Monday, January 7, 2013

Max Zaluska’s HLS flying in 2007

Max’s HLS in 2007, originally uploaded by ronwfoto.
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.

John Kagan with his HLS

J.KGN.HLS.JUN08, originally uploaded by ronwfoto.
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.

Bob Clemens launching his Sorcerer

Bob Clemens launching his Sorcerer, originally uploaded by ronwfoto.
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 in 1972 at Cardington

Pete Andrews in 1972 at Cardington, originally uploaded by ronwfoto.
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.

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