Super Sportster Mk I ARF

Super Sportster 40 Mk-I (ARF)

April 6, 2003

I bought this aircraft used off of Ebay, mostly on a whim. I threw in a last minute bid, and to my horror I won. Now what do I tell my wife?!? πŸ™‚ I fixed up a number of things such as adding a tail wheel, putting checkerboard on the bottom of the wing, fixing some shipping damage, replacing a missing carburetor screw on the engine, etc. It is a very nice aircraft, a wonderful flyer, and looks very cool from every angle in the air and on the ground. I really like the Super Sportster lines.

April 22, 2003


SS40-2 My wife and daughter came out to witness the maiden (for me) flights. Hoping for the thrill of victory, but expecting the agony of defeat. πŸ™‚


SS40-4 I flew the aircraft for the first time on Tuesday, April 22, 2003. I was somewhat apprehensive because this would be my first tail dragger, and first low wing aircraft. But I figured how hard could it be, right? But I brought along my bushel basket just in case.

It turns out my nervousness was completely unjustified. This is a wonderful flying aircraft. The take off run tracked straighter than any tricycle gear aircraft I’ve ever flown. Just hit full throttle and don’t mess with anything. It tracks along the ground like it’s on rails. With a little up trim, it will gently rise off the ground on it’s own and head skyward … it’s about as easy to take as a trainer. (You can mess with the rudder on take off if you want to make it look like it’s a handful, but that is optional.)

SS40-5 She’s also a beauty in the air … very stable and she “flies like she’s on rails.” She’s not as fast as I was dreading (which was kind of welcome.) Full throttle, she flies at a manageable speed.

I was worried about stall behavior though, so I tried a few stalls with plenty of altitude. Look out, this thing drops altitude fast when you stall it and if you hold a lot of elevator you can hold the stall longer than you have altitude. But center the elevator and she flies right out of danger. I’ve heard of people stalling these sorts of planes on final approach and that’s something you definitely want to avoid… especially on that last low slow turn.

So for my landings I trimmed back (nose-up) a little on the elevator to slow the aircraft down and tried to resist the urge to pull back on the stick. I added some throttle through the turn to base and final to make sure I kept the speed up (I am getting a lot of nose drop in turns … maybe nose heavy with fuel?) and then coasted in. Update: I found I have much better luck if I push my down wind leg out further from myself so I can make a much wider/gentler turn to base and final. With my sweet stick and with a trainer you can really wind up a tight 180 and be all lined up for the final approach. However with this higher performance aircraft things work a lot better if you make wider gentler turns on final … less nose drop, less risk of a stall, and everything works out a lot smoother. Today the sun was in exactly the wrong place for my first landing approaches so I had to duck “under” it and fly my approach much lower and flatter than I would have liked to, and remember to keep my speed up, etc. etc. This resulted in some bouncing and long roll outs, but nothing major. The successful completion of my landing was never in doubt (at least not by me.) πŸ™‚

All in all this is a very sweet aircraft. I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a 2nd aircraft — but definitely a 3rd for after you’ve mastered something along the lines of a “stik”. Some people insist that all R/C modelers should have at least one stik. I think I will now insist that all R/C modelers have at least one Super Sportster. AWESOME AIRPLANE!!!! I definitely would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, great flying airplane.

June 30, 2003

The glue seal around the canopy began to peel away so I had to rip that off and reattach it.

The main landing gear also needs to be addressed. The stock main gear is in two pieces with each wheel mounted individual under it’s respective wing, but this aircraft has a more generic one-piece aluminum main gear mounted just forward of the wing. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that the person who made this modification, took any extra steps to beef up that area of the fuselage, so the mounting screws are just going into weak balsa. I need to beef that up a bit before my next flight because the main gear has gone all wobbly.

The other remaining issue is that I’m not getting full aileron throw. I think the aileron linkage is hitting the fuselage inside and limiting the travel. I may need to hack out a bit more of the wing mounting plate inside to give better clearance … that’s something I definitely need to address before the next flight.

