A History of the beginning of RC Soaring

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Windfree in Box Windfree Box and plans

This is the original Mark's Model kit, long before laser cutting and CAD plans. Windfree kits were the top seller back then and I flew them in contests starting in 1973. The kit was introduced in 1971 and flown very successfully by designers Mark Smith and his father Rod in all the major contests during the seventies. Prior to the Windfree, much of the USA market relied on European kits. The average flying weight is 26 oz. and the design uses a thin airfoil. The Windfree kit is easy to build and is absolutely beautiful in the sky.


OTTO_ 1975 SOAR NATS_ TAYLOR C. PHOTO.jpg (25493 bytes)

1975 S.O.A.R. NATS, L-R: Ted Strohm with his Graupner Cumulus, Walt Hill ready to time Ted's flight (they were inseparable), Bud Pell, Otto Hietecker with his Challenger, and Kelly Pike from the great Torrey Pines R/C Soaring club of California. The pilots and their timers are grouped, waiting to be led to the winches. The S.O.A.R. club of Chicago pioneered group launching that made huge contests ( 200 plus contestants) possible. Photo by Taylor Collins


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cirrus2.jpg (34182 bytes)

Randy Smith of Va. sent this photo of his son, 12 year old Eric, holding Randy's trusty Graupner Cirrus. There are two merit badges from Randy's club located on the fin, for 30 and 45 minute thermal flights. Thanks for a great spring photo Randy. Cirrus kits first came to the USA approximately 1967 and were a big hit. ABS plastic fuse in three parts, Graupner quality through out the kit and almost everyone had at least one. I probably went through four or five of them plus several Cumulus kits by Graupner back in the early seventies. I am currently building another Cirrus and Cumulus. The Cirrus will have flaps and ailerons and the wing dihedral will be changed.

Cumulus box exterior (35250 bytes)

The Cumulus was introduced in the late 60's - early 70's and was actually an ARF. The fuse was a one piece, very durable nylon plastic, more durable than the Cirrus's three piece ABS plastic fuse. Tail feathers and wings were foam cores pre sheeted with balsa wood. Just install the R/C and wing rods, cover the flying surfaces and launch. A little on the heavy side, but it is a good flyer. The canopy has a different shape than the Cirrus, but used the same canopy tray.

Cumulus box open (24468 bytes)

Cumulus kit contents (21358 bytes)

Graupner Elektro UHU
Graupner Elektro UHU box


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Sky Bench Aerotech 

Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804