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Author Topic: Flying Models magazine 1960 Nats questionnaire on future of modeling  (Read 662 times)
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duration
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« on: November 29, 2018, 05:51:48 AM »

At the 1960 Nats in Dallas, Flying Models magazine solicited modelers' thoughts on what the future of model airplanes would be. Some of the results were published sometime in late 1960 or early 1961.

Since the 2019 NFFS Symposium will be focusing on the future of Free Flight, I thought it might be interesting to look back at what some of us thought the future would hold. One idea I do remember was duck hunting with a radio-controlled duck fitted with a mini-shotgun in its beak! 

Does anyone happen to have the back issues with the article? It may have run over two issues. I kept the tear sheets but they seemed to have disappeared over all our moves.

Thanks,

Louis

 
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DavidJP
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 09:49:43 AM »

I can't help with the magazine Louis but I do feel optimistic as to the future of Free Flight - generally - not just competition. 

Admittedly we are not seeing encouraging numbers of young people building and flying free flight models but whilst there is the natural wastage due to advancing years I do see now and again what may be called born again aeromodellers returning to the fold and even the occasional committed radio flyer wanting to have  ago. 

Free flight is very diverse- you can spend thousands on the latest ready to go hi tech stuff or you can make several models from a small collection of balsa.  Free flight also has a unique challenge - once you have let go of it (and have chosen not to dose it with high tech gizmos) it is on its own and your skill in building (if you choose that route) selection of materials  trimming and launching is tested.  I have continually witnessed the intense satisfaction shown by many aeromodellers when a successful flight is achieved and also the interest and admiration of onlookers from the FF community.  Something I cannot fully explain.

For so long as the art of free flight is pursued it should follow that there will be competitions. 

Numbers are not important surely.  Yes a contest is perhaps more enjoyable and stimulating if there is a large entry but only that - not essential. One essential ingredient however is that we must all be tolerant - accepting that there is the freedom of choice and thus it can be exercised.  I cannot ever imagine taking part in F1C for example - but I will watch the people who do and admire their skill. At the other "end" a well trimmed and detailed sedate rubber powered scale model is also impressive.

Possibly then the free flight community may need to look at itself now and again and examine the culture - is there any elitism - any prejudice against non competitive models - should contests be scrutinised for any "closed shop" atmosphere - are there areas where things are too serious.  I am not claiming that there are any such things but it might do well to look now and again.  What is the image of free flight in the eyes of those who do not participate.

And then what is the goal - assuming that the Symposium has a concern about the future of free flight what exactly is the aim?  More people taking part - greater entries for contests - raising the bar generally - or maybe consider encouraging the building and flying of free flight model aeroplanes top swell numbers and develop things from there?  And how do we accommodate the shrinking of available flying sites?  Re vamp the models and their performance?

Or, when debating the future, is it a case of OK chaps this is how we are going to do it - our way.  No point in building a model aeroplane if you are not a serious competitor.

Presently I am pretty much a (FF) sport flyer - but any type of model goes - it simply just has to appeal to me.  I enjoy building them - and the more varied the greater the interest. Thus it may be justly held I am not qualified to comment. I certainly don't have many answers.   But sometimes one can see more of the game as a spectator than a player. The only forecast I dare make is we will see models carrying a basic radio system that will assist keeping it within a prescribed envelope.  I have done this  - it works - costs very little - just into double figures.  Yes I recognise there would be complexities with contests but we are surely able to sort that?

A small selection of my ravings then.   
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 11:00:08 AM »

     Well Louis and David, here is my 2 cents worth.  I am one of those "born again aeromodellers returning to the fold".   I never tried to fly free flight as a kid, but I did put 020 and  049 engines into control line flying balsa planes that I built.    There was a lot of satisfaction in that though.    So I am just making up for 42 years of lost time, and I just fly rubber outdoors (I have no indoor facility - no one is interested ... ).  
      The biggest problem as I see it, is the loss of available flying sites.  I have seen the "Auxilliary Police" oust the drone flyers from the park that I sneak into to fly in.   I have to do all my flying  "on the sly", and have not been caught yet.   Embarrassed Undecided    I am sure if it was allowed, more people would see it in person, and have a natural curiosity about it,  but sadly that is not the case.   Sad
      It is true that the kids must have instant gratification and satisfaction these days.    They will move on to something else because they do not have the patience.
       I think the only chance to get a kid hooked on the hobby is to make the first kit a quick one of a laser cut high wing sport plane of a proven flyer.   Then tell him how great it would look if he could build a real looking "scale" plane that also flies,  etc etc ,  but just make sure that everything works well for the first couple of kits and they don't get turned off,  or you could lose their interest quite quickly.

