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how did you start messing about with model planes ?

Started by pooh, October 28, 2020, 15:29:25 pm

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Following Tabsdad's push to get more threads, and then Dave S's post on early planes he built, I thought I'd recall how I got ito flying model aircraft and ask you to add your memories, and perhaps fill in some blanks in my recall.

After a few chuck-gliders, I started on KeilKraft kits - can't remember the names, but two I recall were almost identical free-flight about 24" span, balsa strip and doped tissue. I think one was rubber powered, the other a Jetex power version so had the fuz cut away for the jet blast (???) That one met its end when I accidentally lit the fuz as well as the fuse and launched it anyway, a sort of airborne Viking Funeral.

Moved on to 0.5cc "Bantam" (?) diesel-powered flying wing, control line style. And I mean flying wing, just a simple aerofoil, enough structure to hold the engine, a tiny fin to help it stay out in the circle, and over-large elevators that made inverted flight a nail-biting result of over-feeding "up". Pal of mine and I used to make a pair, then fly on the same circle in a not very successful version of combat, most "contact" resulting from pilot incompetence rather than flying skill.

There were several rubber-powered free-flights mostly plan-built but I did do a scratch build "own design" for a competition held by the model shop in Bristol (this would be around 1962). My bold (a.k.a. mistaken) idea was for a cylindrical fuselage made from a series of circular formers decreasing towards the tail to taper the fuz, and longitudinal balsa strips to provide the surface for the tissue and dope cover (blue, I recall) dihedral wings about 48" span, tailplane and fin, all similar construction. Didn't get placed in the competition, and met its demise as I was winding the rubber motor for the first flight - got a bit over-enthusiastic with the amount of rubber and the number of turns and suddenly there was a series of cracking noises followed by the transformation of a sleek fuselage into a sort of scrunched up caterpillar less than 1/4 of the original length  :''

Then I got seduced by Amateur Radio, then girls, then somehow life got in the way until I thought I would try RC flying now that I could afford the cheaper end of the equipment. I  built a RC trainer (from Galaxy Models, my local shop) and a friend was already flying RC and fooloshly agreed to take me on as a pupil. The snag was he didn't have a buddy box so we did get into the "gimmee the box NOW!" situation, and we had a bit of a clash of character as he was very cautious and I wasn't, so we parted (amicably). Then a Piper Cub has built and flown with more success, but was tending to crash and finding lots of excuses not to actually fly - like "must build a good flight box first".

At which point, in a magazine article, I saw the holidays run by the Model Aviators Association and decided that was worth a try. Something of a turning point, meeting an amazing group of incredibly friendly lunatics. The ethos of the holiday was to fly, if you didn't know how, there were instructors, buddy-boxes, beginner planes through to terrifying!

I have to give credit to one Mr Brian Cooper who, showing his usual mix of generosity and patience, helped improve my confidence to the point of flying solo and landing fairly reliably. And a bizzare experience for a middle-aged man to be taught by a 9-year old (Brian's son, Daniel, by the a "B" pilot) Over the following years in Devon or Yorkshire I also tried slope-soaring, something that is unfortunately a bit limited when you live in East Anglia!

Those holidays were a great experience, both the flying and the company. I won't name the names because there are many, some I still have some contact with despite not flying anything much for the last 10 years.

Somewhere in all that I got heavily involved in SPAD Combat, tearing around the sky in a nominal 100m cube of air trying to cut the streamer from any of the other five aircraft in the same airspace - often literally but as the planes cost around £5 each (less if you nicked an Estate Agent's "for Sale" notice to make the plane...) it was not too expensive. Though there was the "land nearest the flag" competition at the end of the day when one pilot did a deliberate "lawn-dart" and indeed got very near the flag, but on top of the one rock in the entire grass field and shattered his nice 025 motor - but he did win the prize - it wasn't me !...

Which brings me to present day, wondering if I have time to get back into the hobby properly, now that the plague has pretty much enforced retirement on me.

I have missed out a huge amount, but didn't want you to get bored.

Over to you  :)
Confucious he say "more than one aircraft in the same airspace leads to structural failure"


That's a great story, and much of it is similar to my route to the current level of madness!

I've already documented most of my modelling journey, but I noted your early experience of a Jets model with a 'cutaway fuselage' - sounds like my first model, a Keil Kraft Skyjet 50
Dave S in West Oxfordshire


Like Pooh I started with chuck gliders then built a Mercury "Magpie" towline glider which came off the top of its first tow, put it's nose down and dove into the ground. That was followed by a Keilcraft "Soarer Baby" which was much more successful and flew very well. I was given a Mills .75 for Christmas and grafted it onto the front of the Soarer Baby, again it flew well but I got tired of running after it so decided to try control line with I think a KK Champ, various other CL models followed culminating in a KK "FireBird" powered by a Oliver Tiger, that was superb until eventually the bellcrank ripped out of the wing and totalled the model. I went back to gliders with a "Concord", an Aeromodeller plan to which I fitted single channel R/C in the shape of an "RCS Guidence system" and Elmic escapement. This flew very well but I wanted to try a powered RC model. Eric Clutton's Sharface was featured in AM so I built one with a COX Baby Bee for power, that was fun, the fligts were short but it bounced well.

