Taking a look at radio controlled flying machines

We have all seen the various contraptions that have been created to enable man to fly.  Some people tried making wings out of wood and paper and attached them to their arms and jumped off the roof of the barn, not successful.  Man has been working on achieving flight in many ways for centuries.  The early attempts were mostly unsuccessful.  It is utterly amazing how advanced aircraft has become in the past few decades.  The same is true for radio controlled model airplanes, as well.

Why then, do people keep coming up with unusual radio controlled flying machines.  You can’t generalize them as airplanes because some don’t even resemble that which we perceive an airplane to be.  In a recent post I had a link to a site that had a video of a flying lawn mower.  It was about the size of a push type mower like the one you might use to mow your grass.  It really flies.

I first saw one of these flying lawn mowers in a radio controlled modeling magazine in the late 1970’s.  It was made out of foam sheets from the lumber yard, fitted with the radio control system and had a small nitro powered engine attached to the front.  At about the same time someone came up with similar idea and created a flying iron (like you press clothes with).  And, another magazine article was about a flying “Tin Lizzy” ( a model T Ford car).  These things all flew and their owners had fun designing, building, and flying them.

One of the members of the local club where I learned to fly built a radio controlled model airplane out of cardboard boxes.  It had a wingspan of about 8 feet and the length of the fuselage was about 6 feet.  He designed it to look like a large sailplane or glider.  It was made mostly from cardboard television antenna boxes.  The engine was mounted on to strips of hardwood the extended out from the nose and it was controlled by a 3-channel radio system.  If I recall correctly, the tail section was made out of balsa and covered with a heat shrinkable Mylar film.  It wasn’t much to look at, but it was entertaining to watch and it provided a lot of fun and satisfaction for the modeler.   One day he actually flew it from the club’s flying field about 6 miles to where I lived.  He had someone drive his van and he rode in the back of the van with the side door open and he flew the plane as his friend drove the van along the side of the highway.

Modelers have come up with all sorts of flying machines such as flying disks, a broom with the witch attached, and even a doghouse with Snoopy sitting on top of it.  Why do these people do that sort of thing? The technology has advanced to the point that we now have special remote controlled devices that are used in combat to reduce the exposure of our troops to enemy fire.  There is a new age of miniaturization in R/C modeling that has created a whole new arena of tiny model helicopters, airplanes, cars, and even a real life sized dragonfly.  I was watching a science channel on television recently an saw how a scientist discovered the mechanics of how a dragonfly flies.  It was an amazing show that went all the way from research to a working full size radio controlled scale model of a dragonfly.  They showed how well it can work for surveillance by hovering outside of some-one’s house and flew inside when the door was opened.  Equipped with camera equipment this worked as an efficient spy.

Why do they do this sort of experimenting?  Probably for a multitude of reasons but the first two that come to mind are to advance the technology and secondly to just have fun.

See you next time.