First off, we can’t go out and have fun, especially together.  I don’t want to get sick – and I don’t want any of my friends to get sick.  I am approaching 60 and I am one of the younger guys.  Nearly all of my flying buddies are older, and therefore, at a higher risk of getting sick.  Remember, the exposure isn’t limited to just “me, you, and Joe”.  I need to travel to get to our club’s site.  I have to stop and get gas,  I might want a bite to eat.  Each place is a point of potential contact.  And not just the person you see.  It’s like the old sex adage:  You’re not just having sex with her (or him), but with everyone they have.  How many people does the cashier come in contact with every day – or hour?  Now it is you, too – and you will pass that on – the cost might be more than a burger.   Extremist?  Possibly, but I want to fly with my friends again – when it is safe.  I am going to err on the side of caution for awhile.

So, let’s stay at home and build.  I think a lot of you are saying the same thing.  While my sales had dropped for the first three months, I think that was due to many factors on my end, not with the modelers mindset.  This has picked back up to normal, maybe even a little bit stronger in April.  That is good for me – and good for you.  However, there are many product issues that I am dealing with.

Tissue:  I am just about out of Esaki.  I have a fair amount of Green and a little bit of Brown.  Other than that, I have shut off sales for all other colors.  I’ve kept a small reserve for myself (maybe too small, in some cases, like white.  At the present time, I will not be sourcing any other tissue to sell.  Personally, I have started using more supermarket domestic (I like FLOMO brand, especially the white, I have some black and red, but haven’t tried it).  EasyBuilt Models has sourced a Japanese tissue  they are calling Mt Fuji.  I have some, but haven’t tried it.  I have seen models built with it and they look great; I REALLY like the red.  (Benefit to me:  I’ll no longer have to figure out how to pack up a pound of rubber and two sheets of tissue into the same box without crushing the tissue.)

Propellers:  I am still getting Gizmo Geezer Products.  As you may know, they are now sold by a different company, still in Canada.  That company is so close to the US that they will go across the border to ship TO US addresses FROM the US.  Their packages have always arrived in about a day.  However, now they are shipping from Canada and there will be associated delays – I anticipate about a week or so to receive shipments.  That’s not terrible, but I need to be aware (just like all international orders).

Hardware:  I am out of various K&P products, mostly nose bearings and the large 10/4:1 winder (I still have many 10:1 and 15:1 winders).  I ordered some this week – they cannot fill the order because they are also on lockdown and not permitted to go to the place of business (after all, this is not “essential” stuff).  So, that stuff is on hold.

Rubber:  FAI still has a good deal of rubber.  I have been ordering about once a month, maybe more like every 3.5 weeks.  However, I/we are out of 1/4″ rubber and Charlie tells me there won’t be any new batches of rubber for awhile.  I took that to mean batches of any size.  I am sure that when the rubber manufacturer can get back to work, Charlie will get more, just like normal.

Postage:  I post this periodically – postal rates go up all the time, about every 9 months or so.  My current postal rates just cover the reduced rate that I get through Stamps.com.  When I started in 2012, the cheapest Priority box to a close location (like Michigan or Ohio) was just about $5, like $4.90 or $5.10 – something like that.  Now the cheapest is $7.56.  I (explaining again) use Priority Mail.  Why?  Because it is convenient (the Post Office will pick up at my house on their normal route) and because every package gets a tracking number.  It is possible to ship some items by First Class, but they won’t pick those up, unless there are Priorities in the same pickup.  And, I cannot ship anything over 1 pound by First Class.  Anyway, my flat rates are something like $8, and $9 (regional)  And that is almost always less than a dollar different than what Stamps.com charges me.  Sometimes that difference goes to the negative – and that is happening more and more, recently.  So, my shipping charges will have to go up soon.