Next was a Veron Robot which started as s/c and eventually became three channel with initially a Frog 1.5cc diesel then a Taifun Zyklon throttle equipped 2.5cc diesel. That was a great model and taught me a lot until one day it got wet and the wings folded!.

After that it was a selection of sports and Aerobatic models including Aeromaster Biplanes and a Wolfgang Matt "Super Star" F3A model which was incredibily quick on its OS61F SR and an ED tuned pipe.

I presently have an Aeromaster, Giant Aeromaster, GP Stearman, Wot4, Wot4 Foam E, Whizza, a couple of E Gliders, plus others waiting to be completed or repaired.
Basic Research is what I do - when I don't know what I'm doing!.


Great stuff!  I remember entering a model build and design competition in Bristol in around 1960 with a home designed electric hovercraft.  The Shop running it was "Hobbies" in Fairfax Street.  Could this have been the same event that you mentioned?
Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.  (Terry Pratchett)


After the usual free flight and small control line models, I got my hands on some radio about 1973 or 4 (I think). It was a single channel super-regen ABC radio - and worked on the bench but rarely in a model. I built a Little Little Vagabond from a free plan in Aeromodeller, can't remember what I powered it with, probably my faithful and long suffering DC Dart. It never flew long enough for me to be able to attempt to control it, so I put the radio in a small electric powered boat to get used to the push button.
I then graduated to a Gem digi 1+1, a £25 special from Roland Scott, and put the receiver and single servo into a 6 ft own 'design' glider (I just built the wing and then cobbled the rest around it). Amazingly, it flew, my friend Paul towed it up for me on the local rec (his dad was the groundsman) and I managed to fly it around and land back in the same place as we were standing - magical! I will always remember that first thermal flight, 9 minutes and a landing just a few feet away from the towline launch.
Like most of us, I gave up when I was about 14 or 15, music become much more important, playing the bass (which I still do in various bands) and, of course, the discovery that girls might be interesting after all...
I got back into modelling about 1980 or 81, newly married and living in London. My first multi channel model was a Waterhouse & Ely Superfly, 3 channel and an OS 35, Futaba radio (converted from 27 to 35 mHz, so that might pin the year down more accurately than my memory does). I learnt to fly with that, then 'graduated' to a Precedent HiBoy with ailerons... I flew at Northwick Park (Harrow) with the club there that evolved into the Phoenix club with a site at London Colney, also flew on Wormwood scrubs (the open land, not the prison) as it was close to where I worked (BBC TV Centre), also Hanworth airpark, joining the other shift workers and retirees on weekday mornings.

I've had a few fallow years, when one of the other two distractions (listed above) took too much of my attention, but I am now pottering about with electric powered models (and still playing bass in bands) but don't look at girls any more - my wife makes sure of that!
Dave S in West Oxfordshire


I went through the typical route of free flight gliders and rubber powered models, then C/L models and some basic R/C, but it was after completing Peter Holland's Cessna 172 (72" span, Fox .36, McGregor 3 channel R/C) that I realised this was a hobby 'for life'.

I even found an old pic of it, circa 1976:


so Fairfax Street, Bristol, almost certainly the same - I remember looking at my plane suspended near the window, first floor, looking out over a big shopping street - highest the damn thing ever reached

and another memory, I met and worked with Dennis Elms, manufacturer of the Elmic Escapement (and many other model items) I met him when he was retired and lived just down the road from me in Suffolk. A lovely man, kind, gentle and a fund of knowledge and stories. He'd retired from and closed the Elmic business but was still working for fun, with a mischevious sense of humour.

