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Road to Top Gun — Walt Alexander’s Family Affair

Road to Top Gun — Walt Alexander’s Family Affair

From Decatur, TN, Walter Alexander will be flying his 1/3 scale Fokker D.VII in the Pro-AM Sport class at Top Gun. Walt’s aircraft is modeled after Carl Degelow’s aircraft from WWII.  Built from a Balsa USA 1/3-scale kit, it has a 118 inch span and weighs in at 38 pounds. Walt chose a Zenoah GT80 (80cc) twin cylinder gas engine for power and uses a Hitec Optic 6 transmitter with Hitec 645-MG servos.

 

Walt2The Fokker D.VII is covered with Coverite and painted in the Degelow scheme using PPG paints, the Lozenge pattern and aircraft markings are all custom painted. The model was fully fitted out with RC hardware all from Balsa USA and the cockpit is dressed up with homemade details using common shop materials.

Family Affair

Walt’s family has been building and flying for multiple generations, since the 1970s.  Though Joe Nall has been a continuing family affair event, Top Gun has now become part of the family’s activities.  Starting with a RealFlight simulator, Walt’s children Nick and Ellie, started learning to fly RC.  Walt and the boys had been attending Top Gun and Joe Nall, but at the family’s first Youth Masters event, interest for his girls started to grow. After learning to fly the simulators, Walt’s kids moved on to RACores electric airplanes and then 40/60 size nitro planes and are now more interested in scale flying.  As Ellie and Nick pursue their Top Gun entries, it was interesting to see them navigate the building of their Piper Cubs so they can compete along with their dad in the Pro AM-Sport class.

Nick’s Entry

Active with the local McMinn County Radio Control Association (MCRCA club), William “Nick” Alexander was also Walt’s spotter at last year’s Top Gun and learned how the event worked. He was then interviewed by Frank Tiano to obtain his invitation. Nick’s airplane is a 1/4-scale Piper NE-1, which was the military version of the J-3 Cub. Eleanor “Ellie” Alexander is bringing a 1/4-scale Piper Cub J-3. Walt also asked for an invite for his daughter Allie.

Nick1Both Nick’s and Ellie’s Piper projects are being built from Balsa USA kits, and both have 108 inch wingspans. Each will be powered by DLE 30cc gas engines turning Falcon 18×8 Civilian propellers. Both will be equipped with Hitec Optic 6 Sport radio systems and Hitec 645-MG servos. Covering will be SolarTex from Balsa USA and each will be painted with PPG paints and include decals from Kirby Kustom Graphics.

 

EleanorAlexander NicholasAlexander

 

The airplanes will also have scale cockpit details from Dynamic Balsa kits. Various other accessories, like wheels, fuel tank, pushrods, etc., come from Tower Hobbies.

Ellie1 

Workshop time keeps the family together even when it’s not flying season. This is a first for Top Gun to be sure. We’ll be keeping an eye on these future “Mr. and Ms. Top Gun” champs. We’ve heard a rumor that there might be a Junior class at a future Top Gun event…

Updated: March 27, 2017 — 9:39 AM
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10 Comments

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  1. Walt’s a lucky man – and he’s got some lucky kids! I just know we’ll see more about this in MAN.

  2. A great story. My older son, who also enjoys R/C moved away to Dallas about 20 years ago. We go flying when he comes home for christmas each year. I wish he lived here. We have a great time that one short day a year.

    My youngest son lives 10 minutes away but he doesn’t give a whit about R/C. What a shame.

    I so envy this dad and his two kids! What a great family affair!

  3. Labor! I need labor! Great to see the kids involved…..

  4. My grandson helps all the time in the work shop. I told him as a 7 year old when he could take off and land on the simulator he could come flying with me, 12 months later I got a call grandpa look at this, he can take off and land so out to the flying field we went and now as a 8 year old he can fly and helps build basic planes for him to fly he seams to like pylon racing and is desperate to have a go so very soon we will try him on one of mine and stand back, I’m sure young Josh will be quicker than me

    Allan

  5. We’re do you get the simulator and what gaming system do you use thankyou

    1. Gareth
      Most good hobby stores will help with a simulator which will plug straight into your computer system
      Good luck
      Allan

    2. Real Flight. Runs on a computer via USB. ALSO, if you have a computer with HDMI, then you can hook up a larger flat screen tv

  6. Great to see youth involved in the hobby! So many of them would rather sit in front of the screen and play games. They need to get together and learn social skills as well as learning to build and fly.

  7. It’s been great watching your growth year to year. So gladto be a point along the way. Have a great Top Gun and we’ll see you at Nall right after

  8. Walt, the article mentions Nick and Ellie, but there is a reference to the boys and girls (plural). How many of your kids are flying?

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