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Author Topic: Origin of VTO?  (Read 1800 times)
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duration
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« on: January 18, 2016, 08:33:01 AM »

I'm working on a paper for the 2016 NFFS Sympo on the history of FAI Power/F1C.  One of the first records of VTO (vertical take off) being used was at the 1955 World Championships. The winner (Gaster from England) and perhaps a few others used VTO, the remaining contestants used traditional ROG. (For the first few years of the the FAI Power event models were required to take from the ground.)

I'd also heard that a few AMA fliers used VTO at the 1955 US Nats in California. I remember a photo in one of the model magazines of a 1/2A ROW model with three ping-pong balls at the tail for VTO ROW. I'm not sure if that was at the 1955 Nats or later.

Does anyone have any information about the early origins of VTO? As far as I can tell no one was using it in 1954, but I can't be certain on that. Any other info about the early days of FAI Power would be helpful.

Thanks,

Louis
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2016, 11:17:16 AM »

This is anecdotal evidence only, but my father told me that Norman Marcus of the Croydon club in England was the first to try and subsequently perfect VTO.
There is a picture of Dad doing a VTO at the '55 champs on faipower.com (though the model still has a wheel). He wasn't using VTO at the 1954 Champs, however.

John
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Olbill
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2016, 12:14:51 PM »

I used VTO for my Sandy Hogan in the mid fifties. Don't know if that info is worth much.
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2016, 12:33:24 PM »

When I read the opening post I did a quick check to see if it was restricted to power because I think in the late 1940s most flyers of English L/W rubber model flyers would have tried a launch in that manner and found that there it made virtually no difference.   I can quite believe that Norman Marcus, a long time L/W rubber flyer, would have tried it on a power job.

John
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2016, 01:52:25 PM »

I always heard it was Ron St. Jean's Ramrod that popularized the practice in the US.  That was the reason for the radical downthrust.  I could be mistaken of course.
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2016, 02:00:34 PM »

John & John, thanks for the info on Norman Marcus. So far he's looking like the inventor of VTO, at least for power models.

Olbill, thanks for your Sandy Hogan store.  Do you remember why you tried VTO?  How did you learn about it.

One of the things I trying to find out is how technology traveled around the world.  If VTO was first seen on the "world stage" at the 1955 World Championships in Germany, and was first written about in the Dec. 1955 issue of Model Airplane News (perhaps a month or so earlier in Aero Modeller, how quickly was it adopted in the US?  At least VTO was a simple change, a few pieces of dowel or wire stuck on the back of the model and you'd be ready to give it a try.

Louis
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2016, 03:38:10 PM »

Louis
If I remember correctly I used VTO b/c an ROG takeoff got a 20 second motor run vs. 15 seconds for handlaunch. The VTO seemed to get the model on its way quicker than a normal ROG and qualified for the 20 second run.
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2016, 03:44:56 PM »

A story I heard was Louis Grammi (not sure of the spelling) would VTO his Strato Streak for fun,just because he could.I have no first hand info.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2016, 04:37:14 AM »

I believe that VTO went a long way back. See my article SAM1066.org  "New Clarion" January 2016 on Frank Ehling's "Phoenix " from Airworld May 1947 which clearly shows him VTO 'ing a model .
My guess is that this kind of launch had been around some time by then and that there is probably other earlier pics that could confirm . It should have been possible right from the start of pylon models ,which had
more power thrust than weight of model ? The first time I completed a VTO, was in early 1954 , but was never happy with arrangement. It always struck me as a  bit dangerous ,prop spinning at only arms length away from one's face .
Best thing when it was all done away with and hand launch became the norm.John
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2016, 08:32:16 AM »

Thanks to everyone for the info.  It is most interesting that VTO may have originated much earlier then I had thought. My first exposure (around age 10) was when my older brother came back from the 1955 US Nats and mentioned it. He also indicated that the extreme (10%) down thrust in the Ram Rod was to help with VTO.  I could find no mention of VTO in any of the Zaic Year Books prior to the 1955-56 Year Book, which had a half dozen three-views with VTO indicated.

Any anecdotally evidence of how VTO spread would be welcome.

I agree with John Thompson's observation of the danger of VTO to the launcher. But ROG was more dangerous to upwind spectators.  I'm sure the vast majority of FAI Power fliers were happy when the ground-launch rule was eliminated.

Louis
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2016, 10:30:09 AM »

I think this is a little funny.I've been VTOing for 50 years and find it much safer than hand launching.I still use the VTO to this day.I also have never seen any accidents from VTO but more than I can count from bad hand launching.Just my thoughts.
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2016, 11:01:33 AM »

I have a few words from Mike Gaster on the subject.

"Certainly Pete (Buskell) and I were not the first to try this, but we were the first to stick our necks out in a Championship.  A number of eyebrows were raised by our own manager, but we said that our models would stand up as required.  So we used VTO in Germany and there were then protests after I had won and we had the team Gold as well.  I think the Italian manager put in a formal protest.  Pete and I were invited to the control tent with our models.  If there was very little wind I could stand mine up on grass, but Pete needed a flat surface in zero wind.  He put his model on the bench and it stood while I positioned mine on the grass - also inside the tent. A shrug of shoulders and acceptance.  We certainly felt a great relief at that.  Of course this stopped ROG in future."

On a personal note, and despite my being on the flying field since I was knee high to a grass-hopper, my first exposure to VTO was in 2011 in Oregon, seeing Bruce Hannah and others do it with their Vintage FAI models. I do recall a near disaster once when a greenhead K&B coughed at the moment of release, and the V from VTO became an H, and there was a scattering of nearby spectators.