My favourite story, most of which was unfolding whilst I visited him regularly, was a competition in "Model Engineer" for the smallest fully steam-driven boat. He made two, one was 5" long, the other 3", both with reciprocating single-cylinder steam engines. His reasoning was that he entered the 5" version, rightly expecting a 4" competitor in the next issue of the magazine, which he trumped (sorry, old definition, card games not POTUS) the following month with the 3" version. The piston was so small that he had to fit a secondary heater to evaporate the condensing water leaking from the piston as surface tension forces exceeded the thrust of the piston!
Confucious he say "more than one aircraft in the same airspace leads to structural failure"

Brian Cooper

October 28, 2020, 23:16:11 pm #7 Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 07:43:36 am by Brian Cooper
I became interested in model aeroplanes at about the age of 5 when my local sweet shop started to sell simple chuck gliders.  I persuaded a parent to buy one for me, took it home, slotted it together, took it into the garden, and threw it... and it flew.  That's it, I was hooked.  :D

The sweet shop progressed to selling Sleek Streak,  rubber-powered models which were an improvement on chuck gliders. 
The garden was big. 300ft long by 75ft wide, but now that the models were powered, they regularly escaped. I then went on a quest to the surrounding streets, knocking on doors, to ask if my model had landed in their garden.  ::)
It didn't take long to become well-known, and the nicer people in the neighbourhood just brought them back for me.  :af

Larger, rubber-powered models followed, plus the inevitable Jetex models, some of which ended up in flames :'(::)  ;D

Then, one day at my prep school, an older boy was displaying a DC Merlin engine. It was mounted on a plank of wood, and it made a delightful noise. Plus that smell of diesel fuel.. ahhhhh, hooked again   :af  :af 
I persuaded him to sell it to me. So, at the age of 8, I entered the world of IC engines.

That little engine powered a succession of free flight models. . And life was good.
I even tried control line flying but never got the hang of going round and round, so I usually fell down, dizzy, after three or four laps.  ::)

I needed radio control. 
My pocket money never seemed to be enough, but somehow managed to buy a Mini Super kit, which I built whilst saving up for the engine and the single channel  radio equipment. . Saving up took about a year, even though I washed just about every car in Hertfordshire.  :D

The big garden was a communal garden. Nobody else seemed to use it, so I considered it to be my personal playground.  However, one day my attention was drawn to the unmistakable sound of a model engine, and it was clearly coming from "my" garden.
I ran outside to see a huge (to me) Veron Concord being run-up and subsequently taxied around the garden.
An immediate friendship was struck with the operator, who turned out to be (new neighbour) Mick Charles. In future years, he became World Champion at scale modelling and was also heavily involved with the models for the Battle of Britain film. His building skills were fantastic, and he passed on a few tips. 

He took me to the R/C flying club field (Croxley Moor) and the rest is history.
So, at the age of 10, I started to fly R/C.
There was no such thing as a Flying Instructor in those days, so it was a case of "throw it into the air, and start learning....fast".

That was 56 years ago.....and I am still learning.  :D
It seems I forgot to grow out of it and there have been many fabulous adventures along the way.

Pooh, sorry about imposing my 9-year-old son Daniel on you as a Flying Instructor.... but he was quite good at it, eh.  ;D  :af


Much like Brian it all started with the North Pacific range of sheet-balsa chuckies and rubber models in the local toy shop. IIRC the piggest was an undercarriage-equipped rubber-powered machine called the "Pacific Flyer", but the best flyer was the ubiquitous Sleek Streak. I must have had loads of these when I was 5 or 6 and I learned vast amounts about stability, CGs, configurations etc. I used to mix & match bits to make new layouts (had a lot of success with tandem-wingers and canards). My grandfather (an Australian naval chief engineer) saw this interest and sent me a couple of kits - a KK Polaris solid chuckie and a KK Conquest simple 30" towline glider. These got build and flown, and were followed with many others. People learned that my Xmas and Birthday presents were all kits, tools etc.

It sort of grew from there - first engine was a DC Merlin, second was an OSmax10 which took me into control line. When I started flying combat with PAWs grandad did me another favour and bought be a pair of Copeman Ollies so I could do it properly. I was given a Macgregor single channel bang-bang set which worked nearly as often as it didn't, but saved up to buy a second hand Futaba Digimax 5 (with 2 receivers and 11 linear servos) from a chap at the club who was replacing it with a new M-series. Over the years I did most things - slope & thermal soaring, several generations of helicopters, numerous sports models, a brief foray into Pattern Aerobatics (as it was then) under the mentorship of Clive Weller, and then there was 15 years in pylon racing from the original start of Sport-40 to a few world championships. Then came wife, kids, dogs etc that got in the way for a while, but not for too long...

There are no shortcuts on the long, hard road to success. But if your dad's rich there could a limo service...


October 29, 2020, 10:33:40 am #9 Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 11:32:00 am by Tabsdad
My story isn't as glamorous as most.
I didn't become interested in aircraft until I bought a Frog Fledgling control line from a friend for £1.50 and later met my father's friend who was an adult ATC Warrant Officer, I then joined my local unit where it 'took off'.

