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My Model Flying History (1960)

1960: In a Mickey Mouse issue I found the instructions for building a chuck glider including a blueprint of the plan and all the information for the  material required. When I showed the plan to my father, he didn’t really believe that I would be able to build the plane. However, he agreed with my mother that we should buy the material. There was a small model shop close to the harbor of Elmshorn. It was operated by a couple named Vietzke. He was a passionate hunter and mainly sold rifles. His wife took care of the model making department.

To our horror, we found that balsa wood was only sold in whole sheets measuring 100 by 10 cm. We had to buy three sheets in three different thicknesses. Plus a tube of UHU-Hart. All together, that made around 5 DM. A lot of money for us in those days! When my father came home in the evening he said: “Well, then start building! If it actually flies, I will buy you a larger model.” Of course that was a huge incentive for me.

I assembled the model according to the plan. But since I had no practice in gluing the parts together exactly, the end product looked rather crooked. Nevertheless, I made my first flight attempts in our garden and in the “Zeppelinplatz” grassland. The model never flew straight but made loops and rolls depending on how hard it was thrown. I thought that was okay and was thrilled.

Fortunately, I was able to transfer my enthusiasm to my parents. So, a few weeks later, we went back to the model shop and had a look at the kits that were available. Fortunately, Mrs. Vietzke advised us very well and recommended a small free flight model, called “Little UHU” from Graupner. We also bought the necessary accessories: trim lead, pore filler, dope, towline. The tissue paper was already included with the kit.

I assembled the model with the help of my father. Since my father was a painter by profession, the tissue covering and painting job was no problem and the result looked really nice. We needed a larger grassfield for the test flights. We found it between Weidenstrasse, Waldweg and Wittenberger Strasse. Today this field is also completely covered with single-family houses. Back then there was a lot of space and you could climb up the dam of Wittenberger Strasse to start the model from an elevated position. We did not use the full line length for the high start, but limited it to approx. 30 meters. The “UHU” had no automatic steering and always flew straight ahead. It had to be recovered from an adjacent hedge almost each time. In any case, we had a lot of fun and were very motivated to continue.