This blog is about the third printing of Ron Williams’ book, Building & Flying Indoor Model Airplanes. It was recently transferred from another provider and will be updated when we can get to it. We’ll post anything that might be of interest and news of our progress with our publishing venture. The main book website will be more specific in its content, describing the book itself and how it can be obtained.
A while back, I received questions about the Manhattan Cabin model I designed some years ago called the Yeloise. It was published while we were flying at Columbia in the 70s.
Caner Aksu from Turkey and Dan Mellor from the USA were among those who asked about the plane. The photos here are of Dan’s Yeloise. Hopefully, Caner will send some pictures of his.
Here’s what Dan had to say about his model:
“I just finished a version of your “Yeloise”. I am normally a scale man, but one look at the plan that an email buddy sent me had me seduced instantly. I bought a copy of your book in October, then the Yeloise plan arrived in the mail so I had to build it…
I didn’t go all out for lightness, I wanted a model that would survive my inept handling. Ended up at just on 7g. I can see how you got yours to 4.3ish but I would be hard pushed to even handle the thing at that weight!”
I think that the heavier model would be a lot more fun to fly. Building to a competitive weight made the plane quite delicate so that handling required constant attention.
The original’s frame was tinted bright yellow and the condenser paper covering was tinted yellow as well.
The article with the plan was in the October 1977 issue of Model Builder Magazine (page 46 Vol. 7- Number 70) a copy of which is, I believe, might still available from Bill Northrop’s Plan Service (2019 Doral Court, Henderson, NV USA 89014-1075)
Here’s an email from Alan Mkitarian received some time ago and edited a bit.
Just wondering if you updated the list of vendors
in the back of your book? Do you know I have most of
the pictures of modelers in your book signed by those.
Only need Erv Rodemsky to fill it out. Understand
he’s in poor health? Hope to see you some time. I
still fly with Dan Domina who no longer participates in
AMA events and contests. He still does fly at Coyle
Field here in N.J.
Best of luck with the new printing. There are
plenty of new flyers wanting your book. Would be nice
to do a indoor book on RC subjects. It’s the new fad
at Lakehurst. ECIM Club has over 150 members now
thanks to RC. Are you back building indoor?
We’ve been editing and adding to the website. The template/application we’re using was really buggy and required extreme doggedness to get pages up. Constant communication with the website template’s help line resulted in finding that the bug was a conflict with some system preferences on our Mac and the problem was solved. We’ve added some sample pages showing the first pages of some chapters and illustrations from those chapters. We’ve cleaned up and smoothed out some of our text as well. Check it out.
If you think Building & Flying Indoor Model Airplanes is worth telling others about, would you please provide a link to this site or to the main book’s website so that it can be found more easily on the web? We need all the help we can get getting the word out on this third printing. Thanks!
By the way, here’s a site in Japan linking to us. Read Japanese?
So far you can buy the book from AerocraftRC, Carstens Publications (Flying Models Magazine), Peck Polymers and the National Free Flight Society. We were hoping Nats attendees could pick up a copy at the Museum Store but the AMA was unable to order in time. If you know of some other places that should be carrying Building & Flying Indoor Model Airplanes , please let us know and we’ll get in touch with them. Thanks!
Max Zaluska, a young modeler and indoor flyer has a photo album on Webshots. Some of his pictures are the clearest and most informative I’ve seen. The shots of planes being built and flying at Lakehurst’s Hangar One are exceptional. There’s a great one of Ray Harlan flying a Pennyplane out of one of the “blue cabins”. On the opening page of each of the albums in his photo-blog there is a button for a slide show on the right side of the screen – it’s not easy to find but is the best way to view his pictures. Moving the cursor to the bottom of the picture opens viewing controls.
A reviewer of the book on Amazon suggested that readers might want to copy drawings from the book to hang on the workshop wall. Why didn’t I think of that? Well, I have been thinking about it. I realized as I opened one PDF after another during the production of the book and this internet material, that when the drawings are enlarged 3 or 4 times they take on another character and are quite striking.
Then my friend Denis called and we got to talking about how he’s been producing digitally printed art work or digital art prints. He has a digital printer that will print up to 44″ wide! Imagine how much ink that takes. I sent a few illustrations to him and he’s going to see how they look printed large. Exciting.