The Fledgling wasn't a success, neither was control line in truth, I could never get the Cox 0.49 to start so it never flew, I built a few C/L kits such as a KK Joker, Nipper, Phantom and a Cambria(n)(?) kit with a plastic upper fuselage but I never completed any of them. The first engine I bought was a DC Spitfire, I moved to diesel because I was fed up with the huge, cube, Everyready batteries always dying on me. I was able to start it regularly but never mounted it. I eventually got to fly a friend's Nipper with its Wasp 0.49 but decided that flying in circles didn't float my boat.

I remained in the cadets as I wanted to join the RAF as a tradesman, I applied and was told there were no vacancies in the trade I wanted for 6 months at least, this went on for 18 months whereby I became disenchanted and applied to my next preferred option; the Army. I was too old for a trade by then so in a complete departure I joined the Infantry as it pressed a lot of buttons for me.

 A few years later and whilst on a few days R&R from N.Ireland, out of nowhere I felt the overwhelming urge to buy a RC kit, purely on a whim! The whole lot, Tx, kit, engine and flight pack, cost me almost a months wage but the money saved in Belfast covered it. I built it but it never flew whilst I was still serving, the lifestyle just didn't suit 'playing with toy planes'.
When I left the Army and after the inevitabilities of life I eventually joined a club in Sutton, Surrey, where I was taught to fly circuits, but that was short lived as the engine in my old kit gave up the ghost, so I bought a new, OS 25FP from Mick Charles models in Ewell which was flown a handful of times before the club folded and the lot put into storage again. I still regularly attended the Sandown and N.Weald shows, buying tools, materials, a kit and another engine in the knowledge that I one day, would return.

My return saw me joining my present club and pick up where I left by continuing to fly circuits with the kit and engine I purchased from those shows but this time with the luxury of a buddy box, it's also seen a refurb and planned return of the very first kit I bought which I am now in the process of, I'll fly it once I've actually solo'd, as a kind of tribute to the path it's taken me on.


October 29, 2020, 13:02:32 pm #10 Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 13:05:14 pm by dickw
After playing with a few basic KK kits when very young as most kids do, my real introduction to model flying was when I saw the attached drawing in a magazine that a classmate was reading on the bus on the way home from school. Next day I went out and bought a copy of the magazine (Model Aircraft July 1960) just so I could try and understand what it was I was looking at.
I have been an aeromodeller ever since.

apologies for the upside down image - it's the correct way up on my PC!
July 1960.jpg
Grow old disgracefully


Quote from: dickw on October 29, 2020, 13:02:32 pmapologies for the upside down image - it's the correct way up on my PC!
July 1960.jpg

Is it a homemade servo?


Sort of - it's a Galloping Ghost "servo" - it gives a sort of "proportional" rudder and elevator control from a single pulsed channel.

Grow old disgracefully


The Galloping Ghost was, IIRC, the next thing after the Elmic Escapement mentioned earlier.

The Elmic used a rubber band, twisted, to provide the force needed to shift the rudder (single channel only, transmitter on  or off) Every "on" blip of the transmitter caused an electromagnet to release the motor shaft, and an escapement (like a clock) allowed only 90 degrees of rotation for each blip.
The rest of the mechanism moved the rudder from centre, to left, to centre, to right (can't be sure which way round it went but you get the idea)

So if you were going straight and want to turn left, just one blip. If you wanted to turn right, you blipped again to get straight on, then again to get right. You had to remeber which "straight on" you were in to know how many blips got the desired result.

Apparently, according to Dennis, you could loop by setting alternate left and right, skipping quickly through the centre positions, as a turn effectively lifted the "outer" wing and the next turn lifted the other wing, so you started climbing and finally went over the top!
Confucious he say "more than one aircraft in the same airspace leads to structural failure"

Brian Cooper

Quote from: pooh on October 29, 2020, 14:22:20 pmThe Elmic used a rubber band, twisted, to provide the force needed to shift the rudder (single channel only, transmitter on  or off) Every "on" blip of the transmitter caused an electromagnet to release the motor shaft, and an escapement (like a clock) allowed only 90 degrees of rotation for each blip.
The rest of the mechanism moved the rudder from centre, to left, to centre, to right (can't be sure which way round it went but you get the idea)

So if you were going straight and want to turn left, just one blip. If you wanted to turn right, you blipped again to get straight on, then again to get right. You had to remeber which "straight on" you were in to know how many blips got the desired result.

Ahhh, yes, the delights of the sequential Elmic Conquest "bang-bang" escapement. They were a complete pain in the bum.  Apart from having to remember which way your last command went, there was the ever-present problem of the escapement skipping due to engine vibration or, more commonly, a touch of radio interference. Nightmare.

The way to go was with the Elmic Commander.  This one always started from the same position, so it was "once for right and twice for left" and was far more reliable.
Then, of course, there was the Elmic Compact with kick-up elevator, which required three presses on the button.   ::)
Happy days.


