Free Flight Rescue Program

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    Dick Bertrand

    Forgive my laziness, but typing is not my forte.
    I’m re-producing a letter here that I sent the other day to John Lorbieckie and a bunch of friends that is self explanatory.

    Hi Guys and Gals,

    John, you wanted a blab for the Digest on the Free Flight Rescue Program. This is not going to win a Pulitzer prize, but use it if it is acceptable.

    Think, if you will, for a moment, of those of us dedicated to Free Flight, that just got old, made their very personal max, and left a workspace, attic, or garage full of dusty planes and equipment, lovingly built and collected through the years that the family or friends didn’t know what to do with, and in too many cases, went into a garage sale or just trashed.
    What a tragic waste!
    Our hobby/sport of Free Flight is pretty unique in that as it’s practitioners get older, the new generations have less and less interest, partly because aviation is now taken for granted and the glory of it doesn’t permeate the movies and TV the way it used to,
    and of course the youngsters have been sold on using their thumbs for electronic games and maybe RC.
    Free Flight has therefore been in a shrinking or dying trend for many years. We see this at the contests. That’s not news to most of us.
    But—is there anything we can do to reverse this trend?
    Of course, if you want to enough.
    Yes, we’ve got a plan. It’s not the only one that has and is being tried.
    However, looking at the big picture, perhaps we can reach a critical mass and reverse the trend and have fun doing it, with large numbers of kids participating, having real fun and building values for their future.
    Our thinking is that orphanages provide the structure that can provide these large numbers of kids, anywhere in the world, to start following their constructive building instincts and also enjoy the outdoors instead of just electronic entertainment that can be a lot more expensive and unrewarding.

    Latest progress— (Ask me at and get all the updates)

    Bob Holman has now laser cut and sent me 2 sets of flying surfaces for the Flash Z-18 rubber model designed by Frank Zaic. Jim O’Reilly made up the CAD plans for that.
    John Lorbiecki and Bill Vanderbeek are putting together the wood Bob and I need for the wood part of the kit.
    I’ll provide the rubber.
    I need someone to get some wire and bend 100 rear rubber hooks as well as find the paper wire with 2 thin wires in it for bending in the rudder adjustments. Roy Stewart says he might be able help on this.
    I’m waiting on the prop assemblies from Pitsco to see if they match the one in the Jasco X-18 kit that Al Mkitarian gave to me. I understand Midwest has them cheaper but they were out of stock recently. Michael Woodhouse might have them.

    I’ve got an appointment with Meghan at the statewide Florida Orphanage organization near Orlando on Friday Feb. 10th, on my way from Sarasota to fly my brand new/newly repaired Satellite 788. But I diverse.

    I’ll show her the DVD’s I have and see if we can set up a “build the Flash X-18” session with the kids that want to participate, either at the nearest orphanage to Palm Bay, or right out on the field for the March contest the FMA will have. The orphanage will have to provide transportation for the kids and an adult to accompany them.
    Since I leave Florida on April 1st for the summer in Michigan, I’ll need to leave these new Free Flighters and the Program in Florida in the capable hands of the Florida Modelers Association and the gentlemen who will surely be beating my door down to volunteer to “Rescue Free Flight” I’ve seen the hearts they have and I believe this project can help a lot of us take our minds off our aches and pains!

    Then I’m off to Michigan with half the X-18’s (have to see if it’s practical to print up the attractive yellow and black kit box or just use a paper bag. Then we’ll do the same thing in the Muncie area with the orphans there.

    The idea is not to have just a few lone wolfs doing this but the clubs that still exist doing it all over the planet. There are no shortages of orphanages!

    Next design for these beginners will probably be a CatHL. Bill V says he might have one that Frank Zaic sent him once. Please remember that this was conceived as a tribute to Frank Zaic whom I consider to be one of the fathers of Free Flight.
    We have his family’s permission to produce the X-18 on a non-commercial basis.
    For engine powered, I’m thinking of Frank Ehling’s design, the Oily Bird, .020 powered
    , beautiful ROG’s and super simple delta construction.

    Who’s in?

    Dick Bertrand
    616 843 3517
    Free Flight Rescue Program

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