I’ve edited Max’s email about flying the Hand Launched Stick a bit:
“Now I have built a new wing covered with microfilm which will soon be followed by a new stab covered in microfilm as well. The model weighs around 1.35g and I have only flown good 15 – 15:15 minute 1/4 motors on it. Two years ago I put up a full motor flight and collapsed the wing during a steer at about 120ft and approaching 40min. That flight would have been around 60 minutes. A week ago I flew the model on a flaring prop (vs. a VP [Variable Pitch] prop) and did a casual 40:17 without breaking the model and landing with almost 1000 turns. I hope to get the model weight down to 1.30g by the end of the summer and break the hour barrier.
When discussing indoor with interested modelers, the question I hear most often is “What’s the record for the longest flight?” Planes that are uncategorized are called HLS or Hand Launched Stick(s), a generic term. In this case it describes a plane built for maximum time aloft record attempts. John holds the record with this plane, also called an “unlimited”. In his words, the status of the record:
“My unlimited record is 61:30. It is a US record but, mostly because I didn’t know to contact the AMA the day after I set it, it isn’t a world record. The world record is 60:01, set by Steve Brown. Steve also had a 63:54 that was unofficial only because he didn’t have the required timers.
So far, Steve and I are the only ones over 1 hour. Indoor legend Jim Richmond was close with a flight that was something like 59:59.
Attached is a picture, taken by Brett Sanborn, of my unlimited ship on the day of the record.”
The photo was taken in Hangar One at Lakehurst. I would guess that John is standing about one third of the length of the building from the wall behind him. Look carefully and you will notice a person standing to John’s left near a wall that is still some distance from the end of the building. Large space.
Here’s a nice story. In the late seventies when I was collecting material for my book I asked many modelers for photos and other material to give the book some substance. I was a long time admirer of Bob Clemens’ photographs of his models. Bob had the best job a photographer could ask for, he worked for Kodak. His planes were always perfect.
When I asked for material I offered to send each contributor a copy of the book when it came out. In the flush of publishing the first edition I forgot a few people, some of whom reminded me and some who didn’t. As this third printing came out I received a note from Bob letting me know that he was one of the forgotten ones. He’d purchased a copy back in the day, loaned it out and never saw it again – it happened to many. I sent him a copy of this latest printing and received the following email (it made my day):
With an apology for this tardy reply, I want to thank you very much for the copy of your book on indoor (which arrived safely several weeks ago). It was like seeing an old friend again after an absence of some years, or perhaps a time capsule of indoor material from an earlier generation. You did lots of good by bringing out this new printing, and I hope sales are going well.
Pete Andrews was one of my (and many other’s) mentors in Indoor. A man of few words, one wag said he had built in asymmetry (due to a childhood polio deformation of one shoulder). He had a great sense of humor but it was desert dry. His wife, Georgia, accompanied him to all the flying events. Many compared the two of them to movie stars, Humphrey Bogart and Lana Turner.
Pete was a brilliant builder and even cagier flier. He had ways of making problems that most would solve with mechanical means disappear with the manipulation of the properties of the materials that made up a plane. The adjustment of the weight and dimensions of the balsa, the arrangement and tensions in rigging accomplished a completely coordinated flight that took advantage of the space, the rubber and the weather. Though a group of his planes might seem identical, there were often subtle differences invisible to even the expert eye. Each plane had just the qualities he needed to make his competition flying consistently great. It’s a shame some people can’t live forever.
Why is this young man smiling? What he’s done is build the structure in his hands to a weight equal to about the same weight as one and a third dollar bills. Moving that structure means relearning how to move, how to walk because the slightest mismove, moving just a bit too fast, can damage or even destroy his work.
Yet he will take it to a very large space, wind up a rubber motor with 2,000 turns or more and release that structure, his plane to fly up into the space on its own. He’ll hope that it will fly for more than an hour.
Here are comments by Max on his HLS. I’ve edited them minimally.
“I decided to go with Microfilm last year when I poured a dozen sheets with Ray Harlan’s help (see webshots). I wanted to preserve the originality and history of big unlimited models. I have learned that there are several difficult aspects to this event; first is the microfilm itself, pouring, lifting, covering, next is the construction process involving many jigs/fixtures to build/brace such a model and finally the flying aspect along with steering. I hope it’s understood by what I call the three different aspects to such a class. I would like to plug in the Lakehurst event going on on July 26th and 27th. I will be attempting the record then. Along with me there will be two other HLS flyers; John Kagan and Tom Iacobellis, and perhaps Jim Richmond will show up with his. Jim has not done 60 minutes with such a model yet and I hope to beat him to it. I encourage anyone interested to show up and witness such an event, I have been in indoor aeromodeling for 5 years now and I have not seen as many as 3 or 4 Hand Launch Stick models at one event, this will be a great sight to see.”
