Flying Aces Club 101 #005 August 2019

The True Blue Balsa Bird

This is a rare close-up photo of a full grown Balsa Bird in his natural habitat. Caution is required at all times when in its presence, as it is very ferocious! And its bite will infect you for the remainder of your life. It usually attacks males over 45 years of age into their late 50’s!

The last time this bird was seen, was at the Flying Ace’s Nationals at Geneseo, NY, a couple of years ago. By the end of the meet, it had bitten and infected over forty mature men. (They have come up with no reliable cure, as of this writing.)

The only relief and therapy that has been found so far, is for the patient to acquire a good set of plans, buy some good wood and light tissue, pick up a small bottle of Hot-Stuff, and start building a few scale jobs.

NOTE: This approach to relief is not recommended when the patient may be a glue sniffer!

Joe Wachter

FAC News #117


The 2019 Flying Aces Club NON-NATS at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, NY was just a few weeks ago. It was a hot, muggy and windy contest which will be remembered for a long time. One of the main highlights is always the mass launch dogfights! Spectacular collisions, crash landings and sail away fights never disappoint!

If you ever intend to attend any FAC contest it’s important to:

  • Bring the plan and supporting documents for every new and unregistered model.
  • If your model is of the scale variety be sure to bring photos of the actual aircraft and at least one 3-view.
  • Make sure your FAC and AMA memberships are current – don’t forget your AMA card.
  • Be prepared to be greeted with a frowning face if you’ve forgotten any of the above. (If you’re new to the FAC you’ll likely be cut a little slack.)

A few other things to keep in mind when attending a FAC contest:

  • Bring a shade canopy if you have one, there’s usually room for each pilot to set up a “home base”.
  • Don’t forget to bring food and beverages, they’re usually not readily available to purchase on the contest field.
  • Arrive early! Just because the official contest starts at 9 AM doesn’t mean you can’t taxi in before sunrise for last minute trimming and test flights – it’s what the pilots who wins usually do.

An Interview with FAC Founding Fathers Bob Thompson and Dave Stott

NRE (Never Ready Eddie) Novak asked if it was possible to upload video from a DVD (transferred from VHS) to YouTube. With the right tools anything is possible! The two following half-hour videos were filmed at the 1988 FAC NATS in Geneseo, NY.

Part one starts with footage of the contest and ends mid-interview with Founding Father Bob Thompson. Part two picks up with the other half of the Bob Thompson interview and continues into an interview with Founding Father Dave Stott. The interviews are fascinating and are worth watching. There’s lots to learn about the spirit of the Flying Aces Club.

The Great Esaki Tissue panic of 2019

It is with heavy heart that I must report that Esaki will no longer produce the tissue that many modelers have known and loved for over 80 years. We were originally told by Hiroshi Esaki that they would continue, but after family discussions, they have closed.  Our contact in Japan spoke directly with the Esaki family and confirmed the situation. 

Chuck Imbergamo: Wind-it-up Enterprises (owners of Peck-Polymers and Golden Age Reproductions)

This news has caused a mass panic among FAC pilots. Esaki tissue is considered by many the Gold Standard of tissue, and now it is no longer produced. Inboxes were flooded with concerned modelers discussing and expressing their concerns:

  • “…due to the recent flurry of orders for hundreds of sheets of tissue, we are shutting down Esaki Tissue sales for the time being”
  • “Great decision! Not as much hording, but as reselling it for big bucks ripping off fellow modelers!!!”
  • “Maybe the FAC needs to think about allowing plastic to cover models these days. We don’t want to force people to use unobtainium to build an airplane.” (“unobtanium” is a term thrown around for all sorts of hard to find items)
  • “Easy Built has other Japan Tissues (Mt Fuji and Gampi). Check with art and fine paper dealers for other options. Aside from wet covering, some of the domestics are fine. I particularly like Hallmark. No reason for crazy talk about ‘plastics’ …”
  • “A sheet of our Peck tissue cut to the same size as a sheet of Esaki weighs 4.2 grams, as opposed to the Esaki which weighs 3.9 grams. That’s .2 grams difference across the entire sheet of tissue; less than a 5% difference.”
  • “Other manufacturers have cornered the display market- if you want the flying market- stuff has to be able to fly.  There’s a fine balance between too light/delicate and too heavy/unflyable.”
  • “This all said, now we can concentrate more sincerely on why kids don’t want to do stuff with their hands. Primary reason seems to be that kids don’t want to do stuff with their hands. Tissue type is a wickedly small part of that problem.”
  • “Strong disagreement here about kids. You think kids today are fundamentally different from us? I don’t. We all got exposed a lot more to model aviation when we were growing up- these kids are deprived. Kids do still enjoy building and flying model airplanes- the problem is that their parents can’t teach them anymore- the professional skill sets have changed in the last few decades.”
  • “Whatever you say bro. I too miss all those parental pro model builder teachers of our past.”
  • “Hey guys can please continue this “DISCUSSION” in a “one on one” e-mail, so you don’t clog up my and other guys inbox with stuff we don’t care about like tissue or building or kids’ way of thinking! 99.999999999% of the people on the planet don’t care either. Consider it energy saving.”

