Gordon, with his wife, Helen, celebrated the author’s
50th birthday Hawaiian style. Helen was the love of
his life and he enjoyed many happy moments with
her. Photo by Linda Norman.
Gordon holds his Jumbo Scale Douglas
TBD Devastator at the 1980 Nats. The
Devastator was a memorable competitor
at CFFS and FAC events. Photo by Jack
Gordon posed with ;ve-year-old Robert
Zand at a CFFS contest in the early 1970s.
Gordon holds one of his newest entries
while Robert proudly he;s one of his
dad’s e;orts. Zand photo.
studies at Leeds University. He became an
expert in isotopic tracer techniques, which
he used to explore and better understand
the fusion processes in glass. He completed
his studies at Leeds with high distinction
and received his Ph.D. in chemistry.
While at Leeds, Gordon came to the
attention of a prominent visiting lecturer
from Case Western Reserve University
in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland’s Ferro
Corporation was searching for a senior glass
chemist and contacted the visiting professor
who enthusiastically recommended Gordon
for the position. Ferro hired him and he
moved to Cleveland with his family.
At Ferro, Gordon’s research resulted
in numerous patents and worldwide
recognition in the glass industry. He retired
from Ferro at age 70, but remained a part-time consultant to the
Gordon helped found the Cleveland Free Flight Society
(CFFS). Dave Stott and Bob Thompson had started the modern
Flying Aces Club (FAC) in New England and the FAC’s
successes electrified the CFFS.
Gordon began designing, building, and flying world-class
models that soared like homesick angels in FAC competitions.
His penchant for detail and scientific training enabled him to
excel in FF model construction and flight.
Gordon’s stellar achievement in modeling was his
participation in FAC competition. He casually referred to
FAC flying as “game,” but one which he played with unusual
verve. When competing, the mild-mannered Englishman
became a tiger To him, the prospect of winning was the only
point of participating in a contest.
Gordon was a relentless FAC competitor. After 16 victories,
he was awarded the prestigious Blue Max medal. He rapidly
rose through the ranks and became the FAC’s first air marshal
and was admitted to the FAC Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2011
he received the FAC’s only Ace of Aces medal, in recognition
of his spectacular achievement of more than 500 FAC first-place awards!
Despite his many FAC successes, Gordon never became a
Grand Champion in the FAC national competition. At the
FAC Nats he was pitted against other worthy opponents.
Legends such as Don Srull, Dave Reese, and Jack McGillivray
made decisive winning difficult at the national level.
Gordon was a successful competitor because of his hard
work, determination, and his unique scientific background.
As a chemist he knew the most sophisticated means of
weighing things. When it came to building models, he
accurately determined the weight of balsa and converted it to
a pounds-per-foot standard, allowing him to select the lightest,
yet strongest, pieces of balsa; even his largest models were
unusually light when compared to those of his competitors.
He chose simple subjects with good proportions and
minimal drag. Debut, one of his most famous Embryo
Endurance designs, flew so well that it was named a Model of
the Year by the National Free Flight Society (NFFS).
Because of the Debut’s outstanding performance, many
flew out of sight and were lost. He eventually built nearly
two dozen of them. A Debut was cremated with Gordon’s
remains and now soars with him in eternity.
After meeting Gordon in the mid-1970s, my friendship
with him deepened when, as a lawyer, fellow modeler, and
114 Model Aviation SEPTEMBER2012 www.ModelAviation.com