Updated: March 2001
Thanks to the dedication and hard work by a small but
growing number of dedicated entrepreneurs around the country, an amazing
array of free flight necessities are available via mail order. Most of
these cannot be found in hobby shops. The following is a basic list of
some of these sources. There are many more. Check the ads and free
flight columns in Flying Models magazine, as well as the Internet, for others. Best first
choices for beginners or “returnees” are those sources marked with
an asterisk (*). Please
feel free to copy and distribute this list. Show it to your hobby
shop owner, since many of the listed vendors also sell to dealers. Most
shops don’t know these vendors and products even exist. Chances are
you didn’t either until you read this list! Note that some vendors
have web sites and e-mail. Prices, e-mail addresses, and web site URL's
are subject to change without notice.
Dyne's very extensive catalog includes kits, plans, covering materials,
propellers, motors, and accessories from a wide variety of sources, both
domestic and imported. Most are for outdoor flying. Lots of oldtimer
rubber and power kits. Catalog $2.00
Lee Campbell, a veteran free flight flier and competitor,
is the proprietor and kit maker. His inventory includes lots of
gliders: 14 hand-launched models, three catapult types, and a towline
design. All this plus 11 rubber-powered duration models and 18 power
models keep Lee busy cutting his top-quality balsa wood. He also sells
kits and accessories from other manufacturers such as Peck-Polymers,
Micro-X, and R/N Models and is always adding new merchandise. Send him
$3.00 for a catalog.
Model Supply Co.
Glenn Campbell's chief product is Esaki tissue, the
finest Japanese tissue available for general model plane use, and is
available in 18" x 24" sheets of yellow, white, red, blue,
orange, black, and green. Glenn Campbell imports Esaki tissue directly
from the manufacturer in Japan and sells it at the best price anywhere.
He recently added an even lighter, hard-to-find white tissue known as
Gampi. He also sells balsa, propellers, and kits for small
electric-powered and easy-to-build rubber models. Send him $2.00 for a
offers lots of excellent kits, many of pre-WWII and WWII military
aircraft with vacuum-formed canopies where needed and great decals. Lots
of plans too if you like to pick your own wood and tissue for scratch
building. Catalog $2.00.
100+ free flight kits and growing: scale, rubber and
power endurance competition types, and three ready-to-fly indoor rubber
models. FAI carries a great selection FF supplies, including their
splendid Tan II rubber strip that has become the performance standard of
the hobby. Catalog is $2.00, a must for all free flight fliers!
Join the Flying Aces Club! It's an informal, nation-wide
group of model airplane hobbyists who love to build and fly
stick-and-tissue model aircraft of all types, but especially
rubber-powered scale. Membership includes a subscription to their
bimonthly newsletter, The FAC News. Each issue contains several
full-size model plans, modeling news and tips, lots of model
photographs, contest results, and club news. The biennial FAC National
contest is held on even-numbered years in Geneseo, New York, during July
and is the premier free flight scale meet with more than 190 fliers
competitng. Annual membership fee is $15.
has hundreds of Comet, Peerless, Megow, Scientific, Ace Whitman, and
other reprinted plans from the 1930's and 40's rubber-powered scale kits
that those of us over 50 fondly remember. They also have over two dozen
excellent rubber scale kits, most based on those same old models, some
of later design including the P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt, and
Messerschmitt BF-109E of WWII fame. A recent addition to the GAR line
are the excellent kits designed and formerly sold by John Bell. These
include a P-51A Mustang, Clipped Wing Taylorcraft, Hughes H-1 Racer, Mk.
XIVE Spitfire, Curtiss P-40, Stinson Reliant, and Rearwin Speedster.
Molded canopies are included where needed on all GAR kits. The catalog
is $3.00, a must for rubber scale fans.
Bill Hannan carries a very comprehensive inventory of
wonderful books on model airplanes and aircraft history, many aimed for
beginners, many available nowhere else, many with lots of model plans.
There’s also a growing list of excellent modeling videos. Hannan's
Runway is a splendid resource for anyone getting started as well as
experienced builders/fliers and aviation buffs. The $1.00 catalog charge
is refundable on your first order. Visa and Mastercharge accepted.
Excellent web site.
sells a variety of very small electric motors for free flight and small
RC models, plus chargers, battery packs, and plans for electric as well
as rubber-powered models. There's also an excellent 10:1 rubber winder
called the Scale Winder.
Proprietor Dave Rees is a nationally known free flight scale designer,
flier, and competitor. He sells an informative video on electric-powered
free flight. The HiLine catlog is $1.00.
