Happiness is Flying Model Airplanes-Part 2

17 May

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

As I gained experience, I moved up to rubber band powered balsa stick model airplanes covered with rice paper.  These models required a lot more concentration and patience to assemble.  The kit consisted of a box full of balsa sheets with fuselage formers and wing ribs printed on them and lots of balsa sticks.  The idea was to carefully cut out the formers (bulkheads) and wing rib parts, and using the balsa sticks, assemble the airplane over the full-size plans provided.  Once the model was assembled, the entire airplane was covered with rice paper and sprayed with water to shrink the paper.  When the paper dried, it could be painted with clear or colored model paint called ‘dope.’  The propulsion was by means of a long rubber band inside the fuselage and twisted many revolutions to turn the propeller for the thrust needed.

Plans Credit: yahoo.com/rubber+powered+model+airplanes 

Next, at about age 10, I started building and flying small U-Controlled fuel powered model airplanes using .049 and .065 CID (½ A glow) sized engines.  These airplanes were of similar balsa construction, except the fuselage was made of thicker balsa sheet and the wings and tail were covered with a heavier silk span paper.  When the silk span was sprayed with water it also shrank when it dried.  Then the paper was painted with airplane paint (dope) and it would shrink to an even tighter and tougher surface.  I could then add decals or paint other colored designs if I wished.

Photo Credit: yahoo.com/search/=.049+fuel+powered+u- controlled+model+airplane

These airplanes were so easy to build, that I started designing my own with variations in wing design.  I would buy the necessary bulk balsa stock from the local hobby shop and use the plans from one of the kits I had previously purchased to build the airplane.  Imagine the airplane in the above photo, with the trailing edge of the wing on each side of the fuselage tapering from the wingtip almost to the forward edge of the horizontal stabilizer.  That was one of my designs that I tried, and you can see that airplane in the photo below (the battery is in the way, but you can see how the wing tapers from the wingtip toward the tail).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I used special 35’ long wires to control the flight and needed a large (70’ minimum diameter) clear space to fly these airplanes.  Luckily, a city park, Bataan Park, was only a block from my house and provided plenty of space for my needs.  However, I found out that flying these airplanes around in a circle could make me dizzy if I wasn’t careful.  I won’t bore you with all the plane crashes I had, learning how to fly those first U-Control model airplanes.

Diagram Credit: https://www.modelaircraft.org/control-line

At about age 12, after a lot of experience with the smaller airplanes, I moved up to the larger and more expensive fuel powered .15 and .29 CID (A glow) sized U-Controlled airplanes.  These airplanes were of a similar construction as the ½ A models, but much bigger, stronger, and heaver.  Since these models flew much faster than the ½ A models, I used 70’ wires.  Here again, Bataan Park, the well mowed city park, provided a nice convenient well-maintained grass flying field for me.  The pride of my airplane fleet at that time was my Top Flight ”Nobler” with a Fox .29 CID engine. What a beauty that airplane was!

Photo Credit: www.efkjghfdlf.top/products.aspx=nobler+control+line+airplane

—–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

One Response to “Happiness is Flying Model Airplanes-Part 2”

  1. ludyja May 21, 2023 at 8:13 am #

    How well I remember those planes! I remember “helping” you put them together – and then putting them BACK together! Who is the kid in the photo with you? He looks familiar, but…


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