Right Stuff Continued - Interviews

Profile of Brian Johnson - Newest

Brian started indoor modeling with Science Olympiad in 1998 as an 8th grader. That year he learned a lot from his mentor Dr. Hacker. He had some success as an SO flyer, but his team didnít go to the state tournament. Once the SO season was over, Dr. Hacker had the kids on the team build limited penny planes. Thatís when Brian really got the bug. He won his first contest at Kent State University with that plane. We went to Buffalo that year as well where he got to see some real competition.

 The next season of Science Olympiad saw tremendous improvement in Brianís model skills through continued tutelage of Dr Hacker and others of the Cleveland Free Flight Society. He won all his contests through regionals and demonstrated building skills that earned him accusations of cheating from a coach in our region. He had built an 8 gram SO biplane that was truly beautiful. It flew well but was very fragile. He never won a contest with it, but I think the criticism was homeopathic in its influence on him.

That year he made it to the state tournament, but his plane was damaged in practice, and the best he could do with it after that was 10th place. He flew his penny plane at Kent, Buffalo and Flint that spring and his times were good enough that I suggested we go to USIC. In a two day 1000 mile trip to Johnson City he got first place in combined Junior and Senior class limited penny plane event.

 In the 2000-2001 Science Olympiad season Brian became very independent. He built a pusher version of an SO plane and again won every contest through regionals. At the state tournament he flew a perfect no touch flight but took only 2nd place, losing out to a rafter bouncer with better luck by only 4 sec.

During that season Brian was recruited by John Kagan to try out for the U.S. Junior Indoor team. So in the spring of 2001 Brian started building F1Dís. He had some early successes and even won his team selection regional at USIC and set two senior class records. That summer he set a Category IV senior penny plane record of 16:05, but his luck turned sour at the team selection finals where he finished 6th.

Team selection was by far his most bitter disappointment, but to his credit, he didnít give up. In SO in 2001-2002 he won every contest he entered including the state tournament and the SO competition at USIC. Along the way he set a couple more penny plane records and continued working on his F1D. On Labor Day 2002 he won his team selection regional for the 2004 World Championships as an open class flyer with a senior class record flight of 35min, 27sec. Jim Richmond and Doug Schaefer improved on that time at the World Championships, but I believe Brianís time remains the best F1D flight ever flown in North America.

Myles Clarke - reprint (with his permission) of email he sent me -   New

Mr. Kuhl,

Sure, I'd love to help with your site. (Interesting article, by the way.)  I'm not sure what kind of input you're looking for, though. I'm quite busy with other things than flying, so I've never gotten into the AMA events like the penny planes or F1D's, although I've watched them at West Baden, and they sure are fascinating.

Just a side note on Wright Stuff- I've been in SO, and Wright stuff, since I was in seventh grade. WS has, by far, the greatest outside support system of resources of any event in the whole Olympiad. Even the flagship, Mission Possible, does not attract the sort of organized mentoring that Wright Stuff has. However, people in the indoor community still complain that there is not enough effective mentoring going on because of the vast disparity in airplane quality at competitions. That is simply an unfounded argument when WS is compared to the other SO events. Any student who wants help in Wright Stuff bad enough to spend an hour online looking for it will find help in droves. That is simply not the case with any other event. I would advise a concerned flier to look in at the quality and disparity in the Mission Possible event if they are looking for problems. The lack of quality in planes is not due to the unavailability of help, but due to the fact that students have not bothered to seek it out. Most schools do not take SO all that seriously, to be honest. Just as most schools struggle with Mission Possible because it is exceedingly difficult and requires tons of work, most schools struggle with Wright Stuff because it requires lots of time and work. The problems that come up in Wright Stuff are in no way the fault of the indoor community, which has responded resoundingly well to the event.  They are a result of the fact that students only have so much time to spend on SO, and Wright stuff takes a lot of time, yet does not count any more than other events which require less preparation. SO and the indoor community should be ecstatic at the high quality some students are able to achieve because of the help they have received.

I wish that sentiment could be communicated to the nay-sayers that are always trying to kill this event. They should look at some pound and a half pine bridges competing against seven gram balsa masterpieces which come to competition year in and year out to give themselves some perspective. Wright Stuff is just like the other events in SO. Those who work and seek out help succeed, and those who don't get slaughtered in competition.

Anyway, if I can be of any help for your site, just ask. I'm a second semester senior, and as busy as I am, I'm so bored with high school life that I'll welcome any distractions. :).

Good Flying,

Myles Clarke

SO Div. C Flyer, Valparaiso HS, Valparaiso, IN.
 

