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Flying Model Aircraft Explained

Nov 25, 2007
Today's fastest growing model airplane activity is control-line flying. This type of model performs at the end of two lines ranging in length from twenty to one hundred and fifty feet, depending on the size of the model and the skill of the flyer. These lines not only keep the model flying in a circle around the "pilot", who turns facing the craft at all times, but also control the elevators which cause the model to climb and dive, loop, and perform a wide variety of aerobatics.

The model operator holds a "C" shape handle in his hand. One line is attached to each leg of the "C", while the other ends of the lines are fastened to the arms of a bell-crank which is firmly attached to the model with a screw or bolt and is allowed to pivot around this fastening. A third arm of the bellcrank is connected to the control rod and, through this, the elevators are moved when the lines are pulled.

Three major factors have contributed to the increasing popularity of control-line flying; these are:

1. In view of the fact that the model cannot bank or veer to the left or right because of the control lines and is controlled in its altitude through the movable elevators, it has been found that this type of craft does not require the same meticulous adjustments and exacting design as its pilot-less free-flight brothers. This class of models can also be built heavier and much smaller than uncontrolled craft. This produces more carefree flying and building.

2. The confining flight circle allows control-line models to be flown on the local baseball diamond, corner lot, school yard, or even on a dead-end street, whereas free-flight models require large tracts of open land for successful operation.

These wide open areas are hard to find in the average community. The author flies his small controlled models in front of his home, while the nearest free-flight area is over five miles away.

3. Probably the most important reason for this enormous following is the fact that the flyer exercises control over the craft and thus achieves the thrill of piloting his creation through the air at speeds of from 25 to 175 miles per hour! With more experience he can perform almost any maneuver of a full-scale airplane.

Factor number one indicates that special design is not required; therefore, exact scale models can be built and flown successfully in control-line fashion, without any alteration in outline shape, whether they are high wing or low, biplanes or triplanes.

The fact that these craft can be heavily built allows more detail to be added, such as complete cockpits, bombs, etc., as well as more applications of paint (dope) for a more attractive appearance. This, coupled with factor number three, which allows for complete realism during these maneuvers, causes control-line flying to become the ideal medium for scale-replica aircraft.

Skilled flying of control-line models can be learned quite easily and inexpensively through "whip" controlled models developed by Neville E. Walker. Generally, these craft are "profile" types. This means that they possess solid flat fuselages (body). Wings are cut from solid sheet balsa, as are the tail surfaces (empennage).

Whip-control models do not contain engines. The "whip" is used for the motive power. Obtain a bamboo pole (a fishing rod is ideal) about six feet long and attach wire loops. These should be wrapped to the pole with thread and cemented. Pass the control lines through the loops and we are ready to fly as soon as we have constructed our model. Have fun!
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