The Legacy Of Mike Nassise

Written by Dennis Norman
Free Flight Scale
As seen in the November 2020 issue of Model Aviation

Download FAC Simple Scale Airplane Plans Listing

Access a partial listing of FAC Simple Scale Airplane Plans drawn by Mike Nassise! 

THE AEROMODELING COMMUNITY lost a great talent when Michael A. Nassise died on November 23, 2019, at the age of 78. Mike was renowned as the editor of Tailspin, the New England Flying Aces news and journal of the Bay State Flying Aces Club (FAC) Squadron. For 56 years, he was the husband of Cecile A. Nassise and is survived by their daughter, Maria, sons Joseph and Christopher, and eight grandchildren.

Mike was a graduate of Boston Latin High School. He continued his education at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He furthered his education at Boston State College, where he earned his master’s degree in education. For 32 years, he was employed by the town of Stoughton as the director of natural and applied sciences for the Stoughton Public Schools, where he taught advanced chemistry to 11th and 12th graders. Mike was also a licensed pharmacist in Massachusetts and worked part time for 20 years at Milton Hospital.

Readers of Tailspin knew that Mike enjoyed designing, building, and flying FAC Simple Scale (FACSS) models. His favorites were high-wing military utility (observation/reconnaissance) aircraft. Models built from his plans are not exact scale replicas. The FAC classifies this style of design as Simple Scale, but Mike preferred to use AMA’s term, Stand-Off Scale (SOS). They might "appear" exact scale, but closer examination reveals that they are not.

One of Mike’s oldest flying buddies, Vance Gilbert, liked to say that Mike’s models were "watercolor interpretations" rather than examples of exact realism done in oils. Vance’s analogy revealed another interesting aspect of Mike’s talents. He also enjoyed watercolor painting.

Andrew Ricci’s beautifully finished Martin AM-1 Mauler is ready for flight. The model is typical of Mike’s designs, which combine minimal structure with maximum performance. Ricci photo.

This uncovered frame of Mike’s 20-inch wingspan Martin AM-1 Mauler carrier bomber was published in the May/June 2016 issue of Tailspin. Note the simplicity of its design. Photo by Dave Niedzielski.

When Mike drew FACSS plans, his goal was to make easily built models that could be constructed and assembled quickly and include appealing details, yet be of minimal weight for good performance. His designs called for materials readily available in nearby hobby shops and retail stores. In short, Mike tried to maximize the fun of building model aircraft while minimizing distortions that could make them more flyable but less realistic in appearance.

In addition to designing FACSS plans, Mike enjoyed designing and building FAC Dime Scale and FAC Jet Catapult Scale Glider models. These FAC types allow some deviation from exact scale for ease of construction and assembly. They do not permit gross alterations for performance enhancement.

He came across many SOS model drawings throughout the years that had been so altered in their appearance that he felt they were an embarrassing travesty, especially when the deviations were so exaggerated. He was of the opinion that one never "really won" building aircraft from such plans.

There has been some discussion about continuing the Tailspin newsletter, but Mike’s widow doubts it. She said that Tailspin was almost entirely Mike’s effort. His son, Christopher, would be the most likely family member to continue publishing Tailspin, but she doesn’t think that he would have time to do so.

With the help of Mike’s friends, I have compiled a list of Tailspin plans. If you know of anyone who has a collection of Tailspin newsletters, he or she would probably be the best source for obtaining copies of the plans. I will give you more on this in a future column if I hear of anything.

Mike fondly referred to FAC model builders as "Sticksters," and looked forward to "seeing them in the tall, green stuff."

God bless you, Mike, for your honesty and dedication to FAC modeling at its finest. We appreciated all that you did and you are missed.

Dan Driscoll’s Fiat G.50 in Finnish insignia colors is similar to all of Mike’s originals. The model looks great and flies even better. Meyers photo.

The 22-inch wingspan Max Holste 1521 Broussard by Mike Kelly was published in the March/April 2019 issue of Tailspin. Photo by Stew Meyers.

Andrew’s 19-inch wingspan Yokosuka D4Y2 Judy dive bomber from Mike Nassise plans was published in the May/June 2014 issue of Tailspin. Contrary to its intended mission, the model "climbs" even better! Ricci photo.

The Dime Scale 16-inch wingspan Hawker Hurricane in Soviet winter markings is by Mike Kaiteris, who is to be congratulated for adding a pilot to fly this typically handsome design from Tailspin. Kaiteris photo.


Mike Nassise is survived by his wife, Cecile, three children, and eight grandchildren. He was a pharmacist and had a master’s degree in education. He was also a pillar of the FAC. Nassise photo.


National Free Flight Society (NFFS)



By Dennis Norman |

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