Remembering Dan Kane

Written by Dennis Norman. Oh, Danny Boy, it was a great honor and pleasure to have known ye. Featured in the Free Flight Scale column in the March 2015 issue of Model Aviation.

On November 11, 2014, the aeromodeling fraternity lost one of its most dynamic and creative leaders. Dan Kane passed away at age 67. He was a U.S. Air Force Vietnam War veteran, and departed this world on Veterans Day. Dan was born in Chicago. He started building models when he was 8 years old after watching them fly near his home. He began with Free Flight and progressed to RC and RC Pylon Racing. In the late 1950s, Dan flew in the Nats at Naval Air Station Glenview in Illinois. When he was 12, Dan started working in Chicago-area hobby shops, where he learned how to wind coils, solder, wire, and install radio controls in model aircraft and boats. He worked for people such as Sid Axelrod (who taught him woodworking) and Joe Stanton (who schooled him in RC installation and repair). While still in his teens, Dan began mixing his own fuel and selling it for RC boat racing. In 1962, he broke the world speed record in RC Class C Hydroplane when his model exceeded 30 mph. After this, he started mass producing his fuel under the name of Go-POP, and eventually produced 600 gallons of Go-POP per week, supplying hobby shops in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Dan attended a pre-seminary program for two years during high school, intending to become a priest, but ultimately, he found marriage and family more appealing. Dan wed his first wife, Mary, and they raised five children (Mary Arlene, Daniel Jr., Cindy, Kevin, and Kathleen). Dan joined the U.S. Air Force in February 1967. There he was trained in aviation hydraulics, and helped maintain our military aircraft. After an honorable discharge, Dan returned to Chicago and again worked for Sid and Joe, along with doing product design for Top Flite. An expert in RC Pylon Racing, Dan served as president of the Chicago Pylon Club. He also joined the Chicago Radio Control Club and became friends with several of the hobby’s greats, including Don Dombrowski of California Models; Fred Reese from the House of Balsa; Jimmy Grier and Jerry Nelson of Midwest Distributors; Big Stoop of Midwest Products; and Carl Goldberg, who later hired Dan to repair machines. Dan also served as president of the Illinois Model Airplane Club and became friends with Ed Konefes, Joe Konefes, and Charlie Sotich.
Father-and-son team of Dan and Dan Jr. set the needle valve on their Quarter Midget Racer in 1987. Model Aviation archive photo.

Carole and Dan Kane relax at one of the many FAC contests that they enjoyed. Kane photo.

Dan smiles as he holds his bright-red Mr. Smoothie Pearson-Williams Racer before the call to participate in an FAC mass launch event. Kane photo.

Dan and his grandson, Jack, prepare to fly in a contest in 2006. Kane photo.

In 1996, he and his future wife, Carole, served as CDs for the Nats in Muncie, Indiana. A few years later, they moved to Ohio, joined the Cleveland Free Flight Society, and Dan was a club CD until shortly before his death. Dan also served on the AMA History Committee and recently as chairman of the National Model Aviation Museum Acquisition Committee. At the time of his passing, Dan was also a member of the Canadian-American Pylon Society (CAPS), National Miniature Pylon Racing Association (NMPRA), International Model Power Boat Association (IMPBA), Performance Model Boat Club (PMBC), and the Dayton RC Boat Club. I first met Dan when he joined the Flying Aces Club (FAC) in Geneseo, New York. At that time I was asked to give the blessing at FAC banquets. Although not ordained, I come from a long line of ministers, and in my late teens, I, like Dan, had considered a career in Christian ministry. In 2003, Dan and Carole decided to marry and hold the wedding at the FAC Nats in Geneseo. Last-minute complications prevented them from getting a New York marriage license, but because their plans were widely known, they still proceeded with a ceremony, although it would not be official. They asked me to conduct the ceremony and I obliged them. The service was brief, dignified, and enthusiastically received. The Kanes were legally married afterward in Ohio. Carole always took an active part in Dan’s love of modeling and even started her own model supply business called Shorty’s Basement, which grew quickly and served customers worldwide. Shorty’s Basement was eventually sold to George Bredehoft and his wife Pat, who carry on Carole’s legacy. Dan’s expertise in hydraulics led to his becoming internationally renowned. A few weeks before his death, Dan was called to St. Louis to fix a hydraulic system that others had unsuccessfully struggled with. To everyone’s amazement, he repaired the system within two hours! In March of 2014, Del Balunek and I planned to attend the annual Westerville Swap Shop in Columbus, Ohio, and invited Dan, Carole, and Carole’s daughter, Amanda, to join us. We arrived at the event only to discover that it had been held the week before! Dan and Carole saved the day by treating us to lunch at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, famed for its excellent menu and great selection of wines. We had a marvelous time and the lunch lasted nearly three hours. Within weeks, Dan and Carole were both facing serious health problems. Carole’s proved non-life-threatening, but Dan was not so fortunate. A few months later, Del, Russ Brown, and I were able to treat Dan and Carole to lunch at Cooper’s Hawk. Despite his declining health, Dan was cheerful, and once again we had a spectacular time. Oh, Danny Boy, it was a great honor and pleasure to have known ye.
Carole Kane holds Dan’s puckish Connie Conrad Jetex 50, one of Dan’s last creative FF designs. Model Aviation archive photo.

The Kanes hosted Del Balunek (L) and Dennis at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in March 2014. Within weeks Dan (center) and Carole would learn of their serious medical conditions. Photo by Amanda Catledge.

A snapshot of Dan and his grandchildren, Jack and Nicole, at the 2014 RC Pylon Racing Nats a few months before Dan’s passing. Kane photo.


CAPS Cleveland Free Flight Society [email protected] Dayton RC Boat Club FAC [email protected] IMPBA House of Balsa (760) 246-6462 Midwest Products (219) 942-1134 NMPRA PMBC Volaré Products/Shorty’s Basement (269) 339-9795 Westerville Model Aeronautics Association National Free Flight Society (NFFS)
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Thanks for the great article about Dan and his love of modeling. We spent many hours at the flying fields and ponds in the area and travelling to contests in other states. We made many great friends within the modelling community. Thanks for the trip down memory lane once again!

Thanks for the nice article on Dan. As a teenager I raced Q500 with/against Dan and Dan Jr. in the Rockford and Chicago, IL area as well as at two Nationals. I am just rejoining the hobby after many years and am very sorry to hear of his passing.

I met Dan as a pit crew flagger in my early teens with the Chicago Pylon Club. He was also a tremendous supporter of kids like me building and flying models when he worked at Stanton’s Hobby Shop in Chicago always willing to answer my questions and steer me in the right direction.

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