I had built a few rubber kits and visited the hobby shop in town often, so knew about RC. I met an older modeler in the early 1990’s. He invited me to visit his workshop and we got along well. I built some airplanes for him and he gave me a Cox Space Hopper. He had stacks of magazines so I read a lot about building and engines. He also introduced me to swap meets, which got me hooked.
My first model was a control line stunt type airplane powered by that Space Hopper. I didn’t know much about it and he didn’t fly CL, so I was on my own. It did fly and seemed to fly well. Of course I got too excited and flew too lean too soon and it was reduce to balsa scrap, but I was hooked. I traded someone my Kyosho Double Dare RC truck for an ancient Airtronics green box radio. About this time Model Airplane News published the Bee-Tween pull out plan. I built one and got a Black Widow for power. Unfortunately, I chose a much too soft balsa for the wing spar and it didn’t last long. Not long after, some swap meet parts resulted in a series of Ace foam winged, Black Widow powered aircraft like this:
I found an MVVS 1.5cc diesel at a swap meet. Trying to start that engine based on misconceptions of home brew model diesel fuel, resulted in very sore fingers. Eventually, I got some commercial fuel and it ran quite well. I added an Enya carb and built a 4 channel model using Midwest Aero Electric plans. I made a sheeted foam wing with ailerons, which proved to be tough and durable.
I learned to fly with this model. I could keep a model in the air, but take off and landing were new. I had a session with an instructor and I think I practiced a couple approaches on our first flight when, of course, the throttle arm broke off the carb. Two ounces of diesel in .09 sure runs a long time! Roger said, “Just keep flying.” When the tank ran out I set up for approach as instructed, downwind, base, and final. This resulted in my first real landing and was great fun. I sold this model when I was done with it. Somehow, it ended up in my hangar again when I bought a modeler out, some fifteen years later. Though I wasn’t a prolific builder or flier, I’ve flown a wide range of models from indoor (Stubenfliege), to 150+MPH F5D electric, to OS FT-160 on a Graupner Taxi 2400.
Some 25 years later, I still play with “toy airplanes”. Having always followed engines and engine design of all types (though I spent 10 years or so flying electric only), learning machining in the last 10 or so years brought me to where I can produce the things I dream up and some that others did before me.