Finally, the engine get’s a little dodgy when I pull inverted g’s (i.e. in an outside loop.) I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the clunk in the tank seems to be free to move and doesn’t seem to be getting hung up on anything. There’s something a little dodgy with the engine anyway … it has a small leak in the carburetor or needle valve assembly some place and seeps fuel or draws air depending on the context. Otherwise the engine runs good, so I need to keep my eyes open for a cheap OS 40 FP carburetor.

August 16, 2003

Ok, just for fun, I have converted my “Super Sportster” into a “Super Splashter,” or should I say “Super Floatster”, or maybe “Super Sploatster”? Hopefully not a “Super Splatster.” πŸ™‚




IMG_0180 I haven’t tried flying it yet … maybe this coming weekend.

August 27, 2003

Pictures from my failed attempt to get airborne off floats. But we still had a lot of fun. πŸ™‚








March 18, 2005

Having flown this aircraft about all I wanted to fly it, and needing space for new projects, I opted to give it away to a good home. Hopefully the next owner can have as much fun with it as I did.

Ace High Mk-II

Ace High Mk-II

Built Spring 1987 – Sold July 2004.

This is a powered glider. It’s not the greatest flyer … it doesn’t glide all that well and really mushes around the sky, but can be fun diversion when I’m tired of punching holes in the sky with my Sweet Stik. I built it as a cheap project in college when funding was especially tight.

This is a picture I found on the web … I think this is from the original box art.

Posing in front of our Jewel St. house.

Posing with Hannah (about Age 3).

Mariner Construction

Lanier Mariner 40 ARF (Orange)

Construction log.


June 13, 2003

I bought this aircraft NIB off of Ebay. It arrived today, Friday the 13th. I haven’t had a chance to begin assembly. I think I’ll need to get a flight pack + 1 servo first.


October 17, 2003

I was pretty fed up with all the stuff I was supposed to be doing so I pulled this out of the box to see if I could make any headway on it. Here are some pictures as it comes from the box.





I am really impressed with this ARF. Generally it seems like pretty good quality wood, pretty good quality craftsmanship, solid, nice looking, and everything seems to fit together quite nicely so far.

October 18, 2003

This aircraft uses one servo per aileron. That simplifies the linkage tremendously at the expense of an extra servo.




My only complaint so far has been with figuring out which hardware (screws, etc.) to use in certain places. Occasionally the manual is very brief, or omits specific details about which bit to use where. The parts bags aren’t packed the way the instructions say they are supposed to be laid out which makes the situation even worse. I’ve been left scratching my head in a couple places and making my best guess. I may have to go back and switch things around possibly later on. I hope not, but I’m not entirely confident in all my hardware choices.

Here is the detail of the wing floats and the completed wing halves. The floats go on really nicely, they are very sturdy, and look very nice (especially compared to some of the goofy wing tip floats on other seaplanes I’ve seen.)





Here is a picture of the wing halves joined together.



Here are a couple pictures of things setting in their relative places. I like to get an idea of how things are shaping up once in a while so I pose all the parts as best I can. πŸ™‚






May 8, 2004

I’ve been chipping away at this little by little and haven’t taken any pictures of my progress, so here I am nearly finished. The engine pod assembly has been completed, the engine mounted, tank installed, throttle servo installed, and cowl fitted and installed.

I bought a Magnum Pro 45 off Ebay for about $35 to power this project. My goal was to get something that ran well, but was a bit on the inexpensive side in case it ends up sucking in water. The engine looks like it is in great shape with no stains or rust. It has seen fuel, but has been well taken care of.








May 18, 2004

There are always a million little details to finish and I’ve been slowly knocking them off, one by one. Here are a few comments looking back on the assembly process.