IMS caters to both beginner and veteran indoor fliers,
and offers kits, wood, rubber, and lots of other items for this unique
niche of aeromodeling. Their Slow Poke and Salem 6 kits are excellent
beginner indoor models and they fly for several minutes! IMS also has
duration and scale model kits plus a 15:1 rubber winder. Proprietor Lew
Gitlow takes phone orders. Catalog $2.00.
NOTE: IMS now offers a model kit, the Sci-Oly,
specifically designed for the national Science
Olympiad Wright Stuff
competition. Call for details. Lew is now selling an informative booklet
on this event.
Bassett sells the smallest of all available electric motors for free
flight use, plus batteries, capacitors (used in place of batteries),
propellers, and battery/capacitor chargers. Peanut scale or even smaller
models can be flown with these motors. Send a stamped, self-addressed
envelope for his catalog. Ken now sells a novel compressed air-powered
model, the “Air Hog,” plus several quick-building electric-powered
Lidberg offers a most interesting and extensive selection of plans and
kits. He has 22 profile ("no-cal") scale plans, six peanut
scale plans, 16 larger size rubber scale plans, plus a growing series of
mini-replicas of old timer free flight endurance models and a number of
larger scale plans suitable for radio control. Al is a master draftsman
and his plans and kits are excellent. Send him $2.00 for an illustrated
catalog with all models shown. Good web site.
Model Aircraft Co.*
Mace sells two good beginner's models, the P-18 Hawk and the P-24 Condor
(the numbers refer to their wingspans). Both are offered as complete
kits or just construction plans, and are good beginner indoor models
that can also be flown outdoors under calm conditions. Don also has two
rubber winders, a 16:1 and a 6:1. He also has scale plans, wood, rubber,
tissue, and three sizes of ready-to-use plastic prop/bearing units that
can be used to power a variety of fun models. His catalog is $1.00.
Micro Mark, "The Small Tool Specialists," lives
up to their name and then some. Their extensive selection of specialized
tools is aimed directly at the hobbyist, model plane builders included.
Their catalog is well illustrated, showing the vast array of hardware,
paints, brushes, miniature power tools, adhesives, measuring devices,
books, and videos. Call their 800 number to get a free copy.
Micro-X is another vendor dealing primarily with
indoor-oriented products: kits, select quality indoor wood, specialty
covering materials and accessories, rubber strip, and books. Anyone
interested in indoor flying should have their $2.00 catalog.
Midwest Products Co., Inc.
Midwest, long known for its free flight and radio control
models, offers some unique projects through its Educational Products
Division. Although primarily aimed at national school programs such as
the Science Olympiad, these models are highly suitable for any group
modeling activity. Included are some gliders and four rubber-powered
models plus teaching texts, wood, tools, and adhesives. The rubber
models include a Delta Dart (similar to the AMA Cub); a larger Super
Delta Dart; a 12” Shoebox R.O.G. (“Rise Off Ground”); and the
Right Flyer, a robust 19” R.O.G. Both the ROG’s are capable of
flights of well over one minute in a 20 ft. gym. Call the Midwest 800
number and ask for their catalog. Midwest is now offering the Sorcerer,
a model kit for the national Science
Olympiad competition, along with an excellent 15:1 winder and
packets of Tan II rubber in various sizes.
are no less than 37 no-cal plans in his catalog. All are well engineered
and superbly drawn. Lots of pre and post-WWII fighters, racers, sport
planes, and some offbeat subjects as well. He also has five peanut plans
plus a selection of scale 3-views. A unique offering from Mike are
pre-printed pressure-sensitive markings (licenses and race numbers,
logos, lettering) for his plans. And he has tissue, packets of Tan II
rubber strip, plastic propellers plus a telescoping pole that extends
from 45 inches to 19 feet for retrieving models from trees and girders.
His latest addition is a complete kit for the Cessna CR-3 1930’s-era
racer, great for Flying Aces competition. It’s a beauty! Send $2.00
for his catalog. Good web site too.
Peck has loads of kits, plans, supplies, CO2
& electric motors, wood, and tools of all kinds for both beginners
and experienced modelers. Truly a free flight model airplane "wish
book," this catalog is a must!
$4.00. They take phone orders and accept Amex, MasterCard, &
Visa. NOTE: Peck has a
“Slow Flier Designer Kit” suitable for Science Olympiad competition.