Galloping Ghost was much more "sophisticated" (I use the term loosely!) than the sequential escapements, as it provide a sort of proportional control of a continuously moving (vibrating?) rudder and elevator. The single control channel was pulsed at a fairly high speed and by varying the rate of pulsing you could move the elevator and by varying the mark/space ratio you could control the rudder. Have a look at the following video which shows the same Mighty Midget "servo".


Grow old disgracefully


IIRC then came multi-channel, using tones to control the individual servo channels? I seem to remember a bar-shaped electromagnet with a sort of comb above the long narrow core, so the "teeth" vibrated as the tones were supplied and the one at resonance moved the furthest and made contact electrically whilst the others didn't make contact.

Or is that something plucked out of my demented memory?
Confucious he say "more than one aircraft in the same airspace leads to structural failure"


From a very young age I built Airfix kits,usually bought with pocket money from Woolworths. Then one day in a sort of model/craft shop I couldn't find a !/72 kit I fancied I bought an all sheet high wing rubber band model sort of Cessna-ish. I built it, it flew well, had hours of fun with it, hooked. next was free flight,Vic Smeed Debutante, Frog 80 powered, didn't fly well being under-powered and flown by an inexperienced schoolboy. Thinking back to where I lived a couple of years earlier a neighbours son flew F/F in a meadow at the front of the house. A diligent search of the APS  hand bool identified two models a Hot Canary and a Vic Smeed Mamselle that he flew. Got the Hot Canary plan built it. Flew really well, now I'm really hooked. Mamselle then a little C/L and then single channel. Brian I had good experiences with the Elmic Conquest. Then Galloping Ghost. The model definitely galloped when you applied up elevator and the pulse rate went right down. Then RCM&E  digital.... On the bench at the moment is a scaled up Hot Canary, a photo copy of the plan I bought in 1962, who says modellers are hoarders?


Quote from: pooh on October 29, 2020, 18:00:36 pmIIRC then came multi-channel, using tones to control the individual servo channels? I seem to remember a bar-shaped electromagnet with a sort of comb above the long narrow core, so the "teeth" vibrated as the tones were supplied and the one at resonance moved the furthest and made contact electrically whilst the others didn't make contact.

Or is that something plucked out of my demented memory?

You describe the Reed relay system and it really did exist.
Basic Research is what I do - when I don't know what I'm doing!.


Quote from: FlyinBrian on October 29, 2020, 18:47:07 pmYou describe the Reed relay system and it really did exist.

Thanks, I couldn't recall the "reed relay" definition. Pleased to see that I am not entirely losing my grip...

The concept (reed relay, not my lack of grip) of such a crude system must seem strange to our younger members - even I could have designed something a lot more effective using electronics 40 years ago, but the components and power consumption were a totally different thing. I do recall trying (unsuccessfully) to make a radio control transmitter and receiver using "acorn" valves, although I did have great fun making a small transmitter with appallingly wide harmonic output and standing outside a TV shop and watching all the screens in the shop window collapse into lots of wavy lines when I switched it on, hidden in my pocket...
Confucious he say "more than one aircraft in the same airspace leads to structural failure"

Brian Cooper

Oh yes, reeds existed.  I had an RCS 10 Channel radio with Climax servos when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  It was a fabulous radio. Very reliable and tons of range.
Imagine having a separate servo purely for elevator trim.  ???

Ten channels meant the Tx could generate ten tones.
TV sets in the 1960s were a bit susceptible to outside radio interference so, as a mischievous schoolboy, I took great delight in playing Chopin's Death (Funeral) March to a neighbour's TV.  She used to freak out when she heard it.  :D  ;D   :ev

Happy days.


Those reed sets were the origin of the "mode1" perversion. Reed sets weren't proportional - they had spring-centred switches for left-right, up-down etc which operated either "bang-bang" or progressive servos using continual nudges on the switches.

The left/right switch was on the right of the box and the up/down switch was on the left. Flyers got accustomed to controlling left/right with one hand and up/down with the other. When the first proportional sets appeared it was logical to have the (single-axis) sticks in the same places. So when it developed to a pair of dual-axis sticks some of the lesser flyers couldn't cope with the idea of moving the elevator over onto the right stick like proper people...


There are no shortcuts on the long, hard road to success. But if your dad's rich there could a limo service...

Brian Cooper


TBH I'm taking the mick. The brief time I flew Pattern Aerobatics it was suggested that I try mode 1 and for that specific type of flying I could see the benefit (much smoother in the slow rolls - easier to regulate the roll rate independently of the rudder and elevator corrections). But even then I only flew the pattern models on mode 1 and stuck to mode 2 for everything else, and when I stopped Pattern flying I stopped flying mode 1 completely. When I flew FAI Pylon several of the others flew mode 1, but we used a Phelan high-compression set-up which requires an in-flight mixture control. It's virtually impossible to use IFM as an active control with mode 1...

