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Radio Flyers

Remote-Control Model Planes Combine art and Engineering in Miniature Versions of The Real Thing
Brian Beck
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, Nov/Dec 97

(continued from page 3)

The TV-1 is ready. Standing within 20 feet of the tail end of the model, you can feel the heat from the exhaust on your face. The air is tinged with the acrid odor of propane fuel, similar to the smell of burning plastic. Violett and his pit crew disconnect the coiled cords attaching the starting box's electronics to the engine's sensors and ignition system, then the engine compartment hatches are replaced. He brings the turbine--now idling at 30,000 rpm--to its full throttle fan speed of over 100,000 rpm and back down again. The crowd pays attention. Even those who have seen these jets before know something special is about to happen. As with full-size turbine-powered aircraft, the model sits on the taxiway motionless until the engine characteristically builds enough thrust against the muggy tropical air to slowly begin its taxi to the active runway. The sleek model starts to move, taking several seconds to respond to the pilot's throttle commands as it turns out onto the centerline. Bringing it to a complete stop and applying the brakes, Violett spools up the jet engine to an ungodly speed. Brakes released, the initial takeoff roll begins slowly, but quickly progresses to flying speed. As the aircraft realistically rotates back onto the main gear, it breaks ground and heads for the looming yellow polo grounds scoreboard marking the end of the field. The gear are retracted and the flaps are slowly raised. This sophisticated miniature is on its way to another 180 mile-per-hour flight, and a first-place trophy.

Brian Beck is a freelance writer living near Detroit who has written frequently on R/C modeling during his 20 years in the sport.

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