Valley offers free flight kits from many of the U.S. vendors shown
elsewhere on this list at discount prices. Micro-X, Sig, Golden Age
Reproductions, Peck-Polymers, Herr, Dumas, Campbell Custom Kits, and R/N
Models are included. They also have their own unique line of rubber
scale kits, authentic reproductions of those pre-WWII Comet, Megow,
Peerless, Burd, and Scientific kits so fondly remembered by most over-60
modelers (like me). Most of these are based on the 10¢, or "dime
scale," models of that era that typically had wingspans of 16-20
inches. Some are larger, some are non-scale types. Catalog $2.00, which
also gets you on their mailing list.
Just getting started?
Here are some suggestions:
Peck-Polymers for kits and a winder:
- Peck ROG,
a12-inch span, easily built stick-and-tissue model for indoor or outdoor
- Sky Bunny, a
larger, more robust stick-and-tissue model for outdoor flying.
- Pussycat, an
excellent 12” sport model designed by Dick Baxter for beginners.
Highly recommended for indoors and out!
- Prairie Bird
and Bostonian Pup non-scale
endurance models, Nesmith Cougar
and Lacey M-10 peanut scale
models. All four are stick-and-tissue models with built-up fuselages and
wheels w/simple structures. They are excellent fliers, suggested as
second or third projects, and will hone building skills needed for more
sophisticated subjects, such as scale models.
- 5:1 rubber wider.
Indoor Model Supply for gym fliers and a better winder:
- Slow Poke
kit. For advanced beginners. Ready-to-use plastic prop unit is provided.
Has stick-and-tissue wing and tail.
- Salem 6 kit.
For advanced beginners. It will fly for over two minutes in a 20 ft.
gym! 16" span, stick-and-tissue wing and tail.
- Excellent 15:1 rubber winder
Hannan's Runway for books and videos:
A model built specifically for flying in an indoor site, such as a
school gym, athletic arena, fieldhouse, aircraft hangar, or other
interior location with suitable floor space and ceiling height. Gliders,
rubber, and electric-powered models are flown indoors. They are
comparatively lighter and more fragile than those intended to be flown
term referring to the relatively new technique of precisely pre-cutting
model parts, such as ribs and formers, from balsa sheets using a very
thin laser beam. This eliminates the traditional and time-consuming use
of a hand-held blade to cut out parts printed on balsa sheets. A growing
number of kit manufacturers are using laser cutting.
A class of comparatively simple, easily-built semi-scale rubber models
having a two-dimensional profile fuselage in place of the traditional
built-up, three dimensional, hollow fuselage. Typically they are of
stick-and-tissue construction are covered on only one side of their
framework, but can also be built using a light all-sheet balsa
structure. They can be flown indoors or out. “No-cal” is short for
“no calories,” meaning a lean, minimal structure.
A model built for outdoor flying, using relatively robust design and
construction compared to indoor models. Various types of gliders,
rubber-powered, and engine-powered models are flown outdoors, often
using thermals (rising warm air currents) to achieve long flight
A popular class of small rubber-powered scale models with a maximum
wingspan limit of 13 inches. There are many kits and plans available for
peanut scale models. They can be flown both indoors and out.
A slippery substance, usually a liquid, applied to a rubber motor to
reduce friction between the strands when they are tightly wound for
flight. Use of a proper lubricant
is vital as it enables many more turns to be wound into a rubber
motor than would be possible without it. Rubber lubricants are sold by
some of the listed vendors. Automotive protectants such as Armor All,
Formula 2001, and Son of a Gun make very good rubber lubricants and are
loop, or loops of rubber strip that is the "motor" for
rubber-powered model aircraft. Tan II rubber strip (see below) is
formulated especially for powering model aircraft and is sold by a
number of the above vendors, most notably F.A.I. Model Supply. When used
with a mechanical winder (see winder,
below) and a proper lubricant, rubber motors can be wound several
A model plane designed, built, and decorated to closely resemble a
particular full-size, man-carrying aircraft. In competition, scale
models are scored on their depiction of the subject aircraft, overall
craftsmanship, and flight duration.
Model airplane jargon referring to the classic method of free flight
model construction which uses balsa wood sticks for the model’s
framework and tissue paper to cover it. This tissue is most often a
fine, lightweight grade imported from Japan. Many of the vendors on the
above list sell Japanese tissue.
A fixture designed to
securely hold a rubber-powered model while it is being wound for flight.