  • I’m still not happy that the hardware was not bagged like the instructions said. This made identifying screws and other bits quite difficult. I understand that things change in the kitting process and it’s hard to fix all the references in the manual, but this made the assembly process slower and more frustrating than it needed to be – at least for someone who puts one of these together at best once a year.
  • The instructions showed trimming the canopy with an xacto knife. I could have saved myself an hour of frustration if I would have gone after it with a decent pair of scissors.
  • The parts bags include 4 small mysterious wood blocks and 2 other pieces that look like push-rod supports. These came from an earlier version of the kit, but were never removed from production so they can be ignored.
  • The wing hold down bolts screw into raw balsa. I’m told that works ok, but I made some reinforcements out of scrap plywood from another kit, painted them white, epoxied them in place, and now I feel much better.
  • The covering came out of the box a little “loose” in places, especially the tail surfaces and wing. I figured no biggy, I’d just shrink it down myself at the end. But I found that some of the wrinkles are too big to get out … not a huge deal, just one of the very few things I can find to complain about.
  • Overall though, despite a few minor nits, this is a really spectacular model. It has wonderful lines, has a sharp color scheme, and looks like it will fly great. The kit quality is very good, and in most cases the instructions are good or at least sufficient.

This evening I decided to take the airplane out to test the engine and see how my Ebay special runs. I also wanted to take a few pictures before I attempt to fly it. πŸ™‚

I have no instructions for the engine so I had to guess at an initial carburetor adjustment. It took me a few tries to get in the right ball park, but once the engine fired up it ran beautifully. Very smooth, very solid, very strong. This engine should pull this aircraft right out of the water with no trouble at all.

My daughter is all set to go to the lake and fly … it’s a perfect day, but it’s getting too late to drive anywhere.








Here are some pictures of just the airplane.











Ultra Sport 40 Assembly

Great Planes Ultra Sport 40 ARF (Red)

Initial Comments

This was my b-day present for May, 2002. My super sportster 60 construction project has been mostly stalled so I thought I’d see how things fared with an ARF. By the time my Super Sportster is ready to fly, I’ll have a large time/emotional investment in it so I would like to have some low wing tail dragger time in the log books before I actually try to fly the Super Sportster 60.

The skin of this aircraft is interesting. Typically, kit construction has you building up some sort of frame and then sheeting over the top of some or all of the structure with thin balsa sheets and finally covering with a thin plastic heat shrink film. This ARF takes a different approach. Instead of balsa sheeting they have a thicker layer of covering that is made of some dense foam laminated with a thin plastic external layer. This plastic/foam sheet wraps around the underlying structure (which can be rough cut because it doesn’t show through the foam layer) and has “cool” designs printed directly on it, so there is no need for painting or decals. All in all it’s about 1/8″ to 3/32″ thick or so and structurally significant. The wing for instance is built up with standard wing ribs and stringers, but then wrapped with this foam/plastic composite instead of sheeting with balsa. The advantages I see are that it is light, probably cheap, and you can directly print your cool color scheme to it. The disadvatage is that if you ever ding it up significantly, I’m not sure how it could be repaired. There are a lot of plastic pieces on this plane in addition to the plastic/foam sheet covering. If you crashed and did any kind of substantial damage to this airplane, I think you’d have to toss the whole thing. Especially since it is discontinued so you probably can’t find replacement parts for it.


I’ve just begun construction so I’ll share some thoughts and photos as I go. I don’t have a separate work shop so my work area is very tiny and shared with the rest of the family. My apologies for the clutter in these pictures. πŸ™‚

This is my first ARF. Generally construction is straightforward. Things always take longer than you hope/plan/expect, but the sorts of things you need to do with an arf, you would have to do anyway with a kit, and the arf saves you building up the major structures.

Things don’t always fit together perfectly, so expect to shave a bit off here and there and do a good amount of sanding. The box says sanding is not needed, but the instruction manaul correctly says otherwise. I have a power sander I bought for a house project which actually works very well for the various sanding chores. Even with ample sanding, it’s hard to get everything to go together just perfect. Oh well, hopefully it will be good enough, and I’ll just slop a little extra epoxy in the cracks. My assumption is that with no extra sanding (as per the claims on the box) I would get a functional and safe plane, and any tiny discrepancies may affect looks and perhaps subtly affect tracking through the sky, but I don’t think it should be a safety issue.


05/20/2002 – Here are pictures of the wings. The two halves are joined and the landing gear is installed. I’m sure this hotrod will fly as fast as I need it to go, so I opted for the simpler, fixed gear installation.


wing2 05/20/2002 – Just for fun I placed the fuselage on top of the wing to see how things are shaping up:


test-fit2 05/22/2002 – I glued in the wheel well covers and the top and bottom wing fairings, as well as the front dowl (for securing the front of the wing) and some foam to seal the exhaust residue out. The wing is almost done with the exception of installing the aileron servo and lincages.

