Monday, January 7, 2013


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)

Email from Alan Mkitarian

Here’s an email from Alan Mkitarian received some time ago and edited a bit.
Hi Ron,
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?
Alan Mkitarian, Palmyra, N.J.

5 thoughts on “Email from Alan Mkitarian

  1. Jane Hutton Rodemsky
    My father is in poor health with Parkinson’s. He lives in Danville CA and still spends his time reading (or having red to him) model builders mags, books, articles etc. Model building was a life force for him and still is. Thank you, a model builder’s daughter
  2. Dick Kowalski
    Hello Jane,
    Your Father & I became close friends in 1949 when he lived in Detroit. We spent many hours together building & flying model airplanes. I last saw him & your Mom in about 1995 in San Francisco and have since talked to both of them at times. Since I still live in Michigan, we don’t see one another anymore.
    But there is a touching story that I would like to share with you about how they met. I believe it was about 1949 when your Mom was working for the Director of a large model airplane meet sponsored by the Plymouth Division of Chrysler. We went to the meet headquarters together to register and this is where & when their relationship began. When we left there, I remember your Dad telling me “I’m in love with that girl and one day I’m going to marry her”!
    I hope your Mom & Dad are holding up OK during his prolonged battle with Parkinsons. Please give them my Love. I will call him some time during the Holidays.
    Best wishes & God Bless, Dick Kowalski
  3. Chuck Madigan
    Hello Dick and Jane :)
    Back in the old days (1957) when I belonged to the Detroit Balsa Bugs in Detroit I was flying a hand launched glider in the Laskey Gym, Paul Crowley came up to me and told me my plane was really flying good and wondered if I had heard about someone who had broke the 30 second barrier in that Gym (29 foot ceiling). The person that did it had moved to California so I never met him. I am wondering if Erv is that person…???
    Paul told me that the plane had a sweep back wing, zero incidence and that the wing was so thin that you could read a newspaper through the wing! My great flying glider was doing about 16 seconds at the time. So, I built new planes week after week and finally did break the 30 second barrier which was a real thrill at the time. If Erv is the person I would sure like to hear more about how he did it and any details.
    From what I know, we are the only ones who broke the barrier.
    Chuck Madigan
  4. Dick Kowalski
    Hi Chuck,
    Erv & I cut our model airplane flying teeth together & became personal friends when I was 15 (1948). Although I think he built just about every kind of model there is. I may be wrong, but I don’t remember him ever flying hand launch gliders at Laskey.
  5. Bill Shailor
    Erv was the guy who did the 30 second flight at laskey recreation. On a sad note neither Erv nor Dick are with us any longer. Dick just passed away this Sunday, April 22, 2012. Those days at Laskey Recreation were gret fun. A really talented group of people!


Flying Models Magazine (Carsten’s publications) should have books available next week. We’ve been shipping them out and receiving inquiries steadily which is very gratifying. Thanks to all!

New material on the Website

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.

Where to buy

So far you can buy the book from AerocraftRCCarstens 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!

More photos of Indoor Activities

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.

Large prints of drawings from the book

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.

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.

Max Zaluska and his HLS

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.

Max and his HLS, originally uploaded by ronwfoto.
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.”