Builders put great pride into their models, as shown by this gorgeous Balsa USA 1/4-scale S. P. A.D.
13, returning from combat at Warbirds Over Delaware.
While framing the stabilizer for a new sport model, I enjoyed taking
care in details that won’t show once the aircraft is covered, but I will
know they were done right.
A successful first flight with a new model is one of the great pleasures in aeromodeling.
From the moment a photo or drawing
captures the imagination, the mind
inevitably springs to some version of
a warm spring day with a light breeze
down the runway and its wheels tickling
the grass as that airplane floats off into
the blue for the first time.
To make that moment even sweeter,
many enthusiasts still prefer building
their own models and the increased
emotional investment that process
I have enjoyed assembling and flying
countless models throughout the years,
building my knowledge base and skills
along the way. Yet when it comes time to
clean out my workshop and make some
room for new projects, the models that
I have glued together, sanded smooth,
and carefully covered myself, are the
ones most likely to keep their spot while
others are entrusted to a new owner.
Where Do We Get Them?
“But no one is making kits anymore.”
Fortunately, that often-heard lament
isn’t true. Ignore the doom and gloom
about building being a lost art—and
ARFs. There are actually quite a few
balsa kits readily available.
Sure, the passage of time will
inevitably mandate manufacturer
changes and attrition. Despite this, some
of the classic kit companies are still
with us, along with a new generation
of companies founded by younger
designers to share their dreams.
I grew up pouring over the Sig
Manufacturing catalog like it was the
Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish Book
(remember those?), dreaming of next
summer’s great adventures. While my
35-plus years in the hobby seem like a
long time to
me, Sig is now
well into its
alive and well
new owners. A
quick visit to
website reveals a large number of kits
for Free Flight, Control Line, and RC
Hobbico continues to offer a range
of kits, including several large World
War II warbirds and sport models from
which to choose under the Top Flite and
Great Planes umbrellas. They should be
available through your local hobby shop,
even if they aren’t on its shelves.
It seems as if you can’t go to a major
event, or sometimes even the local field,
without somebody showing up with
a 1/4-scale Piper Cub or World War I
fighter built from a Balsa USA kit. The
company’s current lineup features a
great selection of larger, fast-building
sport scale models that make fantastic
Don’t be scared by their vintage
outlines. The handling characteristics are
suitable for anyone comfortable with a
traditional four-channel aerobatic sport
The first large model I built, or so
it seemed at the time, was a 100-inch
93 Model Aviation MARCH 2015 www.ModelAviation.com
AROUND THE PATCH