Thanks to all our readers! Freeflight rules! Next - the Olympics!

In the last month "Stick 'n Tissue" has been viewed by people from 28 countries and 42 states. Thank you all so much for your interest.
It's gratifying to know that there are afficionados almost everywhere, even if the figures are adjusted for people looking for firewood and wrapping paper. We can now claim "niche" status.
Surely this must lead to the IOC seriously considering the inclusion of freeflight rubber in the list of official Olympic events. With all due respect to Curling and Synchronized twirling under water, our sport offers infinitely more visual drama. And if you've ever tried to make a Guillows Stuka fly, you'd know that it takes skill at least on a level with crossing your legs in unison or brushing ice.

Anyway, with a little help from places like Burkina Faso, Idaho and the Dakotas, we will soon have the necessary evidence of global ubiquity. Wow.

Tom W


Virgin Galactic Unveils Mothership

Photo by Virgin Galactic

Aerospace enthusiasts take note. Virgin Galactic just rolled out its new delivery vehicle, White Knight Two. The all composite, twin bodied, four engine jet designed by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites is expected to launch tourists into space aboard the much anticipated SpaceShip Two. This story is getting a lot of press right now (do a Google search and take your pick). There is a good write up on Wired.

I guess it won't be long before we see a flying scale model of White Knight Two. I'm no model designer, but it seems this could be a subject for free flight or R/C. Maybe a PSS model? I wouldn't be surprised to see an ARF with ducted fans. Personally I'd like to see Chris Starleaf tackle this one. Rapiers!

To commemorate this exciting moment in aviation history, I am giving a name to my ‘mothership,’ the Honda CB600F that delivers model airplanes from San Francisco to Marin County and beyond.

Mothership: 'Black Knight'

What did you expect? Dark Knight was taken already.

Dave W.



Born Loser by Kermit Walker

Kermit unveiled his "Born Loser" Embryo Endurance Class biplane at St. Vincent's today. It is an impressive model, expertly built and decorated with markings inspired by Golden Age air racing biplanes. Kermit thinks it looks "a bit gaudy" but this really is a fine looking airplane.

The striking yellow-and-black color scheme (checkerboard under the flying surfaces and starburst on top) is eye catching, but Kermit's attention to detail is most impressive. Little things like adjustable rudder and carbon fiber motor peg. Finely crafted parts like the spinner, windshield, exhaust pipes, and landing gear make this sport flyer look like a scale model. The only thing missing is a pilot, and Kermit will get to that eventually.

Kermit reveals some of his techniques: Covering and markings are yellow and black Esaki, finished with nitrate dope, except the checkerboard (from Shorty's Basement) is misted with Krylon so the markings don't smear. The spinner is blue foam turned on a Dremel tool, coated with two heavy coats of epoxy glue, sanded and sprayed with black Krylon Fusion paint, hollowed out to accommodate the freewheeling prop. Kermit used his heat gun to increase the pitch of the 7" Peck prop, subsequently painted. The windshield is a piece of .008" clear plastic sheet, bent into a "V" shape, and the framing is done with black Sharpie. Wheels are 3/4" diameter balsa laminations, turned on Dremel with bamboo skewer axle hubs. Exhaust pipes are black heat shrink tubing.

The model weighs 20.7 grams and Kermit thinks it capable of one minute flights. Initial test flights look good.

When shown pictures of this model, its designer Al Backstrom said: "That is really a beautiful model Kermit. It is always good to see such nice work."

Dave W.


SAM 27 Special Rubber Meet

Today's contest at Lakeville was a success by any measure. Attendance was good, competition was friendly, and the weather was perfect. You could not ask for better conditions.

The weather might have been the story of the day. Many of the Lakeville regulars said it was the best flying day of the year. It is hard to argue with temperatures around 80, cloudless skies, calm air and thermals.

