Thursday, April 18, 2013

Aero Commander 100 Large Gas Engine Model

Back in the 80’s I was not only listening to great rock n roll, driving my American-made muscle car but also flying a model airplane with a wingspan of 9 feet powered by a McCulloch chainsaw engine.  Other people were just starting to fly these large model airplanes and my father converted a chainsaw engine for model plane use and put it in a big model plane he had purchased at a club auction. The plane was called the “Omen” if I remember correctly. It was too much airplane for a glow engine of the time but flew well with the gas engine.

Aero Commander 100 at Sig Contest

I decided I would design my own airplane for gas engine power, this was a 30cc engine.  In a magazine I spotted a picture of a boxy looking airplane the Aero Commander 100 that I thought would be fairly easy to make a model of.  The construction of my plane used some framing of pine and then covered with foam board but the wing was mainly balsa, no foam.  It all seemed like it should be strong enough but how was I to know.

Fueslage Framework and Engine

The plane flew really well, it looked so realistic taking off and landing. Then I had radio problems destroying the prototype model airplane.  At that time I decided to invest in a new Kraft radio system which was topshelf at the time but the company went out of business.  One Sunday I was flying the plane at Rochester field and a visitor from Florida saw it flying and was in awe. His name was “Charles Cessna” not related to the airplane manufacturer as far as I know. He wrote letters to me from Florida encouraging me to produce kits of the plane.  I started trying to do just that, started out cutting out a bunch of pieces and had an advertising flyer created.

Fuselage Covered With Foam Board

I flew the airplane at a contest at Sig Manufacturing field in Iowa and the aileron control seemed mushy but I landed fine.  The next big stress test for the airplane was when I was demonstrating it to a family friend who was thinking about taking up model airplanes as a hobby.   I must have put too many G’s on the wing during a loop because it ripped off the fuselage which came down like a ton of bricks, buried the engine in the dirt at least ten inches.  The spectator must have found a different hobby.

 Bill Kuhl


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