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History of flight - part 1 - Bitten by the bug

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So back in pre-2005 back when I lived on a large (75'x330') lot in a small town, a friend gave me a couple old .049 control line airplanes. With a bit of cleaning and tuning, I was able to get them running.

The first plane to come to life was a balsa wood with 'STUN MAN 23' stenciled on the wings. This bird was almost manageable for a complete amature like myself. It required some major repairs to get airborne as the fuselage was broken in 2. The fix was to insert a couple small finishing nails into the balsa wood (like a surgeon would pin a broken bone) and press the two halves together again. To make the joint permanent I then wrap thin layers of surgical gauze and epoxy around the joint.

Being a solo pilot with little to no help / assistance, I had to devise a way to launch this plane. The normal procedure is to stand in the middle of the circle while a partner fuels, primes, warms up the glow plus and spins the prop over (many, many times - the 049's were not the easiest to start), trim the mixture to max RPMs, wait for the pilot to be ready and then release the plane.

I had no such assistant. So I rigged a remote release system. I tied 10 inches of string with a loop on the end to the tail gear. I tied another 10 inch piece of string with a small loop on the end to a tent peg which was driven into the ground behind the plane. I then tied a long string to a 3 inch nail. The nail was fed through both loops and then gently into the ground. The string was run the middle of the circle along with the control lines.

Control line solo launch system

I would then go through the starting ritual, get the engine running full out which would pull the strings taught. I could not go to the middle of the circle get the control lines ready and with a firm tug of the 'launch' string the plane would be released and flying!

22 laps (less then 2 minutes) later I would be so dizzy the headache would last for days.

A second plane that was in the set was a P-40. This one was all plastic, with a newer motor that started somewhat easier, however, flying this bird was not easy and often ended badly. Plastic though it was, it was a good thing I actually had 2 as the second plane donated a few parts to keep the first flying.

The challenge was finding a plane sturdy enough to learn to fly the hard way. The P-40 was tougher, but harder to fly and so it still broke. The Stunt man was gentler for flying, but balsa wood is too fragile for beginners. Thanks to the Internet a solution was to be found.

April 2010: Monthly Archives