Starting at 7:00, an estimated 30 to 40 flyers and spectators showed up, including many MAC members. I did not have any models eligible for this contest (wait until next year!) so instead of flying I took pictures. Unfortunately I left before the end of the contest and don't know the results. If you have this information, please feel free to post it under 'comments' below.

Dave W.

SAM 27 President Mike Clancy with his Thermal Hunter. Mike took lots of pictures that will be posted on the SAM 27 website.

George launches his Senator.

The Gollywock was the most popular design at today's meet. Dave K. had three consecutive maxes with his.

Jay's Moth

Tyler lets the Skokie go.

Tom's Senator

Hey! That's not rubber. This plane flew in the .020 Replica & 1/4 A Nostalgia Combined event.

Ed's P-30

Tom chats with Ed.

P-30 was a popular event today. Here is Ray launching his Souper 30.

George joked that his Fairey Battle, with a wing span just under 30 inches, may qualify as a 'scale P-30.' Today it was a fun flyer.

Another fun flyer, Gale's large pseudo-scale biplane.

There were many competitors in the CLG event.

This F-16 CLG is a fun flyer, not a competitor. The fuselage and tail are balsa, the wing is meat tray foam.

Contests are a good place to exchange ideas. Here is an unusual model, a modified Sparky (the cabin was omitted).

Contest Director's table. Does anyone know who won?


Hung at FAC Nats

Michael J. Heinrich provided this rare photograph and commentary from last week's FAC Nats in Geneseo, New York:

Photos are starting to emerge. Here's one of a tragedy from Thursday evening, as Greg West is visited by Hung; who demands his BOK-5 as sacrifice. You don't see things like this just everywhere, I tell you that much.

If you've been around this hobby for a while, then you probably know Hung is the god of lost free flight models. A more prosaic definition would be to say that Hung is the personification of natural forces (such as thermals) that make free flight models go out of sight. But who wants prosaic definitions? As free flight modelers in the 21st Century we seek that which is unusual, anachronistic, and quirky. Hung is one of our collective idiosyncrasies.

Dave W.


Wings Over Wine Country Air Show

Photo by USAF

The 2008 Wings Over Wine Country Air Show will be on Saturday and Sunday, August 16-17, at the Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport. Many antique and modern aircraft will be there, including the C-17 Globemaster III pictured above. This is a great chance to see a variety of civilian and military aircraft flying and on the ground. More details are available at the Pacific Coast Air Museum website.


New Aerodynamic Formula

By Richard Cassina



In the Blue

This was a nice day to be outdoors in the North Bay. We had blue skies, warm dry air, and fairly good conditions for flying. Intermittent wind was a factor, shifting over the course of the morning from North to South. But we had calm air and thermals too. Really a nice day.

Waiting for the wind to let up, we looked at model airplane photos in George's scrapbook.

Mike shows his dime scale Spitfire, which has acquired camouflage since our last meeting.

Ding with his Gollywock

Brian sets the DT on his Moth. Good thing too, because this model climbs fast and then floats from thermal to thermal.

George with his Fairey Battle in target towing colors. It is a good flyer and highly visible with sun shining through the yellow tissue.

Ding launches a P-30.

I've been re-trimming my Island Flyer after upgrading the DT and nose block. It's coming along.

My Dachshund, Willie, helped me track down the Island Flyer today, much to my surprise. Most of the time he sits in the shade, or hangs out with the other dogs, or wanders around the parked cars looking for food.

Dave W.


Planet Sweet

Here are some more great pics from Dave Wingate.

Despite his attempt to remain incognito I can reveal that this is Jerry L with his Waterman Gosling - the "Mercury 2". It was apparently scaled up from smaller plans to a size that would accommodate the Italian Z compressed air motor - a predecessor of the ubiquitous Air Hog.

Unfortunately - at least on this day a few weeks ago, the Z was not giving enough power - worn piston rings I would venture - and it is possible that the Gosling may never fledge.

I would be willing to offer my renowned crunching abilities . . . . .