05/23/2002 – Doh!!! First major setback. Once the wing is assembled, you need to mount it to the fuselage. This ARF uses a single dowl in the front of the wing and two nylon bolts in the back. The dowl is installed in the front, center of the wing during wing assembly and the corresponding hole comes predrilled in the fuselage. The problem is that it doesn’t fit right. (Or at least my resulting wing didn’t fit right.) The wing chord is too long, or the dowl mounting hole is too high, or a combination of both. The fuselage has major structural bulkheads on the wing front and back, so the fuselage opening can’t easily be made bigger. So I carefully sliced open the plastic wing fairing in the back of the wing and started hacking away balsa and plywood from the trailing edge. I also got out my knife and worked on lowering the front dowl hole a bit. I probably need to close off the top of the hole with some sort of filler so there isn’t any opportunity for movement of the dowl. However, the wing is already so tight against the saddle in the fuselage that I doubt that could ever happen. I don’t know what this is going to do to the wing incidence, but I suppose I should check/measure before I fly the thing. (Update: I never got back to checking the wing incidence, but she flies pretty great as constructed.)

05/24/2002 – I finished installing the aileron servo and lincages and did a bit more carving to get the wing to fit better. I think the wing is pretty much done. The powerplant hasen’t arrived yet, so I’ll just skip working on that end of the fuselage until it comes. Next up is the wing mount.

aileron-servo 05/25/2002 – Finished the wing mounting. I was a little nervous about the two main wing mounting bolts. I tend to have a hard time drilling holes that line up when I’m done, but in this case I followed the technique outlined in the manual and everything worked great. Next up are the horizontal and vertical stabalizers.





05/27/2002 – Working on mounting the horizontal and vertical stabs. I followed the instructions and things seem to be progressing in a straightforward manner. The structure is pretty chinsey/weak back there though. I can see why they add two aluminum brackets to reinforce the horizontal stablizer. And then the plastic fairing around the base of the vertical stab also is a significant structural component. It makes me a little nervous, especially compared to other kit’s I’ve built, but I’m proceeding with faith in the instructions. This will be a very sharp looking aircraft, but not one you want to bang up. It has very light weight construction. (Update: after putting the tail together completely, it came out very sturdy. The braces make a big difference. All in all, this is as solid as any other kit I’ve built.)



vertical-stab In this next image I have the rudder and the vertical stab fairing positioned, but not glued. Next up is the tail wheel.

tail 05/28/2002 – Except for the control lincages, I finished up the tail. This involved gluing on the fairing for the vertical stabalizer. This fairing is a major structural component so it needs to fit and be glued securely. However the instructions were careful to point out that the horizontal and vertical stabs needed to be slid back far enough so that the rudder line is flush from the back of the fuselage to the back of the vertical stab. This unfortunately meant that the vertical stab fairing wouldn’t fit correctly. I hacked on it and chopped off a bit from the back until it would fit flush along the sides and the front. This means it isn’t quite as pretty, but it should serve it’s structural duties just fine. (Update: once everything is together, this blemish is almost impossible to notice.)

I then proceeded to install the tail wheel and rudder.

tail-wheel Then I proceeded to install the horizontal stabalizer braces. These actually add a lot of support and structure.


Finishing up …

04/30/2003 – Ok, finally, I made some time to do a bit more work. I’m so close, I just need to push through and get it done. Recently I’ve installed the control lincages, installed the fuel tank, and installed the engine. The two major remaining items are to install the cowl and the canopy. I might do the initial flights with the cowl off? That OS .46 Max sure swings a big looking prop … πŸ™‚




Midwest Sweet Stik

Midwest Sweet Stik Pictures

Built: 1984
Engine: K/B 40 (1981)
Pilot: Curtis Olson
Mechanic: Curtis Olson
Photographer: Bob Hain
Camera: Sony Mavica