Smithsonian Institution Shop at Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, the National Free Flight Society and in England, Sam’s Models, all have the book, and it is selling well. A blurb appeared in the September 2008 issue of Model Aviation in Bob Aberle’s column. The best deal on the book is from NFFS if you’re an NFFS member. There’s more about it with a look at some of it on Google Books.
We’re hoping the AMA will have it soon in it’s catalog/museum store. We’re pesting them about it but the management needs a push from others who might want to buy it from them.
We’re most thankful to all who’ve spread the word about this third printing. Thank you!
The fear that Indoor will dry up and disappear has been part of Indoor since I can remember. This fear arises out of a subconscious comparison with other areas or types of model aviation. In fact indoor is probably growing but at slower rate than the RC or other parts of the hobby. Indoor has never been one of the larger pursuit of modelers and probably never will. I hope that what appears below might be an antidote to that fear.
When I wrote and illustrated my book I was motivated by the FAQs of visitors to indoor meets in which I participated. The publication of the book stimulated a surge in interest in indoor by people previously ignorant of its existence. In the small world I lived in I encountered people who had discovered my book and became enthusiasts. In a local bookstore a copy was hung from the cash register on a chain with a key ring through a hole punched through the book. It was worn ragged with rounded corners and edges. I came upon it and (not introducing myself) asked about the book. The bookstore manager said it was the most asked for book they ever had and they couldn’t get it. When I asked the publisher, Simon & Schuster about it, I was stonewalled. They did not believe it even though some of their staff had seen the “cash register copy”. I learned that this was S.O.P. for the publishing business; unless it was a book on the best seller lists and sold out almost immediately, they never reprinted.
I was burned out by the time I finished the book and was onto other interests and responsibilities. After a couple of years I was contacted by another publisher, Peregrine Smith, because the owner was being pestered by an acquaintance to “save this book”, telling him that he had to republish it. The second printing was on his list and sold well until he suffered a large loss due to a combination of family tragedy and weather related destruction to his warehouse. The original negatives for the book were lost. He left his business in the hands of professional remainderers for a recovery period and the book disappeared from his list.
The growing interest in indoor was certainly manifested in the meets we held at Columbia’s Low Library. There were more and more people showing up at our meets with the book in hand up until the university kicked us out.
After twenty years or so the book became a best seller for used book sellers, reaching and selling for prices as high as $300.00. I received a steady stream of mail and then email asking me where the book could be purchased. l finally decided that I would have to reprint the book myself since I did not have the contacts or energy to push it to publishers again. With the advent and development of high quality scanning, the third printing was readied about 5 years ago and has sold slowly but surely without the national publicity a large publisher might have made. The book was priced under that of a comparable publication to keep it down for hobbyists. The price would still allow me to eventually recover my costs and keep up with inflation. Making money was not part of the plan.
The book has continued to bring people into the hobby in spite of the informed indoorist’s criticism that it is out-dated. That criticism is misguided. The book still covers the basics and with research such as using INAV and now the web it is still well integrated into the process of learning indoor. There is nothing in it that, combined with keeping up to date with advances in the art, can’t be used. As far as using it to learn about F1D, it’s “shortcomings” are not the problem of the book but of a lack of imagination and a narrow approach to competition by the current crop of indoorists. The simple introduction of a S.A.M. type event based on the rules of the F1D type described in the book would integrate it into the competition scene and act as an introduction to current F1D building and flying techniques.
Why this concern? It is not because I want to sell my book so much as knowing that when it sells, it pulls people into indoor. I daresay there are lots of the current crop of active indoor flyers who were attracted to the hobby by this book. I have often wished that it would be emulated by other writer/illustrators in indoor and become part of a bookshelf that enabled one to explore indoor completely. A bound edition and/or ebook of all of INAV would be a marvelous addition to indoor’s literature; it would explain much of what has happened between this book and the present. The current interest in the history of indoor might fill in more space on an indoor bookshelf.
The task of publishing an ebook is approaching the “do” point. I hope it might have a similar affect on the world of indoor as the paper copy has had. I have offered free copies of the book for prizes to groups sponsoring contests and will continue to do so.