I mean, what's sauce for the goose is ...


Thank you - I think!

The Skyshark lives - by a vote of 13 to 9, although I suspect jiggery pokery votery (now where does that one come from Kermit or Ed?)
Here's a pic of it when in better condition. Come to think of it, I was in better condition too.

Lakeville looks good too, and tomorrow is the second Sunday in the month, so smart people from around the bay area - all seven or eight of us - will be flocking there to fly our zero emissions recession beating creations, while the RC boys will be running the AC instead of recharging their batteries. We are flexing our power when jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. Beat that!


On a crow, forest fires and friendship.

During the last couple of weeks, George B. has been corresponding more than usual with Bill Hannan, an avid and accomplished model builder. Bill lives in Magalia, a few miles from Paradise (in Northern California) which is under serious threat from raging wildfires.

Bill's car is packed (no models,) ready to evacuate at a moment's notice - it's a tense time.

But not tense enough to stop Bill from working on a strange model sent to him recently by George B. Here are some emails and photos that tell the story . . . .

These photos are from Bill Hannan, a good friend of mine, though we have
met only once. Bill has authored many books on model planes and operates a"book store by mail" from his home in Magalia, near Chico , in the hills of Northern California. At the present time a major fire is spreading in all the forest nearby and Bill and Joanne have their car packed ready for evacuation as already has happened in the adjacent town of Paradise. A very sobering thought to realize that the majority of your life's possessions and treasures would be lost. We all hope that does not happen to Bill and Joanne, a real shining light for aero modellers, especially rubber free flight enthusiasts.

Bill, for many years wrote a monthly column for the Model Builder until it ceased publication. I wrote to Bill shortly after reentering the world of stick and tissue planes, after a 50 year lapse and said how I had built one peanut model but I had purchased $500 of materials, tools and supplies to aid my building, much to Bill's amusement and surprise.Bill has contacts with modellers around the world and has a vast file of knowledge stored both in his head and I am sure in many filing cabinets. We are fortunate to have his knowledge, plans and advice still available through his mail order business and we wish him well at this stressful time. G.B.

Howdy George,

Started on the little "Crow" kit you so kindly sent, yesterday, figuring it would be a cinch to assemble.

Not exactly...

First off, the designer's name seemed familiar, and it turns out he was a customer of ours a few years ago.

As of this morning, the model is about half completed, however I made numerous small "adjustments" along the way. The instructions are not quite as obvious as they at first appear, and I made one error through not studying them thoroughly enough.
Easily rectified, fortunately. I have had very little experience working with foam, so that required a bit of education. I chose to employ white glue rather than the included type, with some Titebond alaphatic resin glue in certain stressed areas.

A few of the foam parts required a bit of trimming for improved fit, etc. Of course my tendency is to overdo everything, which soaks up time needlessly. Trimming the flash from the plastic prop hub, for example...

Meanwhile I heard back from the fellow in Japan who designed the paper version of the Crow. He was familiar with the kit version, and says that it performs very well indeed. We hope to find out soon, however this morning we are under a dense blanket of smoke and ashes, and all residents are being advised to stay indoors. Some people who need (or want) to be outside are wearing dust masks.

Never any dull moments, and working on the model is helpful diversion to darker thoughts!

So thank you again,



Howdy George,

We're still here, and I've managed a bit more work on the crow.
As shown in this photo, I couldn't resist adding a bit of "decor"...

Actually, the project has been rather soothing, taking my mind in a more relaxing direction, even if only for brief intervals!

Everything is completed except for adding the wing outer panels, which looks to be a bit tricky. We'll see.

Again, many thanks for your reassuring phone call,



Howdy George,

Thanks again for your caring phone calls!

Completed the Crow this afternoon, and was rather surprised how long is is, at over 20 inches, with nearly 17-inch wing span.

Another surprise was the weight, which is less than 3/4 of an ounce via hand-held postage scale (The box cover says 0.64 oz.) Close enough.