This plane has seen on and off action through the years. I did very little with R/C through college, and for a few years thereafter. I flew this airplane once or twice about 8 years ago and had a slight mishap due to radio interference. It turned out that it only needed minor repairs (whew) and I got it back in the air about two weeks later and dinged up the aileron due to a gust of wind on the landing (it certainly couldn’t have been pilot error!) It then sat in my garage for a few years when I decided to take it out, fixed the aileron, charged up my batteries, bought some fresh fuel and got her up in the air again. What a blast. 4 flights and everything in one piece at the end of the day. Couldn’t have been better. πŸ™‚ That got me motivated and I ran a whole gallon and a half of fuel through this plane 2 summers ago.

Still Shots

These pictures were taken November 27, 1999.

Head on.

Engine Detail.

Me and my toy (1)

Me and my toy (2)

Me and my toy (3)

Me and my toy (4)

Action Shots

Flying (1)

Flying (2)

Flying (3)

Flying (4)

Video Clips

Fairchild F-24

Guillow’sΒ Fairchild F-24 Project

When I was in Jr. high in Peru I built the Guillow’s Fairchild F-24. It was myfirst rubber band model that I actually got to fly for more that 10 feet.It was great, I would wind up the engine, stand on top some low bleachers, andsend the plane skyward across our local the soccer field. It would fly straight and true, climbing steadily and solidly until the rubber band engine unwound. Then it would lazily circle back down to the ground. We moved back to the USA after I finished Jr. high, but alas, all my models had tostay behind.

I picked up an identical kit about a year ago and built up the frame in acouple evenings. It’s sat for a while, but I decided it was time to finishit. I completed the model right at the end of 1999. Here are a couple pictures and one bonus story.

May 12, 2005

A while back I bought a new rubber band for the motor, but must have gottensome old rubber from the LHS. πŸ™ After a moderate number of winds, therubber exploded inside doing some significant structual damage. It doesn’tlook to bad from the outside but as of today, this model is being officiallyretired from active flight status and now is on static display status only.

July 20, 2004

I replaced the old cracking motor, but haven’t test flown it with the newrubber yet.

The real thing

A real Fairchild F-24.

An image of a Fairchild F-24.

Click here for more information on the Fairchild F-24

The model

The frame is finished and I’ve just begun covering the tail.

Another view of the frame.

The bottom of the wings are covered.

Another angle.

The tops of the wings (sans wing tips) are now covered.

Another angle.

Fuselage is covered. The assembly process begins.

Another angle …

The horizontal and vertical stabalizers have been installed and everythinghas been given a coat of thined out dope to seal it a bit.

The wings have been glued on and the windshield installed.

Another angle …

Pretty much complete except for the decals.

Another angle …

That’s me. πŸ™‚

Decals have been added.

Pretty spiffy, almost ready to leave the nest. πŸ™‚

Other related information

      Gene Lehman

      writes:The F24 was first produced in 1938. There were others before it but it was the first designated the 24. They were continued through 1947.

Benton Holzwarth has an F-24 story to share:

I had a chance one night a couple years ago to attend a local EAA chapter meeting where one of the local ‘old farts’ was speaking, filling in for another guy who had to drop out at the last moment. Dave Lewis of Lewis Aviation was a spry, old guy, and stood at the little podium and talked, recounting stories of his lifetime of flying adventures, for about 90 minutes before breaking to take questions.

One job, before the war, had been test flying airplanes off the production line at Fairchild. From the log books for that era (he brought a pile of ’em with him to show, or check dates I suppose) I looked in after the talk, he was flying about two of every three F-23s and F-24s (I think I’m remembering the models right — if F-24s came after the war don’t shoot me!) as they came off the line – according to the serial numbers logged. The deadpan remarks column was great —

Std test, OK
Std test, OK
Std test, oil temp high
Std test, OK
Std test, engine quit, deadstick landing
Std test, OK

and then the ones there’d been a squawk on would be flown again a day or two later, with the ‘Std test, OK’ remark. And it just went on for pages and pages. Later, he left there to fly P-51s off the production line at NorthAmerican. He was great, just a walking encyclopedia of flight from the 30s on. Still pretty sharp, the last time I saw him, back in the summer.

