Tag Archives: Model airplanes

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

My Southwest Adventure~Part 2

30 Oct

A slice of Life

Bill Lites




1On Saturday morning, I made a quick stop at the Richardson R/C club’s Big Bird Flyin in Princeton, TX.  The weather was threatening, and there was not a large turnout, but the flyers put on a great show in the short time I was there.  Allen and the other club flyers were very cordial, and invited me to stay around for their BBQ dinner, but I needed to head South to maintain my travel schedule.

In Tyler, TX I visited the Historic Aviation Memorial, and then it was on to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, TX.  I had always thought it was the FBI 2who had tracked down and ambushed the famous bank robbers, Bonnie & Clyde, but I learned it was actually the Texas Rangers.   That evening, at the local Cracker Barrel in Killeen, TX, I had a wonderful catfish dinner, while being serenaded by some of the old time western singers, singing songs like “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Hey Good Looking” and many others.  When I came out of the Cracker Barrel, I happened to look down and there was the biggest acorn I had ever seen, laying in the grass.  My son Billy (The Environmental Consultant) tells me it’s really a “Willow Oak” acorn.  However, because of its size, “Texas Acorn” seems to me to fit perfectly into my “Texas Adventure” don’t you think.  Boy, by now, was there any question I was in Texas, where everyone seems friendly, and they grow everything “Super Size”?  It was taking me back to my roots, and I was loving every minute of it.

The next day I drove to Abilene, TX where I visited the CAF Big Country

3quadron hanger, the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum, and the Abilene R/C Society field, where I enjoyed meeting several model flyers from that club.  Monday I headed West, stopping to checkout the National WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater, TX.   I had always admired the service the women pilots provided during the war years, flying aircraft of all types from the many factories around the country, to the U.S. Army Air Corps bases where they were most needed.  After a great personal tour by Carol, I continued West to the Hanger 25 Air Museum in Big Spring, TX.

4Then on Tuesday I had another real treat when I visited the CAF American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, TX.  This was one of my planned major museum stops, as the AAHM has anywhere from 20 to 40 (mostly flyable) airplanes in their collection, at the museum at any one time, and I was eager to see as many of them as I could.  It was well worthwhile, and the museum staff went out of their way  to help me get many of the photos I wanted.

 While I was in Midland, I visited the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum and Jim Hall’s Chaparral Racing Museum.  Jim and his brother Charles were our neighbors, for a while, in Albuquerque, when I was a teenager, and I had hoped to reconnect with them.  As it turned out, he had been there the week before, to test drive one of his museum cars, and I missed seeing him, but I got to see many of his fabulous Chaparral race car designs at his racing museum.




—–To Be Continued—–




A Gator in the Street?

16 May

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

We live in a small Central Florida town in an older subdivision that is quiet and pleasant.  We have a few feral cats, the odd neighborhood dog and even one guy down the block who has chickens and a rooster that we can hear crowing in the morning.

One day I happened to look out my front bedroom window and thought I saw an alligator walking down the sidewalk in front of our house. Surely, my eyes were playing tricks on me. I grabbed my glasses and ran out the front door to get a better look.  Well, it wasn’t an alligator; it was a 6-foot Iguana!  Where in the world did that thing come from?  And where was it going?  The Iguana was just slowly walking down the sidewalk as if it did it every day.

It was heading for the woods just two houses away and I didn’t think it would be a good idea for it to be wandering around out there possibly scaring hikers to death.  So, I walked around and headed it off and It went for our neighbor lady’s front yard.  Uh oh, I hoped she didn’t come out of the house just then.  Oh good, I remembered she wasn’t home.

I watched as the creature crawled up onto her front porch and from there onto a bench. It placed its front feet on the windowsill and gazed in as if looking for someone.  I finally remembered the guy down the street with the chickens and just knew somehow that this thing was one of his pets.  I hurried down the street to his house and knocked on the door.  There was no one home.  A van in the driveway had a business logo on the side and a phone number, so I called and sure enough, the Iguana was his. He said he’d come right away and get it.  When I got back to the neighbor’s, the Iguana was still standing on the bench looking in.

When the pet master got there, he picked up the Iguana as you would a cat or a dog and a strange thing happened, it turned from a grayish/brown to a bright green right in front of my eyes.  What was that about?  Had it been scared and lonely? Did it change colors because it was glad to see its owner?  I was amazed. Do Iguanas have feelings? I don’t know.  Do you?

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