John
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2016, 05:17:29 PM »

John I have seen photos of your father VTOing his model.Do you remember the trouble we had with hard tanks and Rossi's around 1981?You would throw your model and at 1 to 2 sec. the engine would die the nose of the model would drop then the motor would come on full blast making it a incoming rocket to the ground.My friend Mike A. did it so many times he changed the name of his plane to Drill Bit.He never hit anyone but a few did need to change there underwear.It happened to most all of us until we found that if you reduced the size of the hole in the pressure fitting it helped.This also was the big reason for the change to bladders.     
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 01:43:02 PM »

Bruce, I think many of us have seen or experienced the 'cough' after launch syndrome. It happened to me in Vintage FAI a few years ago, and thanks to an uncharacteristic burst of athleticism I managed to catch the model before any harm was done. I think I got a round of applause for that, too.

Our old friend George Fuller used toy water balloons for his bladder tanks, using 2, one inside the other to provide good pressure. When one of them split, the engine would run OK, but would 'cough' on launch in the same manner.

I have (for quite a few years now) contemplated building a version of my Dad's Slick Stick FAI model, and part of the draw is trying VTO.
John
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 02:57:06 PM »

Don't forget to put your VTO pegs on the tail!



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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2016, 04:08:21 PM »

Interestingly Rich, although the majority of models flown in Vintage FAI are from the VTO/ROG era, I would say that none have the pegs (or wheels, come to that).

John
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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2016, 08:30:32 PM »

The first time I tried to VTO was in 1964 with a Ramrod that had a Baby Bee on it, it hovered.
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2016, 01:40:20 AM »

I feel privileged to state unequivically that in 1954 I saw Ron St Jean VTO his Ramrod 750 @ El Mirage Dry Lake during the San Valeers Annual.
It was at that amazing moment that I had I KNEW I had to build a Ramrod, but Ron had no drawing, which totally flummoxed me!
I did not have any idea how to build without a plan to work on! Markings on his workbench and layout to dimensions he had worked out, he said.
But he made me a drawing in '55 from which I made my 750 for the 55 NATS...which I had to ROG, as I only put 5 deg downthrust at first!
Later on I added the last 5 deg so I could VTO as well. Ron & Merrill Combs also flew Ramrods @ '55 Nats, which they VTOed of course.
VTO was SO much easier & safer than ROG, IMO.
I am not sure when Stan Hill started his VTO designs, the Amazon, Amazoom, Vector Director, etc.
Possibly someone might jump in with that piece of history for D.Rek? (excuse my joking name, Derek.  Grin)
BTW, my copy of Ron's first Ramrod drawing has been published in NFFS Digest, some years back, with the story I just paraphrased herein.
A picyure of me as a callow teenager appears on cover.   Embarrassed
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2016, 07:21:19 AM »

Leeper,
That was a great article in the digest.I probably read it  3 or 4 times as I was building my 750.
DDock
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2016, 04:29:54 PM »

Am happy that you liked it so much.  I tried to convey how anxious I got during the six months of waiting til the drawing arrived in June.
I was nearly beside myself.  So when I spoke with Ron about it to verify that it was first dwg, etc, I found he had been at Lockheed Skunk
Works, toiling like a demon, with very little extra time to satisfy a panicky, hormone exploding teenager with a mere drawing request!
FYI, I got better control of myself after those growth years...I think... Cheesy
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« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2016, 06:11:27 PM »

Possibly someone might jump in with that piece of history for D.Rek? (excuse my joking name, Derek.  Grin)
BTW, my copy of Ron's first Ramrod drawing has been published in NFFS Digest, some years back, with the story I just paraphrased herein.
A picyure of me as a callow teenager appears on cover.   Embarrassed

Leeper, the D.Rek name cracks me up, but it was Duration (Louise J.) who asked about the history of VTO. Not me.
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2016, 12:03:16 AM »

Am happy that you liked it so much.  I tried to convey how anxious I got during the six months of waiting til the drawing arrived in June.
I was nearly beside myself.  So when I spoke with Ron about it to verify that it was first dwg, etc, I found he had been at Lockheed Skunk
Works, toiling like a demon, with very little extra time to satisfy a panicky, hormone exploding teenager with a mere drawing request!
FYI, I got better control of myself after those growth years...I think... Cheesy

I've been told that the late Sandy Downs worked at the Skunk Works.
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2016, 04:08:36 AM »

I have (for quite a few years now) contemplated building a version of my Dad's Slick Stick FAI model, and part of the draw is trying VTO.
Was Slick Stick VTO?

All the dwgs I've seen suggest normal ROG.
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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2016, 11:06:01 AM »

The published plan of Slick Stick (it appeared sometime in 1954) does indeed only have a wheel for ROG.
As flown in the 1955 world champs it had pegs or dowels at the back for VTO, but it also still had the wheel.

Although people do perform VTO in Vintage FAI Power contests, they don't seem to follow the plans exactly with regard to the VTO dowels, hence models seem only to have one point of contact with the ground.
For ROG there would need to be a smooth surface for take off, of course.

John
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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2016, 01:58:10 PM »

The rules for Vintage FAI say one point for VTO. My guess is to get the timer to see that all three points are in contact with the ground at launch would be a nightmare and to check that the model could stand by it's self would need a very flat level surface.The main point being this is for fun so lets just go have fun.
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