Happiness is Flying Model Airplanes Part 1

10 May

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

I began my love affair with airplanes at the tender age of six years old when my family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Our father had been given a new job there and he had gone there ahead of us to find a house and get things ready for our family move.  When all the details were in place, my mother, sister, and I flew on an American Airlines DC-3 from Dallas, Texas (where I had been born) to Albuquerque and I was thrilled by every aspect of that experience.

Photo Credit: https://images.search.yahoo.com/american+airlines+DC-3

Albuquerque had two U.S. Air Force bases, and our house was under the landing approach to Kirtland Air Force Base.  Airplanes of all types flew over our house all of the time and I learned how to identify all the different types by name and profile.  I used to love to run out side of our house and watch them fly over.  They ranged from the twin-engine B-25 Mitchel, B-29 Superfortress, to the giant B-36 Peacemaker.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

At about age 8, I transitioned from my hobby of electric trains to model airplanes.  At the time, the 10-cent balsa-wood gliders were the big rage in my neighborhood.  The little kit had all the parts die-cut, so all you had to do was slip the pre-formed wing and tail into the slots in the fuselage and you were ready to fly.  I learned how to carefully cut a notch in the bottom of the fuselage, which allowed me to launch the glider with a one-stick rubber sling shot.  That gave me a much higher altitude providing I didn’t pull the wings off with too much rubber band strength.  I had saved my allowance money and bought one after another, as I flew them and broke them (Notice the glue line on the fuselage in the photo below).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

My very first model airplane was a small hard-wood Piper Cub.  That model only needed the individual parts to be sanded smooth.  I worked hard and long to get the parts as smooth as I wanted.  Then all I had to do was to glue the wing and tail onto the fuselage and paint it. Then after the paint dried, there were a few decals to install to make it look real.  When I finished all the detailing, I hung that beautiful model from my bedroom ceiling and enjoyed it for years.

Photo Credit: www.helidirect.com/piper-cub/

As the years passed, and I grew older, I moved up to rubber powered balsa model airplanes. The first rubber powered model airplane I had was very basic.  A long square balsa stick for the fuselage, and thin balsa sheet wing and tail.  The rubber band was attached to the propeller in front, and ran under the fuselage to the tail.  The propeller and rubber band would be twisted in the opposite direction of the thrust needed, and when the propeller was released, the airplane would take off and fly until the rubber band tension was expended.  Great fun!

These gliders are still available online. This one is on Amazon.

Photo Credit: https://amzn.to/44RaCqt

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

3 Responses to “Happiness is Flying Model Airplanes Part 1”

  1. divoran09 May 21, 2023 at 4:45 pm #

    You have loved all kinds of airplanes and you always will.


  2. divoran09 May 10, 2023 at 7:57 am #

    I like that!


  3. ludyja May 10, 2023 at 7:20 am #

    I remember some of those days – especially when you took them to Bataan Park and flew them. I loved the sound of the engines. But that’s for another posting. Love this part of our childhood.


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