LASTWOODSMAN
Richard

OH!  and the changing weather -  I find it is almost always too windy all the time ...  you need a big model to get enough forward penetration in order to fly ...
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2018, 11:42:41 AM »

I just returned to Free Flight modelling after about 50 years and am extremely diusappointed in the lack of resources.  With the exception of a local general crafts store for balsa and tissue, Hobby Lobby, I have had to deal exclusively with on-line dealers.  My experiences have been just OK to date, I sorely miss the ability to touch and examine products before purchase and I do miss the ability to chat face to face with a knowledgable dealer.  With the hype of RC to the total exclusion of Free Flight and Control Line flying by all my local "hobby shops" I have serious doubt for the future of Free Flight.  Add to the lack of local resources the cost of membership in a flying club with access to adequate flying fields, in my local case it would amount to an AMA membership as well as club membership, nearly $100/year which is pretty high for someone who might use the facility half a dozen times in a year.  I'm currently flying at local parks with small, underpowered rubber models trimmed to stay low and close, fun but not very exciting.
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2018, 11:59:18 AM »

...
      It is true that the kids must have instant gratification and satisfaction these days.    They will move on to something else because they do not have the patience.
       ...
LASTWOODSMAN
Richard

Is this true?
The children (8 to 12year olds) I see are often very goal oriented! When dealing with a code problem they can focus on systematically looking for logic or typing errors.

The issue I see with "toy airplanes" is that there is no magic for them. Flight to them is just an inconvenient bus trip. When you and I were kids the intellectual push was to the moon. Now it is getting the "computer" to do what you want. To that end kids are just as focused, maybe even more so, than we were on getting wood and paper to fly.

Today the skills needed to move bits and bites is actually more important than the skills we needed to make aircraft shapes.  

As to the future of our hobby, it will dip maybe die with the added regulatory burdens. I know that with the added legal liabilities land owners don't want me or kids running around on their land for fear of getting sued should somebody's precious snow flake break a leg in a goofer hole. The lawyers would call an unlocked gate a welcoming nuance.  For these perceived liability issue most areas suitable for free flight models are off limits. The monotonous drone of the control line I.C. engine has made nearby communities ban control line flying.

The value of toy airplanes has come and gone, for the youth.  If it holds any value it is in the drone to be used to validate the code. It is the code that is driving the excitement of the youth.

To my way of thinking "Instant Gratification" is more a parenting issue than one with the kids. Give the kids the tools to explore their world. Today the smart one are using  code to explore and gain the tools they will need in life.

All the best,
Konrad
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2018, 12:06:59 PM »

Guys,
Things have certainly changed but not all for the worse. Hobby stores of the former era are mostly gone but in their place come many small boutique online operations that try to cater directly to the ff community. The down side is that you don't get instant gratification but you do get their best efforts to product and provide excellent products. These folks are always happy to chat online or on the phone and can be found at most of the major contests. I have also found that a willingness to rise to the challenge of finding good wood and materials locally yields acceptable results you just have to be willing to try and to approach it with a positive attitude.

As for flying, again it's about how you approach the problem. I get on google earth and look for large open spaces. Then I figure out who needs to be asked about flying in that space and I make my approach in a respectful way and with a model in hand to show them what I am talking about. More often than not folks are happy to help and even interested in what I am up to. When it does not work I keep looking. Lastly I try to attend contests, even if I am not competitive I try to go and compete so that I get to fly airplanes,  hang out with likeminded folks and "talk shop".

Like everything in life it is how you approach things that makes the difference. The past is the past, how do we make the most of the future?

BG
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2018, 12:17:37 PM »


 It is true that the kids must have instant gratification and satisfaction these days.    They will move on to something else because they do not have the patience.


I've said it more than a few times on this forum:

I don't agree with the above statement. If you have a chance sometime, go to a "ComicCon", preferably a large one, and you will be amazed by the skills, imagination and time invested in "Cosplay". One thing I am very impressed with is that "bought" costumes and props are very much frowned upon. In fact, in the competitions, you are required to make the majority of your costume. Yes, there is normally a "Professional" division where a costume designer can have someone else wear the costume, but the designer is who gets the award, not the person wearing the costume, and you can't buy a professionally designed and fabricated costume and enter it in the competition.

And, you want to know what I think is the best part? Everybody in the room is having fun! And, even better, everyone is accepted for who they are.

Or, go to a Maker Fair.

Sorry, I don't buy into this whole "Back in MY day" argument. "Kids" today are smarter than we are, more talented, and, for the most part, very passionate about the things that of interest to them.