The balsa wood members are quite hard (heavy) as is the reed?) tail boom. Of course the foam is very thin and light.

Obviously I have a great deal to learn about working with foam, but to my Luddite way of thinking, it makes me appreciate balsa all the more...

Any how, it has been a sort of catharsis project, and again, thanks for sending it !


Howdy George,

Still here !

The first photo I sent to you, some days ago, showed the paper Crow model atop the Crow kit box. That model is grey. The model on the kit box appears to be black.
The Japanese 1889 original(?) seems to have had only some sort of vintage fabric covering and a black four-blade airscrew.

I left the stark white syrofoam as is, not wanting to add the weight of paint (or more importantly, add additional fumes to our air!).

My "decor crow-head" is black and yellow paper, with a bit of augmentation via felt pens.

It seems to me that natural balsa wood would look more "authentic" than stryro...

Thank goodness for the steady parade of helicopters again yesterday (Joan counted about 6) dipping water from our reservoir, which is only about a half-mile away.


Hi Wonderful Family and Friends,

Just to let you know that things are looking much better today. The evacuation has been downgraded to "precautionary" rather than "immediate threat" and people are able to go back home. Many of our friends were evacuated, but we were fortunate to be able to stay. The fire was a few miles from us and if the winds had picked up, as was predicted, we would have had to scoot.

Yesterday they were able to do many water drops with the helicopters. There was one after another going over, which is usually pretty scary, but this time we felt only gratitude.

What a week! Thank you all for your powerful prayers and PLEASE keep them
up. We're apparently not out of the woods yet, but we're getting there.

Much Love,

Joan and Bill


Blackburn Sidecar

By George Benson

The Blackburn Sidecar was an ‘ultralight’ plane designed and built at the close of the First World War in 1918.

The original 40 h.p. air-cooled flat twin provided inadequate power for take off at the estimated weight of 850 pounds including plane, two occupants, and 14 gallons of fuel (fed by wind-driven pump augmented by a hand pump). Later, a 100 h.p. engine was installed but little is known about its performance, and it was no longer complete two years later (like many of my models).

When completed the Blackburn Sidecar was displayed in Harrods department store in London, for sale at £450…but no takers. Thus it certainly did not bask in glory as a contender to be a plane for everyman.

My peanut model – I like oddball, unusual designs – also does not bask in glory. It has been decidedly difficult to trim, even foiling the assistance of Thayer Syme and Kermit Walker, two skilled fellow flyers. Admittedly, it has lived most of the time in a box with occasional airings in the gym when it completed half a circuit, in untidy fashion, until it was returned to the box to await freedom some months later.

All this despite an enlargement of the stabilizer and fin area by about 25%, from absurd to unacceptable. However, on its last outing, I refined my approach and scientifically added a wad of clay to a wing tip. This transformed the flight pattern and it soared…or more accurately circled for one and a half laps in a very refined manner. Needless to say, I was dizzy with excitement.

Now for the big question, and all are invited to cast your vote:

1. Do I save it as a "hangar queen"?
2. Do I trim it further?
3. Do I save the wheels and prop , then crumple it?


Warbirds in Jay Leno's Garage

Photo by NBC Studio, Inc.

Jay Leno is an avid car collector and mechanic, and he can afford to have one of the world’s great collections of classic cars and motorcycles. Fortunately, the collection is showcased on a website called Jay Leno’s Garage. You could spend many hours exploring this virtual garage full of videos, photos, and articles.

Leno recently started a series of videos about classic aircraft. The first two videos feature a P-51C Mustang and a B-24 Liberator. It is obvious that Leno appreciates these airplanes. He doesn’t own them (both are maintained by the Collings Foundation) but Leno proudly points out that one of his cars has a Merlin engine. That’s another story.

If you share Leno’s passion for “anything that rolls, explodes, and makes noise” then you’ll want to visit his website. And stay tuned for more classic aircraft videos.

Dave W.