Didja ever think grown men could be so passionate about tissue paper? The Flying Aces Club is no different than any other club, group or committee. A polite notification about the end of Esaki tissue quickly turned into a gentlemanly brawl over topics with little to do in respect to Esaki tissue. Yes, the tissue is of great quality and easy to work with, but there are other perfectly good substitutes.

Plastic covering has no part in the Flying Aces Club. Tissue covering is one of the factors that makes the FAC the FAC! If someone wants to easily create a great flying model there are modern options outside of the FAC. Let’s refer to a quote from Founding Father Bob Thompson to learn what the Flying Aces Club is all about:

My initial reaction to Flying Aces magazine, having never seen it, was that this was a kid, stupid, childish, whatever magazine. Then one day in a moment of weakness, or madness, I borrowed a whole bunch of the old mags from Dave (Stott). I think I read about three pages and I was really turned on. They had a whole world here. A world which, in a sense, has completely vanished.

A world of kids in a fantasy land, in a time when things were bad. When there wasn’t much money. When there wasn’t often much to do. When it was very difficult to scratch enough money to buy the magazine, let alone buy some kind of a kit…

…Back then was still very much an individual thing. Everybody sort of dreamed of somehow being a Lindbergh, of being somebody who could become magically, that’s the secret there, to magically become a hero himself. Flying Aces really marvelously played to this kind of mentality… as Bob Rodgers out in Oklahoma said, “They put you in the place of the kid standing outside the airport fence. Trying to get in.” You know… the one they wouldn’t let in. He’s wearing his cape and his helmet and goggles and his parachute that he got somewhere, wanting somehow desperately to get in and become part of this.

How often do you get a chance, in a cut and dry world today, to play? To be able to get in the sandbox? Ya know? It’s an important thing to somebody….

I can remember when I was twelve or thirteen years old and I wanted to get out some of my old toys and play with them. I couldn’t do that. If somebody drove by and saw me doing that they would laugh at me. I’m sure there’s an awful lot of R/C modelers who laugh at us. Poor guys. They don’t know.

Bob Thompson 1988 FAC NATS

The spirit of the Flying Aces Club is not necessarily to build the best flying model or most accurately depicted scale model, it’s to be a kid again. Having the best tissue is not what’s important. Fun is the foundation of the FAC. Hawww-w-w!

Fly This “Bow-Legged Sailor”

Flying Aces Magazine plan July 1938 rubber powered balsa Bow-Legged Sailor

Maybe we seem to be stretching things a bit when we call this stick job the Bow-Legged Sailor. But you must admit that those Navy-type trouser-legs that serve as landing struts do look sort of seagoing-ish. So, balsa butchers, we’ll stick to our name whether you like it or not.

Louis Garami, Flying Aces Magazine July 1938

Legendary FAC modeler and pilot Vance Gilbert donated a few old Flying Aces rags to your dutiful editor. These, and all Flying Aces magazines, that cross this way get carefully scanned to be preserved for the ages. This model is a relatively quick and easy build for modelers of all ages. Give it a go, you may surprise yourself!

Download the plan here. The plan is formatted for tabloid sized paper. If you don’t have a machine that prints this large you can always upload the PDF to Staples, they’ll print it for about twenty cents a page.

Back to FAC 101 Issue #4