IMHO - The biggest problem we have is not the "customers" but, rather, the "product" we are trying to sell.

Put on a salesman hat for a few minutes, and try to "sell" Freeflight to someone. If you are honest, Freeflight is a tough sell.
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2018, 01:32:24 PM »

Watching my young granddaughters I can easily see they distinguish between the media and "doing something" more intellectual.  One loves to create in the world of play blocks, artist supplies while the other loves to draw and paint.  I don't believe the access to electronics is the problem at all, rather I see the lack of alternatives as the issue.  If a child wanders into a modern "hobby shop" all that child will see are RC planes, boats, cars and trucks all either ready to fly or almost so.  Gone are the shelves of reasonably priced (a pet peeve for another time) balsa models, if there are any DIY models in the shop they cost a prohibitively small fortune to a youngster, even most adults. 

I also don't think for a minute these kids are smarter then the generation before them, they are simply working with a different skill set based on what our generation developed.  In many ways they are more poorly educated in terms of the basics such as writing cohesive sentences, spelling, understanding the basis for the math their calculator is doing for them, basic science and on and on.  There could feasibly come a time when all those electronic devices go dark and I hate to consider what will happen to this generation if that occurs.
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2018, 01:46:07 PM »

I am not sure I agree with all you say Starduster.

First I do not consider all young people today are not practical and inventive with things other than smart phones tablets and computers.  Equally I admit that most are much "smarter" than I at operating the "technology".  One reason for that (apart from their being naturally competent) is that I am not  interested in mastering that technology as are they.  So I don't pursue it. And they are not that interested if at all in making and flying model aeroplanes. And I say "so what" it does not matter.

It is true to say things were different in my day. When I was a young person the war had just ended and technology was a clockwork train set. I don't recall anyone i knew having a TV.  It was a natural thing to make things - and a necessity if you wanted a scooter soapbox cart or similar.  Cricket stumps and a bat as well.  So I suppose we were as  skilled in our way as the young people of today are with technology. They have grown up with it. Dare I say it was inflicted on me?  Visit some of the third world countries and see how inventive the children of today are there without technology.  That was how it was in my day.

Todays culture is that the majority of young people do want instant entertainment - and why not? It is there for the taking. Pro rata though my parents could not have afforded the similar  type of "technology" we had then.  We had a wind up gramophone for quite a while after the electric ones were available.  No credit cards you see and "credit" was almost sinful. Todays young people have far more money at their disposal - be it via parents makes no difference - they can have what they want to a far greater extent,

It is very evident that young people today are passionate about things that are of interest to them.  That is not unusual - it is logical - but I am a little concerned with their passion for technology because it seems to dominate their lives - - no diversity.  And I do find that many lack the ability to communicate - they have little desire for conversation.  Those that can converse almost always are those whose parents control their access to the internet and computer etc.  It is not unusual for those young people to have an ordinary phone.  Oddly they seem to cope quite well in the presence of peers who have the lot and unrestricted access.  Some voluntary work I did some little while ago introduced me to some of the darker side of what can they can do with technology and how they can be affected by it.  I thanked my maker I have no young children.

So I do not want to sell Free Flight to anyone. I do not have the right to even remotely suggest that they do it. But show and interest and they can have  all the encouragement they want.  Of course it is a "tough sell"; it would be in todays world because it simply is not compatible.  Call it progress.  But todays offerings and our culture in many ways are I fear making children grow up too quickly. They lose their innocence at quite a young age.

So to sum up - making and flying model aircraft will not make a comeback comparable to yesteryear - but it won't vanish entirely for a while yet. When it does it may well be because someone so decrees! Control you see.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2018, 02:08:59 PM »

I've been to more than a couple ComicCons with my daughter, and I always have had a great time. I've walked around and wondered how great it would be if we (Free Flighters and Model Builders in general) could tap into some of the talent shown by these kids. I wonder how great it would be to have a "Panel" during a "Con" and show some stick and tissue airplanes. Specifically, I think the kids would totally get a kick out of the FAC "Fantasy" airplanes.

And, how about a booth at a maker faire?

