Jimmie Allen and the Gizmo Geezer

Here's Dave K's trunk on the day of the SAM 27/Jimmie Allen Contest organized by Jerry Rocha. Two Skokies, a Hurricane, Chambermaid and Mustang. But count the Gizmos - 5! If that's not a great product endorsement I don't know what is. Dave builds scale and sport. He's a light strong builder (the models, not Dave) and a good flyer. He's not in this shot because he's persistently tuning a new Heinkel.

We were all amazed at how well Tyler had the Guillows Mustang flying.


Five if it's in California.

Here's a J.A. Yellowjacket built in the air by Phobe but given to George, who likes a challenge. He's had some spectacular flights and some a lot less so with the same trim, so it's work in progress.

Mike P has this great J.A. Parasol - check out the hat and the right thrust - and Mike's use of every color of Japanese Tissue but one, with robin's egg blue U/C thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure how well Mike did in the contest, but I saw the Parasol climbing out steeply.

Ding has covered his Bluebird with, well red and yellow. In the background there's a J.A.Special. George mailed the plans to Ding on Monday, and Ding had the Special in the air by Thursday.



Walkalong Gliders, continued

The recent post about walkalong gliders generated some interest within the club. We can expect to see more of these little sailplanes at MAC in the future.

Mike Leadbetter is our expert in the arcane discipline of walkalong gliding. Not only is Mike an excellent builder who understands the dynamics of free flight, he also has a runner's build and the stamina to follow his glider for as long as it takes to provide lift for the perfect flight. Mike recently told us his walkalong glider is too light; it should be heavier so he can walk faster.

This young photographer was particularly interested in Mike's walkalong glider. Here, we see the undercambered wing and the colorful splinter pattern Mike created with his computer and inkjet printer.


Hangar One update

About 200 people attended the public hearing on Tuesday and virtually all of them asked the Navy to restore Hangar One to usable condition. Steve Williams, co-founder of the Save Hangar One Committee, reports on the meeting:

Community Says "No!" to Navy

Hangar One remains threatened while the decision making process will continue a while longer. Public comment is part of the process. You can get involved by writing emails to our Senators, Representatives, and the Navy - and demand that Hangar One be preserved in usable condition.

Write Senator Feinstein
Write Senator Boxer
Write Congresswoman Eshoo
Write your Representative

Send your comments to the Navy:
Mr. Darren Newton, BRAC Environmental Coordinator
Navy BRAC Program Management Office West
1455 Frazee Road, Suite 900
San Diego, CA 92108-4310

To be informed of the latest develpments: SaveHangarOne.org

Inside Hangar One: a former (and future?) model flying site


Case du jour

My box of the day

I didn't take many pictures today. But I got a lot of video, now edited and posted on YouTube:

I admit it has a rough quality - I'm not Coppola or Lucas, to name a couple of local guys - but it does give you an idea what we do for fun in the North Bay.

Dave W.


Call To Action

Hangar One at Moffett Field - the monumental structure that housed the airship USS Macon in the 1930s and more recently was a venue for flying indoor models - is contaminated by hazardous materials. It has been closed to the public for years while the Navy decides how to deal with the mess. First the Navy wanted to tear down the hangar, now they want to remove its toxic skin and leave nothing but a giant steel skeleton on the eight-acre site. But the fate of Hangar One has not been finalized. The public has certain rights and there is a movement to re-skin and save the historic landmark - and preserve a unique place to fly model airplanes.

Now is the time to act! The Navy is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, August 26, at 7 p.m. at American Legion Post 564 in Santa Clara. If you want to fly in Hangar One again, come to this meeting!

For more information: SaveHangarOne.org


Tamalpais Balsa Stripper

Nestled in the hills of Marin County is the Tamalpais Balsa Stripper, something most people have never seen or heard. If you aren’t a model builder you might think I'm talking about rare wildlife indigenous to Mount Tamalpais, possibly an endangered or threatened species like Marin’s native Coho Salmon or Marbled Murrelet. But this ain’t about critters.

Mt. Tamalpais

Tamalpais Balsa Stripper is a name that I just made up, and I'm referring to the small table saw George Benson uses for cutting sheets of balsa wood. He acquired the saw in 1991 from a modeler in Oakland who needed to clean out his garage. To insure straight and accurate cuts, George added a long aluminum fence that can be adjusted precisely by a large screw.

