Stories about your early 1/2A FF ships

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    Just for fun hear about your first power 1/2A ships. Early 60’s I had three for starters. Fubar with Cox Babe Bee little sucess/ Second was a Satelite 320 with Cox Space Hopper. Lost on first flight but it flew great. next was Hi- Thrust Viking with TD .049/ man what a glide.
    Current have a Viking ready to go/ TD .051/ Several 320 kits/ Fubar kit/ 1/2A spacer kit/ couple 1/2A T-birds etc. Box of nice Holland Hornets/ TD’s plus aome Atwood’s/ OK cubs.


    Early 70s my first 1/2A was a Kit Bays LASER CHASER with a COX.051 in it.
    It flew so well it flew away when it failed to DT……We used fuses in those days.
    Built a second one down to 5oz and it got lost too a couple of years later.
    I did have a couple of wins with it though.
    3rd one I still have, but not flown for about 10 years or so.

    About 8 years ago built a MINI WEAVER with COX power that I maxed out and won a local comp. with. Being ‘old style’ it has no chance in F1J, but at our forthcoming Nats. there is to be a Classic 1/2A event, so it should get an airing at that.

    P.S. Our ‘1/2A here has always been under 1cc engines, hence the use of .051 COX TDs, as is F1J today under 1cc.


    Built a nice flying 1/2a Mexi-Boy until Merideth convinced me to put a Cox 09 on it 😈 Daaaaaaa!!! Flew a ‘Bad Medicine’ design with a fair amount of success. Easy to build and fly. 😀

    Kit Bays

    Around 1958 I built my first small power model, a Woody Blanchard design called the “Payee.” Discovered in spite of what the plans said it did not fly well to the left.

    I used the wing on model for the .20 Clipper Cargo event at the Dallas NATS in 1960. I took second to Burt Rutan who was flying a model almost as butt-ugly as mine. We lifted the same 3-flight total weight but Burt had one flight of 1/2oz more and that was used as the tie-breaker. We had several friendly chats during the contest and the next evening at the trophy awards but I never saw him at another contest. I figured he was one of those fellows who gives up things that fly after discovering girls and cars.

    Who knew?


    Good stuff , we all have stories. Good/ bad/ ugly but all fun.


    My first 1/2A was a Dave Hipperson designed Sloworm, which was published in a 1964 (I think) issue of Model Aircraft magazine in the UK. I built it, with my Dad’s help, in 1968 and used it for my first Nats in 1969 – I was 11 at the time, and I finished 4th in the ‘Frog Junior’ trophy. It’s a simple design, with constant chord wing, and all locked down surfaces.

    It lasted clean through to about 1984, outlasting 2 Coxes. I only broke it once.

    I have several times since, perused the plan thinking to build another.

    Happy Days!

    Bill Shailor

    My dad designed a 1/2 a model that had a high thrust line like the Starduster. Tip dihedral, which was his trademark. It had a modified Holland Hornet on it and was pretty potent for a 10 year old kid. I cracked up the model at a contest held at the Ford Test Track in Dearborn, Michigan. Wound up my brother, Paul got the engine and continued to use it. He had the same design and placed at the 1966 Chicago NATS with it. That was when we flew 5 minute maxes and chased on foot. It took a whole day to get three flights in between chasing and waiting in line for a timer. I still have the plans for it.


    My first 1/2 A, and first contest free flight power model was also a Hipo’ Slowworm, built to a good standard from an Aero Modeler plan ? under verbal instruction from my Dad in Jan’ 1983 – i was 14. It used a very good Cox TD .049, (a Christmas present bought from Manchester Model Shop), Tatone timer and tank mount, Cox grey 6 x 3 prop – 30N fuel plus covered in Martin Dilly jap’ tissue it weighed 6.5ozs. It flew well and i never crashed it, the TD .049 wore out. Flick starts and fuse D/T – happy days!


    My son’s first and only power model was a Sloworm. First flight, he was so excited he forgot to start the timer.

    Never seen again ….


