Hand Launch

1.5m Osprey Collage, Click here for larger picture.
1.5m Osprey on bench, Click here for larger picture.
1.5m Osprey on fence, Click here for larger picture.
1.5m Osprey on the ground, Click here for larger picture.
1.5m Osprey partial plan sheet
1.5m Osprey manual cover


I am hoping to have this available by the end of November

If your interested in this kit, please send an e mail to be placed on the Notification List. skybenchone@gmail.com

Kit will be available as a Full Kit and partial kit

Lil Bird2

Click here for larger picture.

Cool! Cool! Mini Lil Bird
Wing span 50"     Wing area 259 sq in
Mini Kit price $79.95

Click here for e powered converted Hand Launch Kits

From: "Jeff Nibler" July 28, 2002

Hi Ray, I'm sure you're busy with the Nats and all, but I just had to share something quick with you that I'm sure will make you smile. Today at my club's Hand Launch Contest (PASS), I placed first out of 12 with my bone stock LilBird2.

I was the only javelin launch out there and was up against some stiff competition (such as an Xterminator Pro and some really good pilots). Just figured you'd get a kick out of that. I'm probably going to be ordering another one from you soon, as my wing is about 90% packing tape.


This e mail did make my day, Jeff has learned that with a good HL design and practice, the Lil Bird 2 is very competitive. Imagine the potential contest success Discus launching a Lil Bird 2. I'll find out at next years Wood Crafters 2003 HL event. This event will host woody HL designs only and launching can be by Javelin or Discus launching (sounds like the OLYMPICS). Maybe it is time for a beautiful Lil Bird 2 glass fuse.

Thanks for the e mail Jeff.

Ray Hayes

This all wood kit can be constructed very quickly because of the super accurate LASER CUT PARTS and Ray's design engineering that reduces construction time to a couple of weekends.

All parts are laser cut and the 1/32" balsa wing sheeting is pre cut. The fuse formers and sides are self aligning tab-slot design to further reduce building time and allow accurate construction. The rudder is tabbed and the stab is slotted to create a super strong and accurate assembly. Both rudder and stab only require sanding the edges round and can be glued with CA for FAST assembly. Plans are CAD drawn and all hardware is furnished including a tow hook.

Wing Span: 60"   Wing Area: 352 sq. in.
Airfoil: S3014
Flying Weight: 7 to 10 oz.   Wing loading: 3.5 oz or less

You won't believe it when you fly the LIL BIRD 2. It is a very attractive glider and looks fantastic in the air, but the superior flight performance is truly unexpected by all. The S3014 airfoil will float in the lightest of late evening lift or fly in very windy conditions extremely well allowing the LIL BIRD 2 to spec out down wind and return. The wing is very strong and can easily be launched from our world famous Mini Hi Start, plus the wing is not prone to tip stalling and it is built without tip washout to further simplify construction ease.

The Lil Bird 2 has been launched Discus style with good success. This is being done to an unaltered LB2 without beefing up the structure. The method is to have the right wing tip on the ground surface, holding the left wing tip with your right hand covering the D - Tube section and your thumb on the bottom spar, fingers on the top spar, start your spin gradually, raising your right arm / hand as it gains flying speed, release with an up ward flick of your wrist. This requires a preset on the rudder to conteract the roll during launch. Start this launching procedure by gradually increasing speed as you become accustomed to the style of launching.

You can modify an existing LB2 for Discus launching by cutting away some of the bottom wing sheeting where you are grasping the wing during launch and fill this area in with white foam.

What makes the LB2 performance so great ? Well, sailplanes are all about airfoil, but also plan form and flying weight and CG location. If you build the LB2 right out of the box you will be very happy with the performance, it will be superior to any other wood glider you have flown. Many of our LB2 customers have reordered second and third kits and asked what, if anything, could be done to kick the performance up another notch. The following is what I do to give the LB2 all the competitive edge it can muster.

I can build a LB2 to weigh 6.8 oz in the air, but have to add ballast when conditions get robust.

1. The wing is built stock with one coat of oil based Polyurethane on the sheeting surfaces that is immediately soaked off with Bounty paper towels to a point where the wood shows no signs of being wet (this is done to all surfaces). The open bay area is then covered with clear .0015 Mylar that weighs .0009236 oz. per sq. in. A 1000 sq. inches of this film weighs .9236 oz. Apply the film as you would any other heat shrink covering. The ease of applying this film is the best I have ever worked with and I use it on other fully sheeted larger sailplanes. Wings are attached with two nylon bolts.

2. The fuse weight is reduced by drilling one inch holes in the 1/64 plywood doubler. Drilling holes in the fuse formers. Running the antenna from the Rx forward to the nose block and back through a straw located in the center hole of formers F3, 4 and 5 and putting the excess between formers F2 and 3. Never let an antenna hang outside the sailplane. Cut the formers and bottom fuse sides to narrow the outside fuse width to one inch and height to 1- 7/8" at the forward wing bolt location to reduce drag.

3. Sand a taper into the elevator and stab to reduce weight and drag.

4. Four 110 Mah flight battery cells in tandem, micro servos and 555 Hitec Rx. The LB2 will balance with the flight battery located a half inch behind the nose block and the servos are in tandem behind the battery. Former one is omitted and the 1/8 sq. spruce rails are located from approx. one inch aft of Former 3 to 1 3/4" forward of the wings leading edge.