Using this tool effectively takes practise, as I learned after my first try. Thicker wood is easier to cut (I found 1/16 much harder to handle than 1/8) and there is a trick to feeding the sheets. George has mastered the technique and fortunately he has a shop vac to take care of saw dust. This method won’t replace more common types of balsa strippers, or the good old straight edge and knife, but it is a good way to make very square strips.

Dave W.


The Birth of Rubber Powered Flight

Pénaud's Planophore

Who invented the rubber powered model airplane? That distinction belongs to Alphonse Pénaud (1850-1880). On this date in 1871 he demonstrated his ‘Planophore’ at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, achieving a flight of 131 feet. His model was not only the first rubber powered airplane, but also the first airplane capable of stable flight.

Pénaud had already proved that rubber was a viable power source in 1870 when he invented a toy helicopter. In the next decade he experimented and designed aircraft, from model ornithopters to a full scale amphibious flying wing. Sadly, Pénaud committed suicide at age 30, depressed when his full scale design was rejected by France’s aeronautical society.

But Pénaud influenced the next generation of aviation enthusiasts including the Wright Brothers. Today he is considered an important pioneer of aeronautical engineering and the father of model airplanes.

Several Planophore plans are available to the modern model builder. Three different versions are included in Hannan Runway’s “Stick & Tissue International, Vol. 2” (out of print; see used book sellers). Another plan is free to download at this Brazilian website.

I visited the Tuileries Gardens recently and looked everywhere for a monument to Pénaud. I expected a statue or plaque because Paris is full of monuments and France loves its aviators. But I didn’t find anything. Maybe there is a memorial and I missed it; an out-of-the-way bench with a little brass plate? Or maybe there is nothing to find. I don’t know.

Dave W.


Walkalong Gliders

The walkalong gliders (invented by Tyler MacCready) are gaining in popularity. Some folks are competing...in relay flights, dog fights, and ribbon vaulting.
Also, scale walkalong models are being built now, such as Dave Aronstein's Gotha bomb dropper pictured above.
Someone even built a walkalong B-17


A Challenge

Carlson Aircraft Inc. replica of Piper Skycycle

I have a challenge to issue to anyone and everyone in the MAC. I just today received some copies of some old plans I had ordered quite a while ago (long, boring story!). These plans came as sets, with some plans I wanted and others that were just part of the sets. Included in one of the sets is a two-sheet plan for a 1946 design Megow kit model - the Piper Skycycle. It's a really "unique" airplane, and although it is a low-wing and has a pretty short nose, I think it would make a GREAT looking rubber-powered scale model. It's a pretty good size (24"?), and looks like it could be built reasonably lightly. The plans not only have all of the cut-out parts patterns, they even include the original complete kit instructions.

Here's the challenge: Anyone who feels up to the task and is interested, can have these plans, FREE!!! The only condition is that the person who takes the plans must agree and promise to actually BUILD a model from those plans. Anyone up for it?! Come on, wusses! Take the challenge! You'll be glad you did! Well, maybe! I will bring the plans along with me tomorrow when I come over to Lakeville and if no one claims them then, I will also bring them along with me to St. V's on the 24th.



Straw Poll

I recently asked you to vote on whether or not I should destroy the battered skyshark and you voted NO.
I decided to ignore the vote and declare a unilateral crunch. Ha ha ha.

Here's the YouTube link to view the fatal foot flattening.


Sunday 10th August, 2008. A perfect day for flying. Still air and thermals by 8.30 am.
But two of our star members were earthbound. Poor Richard C had no models and Brian S is still recovering from a broken foot.

This didn't stop them enjoying the day and here they are pointing out an Ivory billed woodpecker which would have earned the photographer the front cover of Audubon magazine . . . but he has his priorities straight.

Here's a nice follow through as Dave W launches the Island Flyer on another perfect flight. Dave has somewhat unusual criteria for models. They must all fit in a small brown box bungeed to the back of his 'bike and be capable of being buffeted and battered by blasts of 100mph winds? That's winds not winds if you know what I mean.

