Paul Newman (1925-2008)

Paul Newman died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. We remember him as an actor, activist, race car driver, humanitarian, and founder of Newman's Own – a line of food products that has raised over $250 million for charity.

Take some paper, take some glue,
Build a plane of balsa.
It won’t go as fast as you
Can go on Newman’s Salsa.

This slogan is from the label of Newman’s Own Salsa. It also appeared on a promotional item, a Guillows type balsa glider. These four lines remind us of Newman’s sense of humor and his passion for racing.

We'll miss you, Paul.

Sunday Wings

Tomorrow we meet at St V for an indoor meeting.
Afterwards, to top off the day, Lincecum will pitch a no-hitter for the Giants.
What a perfect day.
And you can test your skill by identifying the two WWII models that I'm building - from these wings


Island Flyer, part 2

While we're on the subject of Island Flyers, let's not forget George. He has been flying an Island Flyer for many years and is a big fan of the design. The following picture shows George's Island Flyer with its original covering in 1992. This model has been completely recovered since then and is still flying.

When I was ready to build my second FF model (after a thirty year hiatus) I asked George to suggest a design. He thought about it for a moment and said, "I know: the Island Flyer!" If I had any doubt, it was erased by George's enthusiastic suggestion. And it turned out to be good advice.

My Island Flyer was fairly easy to build, and it always showed potential but was inconsistent until recently. As mentioned in the previous post, trimming has been challenging. While the problem was partially related to taking the model apart for transport, other issues (beginner mistakes) included the dethermalizer layout, flying surfaces inadequately keyed to fuselage, and a wobbly nose block. Those things have been corrected and my Island Flyer is much more reliable now.

Dave W.


Who said no man is an Island Flyer?

Here's Dave W with his immaculate Island Flyer. Because it comes disassembled in the "Bike box," trimming is a challenge. But it always proves to be a fine performer - as does Dave with this classic launch posture ....

Here's Gale with his enlarged version. There were a few trimming issues with the tail dragging and flight very uneven and rocky. But whatever Gale did, it now climbs out steeply, circles high and drifts down in a perfect glide - every time.

Jerry and Gale mass launch Island Flyers - always an exciting time for freeflighters as there is a good chance of a mid-air. It didn't happen here and the two models chased each other upwards.

Jerry's Island Flyer on George's stooge. Note the handy coat rack for pilots' uniforms.

You won't see this every day! Dave K fixing warps with Volvo exhaust. Don't try this in the garage.

The gallery.

Finally here's Dave again, showing how a Guillows model takes advantage of mass and gravity to fall on the enemy - with crushing effect.


Results of the first MAC International Scale Contest

Although Sunday 14 was a fine flying day, we didn't really have a competitive situation, but we all learned something to help us compete in the future.

George is in Tanzania organizing a postal contest for origami elephants or something like that, so we missed his many fine scale models - and Brian S wasn't able to make it. Mike L and Jerry L spent time trimming Cessna, Volksplane and Consolidated models, but didn't enter any times.

So despite a lot of flying, results were as follows.

Tyler had a fantastic 45 second flight with his P51, but later crash landed, breaking the prop on the Gizmo.

I had 75, 116, 45 and 117 seconds with the dangerous Dayton Wright Racer peanut. My fifth attempt resulted in a tightly wound bunch of rubber (1400 winds)now wrapped around the motor peg way in the back end. I'm waiting until the rubber dries and cracks before trying to remove it, so it could be 2015 before another contest.

Dave K promptly answered with 3 mins 34 and 6 minutes 08 with his peanut Chambermaid. A final 67 second flight with a quarter winds to avoid the OOS had him way out ahead. In third place with his concours Nesmith Cougar was Dave W with 31 and 40 seconds.

My Scale FW TA152 managed 83 and 69 second flights before the motor broke, but once Dave K had the motor length figured out for his Heinkel, it just went on and on.

Here are some pics from Dave W. . . .


Back To School

Flight school, that is. At least we hope so. The pilot of this ultralight scared us when he flew by Lakeville and decided to do a little air show for us. At one point the tiny plane seemed on the verge of catastrophic failure. Are these things meant to be aerobatic? I don't think so.

Dave W.


Cassina Moth

The Flying Aces Moth is a classic design. Its graceful lines and excellent performance make it one of the most popular of all the old time stick and tissue models. If you come to the Marin Aero Club you can expect to see Moths in the air.

One of the MAC Moths belongs to Richard Cassina, and we have to admire the fine job he’s done covering and decorating this model. Richard did all of the original artwork, including the Moth mascot which reminds some of us of underground comix.


How dedicated are you?

By Dave Wingate

Marin Aero Club is a laid back group of people who build and fly models mostly for the fun of it. But that is not to say we aren’t serious about modelling. This hobby requires a certain amount of dedication.

