Building and flying free flight model airplanes is a pastime so obscure it doesn't even register on the geek heirarchy. But in the period between Lindberg's flight across the Atlantic until the start of the Second World War, thousands
of boys (and some girls) around
succumbed to the allure of rubber, lube
, and dope
Free flight was eclipsed in popularity by control-line
models and later radio control, but a hard core of enthusiasts are still at work making wonderful flying things. It's now pretty much a pastime for old men, many of whom have returned to the hobby after retirement. It's likely that some of the kids in the newsreels linked above are still making models. Like many obscure enthusiasms, it has found a home on the web. Here are some highlights for your browsing pleasure:
of rather small photos, and another
An extensive British site dedicated to free flight scale models
, including lots of rocket-powered models
of antique gas-powered model planes.
and other free flight oddities
Unbelievably delicate and graceful indoor duration models
. Actual flight starts at about 1:52.
More Indoor Planes
, including an ornithopter. Some of these planes are actually radio controled - Free flight designs and techniques are often well-suited for small radio control models.
"The sport of kings"
- 2005, Middle Wallop.
(with music, alas) to the modern Wakefield
high-tech rubber powered planes.
A jewel-like V-12 CO2 Engine
(more music, Steppenwolf this time).
The Long Flight
, a short 1968 amateur film about model aviation. Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
. The story offers a clue why the sport/hobby isn't more popular. There's a long sequence where the young protagonist painstakingly builds his model, only to have it crash and break on it's maiden flight. For most kids this would end their fling with model planes. Luckily, this is a movie and 1939 Wakefield Champion Dick Korda
is on hand to initiate him into the mysteries of the model plane.
The Plan Page
has free plans
and construction articles for classic models scanned from old model magazines.
Finally, a bit about a personal favorite, Bob Copeland's streamlined Wakefield from 1939
. Pictured here
and in this forum thread