Sky Bench Aerotech is suspending operations during the transition.

We are sorry to pass on the news the Ray Hayes, the founder and operator of Sky Bench Aerotech, has passed away on January 29, 2019.

His funeral services was on Monday, February 4, 2019. Please see his obituary for details.

For convienince, here is a copy of the above-linked obituary:

Raymond Hayes, 83, passed away, Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, IN. He was born in South Bend, IN, to the late Herman and Julia Hayes. He married Deborah Neal in 1970 and she survives. He enjoyed selling, building, and designing radio control sail space planes and owned Sky Bench, a company that sold Sailplane Kits. He also had a long career in automobile sales. Raymond was an avid Eagle watcher. Surviving are his children, Sarah (Justin) Taylor and Mark (Laura) Hayes; and granddaughter, Ruby Ray Hayes. Raymond was also preceded in death by his infant brother, Richard Hayes. A celebration of life service 4:00 pm Monday, February 4, 2019 at D.O. McComb and Sons Funeral Home Covington Knolls, with calling from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm prior to the service. Memorial contributions Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. To sign the online guestbook please visit,

Sky Bench

Highest Quality Laser Cut Wood Sailplane kits

Ray's Newsletters

TV video - Ray's Great Lakes League

Lil Bird 2HL60" WS
Mini Hi-Start for 1.5M and 2M
Ray's Osprey Design Series
Home of Airtronics OLY II
Oly IIRES100" WS

View OLY II Working Thermals
Push-Rod Installation Tips
Wing Construction Tips
Add Carbon to Spars ???
Read Ray Hayes' article for insight into the mysterious ways of spoilers.
64" ELECTRIC SPARKY Ray's adjustable Fuse Jig
Click the kit name to bring up the kit page.
Paragon - Pierce 970 - Pierce Arrow - Windfree - Windward - Merlyn - Windlord - Challenger - The Challenge - Gulf Coaster - WF-XL - Legionair - Viking MK I-MK II - Windrifter - Thermal Queen
Wood Crafters 2018 Report
Wood Crafters 2017 Report
Wood Crafters 2016 Report
Wood Crafters 2008 Report
Wood Crafters 2007 Report
Wood Crafters 2006 Report
Wood Crafters 2005 Report
Wood Crafters 2004 Report
Wood Crafters 2003 Report
Wood Crafters 2002 Report
2005 Postal Fun Fly Report
Sunbird Classic 2000 Report
1995 AMA/LSF Nats
Mini Hi Start Contest

TV video - Ray's Great Lakes League
Frank Wren and Ray Hayes

Ray cutting OLY II leading edges.

Al's laser cutter plaque Ray and Al

In Memory of long time laser cuter for Sky Bench, Al Kartman, he was a great guy.

Al did most of the CAD work, producing the plans and cutting files.

Click here for Al's Obituary.

Wood Crafters Reunion #10 June 1,2,3, 2018

What is Wood Crafters ??? 2017

Sailplane lineup

Hello Ray

I hope this finds you well and "caught up" with all your endeavours.

Yes, it seems I am a bit looney. I ordered my Lil Bird 2 in February....of 2013! I finally opened the box this morning at 0330. It has been through three household moves, in countless boxes and on several shelves...and now finally on the bench.

I just had to write to say that this is unequivocally one of the best, if not THE best produced kit I have ever seen. I have building models since 1952 at age 9. So I do have some experience with kits. lol.

I'll be 71 this month, twice retired...first time as a USAF fighter pilot for 20 years, second as aerospace engineer and then college instructor. The changes I have seen over the years in our hobby have been good and bad. The worst is the ARF. Totally destroying model aviation. Instant gratification, no pride of building or ownership, supporting import businesses and impersonal internet ordering.

I know being a small business owner is tough. But it means a lot to us out here to know someone is still willing to support us with great products. I am So looking forward to building and flying this an electric, or maybe even stick an .049 Baby Bee on it.

Just wanted to say thanks.

Dave Fairchilds
Now in Sonora, Ca


Your Viking is a great kit as usual. I balanced it with NiMH cells but had a problem with my battery. Rather than buy a new battery, I switched to LiPO that I had on hand and a couple of fishing weights. It goes up with authority and really buffets you on take off. It flies like a dream with an AXI 2820-12, 12 X 7 folder, 2500 3 cell LiPO. I will never use the capacity in the battery but needed that battery to pull 30+amps.

Here is a picture

Electrified Viking


Sky Bench Woodys are strong and repairable.
Can't say that about most ready to fly sailplanes.