Laid back but serious

I thought it would be interesting to find out how dedicated each of us really is. But how do you measure that? A test seems like a good idea, but the problem is that it takes skill to design a test that will produce meaningful, quantifiable results.

University of California at Berkeley

Fortunately, I know a few people at U.C. Berkeley. I called my friend, Ari, a scientist who just happens to have a black belt in statistics. Together we developed this test to measure a person's dedication to the hobby/sport of Free Flight:

1. How many years have you participated in FF, not counting inactive periods?

a) 1-9 years (+1)
b) 10-29 years (+2)
c) 30-49 years (+3)
d) 50 years or more (+4)

2. How many FF airplanes do you build in the average year?

a) None (0)
b) 1-3 (+1)
c) 4-9 (+2)
d) 10 or more (+3)

3. You prefer to build:

a) your own designs (+5)
b) from scratch (+3)
c) kits (+1)
d) don’t build (–5)

4. You have:

a) Carved a prop (+1)
b) Published modelling articles or plans (+2)
c) Mixed your own microfilm (+3)
d) Paid a lot of money for a prefabricated FF model (+4)
e) None of the above (0)
(count each that applies)

5. You own a rubber stripper:

a) Yes* (+5)
b) No (0)
*If you forgot/don’t know how it works (–5)

6. You would like others to consider your interest in FF:

a) evidence of skill and patience (+3)
b) an expression of individuality or creativity (+2)
c) interesting (+1)
d) anachronistic (0)
e) odd (–2)

7. On online forums, you’re considered:

a) a master builder (+3)
b) an up-and-coming modeller (+1)
c) hardly noticeable (0)
d) likely to get upset and quit the forum (–3)
e) don’t know what an online forum is (+4)

8. You consider R/C airplanes:

a) Part of your multidisciplinary approach to model aviation (+1)
b) OK for other people (+2)
c) A complete waste of time (+4)

9. The aviator you most admire is:

a) The Wright Brothers (+3)
b) Charles Lindbergh (–5)
c) Amelia Earhart (+2)
d) Howard Hughes (+7)

10. You keep the models you’ve built:

a) in boxes, to protect them from damage (+3)
b) neatly arranged on shelves, or hanging from walls/ceiling* (+2)
c) anywhere and everywhere (+1)
*If one plane appears to be shooting down another (+4)

11. You would rather be at:

a) FAC Nats (+3)
b) AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum (+1)
c) Your workbench finishing a project you started two years ago (+2)
d) Your computer waiting to snipe Tan II on eBay (+7)

12. Your work space is:

a) Temporary: everything in storage when not in use (+1)
b) Basic: small dedicated work space (+2)
c) Deluxe: large workshop with all the bells and whistles (+4)
d) Problematic: subject to negotiation with spouse (–5)

Your score:

Less than 0: Why not try stamp collecting?
0-20: Keep trying, even a genius has to work at it.
21-40: Your proficiency is its own reward.
41-60: You need to cultivate other interests.


Taking it on the nose

I have a collection of memorabilia including "nose blocks" from most of the models I have wrecked/crunched. Here's a small sample - all peanuts. Can you name them?


Come in George, wherever you are.

George is in darkest Africa - Tanzania? - having spent the first part of his trip in Zanzibar. He's counting something - elephants maybe, for Greenpeace. So we are reaching out over the wwwaves to show him how much more stylish his safari would be against the backdrop of baobabs in a stunning Ngorogoro sunset if they were wearing the MacHat and the macT, shown here against the backdrop of a valley oak and irrigation line.

And to remind members on this continent that we are attempting a contest of scale rubber freeflight on Sunday. I will not bring the Blackburn - which looks good but flies like a lead balloon.

And you won't see the other creation. The wings from a __________? strapped to an air hog with a stick back to the stab and rudder which came from the same model. It lasted about two hours. Flew great but the stick broke every landing and I got tired of gluing it back and eventually spilled cyano on the tank then on myself as I tried to wipe it off then the paper stuck to me and I got annoyed and crunched the whole thing.

Flew great though.

Happy hunting George.

Moffett Redux

These pictures of a flying session at Moffett Field's Hangar One are from George's scrapbook.

George and Jerry prepare for take off

George ready to launch his Mauboussin Hemiptere

Wouldn't it be nice to fly here again? If you think so, then tell the Navy and your Congressional representatives that Hangar One should be restored to usable condition.

The Navy's deadline for public comment is September 13, 2008.
Email to: darren.newton@navy.mil

The next public hearing is September 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View

More information: SaveHangarOne.org


Nut Tree model aircraft collection

By Dave Wingate

Following my blog about the Nut Tree last month, Richard Cassina informed me that its model aircraft collection was the work of Edward Chavez (1917-2004) and most of the models were acquired by San Francisco International Airport (SFO) where they are now displayed.