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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2018, 05:12:56 PM »

 Old thoughts looong debated.  Youth is wasted on the youth etc. 
Onset of 'grandfatherhood' has been an eye opener, for me at least.
Kids are clever little rascals. Information sponges being a barely adequate understatement.
They Observe  and learn their environment .. every single waking moment
 IMO each generations' focus is engulfed in the Flavour of the times.
 Be it Aircraft (when Flying was 'new' and We were young) Cars.. Tv.. Popular Music.. Computers and currently: Personal devices.
 Every developing individual adapts to what is omnipresent in their lives.
No rokit science in that observation tho.
 What has this to do with our personal Hobby Horse(s) ?
Most kids simply have no awareness, exposure  or interest.. flying machines hold small attentions.
Occasionally..   a few can be coerced to our preferred direction..... with effort.
 Hardly the same  as mass acceptance  though.
 Ours is a Sunset activity/hobby.
 Relax.. and enjoy the colours of it.
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2018, 12:54:43 AM »

I just returned to Free Flight modelling after about 50 years and am extremely diusappointed in the lack of resources.  With the exception of a local general crafts store for balsa and tissue, Hobby Lobby, I have had to deal exclusively with on-line dealers.  My experiences have been just OK to date, I sorely miss the ability to touch and examine products before purchase and I do miss the ability to chat face to face with a knowledgable dealer.  With the hype of RC to the total exclusion of Free Flight and Control Line flying by all my local "hobby shops" I have serious doubt for the future of Free Flight.  Add to the lack of local resources the cost of membership in a flying club with access to adequate flying fields, in my local case it would amount to an AMA membership as well as club membership, nearly $100/year which is pretty high for someone who might use the facility half a dozen times in a year.  I'm currently flying at local parks with small, underpowered rubber models trimmed to stay low and close, fun but not very exciting.

Times have indeed changed and the reality of 2018 isn't the romance we might remember from the 1960s, but what you can do is be pragmatic and make the best of it - for yourself!

As a kid, I had to take a bus right across London to one (or both) of two model shops; the guy behind the counter had no opinion on whether I should buy and build this Keil Kraft model or that Guillows model, just that I should give him my hard-earned car-washing money so I could take my exciting kit-box plus some balsa cement and dope back home on the bus.  My only source of information was the monthly AeroModeller magazine.  There were no forums on which I could ask questions, no feedback on my efforts, no videos showing builds from start to finish, nor any of experienced modellers methodically trimming and flying their models.  The only guy I knew at school who was into the hobby had previously done some control-line with his dad, but he became an obnoxious punk when his parents split up. 

Maybe outdoors FF isn't as unfettered as it perhaps once was, but the main event has always been the challenge and excitement of making the model and anticipating the actual flying, and that hasn't changed at all.  If the flying environment has become more heavily restricted and regulated, then what and where one flies is the only practical response.  (I fly RC gliders in random fields or off slopes where no-body cares what I'm doing, and do monthly indoor FF scale through a club.)

Chin up, best foot forward and all that.
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2018, 05:42:13 AM »

My grandson has far more models than I've got and he made them all himself. The only difference is that mine are made from stick and tissue and his are made from little blocks of plastic!!!!!
Ron
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2018, 05:08:59 PM »

Getting back to points made in OP, the "NATS"/ Nationals used to mean something. Nat's event winning models were often kitted or featured with plans and articles in the national model press. We had heroes and names that inspired imitation. The hobby drove the industry.etc. Today the industry drives the modeling markets and in sense modeling too. Looked at a Model Airplane News, lately?
 
I agree, we are becoming the new age tether car, vane sailing model yaghters, and twine balling gurus. Our time and our interests are passing. It is as it should. I say we do it quietly, with as much class as possible and not become too curmudgeonly, in the process.


 

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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2018, 07:29:40 PM »

Louis, I hope someone has the issues you are looking for in their stash. 
One thing I have noticed in the past 40 odd years of modeling is that it probably is easier and less expensive now to get into the hobby as far as information, reliability, and cost of the big ticket items, engines, radios (for those so inclined), etc.  At the same time technology has exploded and made it easier and cheaper to become involved, the local hobby shops and flying fields have been in steady decline. 25-30 years ago AMA was beating the sound reduction drum for engines so we wouldn’t lose flying sites. Now with the proliferation of electrics noise isn’t an issue but we still lose flying sites and can't attact newer generations to the hobby. We are not alone, most hobbies are in decline.  I for one will just keep doing what I can to continue to fly and try to be hospitable to prospective new people but as George Harrison said, “All things must pass”.
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2018, 09:32:31 PM »

Louis - Before we completely forget about your original question, I do have all the Flying Models issues from the period you mentioned. I have looked at the 1960 and 1961 issues but did not find anything about a questionnaire from the 1960 Nationals. Perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place in those magazine issues. Does your memory include anything more specific regarding where in the magazine the results may have been published?

Paul Bradley
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2018, 10:35:05 PM »

If memory serves, it was American Modeler that had the questionnaire, and results were published in their Annual.  I looked forward to each issue.  My last had full size patterns and dimensions for the only 1/2A gas I ever got to fly as a kid, the Space Rod.
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2018, 09:31:34 PM »

I looked through the issues of American Modeler including the annuals for the time period I came up empty.

