North of Superior Flyers

Winter 2003 - 2004 (now extended to 2018) Scale Aircraft Project/Challenge

This project arose during conversations over coffee, naturally.
Have you ever stopped to think how the public regards our model planes?

"Say Mister, that's a great toy airplane you got there."
"No, it's not a toy, it's a model airplane!"

"Sorry Mister. What's the name of the real aircraft then?"
"Well actually, there is no real airplane. This is just a fictional, made-up model."

"Gee Mister, then it really is a toy."
"[gulp] Leave me alone kid, I gotta pla... fffly with the other club members."

The kid is right. The difference in public perception between an R/C "toy" plane sold by Radio Shack and an expensive R/C "model" for which there never was a person-carrying plane is slim to none. We can make a distinction if ours is a flying scale model with more details and building sophistication than can be produced at toy budgets.

The one thing modellers have in common is a love of full-scale aircraft, probably from the first time we saw one as a kid. So we drew planes with Crayons and then built scale plastic kits, and rubber-powered flying models and perhaps u-control, all the while dreaming of the day we could afford a romping stomping R/C scale plane. So we leave modelling and grow up and have multi work and family and money commitments that keep us fully occupied.

Then one day we have a little spare cash and time and stop at a club fly. "Sure you can join... No, you can't fly that warbird yet. Build one or two of these fictional trainer aircraft and work up to scale birds [in a few years, maybe]."

Years pass and you are finally good enough that you could now transition to that warbird or water-bomber or other scale aircraft. But you continue to fly comfortable models that are the latest model magazine gee-whiz creations, no resemblance to scale aircraft. Then there are "scale" ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) models that are anything but scale; and are they really models if they can be bought pre-built just like the toy store R/C aircraft?

Which is a long way round of saying that there is something terribly wrong with our hobby if we have forgotten all those childhood dreams, and have settled for much less.

Okay, here's the proposal for this winter building season. We are each going to build a flying scale model of an aircraft we have always loved and wanted. The level of scale is pretty liberal: precision-scale or stand-off-scale or even sport-scale. But it must be easily recognizable as a model of the real thing.

The scale model must be stick-built. That means built from a kit with dozens/hundreds of glued balsa bits, or scratch-built inexpensively from (mainly) balsa and a plan. No ARFs or RTCs (Ready to Cover). [Between us we have all the catalogues, so someone will know.] A project secondary aim here is to re-expose members to the joy of building.

Those who are not into R/C can enjoy the challenge inexpensively with the teeny balsa bits in a scale Peanut/small/medium/large freeflight model powered by rubber or electric or CO2 or glow power, or even hand/catapult launched if it's a scale model of a glider.

Those who fly R/C are certainly welcome to follow the last freeflight paragraph. You hopefully will choose that option as another scale model in addition to an R/C scale one. Newer pilots can get started on a scale model now that they will soon be able to fly.

No, none of the models have to be a warbird. Some may be too difficult to build or fly off a grass field in your opinion. (Even then, there are lots of high-wing warbirds like the Bird Dog that are just as easy to fly as a Cub, and fixed-gear low-wing warbird trainers.)

Then there are the hundreds of civil aircraft that have been modelled. [Please, pretty-please, no more yellow or even purple Cubs. Something actually interesting.]

Then there are far more aircraft that have never been modelled; admittedly this is far harder in that you would have to make your own plan first from scale 3-views and photos, but you could end up published -- and perhaps even make a happy buck selling the plan or kit rights.

Those who need some help or advice in scratch/stick-building will find solid support at the club meetings or in private consultations with other members. (No more glue fights!)

During the winter meetings, we will ask members to bring in their projects for show and tell. Perhaps at the stages of plan, framed-up fuse or wing, hardware still visible, then covered/painted, and finally all doo-dadded up. Don't forget to put a pilot in the office.

Our last formal winter meeting is traditionally held at the field in May or June, snow permitting☺, that would be a great opportunity to fly/display all of them in one place and get pix for MAAC and our website.

Gentlepersons, start your thinking caps.

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