Benton 23dec99

Sig Kadet Mk II

Sig Kadet Mk II

Kadet Mark II Box Art

Built sometime in 1983.
Destroyed sometime in 1984.

Well, they say you usually learn by your second plane. The Mk II added ailerons and on one fine day flying this aircraft I finally “got the hang of it.”

A few weeks later I was flying it when my throttle push rod “failed” leaving the engine running wide open. Of course the solution was to fly until it ran out of fuel, but apparently my on-board battery pack was showing signs of age and ran out before the fuel did. The plane fought valiently, but finally succumed to jitter and dropped out of sight, but wait, it had one last gasp, but alas, it wasn’t enough. It winged over and flew full throttle into the rock hard Arizona earth.

Mental note: avoid cheap hacks to save a buck. (But on a high school budget you sometimes have to make do…)

Sig Kadet Mk I

Sig Kadet Mk I

For some reason, my parents kept the original box and used it to pack things in for their subsequent moves to Denver, Dallas, and Minnesota, so last I checked, the box from my first RC airplane still survives, even though the airplane itself is long since been a faded memory.

Built Summer 1982.
Destroyed sometime in 1983.

This was my very first R/C plane built back in the late summer of ’82. I bought it using the money I made working on my Uncle’s farm in Minnesota the Spring and Summer of ’82 after my Freshman year of high school. I don’t even remember the specifics of it’s demise, but I have vague images of cart wheels down the runway on a windy day so perhaps that was it.

I built it in the basement of our house in MN and got as far as having the engine and radio installed. There was a hobby shop off Rice St. called Mac’s Models where I bought everything, and one of the guys there helped me get the engine running for the first time.

We traveled a bit at the end of the summer, so the completed airplane spent some time in an attic in Denver before we finally ended up in Globe AZ for the start of my Sophomore year of high school. I found a little club in Globe that flew off a gravel field behind the Gila county fair grounds and commenced the process of learning to fly. By the end, this thing had been run through the wringer and looked like a patch work quilt. But then in the mean time I was building a Kadet Mk II (with ailerons) and was ready to transition to that.

Gene Gardner was the club instructor, and the only club member that actually knew how to fly. He was a good and patient instructor and taught me the basics. I guess you could call him an “old timer”. He had zillions of great model and real aviation stories. Β He could build and fly everything up to and including those tuned pipe, retractable landing gear, pattern zingers. I always remember how he could dead stick anything and plunk it down at his feet every time. I never saw him miss once. I didn’t kept in touch with him after I left AZ for college. I hope he’s still building and flying and teaching new students.


Earlier Model Airplanes

Here is a picture of me in jr. high in my front yard in Peru. Β I’m holding a Comet Taylorcraft model. Β Pretty awesome huh!?! Β (The plane I’m referring to.) πŸ™‚

I don’t really have any other pictures to share, but growing up I put together quite a few plastic models, Guillows balsa and tissue models, and the occasional Estes rocket. These have all been lost or destroyed along the way … but they were a lot of fun to assemble and play with at the time, and led the way to the bigger and more expensive toys I play with now.

This is a picture I found on the web that is similar to the first plastic model my dad built for me.I remember the first model my dad helped me put together (well mostly put together himself for me and my little brother to play with.) That was a DC3 and I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever seen.

I should also mention “Uncle Bart” who used to fly his many R/C planes in the late afternoon when I was growing up in Peru. It didn’t matter what we were in the middle of doing after school, if we hear a little model engine buzzing around in the sky, my friends and I would jump up and run to the small airstrip to watch him fly (after we finished gasping and wheezing from our sprint.) This is where I was first introduced to the wonderful hobby of R/C aircraft.

This is also where I witnessed some really cool crashes. When I was a kid and it was someone else’s airplane, the crashes were the coolest part. Once I started building and flying my own airplanes, the crashes became the worst part. There is always an attrition rate with toys, but like anything, keeping your equipment in tip-top shape, repairing any problems that start to develop, and keeping your batteries well charged can minimize potential problems. (But no one is perfect!)