SFO contains numerous art and history exhibits, collectively known as the San Francisco Airport Museums. I was at SFO recently and found ten of the Nut Tree models in Domestic Terminal 3, near baggage claim, in a corridor going to the International Terminal. Not the most prominent location but at least it’s before the security screening.

Most of these static display models are 1:10 or 1:12 scale with wing spans in the range of 60” to 85”. They are as beautiful now as when they were built in the 1960s and 70s. The exhibit includes aircraft documentation and a biography of the builder. It turns out Chavez was an accordion maker. Why am I not surprised?

Boeing P-26A

Northrop Gamma 2A Sky Chief

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago

Curtiss Condor AT-32-B

A pair of Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny"s

Lockheed Model 8 Sirius Tingmissartoq

Granville (Gee Bee) Model R-1 Super Sportster

Beech Bonanza 35

Fokker T-2 (F.IV)


Winner of September name the plane game is Art Holtzman of Boynton Bch, FL

Art is a 72 yr old modeler and builder of full size homebuilt aircraft.
He sends along some pics & video of his latest creation; a beautiful P-61 Black Widow.

Art correctly identified the mystery plane as the ill-fated McDonnell XP-67 Bat. A sleek, sinister looking craft of innovative design...
First flight: Jan 6, 1944
Power: two inverted air cooled turbo-supercharged V-12's
Weight: 20,000 lbs
Max speed attained: 405 mph
Proposed armament: six 37mm cannon (!)
Ceiling: 37,400 ft
The Bat was plagued by powerplant problems,
with both engines catching fire during taxi tests.
Another engine fire during flight testing forced an
emergency landing, with damage being too extensive to repair.
It was decided to scrap both prototypes, and cancel the program.
More info at warbirdresourcegroup.


When the going gets weird...

By Dave Wingate

I was riding my motorcycle through the Presidio and something unusual caught my eye: a small radio controlled plane flying around Crissy Field. It seemed strange because I’ve never seen an R/C plane there before. Crissy Field was an important air base many years ago, but kites are the only thing flown there now. Adding to my curiosity was the model itself. It didn’t look like anything I’ve seen before, so I decided to investigate.

Crissy Field, Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin Headlands

If you’re not familiar with San Francisco, you should know it has always been a haven for free spirits, from Emperor Norton to Jerry Garcia. The city prides itself on being ahead of the curve, which is to say innovative or weird depending on your point of view. Personally, I am grateful for the free spirits: artists and inventors, adventurers and eccentrics, activists and entrepreneurs. But getting back to the story, the guy with the weird model airplane seemed right at home in a place like this.

What is it?

I went over and talked to the R/C guy. Sorry, I forgot his name. After a few minutes he landed and showed me his plane. He said it was his own design, one of a kind, inspired by the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (commonly known as the Warthog, of course) and also Star Trek’s Klingon Bird of Prey. The airframe is mostly balsa with fully sheeted fuselage and wings. A brushless pusher, Li-Po power, and 4-channel control (throttle, rudders, elevon mixing) makes this a hot little ship. I wish I had noted more of the specs, but you get the idea.

Klingon A-10

The R/C guy’s mode of transportation was almost as interesting as his plane. He rides a bicycle from his home near Russian Hill (about two miles away) with racks to carry his plane and gear. A motorcycle battery hanging from the top tube of the bicycle frame powers both his battery charger and a very loud car horn installed on the bike. I wish my motorcycle had such a loud horn.

Crissy Field is Willie's favorite place for a walk

After talking for a while, I learned that you aren’t really supposed to fly model airplanes at Crissy Field. This guy is careful to fly under the radar, figuratively if not literally, and only flies there mid-week when not many people are in the park. I also learned that we have one or two mutual acquaintances in the model airplane world. It’s a small world.

I’d like to acknowledge Hunter S. Thompson, who authored the slogan “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”


Looking good

I've put a MAC logo on a few items of merchandise, and made them available through Cafe Press, which allows one-off purchases.


Whether you fly models or not, this is your opportunity to join a world-wide fashion craze that will revolutionize haute couture - or not.


Scale matters

I don't believe in the paranormal, but you tell me how the Ghost image appeared on this shot. It's telling us something

When George and I visited Perris for the FAC SW Regionals a couple of years ago, we were ill-prepared for the action. We admired Dave K for getting up early to practice in the field with the rainbirds, and later wished we had too.

Now we're better placed for competing in scale contests. Mike has several, Dave has some promising WWII models, George's Battle is dialed in, Tyler and I have some contenders. So we will have an informal scale contest at our next outdoor meeting (September 14) - please bring any scale model and we'll create a class - peanut, WWII, concours, etc.

In the future we'd like to revive the local FAC squadron and maybe hold our own FAC event.

Tom W