Ray's 2012 Summer Newsletter

So far this spring the only notable thing I have accomplished is discovering Max Patch on the east side of Interstate 40 across from the Smokey Mountains. A Mountain Bald at 4600 feet elevation that is flyable during off season when the number of visitors is lower. I was not able to fly it this Spring, but will give it another attempt this late fall. The Appalachian Trail passes over the bald, the views in all directions are magnificent.

A Special Thanks to Greg Bell for passing on the Max Patch location to me.

I truly enjoy putting the Sky Bench woody kits together for the sailplane builders around the world and appreciate their support, but continually receive the question "do you have such and such kit available for shipping" ??? The answer is not easy, I don't have stacks of kits waiting for orders, I don't have that kind of space, Sky Bench produces approx 30 kits. I am a custom kit builder, all the wood is inspected for weight, grain and stiffness. Different wood qualities are used in different parts of my kits to produce a high quality kit that results in a a great flying sailplane that you can be proud of.

Woody builders are a special group of hobbyist that enjoy the building as much as the flying. I know I do and fortunately for me, producing the kits for fellow builders is a bit like building for me. So please try to understand, Sky Bench is located in Indiana, USA, not a foreign company with employees working for $2.00 a day. Sky Bench is not a retail outlet for China, which many USA citizens are suffering for that situation in our country. Sky Bench is a one man show making high quality woody kits available to those that have the patience to build and those that understand what it takes to make a very large number of Woody RC Sailplane kits available to the public.

Something New:

As a spectator to this years NATS ALES, I liked the event very much and wish I could have entered, but I couldn't get my sailplane ready in time.

I liked the ability to launch in any direction, but would be careful with this from a safety issue. I think allowing the pilot to pick the launch direction adds gamesmanship, I also think the more speed available, the more gamesmanship the pilot can use during launching . This appeals to me partly because it requires air picking knowledge, partly because it adds a spark to a TD contest and produces other obvious benefits. It is pure TD after the launching is over.

Electric launched sailplanes will add interest to soaring and attract new people, hopefully add new people to Soaring clubs membership roasters. The dumb club will end up pushing out the winch guys in favor of electrics, the smart club will embrace electrics with separate club activities for both interest, just as a smart club does for hand launch and slope. The bad thing that could happen is the human thing of trying to push everyone into electrics. You know ... I like it and therefore you should like it.

I hope clubs start sponsoring electric launched contests with two size classes, 2M and unlimited and no limits on number of controls or motor/battery. The first contest for electric launching that I would hold will be limited to 150M ( 492 feet ) launch height for both size classes.

The Best Sanding Tip You Will Ever Read !!

I have been using Perma Grit sanders for the past few years, they don't fill up like regular sandpaper does and will last forever. Their best feature is they make sanding so much EASIER and FASTER. I have the Flat and Rounded sanders, but the one I use most is the Sanding Block.


The Sky Bench LINKS and BEGINNERS page are a must read.

2012 AMA Nationals


Ray Hays and friendss at 2012 NATS
Photo by Jack Iafret
L-R .. Ray Hayes Jim Vanderzyl, Greg Smith and his son Gregory

2012 AMA Nationals photo, prior to Gregory's arrival, this group has been competing in National RC Soaring competition since the early seventies, all with great success. I'll let Greg fill us in:

Jim and I met when we were about 13. I flew the SOAR Nats in 74, 75 and 76. Jim and I were at the Nats together in 76 (I think). I do know we won the jr team. Also, every year I attended my team won the jr team. I think everyone expected Detroit to win it, but that didn't happen. Greg.
The hobby, the friendships, the contest experiences, the past and the future, we all feel the same way .... it's a great hobby and we are all still "Builders".

Max Patch sloping 2012 Max Patch - plane in the grass

Back to Max Patch

Flying at Max Patch, N.C. on top of Old Smokey is a real treat. Had a great time flying for two days on top of this 4,629' Mountain bald called Max Patch. Check the background scenery out, what a beautiful place to fly. The slope air was perfect with huge thermal conditions as well. I had my electric 2M E Lil'Bird that could range far and high and my 2M Osprey that is perfect for this slope. Awesome flying with a 360 degree view. My 2m Osprey can barely be seen in the grass. My first visit to Max Patch was in the spring without something to fly, I returned in the fall ready for action.

Thinking of Installing E-Power?

Why do some people have a mind set of "for or against" the growing popularity of building Woody Sailplanes and installing electric motors to launch them ? Or, as Jack Iafret describes it so well ... "a winch in the nose".

I read on RC Groups people actually putting a downer on anyone that would consider installing an electric motor in a sailplane. I don't get it. People want to tell ( control ) others how to enjoy the hobby of building model airplanes ??

Here is my short list that I think describes the benefits of each type of sailplane. From my point of view, I see posters on RC Groups trying to decide what kit to purchase and if they should install an electric motor, I believe it all comes down to how and where you are going to fly the sailplane.

The first thing I suggest is join an open minded sailplane club if possible. My second suggestion is realize your kit purchase will likely not be your one and only kit purchase. Third, when you ask a question on RC Groups, you will be astounded at reply's from folks that: A. don't build, B. have only one small experience with electric sailplanes or none. Consequently, be prepared to be a little more confused than you were before asking the question. I hope the following is helpful.

Ray's Short List ...

  1. The only thing different in the build is installing the motor and components and working the front end of the fuse.
  2. The gain in flying weight for E-Power is negligible unless you screw up by doing a poor job of glassing the fuse or using a larger battery and/or motor (too heavy) than necessary.
  3. If you are not already an accomplished Thermal Pilot, you most likely will have a tendency to rely more on the motor to save your plane than learning the finer skills of flying a motorless sailplane. That's Human nature at work. Many new pilots have a tendency to fly their E Powered "sailplane" more like a motor powered airplane and never get into the challenge and rewards of learning to Thermal Soar.
  4. Where you fly can determine installing E-Power, small flying fields are plentiful and the relative silence of E-Power flying allows you to fly without disturbing surrounding neighbors. A winch or hi-start need a little more room. BTW, please don't use the excuse that setting up a winch or hi-start is too much bother, the calories you burn walking will add time to your life span and improve your present physical endurance qualities. Pot bellies are UGLY and cause back and knee problems. Easy for me to say, I have continued my walking routine, but have reduced my calorie intake (diet) and have lost 15 pounds in six months.
  5. The obvious ... your missing something ( or a lot ) if you don't fly both electric and non electric. My best example, Bill Grenoble and I flew Max Patch for two days ( thousand mile plus round trip for each of us ) , I had my 2ME Lil Bird and non electric 2M Osprey. The first day's wind direction worked for both non and electric sailplanes, the second day worked just for the electrics. With the electrics we could check out different, far away areas for lift. This was our first trip to Max Patch, but not my last.

Ray Hayes LSF 803

My Missouri Valley, IA. Flying field.

"Oh, Oh" video of my failed E-Flight. (click to view)

Old newsletters:

Ray Hayes LSF 803


Sky Bench, Ft Wayne, IN 46804

E Mail: skybenchone@gmail.com