There are no shortcuts on the long, hard road to success. But if your dad's rich there could a limo service...

Brian Cooper

I can fly both Modes but I have a very heavy preference for Mode 2.

I tried Mode 1 for pattern flying but found there was absolutely no advantage in separating the ailerons stick from the elevator stick. 
I flew smoother and with more precision on Mode 2.  :af
Each to their own way of doing it, eh.  :co


Quote from: Brian Cooper on October 30, 2020, 06:59:54 amI can fly both Modes but I have a very heavy preference for Mode 2.

I tried Mode 1 for pattern flying but found there was absolutely no advantage in separating the ailerons stick from the elevator stick. 
I flew smoother and with more precision on Mode 2.  :af
Each to their own way of doing it, eh.  :co

Wow, so I am not the only one who flys both modes !! :uk:

but only Mode 2 on helicopters,, :embarassed:
Mode 2 THE only way to fly


I have flown mode 1 only once, when someone handed me the Tx to their model as it was about to start its take off run. He didn't mention the mode...it was a Wots Wot with a .60 two stroke, and probable the hairiest flight I have had since my short lived single channel days. I managed to avoid the ground for a couple of circuits and then gave the tx back. In return, I gave him a flight with my Wot 4 (mode 2) and he struggled with that - but not as much as I had done with his model.
Dave S in West Oxfordshire


Back in the '80s I flew both modes regularly but after a few of decades on mode 2 I now struggle to fly mode 1.  I had the same issue when we swapped from British standard right foot gear change to Japanese left foot changes on motorbikes.  For a while it was easy to swap but as the years went by I lost the ability.
As for starting with model planes, my story echoes most here: Airfix kits from 4 or 5 years old, chuck gliders (commercial then built from plans), KK and Veron rubber powered models and gliders, then control line before attempts at home built single channel, commercial (hence successful) single channel and eventually after a detour for motorcycles etc. finally the big league with 27Mhz propo in theearly '70s.  Generally my progress through the ranks being limited by the ability to acquire funds.
flying's easy - it's getting it back down in one piece that's the hard part

Pup Cam

October 30, 2020, 17:33:23 pm #29 Last Edit: October 30, 2020, 17:35:12 pm by Pup Cam
My introduction to model flying (having already started down the Airfix Series 1 aircraft kits at 1/11d road) was via father and a Keil Kraft Polaris chuck glider.   He'd just gone back to aeromodelling (early 60's) with the aid of a Keil Kraft Ladybird, I can still remember him laminating the cowl out of sheet balsa moulded round an Express Dairy milk bottle.   He also built a Charlie Rippon designed Cruiser Pup (scaled up by 50% I think) with a Cox PeeWee 020 in it.    Flown from the Enfield playing fields it was last seen disappearing over the A10 and landed and was finally recovered from the roof of the Sangamo Weston factory (a name very familiar to old school photographers!)

We then moved onto single channel with a CG Junior Falcon, Baby Bee, RCS single channel and an Elmic Compact (how posh!) escapement which was most successful.    An MAP designed Minnie was less than successful primarily because although it had a Concours quality finish it's AUW was probably twice what it should have been.   A CG Skylane 42 (which I still have) with a Golden Bee and the same radio gear was far more successful!

Move on a few years and father decided to open a model shop in Hemel Hempstead (just round the corner from the MAP offices as it happened). Many of the cover shots for RCME & Aeromodeller in the late 60's / early 70's were taken on the grass of the Water Gardens just opposite our shop.

Anyway, what could have been better for a young boy and I started working in it on Saturdays and during the school holidays.  I don't recall any payment but I never went short of modelling materials or North Pacific "Sleek Streaks" (what fantastic things they were, often copied never bettered)!

Being short in statue and young in age I could barely see over the counter but little by little customers came to accept that the little squirt did actually know the difference between an AD4 and a DEAC etc.     We joined the Hemel club, which had amalgamated with or at least tied up with the Rotax club which gave us access to another local flying field and their sports club hall where there was great indulgence in electric RTP.   That led to RTP flying between the upper balconies at the model engineer exhibition when it was at the New Horticultural hall (I think) in London.  Clearly that could never happen to day due the weight of risk assessments that would have to be generated to allow small aircraft to fly above the heads of the exhibitors and punters alike.  Ah! the Mabuchi FT36D the pinnacle of RTP motors.