LIL BIRD 2 KIT PRICE ........................................... $89.95

Lil'Bird 2 launching at school (Click for Full Picture)
(Click for Full Picture)

This photo taken June, 2015 at a nearby school.
I'm still flying my hand launch Lil Bird 2 using
a Sky Bench Mini Hi Start. 33 minutes was my
Best flight of this very cloudy morning. Ray

Lil'Bird 2 in the grass
Gerald's Lil'Bird 2, June 26, 2010


Then 12 year old Mark Hayes about to toss the original LIL BIRD from the hill. The model design was improved and is now called "LIL BIRD 2".

As big as him!

Colin Yahr of New Mexico (age 14) with his LB2. Colin is the builder and flyer and his dad, Jim, says it flies great.

Ray Hayes

Ray Hayes with LIL BIRD 2 at Traverse City HL contest. I competed in four 1997 Michigan hand launch contests with this LB2, winning two first places and two second places. How do you suppose the fellas with their $200 and up HL models feel after getting whipped by an old guy with a $50 LB2 ? Sure makes me happy.

1998 Mid South Hand Launch Scores (click for full page)

Now Days, it is all about converting Woodys to "winch in the Nose", installing light weight electric motors for launching convenience. Actually, Electric conversion was going on in 1998, I had an electrified Big Bird then.

BTW ... When I came in 4th place in the above contest, I was 63 years old. Ray Hayes LSF 803

PPC_ H & O.jpg (43167 bytes)

Paul Clark of Japan sent this photo of his Lil Bird 2 and Mr. RC Soaring of Japan (SANWA), Mr. Masaru Hasegawa and RCHLG pioneer and Craft Room (RC) owner, Mr. Shuhei Okamoto. Paul is a real strong advocate of HL and occasionally flies competition events in the states.



Sunbird (stab)
Sunbird (fin & rudder)
Sunbird (fuselage)
Sunbird (wing)

Kit Price $99.95

Click here to see the full Old Buzzard's Sunbird Classic report with photo album.

These are scanned photos from the April 1980 issue of Model Builder magazine's "SunBird" construction article written by Dave Thornburg. Plan # 4802Dave Thornburg

Modifications to the original design will be made to reduce the wing loading to the current standards of high performance. The original used 1/16" wing sheeting which will be replaced with 1/32", the linear wing span has been increased from 54" to 58", wing tip trailing edge parts will be laser cut instead of laminating six pieces of balsa strips, fuselage balsa wood dimensions will be changed to reduce weight, balsa wood blocks will be used for wing tips to ease construction, two small nylon wing bolts will be used in place of the large one, the front length of the fuse will be increased a tad to accommodate today's much lighter R/C equipment (Dave used a 225mah battery, today we use 50 to 110 mah), the kit will be laser cut including the tail feathers, fuse parts, wing ribs (S3014 airfoil), 1/64 plywood dihedral braces, and rudder control horn. Plans will be drawn in CAD.

The SunBird kit will be used in a "one of a kind" hand launch contest
 on Friday preceding the February 2000 Southwest Classic contest in Phoenix, Az.

Ray Hayes will be the contest director and the honorary Dave Thornburg will be lending a hand. Dave Thornburg was a tremendous contributor to the rise in popularity of R/C Sailplanes and is considered the first to hold a hand launch contest in the world approximately 25 years ago. The contest will commemorate Dave's first HL contest and his many contributions to the sport. The Contest entry forms and information will be available soon on this web site. It has been a long time since Dave has been in an R/C sailplane contest and invites all his long-time buddies to join him in this special event. We thank all the CASL club members for allowing this occasion to take place on their contest field.

Electric Sun Bird

Sun Bird converted to geared, 5.2 volt Rocket Speed 400 motor with 11-6 Graupner folding prop on 7 cell 500 ma battery by Mike Morgan.

Stab is removable for easy transport.

Maxon 4.4:1 planetary gearbox bolts to front of motor.

electricsunbird.jpg (51,137 bytes)


Old Buzzard's Contest Results

Click here to see the full Old Buzzard's Sunbird Classic report with photo album.

Plaque image
Plaque designed by Ray and presented to Dave Thornburg


It was a great day and the smiling faces tell the story. We spent the day with Dave Thornburg to commemorate and pay tribute to Dave's first r/c hand launch contest. Sadly, not all the contestants are in this photo. Thanks to all that attended and a special thanks to Bob Massman and Dick Hoover, it was their efforts that made this contest happen.

History repeats itself and this photo of Taylor Collin's pic taken April 21, 1979 proves it. Joe Wurts presents Taylor's pic of Dave's first r/c hand launch contest. Dave is pointing to a younger Joe Wurts.

Pictured above are: top row L-R, Garland Hanson, Al Nephew, Joe Wurts, Al DeRenzis, Derek Boyer, Tom Gressman, Lenny Keer, Lex Mierop, Mark Miller. Bottom row L-R, Paul Siegel, Dave Thornburg, Bob Massman, Dick Barker. Missing in the pic are: Buzz Averil and me Ray Hayes. We had two contests, the one of a kind Sunbird event and (I ran out of film before) Dave's Original Rules contest.
Contest Director, Ray Hayes





Sky Bench Aerotech 

Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804