Self-propelled airplanes have been a great hobby for the young and old for many years. Ever since I was a very young lad I have always been interested in airplanes. I would buy an airplane kit and cut out the pieces then look at the plans and start building a model airplane. I use to have models hanging from the ceiling all over my bedroom. All I needed was an airplane kit, some glue, straight pins, a razor blade and a flat piece of cardboard. With those items I would entertain myself for hours.
My First Self-Propelled Airplane
As time went on I started building bigger and better models. I was really interested in airplanes. I remember I wrote to Douglas and Boeing aircraft companies and I asked them for information and photos of their production airplanes. I had pictures of airplanes all over my bedroom walls. I remember one of the pictures I had was the F-80 shooting star, one of our first combat jet fighters.
I wanted to have a self-propelled gas engine airplane for such a long time. I saved my money and went down to the hobby shop and bought a spitfire engine. I don’t even remember what the engine size was. I also bought a balsa wood model airplane. I believe it was a P-51 Mustang. The fuselage and the wings were each made out of balsa wood. I just had to do a little sanding and some gluing to get my airplane together.
I then added the engine, gas tank and some wire for the controls to the elevator in the tail section. The controls were quite simple; all we had was a handle with two wires attached to it. The two wires were each about 40 feet long. You would just turn in a circle with the handle in your hand while the airplane flew around you.
You would tilt the handle up or down depending on whether you wanted the airplane to go up or down. The wires went through four eye hooks in the wing then connected to the control wires for the elevator in the tail section. I was so proud of this airplane and engine that I bought with my own money.
Once I got the spitfire engine started my friend held the airplane up in the air and we were ready to launch. We then launch the mustang in the air. That’s how we were able to get airborne without a rolling take off. We were able to launch the airplane about six feet or so above the ground. But it was all downhill from there.
I kept giving the up position with the handle, but the airplane gradually kept going down toward the ground. It finally crashed in a cloud of dust with pieces flying all over. I was bewildered, I couldn’t figure out what may have gone wrong with my maiden flight. I laid down my control handle and went out to see my airplane in pieces.
I couldn’t believe it. I had to figure out what went wrong. Then I noticed that I had a twist in the control wires. This is the reason why when I was giving the up motion the airplane was going down. That was my first experience with a self-propelled airplane. To be sure it was not my last.