When I was about eight or nine my good friend Wes and I would spend countless summer hours in his attic looking at old issues of Model Airplane News from the 1950’s and 60’s. We soon were building rubber powered silk span planes and .049 control line combat planes that we flew in the neighbor’s lot. His father Charlie had been in modeling since the fifties and always proudly showed us the huge free flight plane he built that was launched in central Missouri and ended up in Illinois. A farmer called him one day because his name was on the wing. We were fascinated by his knowledge and planes.
One day he decided we should give his old McCoy .35 control line combat plane a try and off to the larger park we went. I went first for some reason, but failed to clearly articulate my vertigo experiences in flying the .049 planes. Made no difference to me, I was going to get to fly the big one. I firmly griped the U-Reely, a bit of technology only the “modern” flyers had, and Charlie and Wes flipped the old red head to life and gave it a launch. The first couple of turns were ok, but my control line nemesis soon reappeared and I started getting a little dizzy. Charlie was now receiving the full story of my weakness from Wes, and determining if he could run into the circle to relieve me. Unfortunately he was too late and I let go as things went black. When I quickly awoke Charlie and Wes were screaming for me to follow them to the car and the chase was on. Man that thing could fly. Finally free of its wire bonded connection to the ground it was putting on a real show winding around and round with the U-Reely tagging along. In about five or six blocks it ran out of fuel and landed in what I would guess was the top of the biggest spruce tree in town. Both Charlie and Wes immediately appointed me to climb up and get what we all thought would be portions of the plane. To our surprise it was all in one piece and flew again but without me at the controls. Charlie was one of kind, bless his soul, and I still keep his picture on my building table as a reminder of his mentoring. I will never forget that day.
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