I worked my way through many of the Keil Kraft and Veron flying scale series, a Jetex Hunter looked particularly promising as it left the hand on it's maiden flight only to be consumed by flames 5 or 10 seconds into that flight  :'(     My first very own R/C model was a Veron Mini Robot equipped, if I recall, with a two channel World Engines DigitMigit acquired from Mck Wiltshire in Watford.

So many memories!

Still distracted by a 1953 AJS 16MS and now a 1939 BSA 250 too!


Long time Mode 1, I switched to Mode 2 when dedicated helicopter sets came out set up to Mode 1 back in the 80s. It was claimed that helicopters could only be flown to competition level on Mode 2. Then Japanees flyers started winning everything on Mode 1 so dedicated heli sets on mode 1 suddenly appeared.   


October 31, 2020, 00:32:15 am #31 Last Edit: October 31, 2020, 00:52:17 am by SteveBB
Like a lot here, Airfix (and similar kits) my dad built as I watched mesmerised sitting at the dining room table as he put on the 'transfers' on the bare grey, blue, green plastic because he didn't bother with paints.. Locomotives, planes, tanks, anything really..My turn came later aged about 10 or eleven and my mum allowed me to go down town on my own and I was straight into Cooper's toys up two flights of stairs to the model department each saturday to wax my pocket money on anything that said 'Airfix' on it.

I looked but didn't really feel inclined at the strange Keil Kraft planes that looked unable to fit in the box they cam in...and I asked my dad who informed me they were made from balsa wood and needed building on a flat board and covered in tissue held on with some odd chemical called dope Which I found amusing as my dad used it frequently describing various people. Anyway, dad bought me one and found a scrap of plank to build it and I was fascinated how all these lengths of strip wood and glue would build up into something that according to the box, would actually fly. Rubber band wound up and released and sure enough, it went up...and back down, and broke. It was many years before such things as cg, and trim would enter my vocabulary let alone know what they meant.

Fast forward to comprehensive school where one of the teachers ran a lunchtime control line club on the school field and one or two of my class mates brought in these weird planky wings with something called a Cox .49 tiny tiny engine nailed to the nose. Off one wing were two wire rods with what looked like kite strings attached to little loops which I was assured enabled this very strange looking contraption to fly round and round-I thought this was really strange and envisioned I'd be throwing up if I tried it because I'd be so dizzy.

The same class mate also told me of a very strange thing called radio control but that it was very expensive but apparently it meant you could fly all over the sky without getting dizzy which sounded much more fun but way above anything I'd ever be able to afford. Ever.

I left school and started work and this is when I got into the occasional reading of Aero modeller et al. There were adverts for this radio control equipment I'd been told about. Yellow boxes by Skyleader and one that I thought looked so much more purpose like by a company called "Fleet'. I had no idea what I was going to do with it if I saved up and got it or how it worked but it looked really cool and wonderful. It came with four servos, was 'digital' and apparently the receiver that made the whole shebang work, oh and a nicad battery pack, whatever nicad was.

I read some more and realised it wasn't as straightforward as I'd first thought; I knew no-one else who flew aeroplanes and I had no idea how to get in touch with anyone who knew how to fly aeroplanes. I sort of knew though I'd prefer a glider rather than something with an engine because I knew I'd be unable to afford a plane and an engine, but something about flying a glider made it more romantic...

Another model shop opened up in our town and he had fewer plastic kits but quite a selection of planes that flew..So I bought myself a polyhedral (My vocabulary had increased by then) glider called a Phoenix. It was made from balsa wood with a foam wing..I knew nothing about iron on films and even if I did I knew I'd screw it up trying to put it on so I painted it white.. Put in the two servos for rudder and elevator, installed and set up the rx and battery and tested it in our back garden; sorted out the fangled CG point and with my younger brother in tow and a long length of nylon chord to tow it up set off for my old school field one summer evening.. I knew nothing and cared even less about wind sheer or turbulence as Richard ran his legs into wind (I did at least know that bit!) away from me as I twiddled the nipples, I mean sticks to get it into some sort of stability..naturally it crashed and broke...A lot, completely.. Destroyed.  :''

A few years later I persuaded a friend of mine to drive me up to Leeds to a small model shop where I'd seen in a model magazine advert had what looked like a beautiful creation...a Robbe ASW 19 radio control glider that had ailerons too!! I was in love. We drove there and I marched into the shop and handed over the truly astronomical amount of money to buy it...The box was about six feet long and barely fitted in his car with the passenger seat dropped back and me in the back seat. Along the way I was given a copy of 'Radio control Soaring' by Dave Hughes which is still regarded today as a font of good information even though it is outdated by the massive development of R/c gear in the many years since it was published. Long story short, I never did finish that glider it followed me around in various house moves in the years that followed but never flew.