Balsa:  here’s a real punch in the gut.  After months of hearing about the price of balsa, it is finally going to affect me and my products.  I buy balsa from two sources (you’ve already heard this in the past): SIG and National.  SIG always had good wood and gave great dealer discounts.  I bought from them exclusively – until one year ago, they had a fire in their balsa shop.  They have still not recovered and buying from them is spotty.  Less than spotty, actually – I cannot buy from them in any reliable manner.

I can buy from National reliably – kind of.  They always fill orders fast.  And they always had a good selection of wood; I could even get light wood on demand (at a higher charge).  And they were always double the price of SIG, sometimes more.  Monday, I placed an order for a small amount of wood (most light wood was unavailable).  Prices have doubled – at least (again).  Yesterday, I received a box – about 12″x6″x36″ and it cost me over $450.  I haven’t had a chance to weigh it yet, but I can be certain that there will be a significant amount that is too heavy for my stuff – and I am sure most of the 1/8″ wood (used for Old Timer nose blocks, Jet Cat wings, etc.) will be on the “way-heavy” side – last time it was like 15-20 pound wood.  I did buy some light-weight 1/8″ – at $5.69 a sheet!

This is painful.  Since I started offering kits, I have striven (now struggled) to provide reasonable quality for a reasonable price.  I know my stuff is not perfect.  And I know my customers get less with my kits than they can get from other manufacturers.  And (in case anyone thinks this can actually happen) I am not trying to “get rich” selling balsa kits.  I started out at $10 for my basic short kits and they are now up to $11 due to balsa rates increasing last year.  I am now paying 3x to 4x more for balsa than I was when I started out with the $10 kits.  Prices WILL have to go up soon.  I don’t want to do it and I don’t know the next price step.

So, stay safe.  Take care of those around you, even if that means avoiding them.  If you are in self-isolation and are now building more than before, welcome to my world.  That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 3.5 years.  (I had a friend tell me “now you should have plenty of time to build.”  I told him “my day-to-day has changed very little.”)  Thank you for your continued business and for your words of encouragement and support.  I am sorry that the reality of the world around us is impacting our hobby – in our ability to practice it and the cost of doing so.  I am trying my best to help you continue to do what you love – build  (and fly) stick and tissue.  I hope we can get out to the flying field together this summer or fall.


 670 total views,  2 views today

Posted in Customers, Products | 4 Comments

Confessions of Rubber Power Flyer

I fly Rubber Free Flight.  I do not fly r/c.  I do not fly gas.

However, I have wanted two engines for a long time, just to have, not to fly or even run.  Now I have them.  They will sit on my shelves as display models.  They are: the tiny Cox TeeDee 0.010 and the vintage Morton M-5 ignition pushrod radial.

No more gas motors for me, my collection is complete, I am done.

 449 total views,  2 views today

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Lacey and Fike Documentation Photos – Oh My

I want to go on record – I am NOT a fan of the Lacey and Fike, especially in Peanut class.  They are “ugly” and they are the easy way out for flying.  I’ve never built either … but that may change…

A couple years ago, Don DeLoach and I tracked down the Lacey M-10 – it still exists and has been significantly changed by the current owner (see THIS ARTICLE).  In that article, I promised a new 3-view, a 1″:1′ Scale Plan, and publication of all 40+ high resolution photos that Don sent me.  That has stalled, but I need to get back to it.

Yesterday, I told my wife that I was going out to the barn.  Also a couple years ago, I cleaned out the late Jim Miller’s modeling room.  Some of that stuff is in the barn – on top of my 1963 Studebaker Lark.  My dad and I have plans to work on the Lark together (the plans were hatched before this viral threat) and I need to get the car running before I can take it to Ohio.  In order to get it running, I have to clean off Jim Miller’s stuff.

As I looked through the stuff for the umpteenth time trying to decide what to toss and what to keep, found a photo pack.  Some of you kids might not remember, but once upon a time back in the dark ages, people had dedicated cameras that required film to capture the photograph.  You couldn’t see the shots you took until you had taken the film to get developed and then your received an envelope with all the photos you took – hardcopy.