Matt Chalker

 1. Before Science Olympiad had you ever seen a model airplane of any type fly?   Had you ever seen an indoor free flight rubber-powered airplane?

My older brother flew R/C, but by the time I got into SO, he was already in college. I had never seen/heard about indoor, but it would have been a HUGE help. The hardest thing was trying to find info when I didn't know what to look for.

 2.  Was it difficult building something as delicate as an indoor plane to start with?

Not really, because they weren't delicate at first. My first models were like 15 grams, and tough enough to fly outside.

 3.  Are you the type of person that is fascinated by anything that flies?

Yeah, I love watching stuff fly.

 4.  Would you be interested in model planes if it wasn't for the competition?

Are you asking SO competition or AMA competition? I wouldn't have found out if it wasn't for SO, but if I still found out about them, I would probably still be interested. I fly a lot for fun. The only thing that competition really does for me is allow me to meet other people and learn new things.

 5.  Have you found that any of what you have learned in model aviation  transferred to other areas of your life such as school work?

Not especially. Since this is so specialized, it's kind of hard to overlap at all. My physics teacher is thinking of having us build model airplanes for class, Wright Flyers or Delta Darts, but that's for the Wright Brothers Centennial, not because of anything I've said or done.

 6.  Do you have any idea what you might pursue after high school?

Ask me in a few weeks, depends on which college I choose. (Either OSU or USMMA) Art Restoration or materials engineering at OSU, Naval Aviation (Pilot) at USMMA.

7.  Have there been really frustrating times in competition or building that  you would like to tell about?

Uh, the time when my plane flew out of the building at Akron was pretty bad. I've always tried to never get too serious in competition, so nothing ever upsets me too much, even getting hung/breaking a model. The team trials were pretty serious though, and that flight probably would have legitimately given me a spot on the team. Doesn't matter now though, since things worked out anyways.

 8.  Do any other aspects of model aviation interest you, such as outdoor free  flight or RC soaring for example?

I've built a few outdoor models, both rubber powered and gliders, but I didn't enjoy them all that much. Indoor has something raw and beautiful about it.

 9.  How do your classmates see your accomplishments in model aviation?

Uh, They thought it was pretty cool that I got to miss a week of school to go to Romania. Most of my friends think it's pretty incredible when I show them my planes, but I don't really talk about it all that much at school, since most of my friends, and kids in general don't really understand the concept of indoor. Plus, I do it for the models and to hang out with the other modelers, not the recognition of non-modelers, since they are always like Uh.... Wow.... That's really cool.... (without a clue what I'm talking about)

 10.  Any words of wisdom for anyone wanting to try indoor?

Just try it, and you'll see how cool it is. Get an easy kit, like a penny plane and build it. Also join Don's list and don't be scared to ask questions.

Hope this is what you're looking for.

Matt

Parker Parrish

1.  Before Science Olympiad had you ever seen a model airplane of any type fly?   Had you ever seen an indoor free flight rubber-powered airplane?

No, I actually found out about Science Olympiad through my experience in FF. I started flying models (out-door r/c stuff) in í98 or so and found the FF scene a couple years later. I stumbled across an add in the back of MA for a FF contest that was being held at the high school I would be moving up to the next year. I figured it would be a good chance to see the building if nothing else. Boy was I surprised. A few of my friends from the RC club showed up as well, and as I remember, Dohrman Crawford lent an AMA Cub to us for the day. He showed how to wind it and we spent the better part of that day flying it. That was all it took; I was hooked for good!

2.  Was it difficult building something as delicate as an indoor plane to start with?

Not really; I had some previous modeling experience from my RC days and started out with some much heavier models. I spent a day looking for plans and articles on the Internet and found a couple of models that I liked. This was my first attempt at scratch building a model and it turned out fairly well. It was all 1/16 square balsa and I covered it with some tissue that would have been much better for wrapping gifts. It was able to cross the line from "projectile" to "aircraft" and I was thrilled. I bought some much lighter wood and Japanese tissue for some new planes. I soon found myself on the verge of breaking a minute!

3.  Are you the type of person that is fascinated by anything that flies?

Of course! Iíll take anything. Iíve flown model aircraft, helicopters, blimps and I had my fair share of racing with RC cars. Right now I have plans to go for a glider license (as long as the funding keeps up!) in my spare time. My friends also catch me looking up to the sky whenever we go out (although, my work in astronomy and astrophotography is partly responsible for that...).