Then in 2007 I drove past an area in north Derbyshire near Sheffield that I'd vaguely remembered seeing gliders in the sky a few years back. There were several in the sky this day and I parked up and hopped over the stile and wandered down to the slope. I stood and watched for a while and one of the blokes asked if I flew, naturally I side no but said I was interested, I had no gear (The Fleet gear long since gone) or aircraft and didn't know where to start...That was when I also found this place. Apparently a new frequency was coming in called 2.4 but I was looking at a Multiplex SX system on the 'old' 35Mhz. I happened to ask on here what to go for and what I intended (glider) and none other than the one called PDR said the SX was the 'best bang for the buck'.. I bought myself a Fossy Middle Phase (Which I was taught to fly with in the club I had now joined) and that was the first of about three until I got the hang of this landing thing.

  Sadly since moving to America, my flying days have been limited to one, two years ago, quite a distance from here. I live in a massive valley so slope soaring is not an option in these parts and the first and only time I tried aero tow resulted in the destruction of a beautiful Pat Teakle Vega on the tow up. Hey I was led to believe (From being in the Air Cadets) 'all out' was called by the glider not the one towing..So when he called it and I wasn't ready, well, you can imagine... It left a deep anxiety over ever trying it again.

Thanks for your patience if you got this far.  :)
Rimmer: Step up to Red Alert!
Kryten: Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb.


November 01, 2020, 10:50:09 am #32 Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 10:52:56 am by NickK
Dad flew the early jets in the 50's then on leaving RAF went into ATC so grew up with a fascination for all things aviation. Built loads of Airfix models and had quite a few of those streek things which were excellent.

Dad build models at school and was a very skilled (and fortunately patient builder). We had quite a few FF rubber powered models. !st model I built myself was a KK Nomad 24" mostly all sheet but with built up wing towline glider which flew well. Followed by KK soarer baby all in late 60's early 7o's

Got KK c/l Hurricane for my birthday which I flew to death then took engine out of it to put in a 1.2a combat wing called a Splatt iirc. Which soon lived up to its name  :D

Raced R.C boats in my teens with a Digimac 2 best one was an aerokits Swordsman with 2nd hand Webra 61 with pipe.

Did university and girls thing but aged 26 bought my first house and first job was to board out loft for a workshop (girlfriend highly impressed - not  ;D ). One of the mags RM I think did a special edition on learning to fly accompanied by a plan for a trainer called the Instructor by Mr Boddington. Build that with new JR 5 channel set and new OS 40, turned up at the local club and the rest is history. Denny Brown who was a good mate of Ken Stokes was a member at that club so had to build a Mirus - start of my need for speed

Split with Mrs and moved to Kent and didnt fly for 14 years but always thought about it. With the advent of leccy had to have another go. Downloaded a free plan from I think David Theunissen with speed 600 and 8 cell nicad, joined Tunbridge Wells club and was amazed to find that A. it flew and B. i could still do it

Still a member there mostly flying edf and electric pylon type models although do have a DR1 with 90 FS and a another Mirus with OS 32

Had great fun with the SPAD combat mob including attempts to develop electric versions. Did Club 2000 pylon for a while and was involved with developing electric version E2K.

Still love it. Need to get a Turbine........ 
Who says ventriloquism is Gollocks

Bad Raven

My first plane was an own design control line profile fuz, Fox 19.  My second was also similar but tailless more like a combat wing, Fox 19, my third?  yes, profile 'liner, Fox 38!

My fourth was a s/h Super 60, tissue replaced with nylon, converted from single channel and R E T fitted with a twin plug Merco 61.

Fifth came a s/h KK Cessna again converted from tissue and single channel, with a cooked dark brown Enya 19 with no head fins left, also RET.

Then a couple of part kits with veneered foam wings and fibreglass cowl.

Then a couple more own designs inc a 60" span WWI alike biplane and a twin rotor "cargo body" autogyro.

From start in 1972 to stopping flying in favour of RC Stock Cars from 1976 I never had a full kit of anything.  Sold everything 1977, restarting in 1999 with some own design parkfly foamies, mostly fast wings.

Jump to last two years plus, and mostly FPV quads.  (Though a 39 powered Cougar 2000  and a 91 powered "Panic" still get used)

Not the traditional route?

The user formerly know as Bravedan........... Well if Prince can do it....................

Brian Cooper


Jim Gill
Dundee Model Aircraft Club



RET isn't an OTx-specific TLA AFAIK.


There are no shortcuts on the long, hard road to success. But if your dad's rich there could a limo service...


Dave S in West Oxfordshire

Brian Cooper

Quote from: Tabsdad on November 01, 2020, 18:20:14 pmYou don't use OpenTx then Brian?

My Tx might get opened one day ..... to change its battery. ;)