Stan B’s Holy Record story

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    Lee Hines


    By Stan Buddenbohm 12/09

    We are talking about the Holy Grail of hand launch glider, Ron Wittman’s unlimited ceiling record of 90 seconds, plus a second flight of over 88 seconds. Ron set this record back in 1973 at the Tustin Blimp Hangar. The invention of tip launching with a free flight glider, thanks to Mark Benns and Mick Page, gave tired javelin throwers like me a new lease on life. Bruce Kimball showed us that, and inspired us, when he won the outdoor Nationals several years ago by tip launching.

    No record is easy and this one was the toughest for me. The plan took shape. I designed and kitted an approximately 100 sq. in. outdoor glider called DynoMite (AMA has a 100 sq. in. limit on indoor gliders). For about 3 years I have thrown this size model to quietly practice for the record. Ralph Ray and I traveled to the Nationals at Johnson City, Tn., in 2008, where I had a flight of 86.5 sec. Then we went to a contest in Moscow, Id. where my flights were only about 80 seconds. Next up was the 2009 Nationals at Johnson City again. My 82 second flight was the longest of the meet but not near the record. My models had a much improved glide; unfortunately they also had killer poor transitions from launch to glide. The glide gave me hope, my determination did not waver.

    Outdoors, transitions from launch to glide seem fine. There are two reasons for that: Thermals help and we are less demanding outdoors. If the high throwers have a stall at the top that costs 10 ft. it still seems very high and we overlook it. But indoors that large a stall looks horrible. There is no way to have that and get the record. Could a near perfect transition be had indoors? I believed so and began a serious program to solve the problem.

    During this time Ralph and I began preparing for the next likely venue, Moscow, Idaho. We also wanted to investigate the Tustin Blimp Hangar where Wittman set his record. No one has been able to fly in the facility for at least 10 years. The rumor was that you could – for $2,000 a day! Several have tried, receiving the same answer. We were hoping to get it for a contest around March of 2010. Ralph ( Past national gas champion, past HLG record holder, current national catapult champion and record holder, a dozen patents, designer of the famous carbon ZIPP bicycle, professional engineer, the list goes on much longer) never gives up. He used his extraordinary telephone skills to get past the usual answer the city of Tustin gives about the Blimp Hangar. We don’t know about our contest proposal, yet, but during the process Ralph found a way to get a small group inside the hangar on short notice. AMA is really helpful with this type of situation and we were able to secure a record trials sanction with only three days notice. Norm Furutani had been helping us throughout the project and stepped in as our Contest Director. Lee Hines volunteered to be the CD if Norm could not attend.

    Two new hand launch gliders were ready the day of the event and Ralph had some new Standard Catapults. He was going after Bob Deshields’ 11 year old record, also set in the Hangar. Among the nine attending there were 6 past and present HLG record holders: Tim Batiuk, Lee Hines, Phedon Tsiknopolous, Ralph Ray, Dick Peterson, and myself. What an honor to be flying in the presence of these champions.

    It turned out that I had learned. Both of the new models ended up flying the same good patterns, very predictable with not perfect, but pretty good transitions – much better than I have had indoors to date. My launch was on and Tim seemed a bit perplexed. I had to admit to him that I usually hold back a little instead of pushing myself, tired of being injured, but that there was no choice but to go all out now. I believe that Tim had some great 86 second flights but struggled to the death with girders.

    It is weird to have plenty of time, timers, and space. When I worked up to 92 seconds in practice I started going official. The record was broken right away but some cracks in the tip of the left wing made the times less than the best they might have been. Repairs were made for the following two strings. During my three strings of nine official attempts I had many flights over 90 seconds. Some claimed ridiculous altitudes for my launches but likely they were just a little over one hundred feet. I was so pleased that my body responded, I don’t think I had a bad launch. All flights weren’t good but that was due to something cracking. I actually broke the 7” x 3/16 x 5/8 nose off on launch, it had never crashed. It is hard to understand how violent the forces are on these gliders. That flight was funny, the nose went about 20 to 30 ft to the right and the model went up something over 50 ft. It fluttered down pretty much like a parachute, rocking somewhat.

    At least 40 full throttle throws left me sore for a few days, but not injured! The best two flights in a series were 96.8 seconds and 97.6 seconds.

    Yes this is all about me, but I guess I will mention that Ralph Ray did set a NEW NATIONAL RECORD in Standard Catapult. Ralph was launching better than anyone I have ever seen, had perfect transitions, and beat the old record by several seconds. Congratulations Ralph.

    Well, thanks again to all that attended, those that gave me good advice and encouragement. And special thanks to Ralph for getting us a shot in the famous Tustin Blimp Hangar. Let’s hope our contest proposal is accepted and all the flyers that want to can give it a try.

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