 4.  Would you be interested in model planes if it wasn't for the competition?

Another "Of course!" I love to just fly for fun. For me the interest is just as much the design and construction as it is the flying.

 5.  Have you found that any of what you have learned in model aviation  transferred to other areas of your life such as school work?

Yes, I have always used aerospace for science fair projects, and research papers not to mention the problem solving skills and patience that the hobby has helped develop. Model aviation has introduced me to and has helped me learn practically everything I know about engineering.

6.  Do you have any idea what you might pursue after high school?

Iím planning on majoring in aerospace engineering focusing on research and design of new aircraft. I would love a job doing the same later in life.

7.  Have there been really frustrating times in competition or building that  you would like to tell about?

In a word, YES! The time that sticks out the most was the team finals in Akron. I was having my best official ever when I saw the model slow down and then appear to get much shorterÖ It was circling right up at the ceiling and managed to hang up on the crane hanging from the roof. I could barely see the thing 190í up but managed to balloon it free without damage. The problem was that in my joy of recovering the model, I forgot about the clear line below the balloon and the model did a tail slide right into it! The stab folded over and I spent that evening in the hotel with some ambroid and waxed paper re-building and bracing it. Not too bad looking back but it was killer in the middle of the contest with my best model. Also, the countless amount of time I have spent trying to get a ministick to handle torque has been challenging.

 8.  Do any other aspects of model aviation interest you, such as outdoor free  flight or RC soaring for example?

Yes. Like I said before, I spent a few years with r/c cars and some larger gas planes. My recent projects have been numerous though. I just finished a 6í indoor RC blimp, a 24" electric park flyer and a small scale nitro powered car; all of which I designed and scratch built. Now, I have plans for a Kaos that I scaled down to a 24"wing not to mention that CO2 motor lying around and all of the elec. FF duration stuff. . Iíll get around to finishing them some day. Iím sure I have some pictures around here somewhere if youíre interested.

9.  How do your classmates see your accomplishments in model aviation?

Most donít actually understand what I do, but whenever I bring something "cool" to school, itís almost always a hit. Itís funny to see the looks you get when you talk about your airplane that will fly for a half hourÖon a rubber bandÖwithout being controlledÖ

 10.  Any words of wisdom for anyone wanting to try indoor?

It is a MUST TRY hobby. Its cheap, (relatively) easy to get started, surprisingly rewarding, and you will be amazed at the fact that anything will fly given enough power! Remember that itís just a hobby. The only reason we do this stuff is to have fun. If you ever get frustrated or discouraged, remind yourself that youíre "having fun" and itís really not worth getting upset over. Start with a simple design and build and fly as many models as you possibly can. Each one will be better than the last and you will shortly be up there with the "pros"!

I have flown ministicks, F1Ds, and just about every logical step in-between and have never been disappointed with the results. If you like, feel free to publish my name, e-mail, and phone # for a reference. Also, while the internet is great, I could never be where I am today without the help of Chuck Slusarczyk, Vern Hacker, the rest of the "Cleveland Clowns", Stan Chilton, Larry Coslick and of course all of the "Thermal Thumbers" here in GA. While that is the beginning of the list, there are far too many people that have helped out to list here!

Questions to Don Slusarczyk

Before SO, have many of the students had any exposure to model airplanes before?

Most of the kids had no idea what a prop was or anything. None had airplane exposure that I was aware of, we had to teach them everything!

Have you seen a change in some of the students from when they first started? More serious, better attitude, better at solving problems?

Definitely! Ben Saks and Doug Schaffer went to the indoor world champs and Doug almost beat Jim Richmond for the world championships. I find that some kids are doing SO because they have to, some do it because their parents want them to (the father is more excited then the kid). Then some are self-running,. You teach them and then they go off on their own. Ben, Doug, Parker Parrish, as well as several others all are self-sustaining modelers. The bad thing is that they are now breaking my records I set back when I was their age.

How many planes  usually are built before building a competitive design SO model?

I would say three or so, the first one to get an idea of what is happening. A second one to fix what was wrong with the first one, then finally a third one which refines it even more.

If  there were no competition, and it was just building and flying model airplanes, do you think the young people would stay as interested?

Well some do. But a lot fly it because it is part of the SO. I think if Wright Stuff was eliminated only 20% would still show up.

Did the modelers enjoy working with the young people?

We have a good time. We do have some flying sessions where no SO is allowed to give ourselves a break. Sometimes I have gone to test fly my model and the next thing I know 5 hours have gone by and it is time to go home and I never got my model out of the box. That is one reason why I created the instructional CD ROM.

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