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My Model Flying History (1961)

1961: So far I had assembled my models on the kitchen table. In the meantime we had cleared our corrugated iron garage so that we could use it as a workshop. We didn’t have a car back then. The next project was the free flight model “Donald Duck” of class A1 from Graupner. Unfortunately, we had made a mistake during construction: The trailing edge strip of the wing was not raised at the front but laid flat on the building board (as we knew it from the “Little UHU”). Therefore, the airfoil was incorrect and the flight performance was correspondingly poor. The model already had curve control and a thermal brake. We coped well with that and made a lot of flights. A fuse was used to trigger the thermal brake.

Next, a larger free-flight model was needed. It was a “Geier” of class A2 (now F1A) published by the Robbe company. It promised to be a competitive contest model. There was no kit available, just a blueprint. So we built everything completely from raw material. The model had a two piece wing and we got to know a tongue and box attachment. This time the airfoil was built correctly and the flight performance was impressive. We gained a lot of experience with this model.

One day, while browsing the Vietzke model shop, I discovered the book “Funkfernsteuerung fuer den Modellbauer”. It was a translation by H. Bruss and Hans-A. Pfeil of the English title “Simple Radio-Control” by H. G. Hundleby. I absolutely had to read that. I literally soaked up the content and that was my first contact with radio technology. I still have this book and I still like to look inside. It’s very tattered now.

From time to time we went to Hamburg, the next big city, for shopping. On one of these occasions we also visited the large model making department of “Spielzeug Rasch”. That was of course not to be compared with the small shop in Elmshorn. Our eyes widened more and more when we saw the many model kits and radio control sets that were on display. However, everything was so expensive that we couldn’t afford it. After all, we bought a few copies of the “Modell” magazine that we found there. I read all of them from cover to cover and was thrilled by all the new information. I was able to persuade my parents to subscribe to this magazine.

At the end of the summer we visited a model air show at the Hartenholm airfield near Bad Segeberg. What impressed me most was a biplane called “Captain”, which was flown by radio control. The model performed wild capers in the sky and hardly ever flew straight. It only had a 1-channel system with a rubber powered escapement. Today I know that the pilot probably had problems calming the model down with the right commands. Only when the engine finally stopped the flight became straight and the landing succeeded rather smoothly.

Some model shops exhibited their products along the site. One of them was the Carl Leonhardt company from Bad Segeberg. I was particularly interested in the new 3-channel radio control system produced by Metz. It seemed to be comparable to the Graupner “Bellaphon” system that we knew from the magazines, but was much cheaper. We took some handouts and leaflets with us, to study them thoroughly at home. I still have them.

My father had worked overtime and saved some money. We therefore decided to order the Metz 3-channel system at the Vietzke model shop. After a few weeks it actually arrived and we were able to pick it up. Of course, it had to be officially registered with the Federal Post Office and a fee of 10 DM had to be payed every year. I still have the certificate.

Now of course we needed a new model for it. Although it would have been more sensible to build another glider, it now had to be a model with an internal combustion engine. The “Satellite” model was particularly recommended for this purpose in the Graupner catalog. This was a replica of the American model “Live Wire” by Harold De Bolt. But the kit was very expensive. You could get the new “Piper Tri Pacer” for much less money, and it looked even nicer. So we decided on this model. We later realized that this was a mistake.

My father built the model almost alone because it was to complicated for me. Of course, only the “Taifun Hurrican” Diesel engine was considered as the drive. It had to be broken in first. Back then, you could run an engine in the garden without a silencer without being scolded by your neighbors. During the working days, my father took the compression lever with him so that his son would not be able to run the engine while he was away. He knew me!

Eventually, the “Piper” was ready to go and we made our first attempts on the grassfield near Wittenberger Strasse. However, we found that the “Piper” did not want to roll properly in the tall grass to gain enough speed for takeoff. We had, of course, attached the beautiful wheel pants. So we found a tarmaced field path nearby for our next trials. But the model always only rolled a few meters, broke out to the side and stuck in the high grass aside of the road. It didn’t want to take off.

We came to the conclusion that the engine was to weak. So we needed a bigger one. This time it should be a glow plug engine. The OS-MAX 15. Of course, new accessories were needed. A glow plug clamp, a starter battery and a different fuel. After breaking in, the engine was installed in the “Piper”. But the following attempts to start were just as unsuccessful as before. The model didn’t want to take off. We could have tried to start the model directly from our hands but didn’t dare to do this.

Out of desperation, we contacted my father’s colleague Gerd Mix again and met him in Kollmar at the Elbe. He was a very experienced model pilot and took a close look at our “Piper”. He found no serious flaws and thought the model should definitely fly. We should try to start it directly from our hands . Together we went to the beach and started the engine. Gerd Mix took the model and threw it firmly into the wind. The model stalled immediately, turned on her back and crashed into the ground. Almost everything was broken and looked beyond repair. We never found the reason for this failure. For us this was the end of the “Piper” experiment.