This omits the need for another person to hold the model during winding,
thus allowing solo flying. Once wound, the the rubber motor is hooked to
the model, which is then removed from the stooge and is ready for
flight. Stooge designs vary somewhat, but often use a piece of stiff
wire that runs through the aluminum tube commonly used as the rear
rubber support in models. This wire also runs through two vertical
supports that straddle the rear of the fuselage where the rubber tube is
located. These are attached firmly to the base of the stooge, which is
clamped or otherwise firmly fastened to a table, bleacher seat, or other
solid support. With winding completed and propeller attached, the wire
is withdrawn, freeing the model from the stooge. Some vendors, such as
FAI, sell stooges.
The brand of rubber strip specifically formulated for powering model
airplanes, named for its tan color. Tan II is sold as long continuous
strips of various widths, usually 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 3/16, and ¼ inch.
Its thickness is approximately .045 inch. Rubber-powered models fly
using one or more loops made from one of these widths. F.A.I. Model
Supply of Sayre, Pennsylvania markets Tan II directly to both modelers
and vendors and works directly with the U.S. manufacturer to constantly
monitor and upgrade its quality. Indoor Model Supply and Micro-X strip
it into an even wider range of custom widths required for flying various
classes of ultralight indoor models. Yes, there once was a just plain
Winder: A hand-held mechanical device used to wind the motors of
rubber-powered free flight models, and a must-have piece of equipment
for successful rubber model flying. Winders have a hand crank which
turns a simple gear train connected to a hooked output shaft. The hook
holds one end of the rubber motor; the other end remains attached to
either the rear rubber hook or propeller shaft of the firmly held or
anchored model (see stooge, above). The lubricated motor is then stretched to three or
four times its slack length and winding is begun. With each single turn
of the hand crank, the output shaft turns anywhere from 5 to 20 times,
depending on the gear ratio of the winder. The person winding slowly
shortens the length of the stretch as he winds, starting to come in at
about 50% of desired turns and finishing with the motor at its flying
length. The motor is then carefully transferred to the model. This
classic technique allows many more turns to be put into a rubber motor
than would be possible using manual winding of the propeller. The slack
length of rubber motors is often two or more times the distance between
the model’s front and rear rubber hooks, making hand winding all but
impossible. Stretch winding permits 1,500 to 2,000 or even more turns to
be quickly put into a rubber motor. More turns = longer flights. Thayer
Syme’s web site (see below) has pictures of winders.
There are a surprising number of web sites on the World
Wide Web devoted to free flight modeling. Many have links to still other
related sites, including vendors, so take some time to check them all
out. These sites are valuable resources for current information on the
hobby, and many have photographs of models, drawings, and plans. Here
are nine good ones for starters:
of Model Aeronautics:
The AMA is the official governing body of all phases of model
aviation in the United States.
Maxecuters club site: www.his.com/~tschmitt/index.html
The D.C. Maxecuters are one of the best known free flight
clubs in the country, particularly where Flying Aces competition is
concerned. Lots of great scale information, photos, and links.
Products, Inc.: www.dumasproducts.com/ Dumas makes an impressive line of laser-cut rubber scale kits ranging from
17 ½” to 30” in span. You can see them all on this site.
Engineering Corp.: www.iflyherr.com/about.html Herr pioneered the use of
laser-cut parts in free flight kits and has many models in a variety of
sizes, mostly scale. They’re all shown on this web site.
Manufacturing Co., Inc.:
is the largest mail order business in the modeling field and has lots of
items of interest to free flight fliers including scale and non-scale
kits, tissue, wood, adhesives, and other supplies.
Free Flight Society:
http://www.freeflight.org A special interest group dedicated to the practice and promotion of free
flight model flying. They publish an excellent bi-monthly newsletter for
members. Lots of good links found here.
Slusarczyk’s Indoor Web Page:
www.indoorfreeflight.com Don is a first-class indoor flier and maintains this very informative site
devoted to indoor flying. Lots of tips, plans, and information,
including a new Science Olympiad
Syme's free flight site:
Thayer’s very active site is full of ever-growing
amounts of information, tips, plans, and model photos. Science Olympiad information too. Highly recommended!
Products site: www.flyingacesclub.net/volare/
Excellent variety of model plans plus complete Flying
Aces Club information and rules.
reading: Flying Models magazine has two excellent free-flight columns every
month, plus periodic FF model construction articles and many ads from
the vendors listed above and more. Sometimes hard to find on newsstands,
it's worth the search. Better yet, get a subscription. Don Ross (below)
writes an interesting column that appears monthly in Flying
Powered Model Airplanes
by Don Ross covers the basics well. Your library may have it, or it can
be purchased from Don himself for $14.95 post paid: Don Ross, 38
Churchill Road, Cresskill, NJ 07626.