1952-1953

The Trixter Beam, a popular model back in the day, was my first radio-controlled plane. I built it around the same time I got my radio amateur license in 1952. My call was W5VDL. You can see it on the left wing in the top picture. The airplane had only one control: rudder. The engine ran full speed until it ran out of fuel. The rudder was operated by radio pulses via a rubber band-powered escapement. I designed a two-tube receiver for the plane that ran on a single D cell and a 67-1/2 Volt “mini-max” battery, and a two- or three-tube transmitter with a pushbutton for sending the directions signals. The escapement operated sequentially. That is, it had three positions: left, straight, and right. If you were going straight and wanted to turn left you had to first go right, then straight, and then left. Sounds crazy but it worked pretty well.

I grew quite weary of fooling with that nasty little diesel and swapped it out for the gas engine shown above. You can see a bit of the radio receiver in this picture that was not visible in the top picture.

The uncertainties of flying, problems with the engine and the escapement: the rubber band would wind down before the engine quit, etc. eventually led me to abandon the plane in favor of the boat shown above. I ran it in Braden Pond on many weekends, much to the delight of the neighborhood children and to the consternation of the resident ducks and geese. The pond is still there but in a different configuration that discourages RC motor boats. I built the boat from a kit, same as with the plane. I used the same receiver. You can see it better in this picture than in the plane pictures. For direction control I used pulse width modulation to control the speed of a small electric motor located just out of sight behind the D cells in this picture. When the pulse width was short the motor ran slowly and the outboard motor would be pulled into the position shown by the long spring seen to the right of the engine. As the pulse width increased the motor would speed up causing the flyball device to expand outward by centrifugal force, thus pulling the outboard motor around to the other direction in a smooth proportional way. I used the same transmitter as for the plane but I modified it to include a knob on the front panel for controlling the pulse width and therefore the direction of the boat. The proportional control worked like a charm. I had way more fun with the boat than I ever did with the plane.

1991

In 1991 I went out to Moriarity, New Mexico to a RC Flight School operated by a guy by the name of Mark Kroska. I stayed at his ranch house for a week along with one other student. We flew in the mornings and listened to lectures on flying in the afternoons when the wind was too high to fly. Mark had a little sport plane - I forget the name - and a Telemaster. With his coaching I learned to fly well enough in that week that he took me to a fun fly in Albuquerque on Saturday to compete in the beginner class. I didn’t win, but I didn’t destroy his plane, either. When I got back to Tulsa I ordered this ARF Telemaster 70 from Tower Hobbies. I joined South Tulsa Flyers and a kindly fellow, Charlie Faith, helped me smooth out my flying skills, particularly landings. The Telemaster landing gear strut was a single piece of 1/8” aluminum that was held to a piece of hardwood in the bottom of the fuselage with two 1/4-20 nylon screws. I had trouble mastering smooth landings and popped the heads off those screws numerous times before I got the hang of it.

This Airtronics Eclipse kit from Tower Hobbies was my first electric airplane. Fun. Seven nicads, can motor with gearbox, servo-operated microswitch for on-off power to the motor. Flew beautifully but never once caught a thermal.

1992

Funster. A great airplane shown here with an OS 40 engine. I flew it off and on for several years with various engines including a Saito 80 four stroke.

1993

1994

1/2A Anderson Pylon with Cox .049 gas engine.


Several years after this picture was made I converted the plane to electric. Unfortunately, it disappeared OAS (out of sight) directly overhead on the first test flight. I had gone to the field that day before putting my ID on the plane. Sadly, I never saw the plane again.


To be continued...

I eventually will expand these pages to show the numerous other planes I have built and flown. And crashed...

1/2A Buzzard Bombshell with Cox .049 gas engine.