by Jay Smith
Jay Smith: How did you get involved with model aviation?
Dick Sarpolus: I got a StromBecker solid hardwood model of a Piper Cub when I
was young. I built it, painted it with a toothbrush, and then I wanted
a model airp ane that would fly. I went on to build balsa
gliders, some Free Flight models, a lot of Control Line
models, and radio control systems starting with tube
equipment in the early ’50s. Model airplanes
of many types have been my main and most-consistent hobby for the past 65-plus years.
JS: How has model aviation impacted your life and/
DS: With my interest in aviation, I definitely wanted to
work in the aviation industry. After college, I got a job with
the Bendix Aviation Corporation and spent 44 years involved with
technical marketing of electric-power-generating systems for aircraft.
I traveled extensively to work with aircraft manufacturers and military
installations. An overall interest in all things aeronautical helped greatly with
JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?
DS: Primarily RC. I have competed in almost all forms of RC flying,
and over the years I’ve constantly maintained an interest and some
activity in CL Stunt flying. These days, carrying large, heavy airplanes
up and down the workshop stairs is a bit too much for me, so I’m
doing mostly electric foamie flying.
I’ve always liked to design and scratch-build my own planes,
and working up design/construction articles for the model magazines has been an
enjoyable part of the hobby. Over the past 45 years, I’ve had about 200 different
aircraft design articles in the magazines.
Currently, my friends in the local flying clubs say my main interest could be in the
hot dogs and burgers we have out at the field!
JS: What are your other hobbies?
DS: Photography. I went from roll film, to 35mm, and finally, happily, to digital. I
always liked having an old car, hot rod or custom car around to work on. A hot rod
’ 57 Chevy was my favorite, and I now have a 2001 ’Vette to play with.
JS: Who (or what) has influenced you the most?
DS: The people in this hobby are great. I’m very lucky to have been able to meet
so many of the people in the hobby who were heroes to me—Aldrich, Palmer,
deBolt, Shulman, Scarinzi, Good, Ehling, McEntee, Hill, Schroder, Zaic, Winter,
Kraft, McGovern, Northrop, Hunt, and others. And I’ve met so many more modelers
through letters, phone calls, and emails from modelers to discuss the magazine
articles that were so much fun to write.
JS: What advice would you give someone interested in designing his or her own model
DS: Don’t be afraid to try your own ideas. Modify a kit or ARF airplane design, or an
airplane you built from plans. See how your changes work and you will always learn
Look closely at planes you like, see what other designers have done. Ask questions
of the people who design and build their own planes. Draw your own plans to work
from. This stuff is fun!
172 Model Aviation AUGUST2014
Dick Sarpolus Model aircraft designer