Here are some new hats and old models. Jerry L, Phobe and George's Jimmy Allen Specials have been through the wars - all have suffered direct hits from exploding rubber yet still perform. In the third picture George is looking longingly at his Czech DT in the hope of needing it one day, whereas Phobe is happier using the falling-out-noseblock technique which saves weight. We were lucky to get the shot of Ray B who spends most of his time in the vineyards looking for the P-30 which has a sticky DT. And finally Mike, who likes to work on his pecs using the compressed air pump. (George is wearing cowboy boots, and not because he plans to visit the equestrian center down the street. The east coast may have its Starleaf - - but out west we have very impressive Star thistle.

Dave K - who clearly would prefer to remain incognito has a trunkfull of great scale models that all have OOS capability, I think the shades are OOS. Incidentally, do kids use "OOS" for texting?

I have no hat because I still have hair, and a hi tech winder adapted by George B from an Ed S original. It has a rare type of counter. Because the ratio is 1:1.25 it actually takes more energy than hand winding, so I simply wait for my right hand to go numb. The torque meter consists of marks on the six inch nail that holds down the rear line of the stooge. As torque increases, the nail pulls out of the ground, and more marks are revealed. Calibration is a challenge.

Gale W continues to delight us with his self-designed marvels which fly majestically, and are almost too good. In real life Gale is a extremely talented sculptor who works a lot with huge steel structures. They tend to be earthbound too.
Tom W


Remembering the Nut Tree

By Dave Wingate

I just returned from Lake Tahoe and I’m thinking about the Nut Tree. The old place is gone now, but I always think about it when I drive by the site on Interstate 80. I remember the Nut Tree is one of the reasons I love airplanes.

Photo by Dan Allen

If you grew up in Northern California in the 1960s and '70s like I did, chances are you remember the Nut Tree as the most interesting thing on the highway between San Francisco and Sacramento. In those days the Central Valley was mostly farms and ranches, and the local attractions were funky places with names like Milk Farm and Ranchotel. To a kid, the Nut Tree was something special. And to aviation buffs, it was not only a rest stop but also a destination.

The Nut Tree started as a ranch in the 1850s. They set up a fruit stand in 1921, then a restaurant, and in the 1950s added a toy shop, miniature railroad, and airport. By the 1970s the restaurant was recognized as a pioneer of California cuisine, and the expanded Nut Tree Airport was part of the National Airport Plan.

Aviation became part of the Nut Tree’s identity. The airport hosted air shows and exhibitions, and was home to everything from basic light planes to corporate jets, Reno racers, and stunt planes. The main building of the Nut Tree, which housed the restaurant and gift shop, was decorated with large scale model airplanes. The gift shop offered aviation-themed books, toys, artifacts, models and kits.

One of my prized possessions – as a child and now – is a small hardcover book I got at the Nut Tree around 1970: “The Pocket Encyclopedia of World Aircraft in Color: Fighters 1939-45” by Kenneth Munson.

I kept this book next to my bed for years and liked to read it (or at least look at the pictures) before going to sleep at night.

Each color plate includes a side view and split top/bottom view of an airplane, with basic data and specifications below. The second half of the book is text explaining each airplane in a little more detail.

The original Nut Tree closed in 1996. By that time the corridor from the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills was becoming solidly developed and the Nut Tree had outlived its usefulness - except for the airport, which remained open. In 2006 a new Nut Tree Theme Park opened. It has a roller coaster. That's okay but it's not my idea of a Nut Tree.

Name The Plane Game Winner

The first entry is in. From young Richard C in Santa Rosa, California. Richard is so dedicated to freeflight that he flies all hours of the day, and frequently has to wait until dawn to find out where he lost his model.

Richard correctly identified the mystery plane as the IMAM Ro.57, a twin engine World War Two fighter produced by Italy in limited numbers.

Good going, Rich! You win a tube of Ambroid.


Perfect Launch

Some of us go flying in between MAC dates. Whether you are working on the trim of your newest model, or just in the mood for an impromptu flight, the local park or athletic field is always an option.

George went flying at a neighborhood school recently, and his friend Roberto took this excellent photo of George launching his Senator. It looks like a perfect launch and no doubt George is fine tuning this model for the next contest.


What a coincidence!!!