Big Bird XL - left wing repair

Big Bird XL - test fitting new joiner

Big Bird XL - ready for final sanding


Due to a malfunction in the controller in my electrified, XL B/B last summer, my Bird went in hard. Actually .... I did something stupid trying to "fix on the fly".

This Bird is on your web site, (the yellow and white one displayed, sitting on a trash can), along with my positive comments about this plane and your help.

The left tip panel broke at the attachment to the inboard left panel. VERY little damage to the fuse. Just a small bit of balsa that "popped out" of the block in front of the canopy. Amazing that this was the only damage as it really did go in very hard.

Anyway..... since I was rebuilding ............ I stripped both wings of covering and cut-in flaps. I made a big mistake not adding the spoilers or flaps in the original build.

I just cannot say enough about your product, the wood, the packaging, ........ and the wonderful way this XL B/B flies. It was my first sailplane kit. (I have done several glow and gasser kits). I love big planes............. so I see a Sky Bird, or Oly I I I in my future. :-)

Thanks for listening,
Bob Ruder

Big Bird overhead (click to enlarge)
Click here for in flight photos of this beautiful Woody Big Bird.

Big Bird for sale

Another beautiful Big Bird

Tom Como and his Big Bird

Tom Como and his brand new Sky Bird. Tom is a Member of the Toledo RC Club with fellow member John Root and several other members that are completing their Sky Birds and Big Birds. The club gathers every Monday afternoon to fly their sailplanes during the summer and early fall. Thanks for the pix Paul.

John Root's winter Big Bird

Here is a picture of the Big Bird that I completed as a winter project in March.

The plane is a beautiful flyer. It penetrates well in 10 to 15 mph wind and is sensitive to thermals. The following are some modified construction details: * Monokote finish--Chrome Monokote on the tail feathers and wing tips.
* Tow Hook System--Used 1/2 of an Airtronic rail centered at the CG
* Fabricated a tow hook from a common nail cut to about 1 1/4", then bent 90 degrees. Thread one end to 6-32 thread. This gives a much stronger tow hook that is infinitly adjustableat least plus or minus 1/2" from center CG.
* Spoilers--mounted 1" closer to the trailing edge. Operated by 2 JR 55 servos. Electrical connections using Deans connectors joining at the fuse. This system is superior to operating the spoilers with a cord attached to a servo in the fuse.
* Wing mounting--Held to the fuse by spring tension. This eliminates taping and untaping the wing to the fuse

The all up wgt is 44 1/2 oz. It is one of the few planes I have built that was not tail heavy.

Best regards, John D Root

Completed Sky Bird


Completed construction on my Sky Bird last week and flew it for the first time on Friday. I live in Western Colorado and went to a field where the elevation is about 6000 feet. The sky was clear and the temperature was 38 degrees with a very light variable wind. I measured the tension on the high start at 16 lbs. Although the combined length of rubber and string only measured about 300 feet the bird was launched high enough to find lots of lift and watching it fly was very satisfying after the many hours of assembly work. It tracked perfectly while on the high start and after releasing needed no trimming. Never had a first flight that made me smile so much. After playing in the rising air for awhile, I put the nose down, brought it in fast, circled the field once and watched as it almost landed by itself. What a great plane; I know I will enjoy many more flights with this beauty.

Jim Allen

Matt and his Big Bird

Ray, just wanted you to see my newly completed big bird. I think it turned out even better than I ever imagined. I can not wait to get it in the air this weekend!!! I'm just so excited about it right now I thought I would show it off a bit!!!

Thanks for a GREAT kit!!!


Oly II on the cover of Flying Models 2004

Albert Kartman Obituary

Here's a link to the obituary.

The funeral is on Wednesday at 1:00. Viewing is Tuesday from 4-7 and 1 hour before the funeral. There's more information in the obituary.

-Bob Kartman

Here's my posting on Facebook.

Albert Kartman, 5/10/37- 11/17/16. After a two year battle with ALS, my dad, Albert Kartman, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family at 2:30 AM, November 17.

He was a loving Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather who endured this terrible disease with grace, love, good humor, and patience until the end.

Al was born in a farmhouse in Knox, Indiana, grew up in Chicago, and moved to Mishawaka, Indiana after he graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He married the love of his life, Ann Marie, in 1959. They raised four children and enjoyed 12 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. He enjoyed a 39 year career with one employer, Bendix Corporation, where he contributed his engineering talents to our nation’s defense and developing aerospace technology. After he retired in 1998, he continued to keep his engineering mind sharp by helping me grow my laser cutting and engraving business; he also designed a new lake house that was a sanctuary for my mom, him and our family until the end. God blessed him in this life and has taken Al to his final home in heaven.

Sky Bench Aerotech
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
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