Bit by the glider bug

by Chuck August 14, 2013

Back in the day I was interested in radio controlled model airplanes -- I even owned a Great Planes PT-40 and a nice 6-channel transmitter, receiver and servo set. I got most of the plane done, I just needed to cover the wings to complete it, but I lost interest in the project and eventually gave the whole thing away, including the RC gear, to one of my friends who was flying at the time.

But a few weeks ago we bought an indoor remote control helicopter to tease the foster kittens that we had. Flying the little helicopter around the living room got me interested in RC planes again, so I hit the internet and started reading about available trainer planes. That got me searching for plans, and I hit the jackpot on a site called Outerzone.

They have plans for over 4,000 vintage airplanes (when I looked today it was 4,703). One of them is the Sterling Diamant sailplane -- a model that I bought and built from Bailey's Toys and Hobbies in Pasco years ago. Like almost 40 years ago when I was 12 or 13 years old. Suddenly I had the bug again. If I have a copy of the full size plans I can build the Diamant again -- but this time I'll reinforce the wing joint so it doesn't fold up on the first flight like my earlier one did.

But I haven't built any model anything for a long time. Back then I was building and flying model rockets, so I had some experience with cutting and shaping balsa. I'd built a stick and paper airplane or two, so I knew how to use dope and tissue. But it's been almost 40 years, and I don't have those kinds of skills anymore. And I'm a lot smarter now than I was then, so rather than in with both feet the way I did when I was 12, I decided on a building program to get me from not knowing what I was doing back to a competent builder.

The Web got me into this mess, and so once again I turned to the Web to get me out of it. On Outerzone there is a set of plans by Frank Zuic for a series of gliders. They range in size from the solid balsa Thermic 20 to the built up Thermic 100, a 100-inch wingspan free-flight glider. I figure if I build my way up the Thermic series, at least until I get to the built-up versions like the Thermic 50 (or maybe the Goldberg Gentle Lady when I get to that size) I'll have the skills that I need to build a new version of Diamant that will actually fly.



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