I opened this envelope and found SIXTEEN color photographs of the famous Fike E (two separate locations).  I then went into the scale documentation folders that Jim kept and found the folders for the Fike – and I found SEVEN more photos of a SECOND Fike E, built in Canada.  Along with those photos, I found scale documentation sketches from the Canadian builder and a 3-view by Carlo Godel.  Obviously this second Fike (“Dream”) was known, but has been forgotten over time.  There was also magazine documentation for the original Fike E.

Every now and then you will get someone asking “does anyone have a COLOR photo of the Fike E?”  I think before I found this hoard I knew of one color photo online (Don tells me these photos aren’t unknown to some, but to most of the world, they are new).

Considering my distaste for these two aircraft, why is it that I am burdened with all of this documentation for these one-off aircraft?  I guess it is karma.  Here’s my plan:

LACEY:  I still intend to produce a 1″:1′ scale plan and 3-view of the Lacey M-13 (new designation) and provide a public archive for Don’s photographs.  This will also include several “new” photos of the original version (M-10) of the aircraft that the current owner provided to Don.

FIKE E:  I will create a similar documentation archive for the public of the TWO Fike E aircraft, including the article and many, many xeroxed build photos and all of the color photos.  The article, photos, and notes identify changes that were made to the aircraft and the various configurations it was flown in (providing lots of build options for the modeler).  I might even have to draw up a plan for the silly and ugly Fike E.

As if I didn’t already have enough to do…

Here are some teasers for the Fike.  These are reduced scans.  I have scanned these at the highest resolution that my scanner will allow and I will break them apart into individual photos.

 793 total views

Posted in Products | 1 Comment


Test Flight Video below.

After my “Isolation” post, I did a mental reset.  I decided to build something just for fun.  I’ve had this build in mind for several months.  I found it in the March 1935 Flying Aces magazine.  It is another one of their tiny sport planes.  There was no build article and the plan was on just one page of the magazine – kind of a space filler I guess.

As I’ve looked at this plan, it sure reminds me of the GeeBee Model D Sportster aircraft.  I think maybe there was some influence there.  So, when it came time to cover mine, I did up a GeeBee-style paint scheme.  This was done with printed tissue.

The original plan used some 1/32″ wood – for ribs, and cross pieces and it used bamboo – for the vertical fin outline and the wing struts (why they are there, I don’t know).  Another curiosity is the fuselage – I don’t know why they made it so narrow, but it is about 1/2″ internal width (5/8″ overall width).

When I drew this up, I decided that I would just forego the 1/32″ balsa – all of this is 1/16″ balsa, either sticks or sheet.  I also added some wood (as the FAC permits) for the motor peg, the nose sides, and converted the two-piece horizontal into a single piece.

The build was pretty quick, although in our situation today, I was in no rush.  This is a small plane and the laser-cut parts made building it a snap.  For my build, I also decided that since this is not likely to be a top-rung 2-Bit performer, that I would just build it simply:  regular sheet wood, pre-purchased 1/16″ stick wood, domestic tissue, and a plastic prop.  After a couple coats of spray-can gloss clear, it still came out about 13 grams with a 0.35 g/sq.in. wing loading – that’s pretty light.  I suppose that could have been closer to 10 grams, if I had wanted to build it light.  I even over-did the landing gear.  After I bent up and installed a gear out of 1/32″ wire, I read the original plan and it calls out 0.020″ wire!  Wow, I could have saved a lot there.

Mine came out just a touch nose heavy and needed a small pea of clay on the tail.  Test gliding showed that the solid structure of the landing gear and strut wasn’t my best effort – the compression struts don’t compress and just snap under impact load.  However, with just a few adjustments to the thrust line, I soon had in climbing out to the right.

Building and flying for fun really does bring the fun back!

You can find the kit HERE

You can find the Tissue Template HERE

And here is a test flight:


 403 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Builds, Products | 1 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).

 413 total views,  1 views today

Posted in Builds | 5 Comments

“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.


 1,748 total views,  3 views today

Posted in Builds, Events | 17 Comments