Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflections on Free Flight 2017

Some of the best times I had this year were enjoying my model aviation hobby. After going to the 2016 Free Flight Nats and some Minnesota contests put on by the MMAC club I was primed for a winter of building more models. Some of the components and materials I had to work with were the first time for me such as covering with ¼ mylar, rolling a balsa tube fuselage, creating a folding propeller assembly, setting up DT systems with mechanical timers, learning to braid a rubber motor, and building completely from plans. I had to ask a lot of questions but people in the free flight community were happy to help and I received a whole lot of good advice.

Polecat X P30

Wilbur Oldtime Rubber Model MMAC Field

For the most part the planes I built flew pretty well, I still have some to learn about towing a towline glider; that I will work on in 2018. None of the planes were lost and most are in flyable condition, the E36 Starduster I am going to retire because I have tried to patch it one too many times. I learned a whole about trimming a power model with that plane.  From what I learned I fixed up my Super Pearl E36 and had it flying really nice at the 2017 Nats.

Super Pearl E36 at 2017 Nats

I was really happy with the Polecat X P30 model I built from Don DeLoach short-kit, this model did not need a single adjustment to fly well. I was afraid it was too windy to fly P30 at Nats but flying it in a contest in Minnesota for the first time it got a third place. My Wilbur oldtime rubber model did well after just needing some thrust adjustments.  The PeeWee 30 model Basic Yeller built completely from plans had many good flights this year, this was the first time I have used a glow engine in several years. Flying in the E20 event at the Nats I think I came in 7th with BMJR Sky Demon which might be near the middle, hopefully I can build a more competitive E20 for 2018.

Sky Demon E20

Basic Yeller 2017 Nats

E36 Starduster

After just a couple of years flying contest free flight models I do not expect to be winning against people that have been doing this for years. If I did I would no doubt lose interest, having the challenge out there for the future is what keeps me interested. For next year I am building a bigger glow powered model, Witch Hawk 500 and another oldtime rubber model a New Gollywock. For the One Design event I am building a Streak powered by a K&B .049. For E36 NOS I am building an Eureka another Don DeLoach design.

Projects for 2018

Witch Hawk 500 for 2018
Flying Aces Moth

New Gollywock

At the end of 2017 flying season or at least what normal people tolerate for cold I flew my first control line model in a long time, an old design the Prop Buster. This time it is electric powered with a system that is comparable to .15 glow engine. The first flight was too windy and I had too long of lines resulting in a crash. After minor repairs I had it flying on shorter lines. For next season I am going to build a basic .049 glow model to get more comfortable with CL flying before risking the electric model.

Electric Control Line

Thank you to everyone who has been reading these articles, seeing the number of views encourages me to keep new articles coming. I have met some really wonderful people at the free flight contests and others I only know from online exchanges.

Happy New Year
Bill Kuhl

Blog Articles on Airplanes Flown in 2017


  1. Bill, your enthusiasm is contagious. It's great to see you progressing into high performance free flight models. Hopefully we can be at the same contest someday because I'd love to fly with you!

  2. Thank you for you comment Joshua, yes I am trying to get my enthusiasm for model aviation across. Excited to try your rocket glider kit next year, also I will get in an order for a couple of gliders. Bill

  3. This is what FF is all about- sometimes it is not beating the other guy but just improving what you have. I have always said you should enjoy the flight- and, from reading your work, that is what you do! Keep going and hope to see U at Muncie..

    1. John, I want to submit something for Free Flight Digest in 2018 but use my good camera.