    My first 1/2A model was a Jim Clem Country Boy built from Jim’s Clemcraft kit in the late 70s. It was built exactly according to the instructions, covered with tissue and, with no help or advice from anybody, it flew wonderfully. A lot of what I learned from the trimming instructions that came with that model has guided me through 30 years of free flight gas competition.
    Mine was built with a TD 049 on a Tatone tank mount with a KSB timer. One of the amazing things you could do with that model was pitch it up, with the motor off, just like a handlaunch glider. It would go up 30-40 feet and flip over into a glide just as nice as could be. (Now that I know better, I’m not sure if I would try that with any of my current models!) My success with that model was just so encouraging for a newcomer!

    Rudy Kluiber

    My very first power model actually was a small 1/2A control line model. I built it from plans in Air Trails around 1950. I finished the model while our family was on vacation in northern Wisconsin in the Hayward area. There was no room to fly the model around the cottages where we were staying so my Dad and I went down to where the road from our area joined the county road (County ‘K’ as I recall) I probably had no more than 12 or 14 feet of fishing line for control lines and a pencil for a handle. I would stand in the middle of the highway and fly from there. On more than one occasion a car would cone down the road, simply wait til I landed and then pass by with a wave and a smile – try that these days !!
    My first free flight was later that summer. With the help of an older cousin, I made the wings and tail from a Comet Gull and a plain box frame body. Used a Baby Spitfire for power. My cousin made a set of floats since we had a nice big lake as a flying field. We went well upwind on the lake and launched – the Baby Spit ran for ever and the model landed in some trees. We found the model, cut down the tree and pretty much demolished the plane. Never did get to see it land on the water ! I still have the engine and the floats
    Rudy in Cleveland

    Ed Hardin

    My first freeflight model was a Starduster, TD 049 power, Tatone tank mount and timer. I flew it at a contest in Tullahoma in 1965. The model flew great, just followed the instructions on the plan. Before freeflight I flew some U-control, almost killed myself flying under some high tension power lines, spent a couple of days in the hospital with electrical burns. Only problem I’ve had with freeflight are a couple of scars on my hands from getting to close to the prop, also a couple of spills on the chase bike. I still fly the Starduster X event at the NATS, but that’s the only gas event
    I fly anymore, all rubber stuff now.
    Ed Hardin

    Dean McGinnes

    My very first was a little .020 model. Hi-thrust profile fuselage with a Pee Wee on it. Sorta flew. First “real” 1/2A was a Starduster 250. Tee Dee .049 on the Cox beam mounts but no timer. I used a coil of fuel line with a length of small from the spraybar with a coil of large fitting over it. The idea was to pull the large off the small and the engine would run the fuel out of the “tank”. Well, it accelerated so fast the engine would cut about 3 feet out of my hand. A guilty bystander suggested I set the engine wringing wet rich and try again. Well, the engine leaned out and the model began to rocket upwards. Then my lack of understanding asserted itself. I did not understand how neccessary it was to ensure the plane turned to the left. The warps, or bent fuselage, or whatever my lack of building skills imparted a serious right turn which turned into a full power wingover into the ground. Instant toothpicks.

    Next would come two Vikings. The first was rekitted like the Starduster for the same reason. The second, now with a timer, I finally understood about the left turn and managed a few test flights. Lost it at Ft Meyers in a thermal at about 8AM. Forgot to light the fuse.

    My only successful gas model as a teenager was a Space Rod. Flew right off the board but never got it to a contest. Sold it to a kid for $20.00.

    I now fly T-Birds in various sizes with a Bounty Hunter, and Zeek thrown in for fun. You probably note my penchant for High Thrust.

    Steve Landy

    I seem to go back a little further than most of you folks. My first 1/2A was a Denny Davis Mini-PAAgan. My school librarian gave me the mag that had the plans. I flew it in a contest in 1954 and a very sick Royal Baby Spitfire refused to get it higher than 50 feet so no success. Lost it flying on a school playground. Much later (1983) I built another for payload. It was flown in four Nationals and took three third places and one first which was a national record which stood until they made the rules easier. One of my favorites of all time.


    My first gas model was a Playboy JR. with a Cannon 300, carbon batteries and all. It flew and I was hooked, that was over 60 years ago and I’m still building and flying Free Flight.

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