Paul Bradley
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2018, 11:48:45 PM »

Well, I guess memory didn't serve. Cheesy Wink Grin Roll Eyes

Did one of the Annuals have the Space Rod by Vic Cunningham?
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2018, 04:41:20 AM »

Afraid not.

But have we come up with anything concise (not necessarily encouraging) about the future of freeflight. 

For the avoidance of doubt I do not subscribe to any view that young people are to blame in any shape or form.  I still believe in a free society you see and that we can amuse ourselves in any way we wish - within the bounds of legality of course and having due regard to the welfare (in a wide sense) of others.

But how about this?  According to a report in a British newspaper “executives who have flooded the market with smartphones pay up to $40,000 a year to “wall off their kids from their creations”.  Parents working in Silicon Valley are allegedly sending their children to elite tech. free schools where screens and digital technology are banned.

They learn to churn butter by hand, sweep up (oh how cruel) wash dishes (without protective gloves no doubt) knit and sew (using needles for goodness sake??).  And even worse - are encouraged to run around outside and get dirty. Classrooms have blackboards and the pupils use pencil and paper.

Surely these heartless parents need counselling. 

But you know I think we may be the same in the UK because I know some professionals who earn a bob or two who definitely ration their young when it comes to technology.  One has the computers hardwired so no WiFi and that way they can better control what their kids do on their computers, the use of which is limited to a couple of hours a day.  No smartphones either.  And the school they go to insists on a uniform. 
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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2018, 05:07:41 AM »

You're right David - its a free country and it is healthy to let our kids do what interests them... sniff dope?!?  Shocked

The smartphone thing is however a major problem - its dopamine-hitting seductiveness exceeds anything outside of illegal narcotics.  A recent report has charted the massive increase in mental health referrals for young people (mainly but not exclusively girls) against the identically-correlated increase in smartphone use amongst this age-group.

The solutions however aren't exactly difficult for parents and educators.  My kid's school will call in the parents of any child who has been caught for a second time in any given term with their phone switched on (even if not in use).  When he gets home he hands it over to me until the next morning.  The only opportunity he then has is to use it (using his own credit) is on the long bus journeys to and from school - although I am reassured that he sometimes reads or arses around with his mates... insofar that anyone can arse around properly with a seat-belt on!

After homework he greedily consumes the latest copy of Everyday Practical Electronics or writes programmes for his Kitronic BBC:MICROBIT on his laptop... so he's clearly as functional a nerd as the rest of us!  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2018, 07:16:49 AM »

I interesting Jon. 

Yes we have two schools locally who were made into academies.  The usual protests appeared in the local newspaper about banning phones etc. during school hours and would you believe the proposals for physical exercise.  But in contrast the schools were inundated with requests for places.  Although some parents removed their children by way of protest not enough went so there was (and maybe is) a waiting list.  According to one source the absentism for sickness etc. has also dropped.  So some of it must be right.

“clearly as functional as a nerd (??) as the rest of us”??  Not in my case - I would fare better translating the Iliad than I would writing a programme on a laptop for a .......what?....... 

Phrontis!

Ahh .. but I was reminded of Orpheus the other day who met his end at the hands of the women of Thrace - ripped his head off and chucked it in the river and he continued singing in defiance.  But smartphones could not have been to blame but possibly femminism.  You see he was launching his Hi Start glider and the elastic broke and twanged one of the ladies and they all took exception. 
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2018, 10:55:48 AM »

Paul,

Thank you very much for looking through the back issues. It could have been AM. Back then, we had subscriptions to Model Airplane News and Flying Models; I think we subscribed to American Modeler.

All I recall is that the magazine passed out requests for thoughts on what modeling would be like in the future. I think it was for 50 year, which would put it at 2010, but it could have been for a shorter period.

At some point in the late 1960s I went through the huge stack of magazines and clipped a small number of articles that I then kept. After a dozen or so moves, a lot of that stuff has disappeared.
Since the 2019 NFFS Sympo will focus on the future of free flight, I'm exploring the possibility of using some of the many responses on Hip Pocket as part of a possible Sympo paper.

Thanks to everyone who has posted comments. Please continue.

Louis
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2018, 09:42:23 PM »

...
Did one of the Annuals have the Space Rod by Vic Cunningham?

The 1961 Annual has the Space Rod article.

Paul Bradley
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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2018, 10:19:24 PM »

Thanks Paul.  I built one back then.  Flew great, but never made it to a contest.
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