New Fliers, New Suppliers

Written by Don DeLoach New Fliers, New Suppliers Column As seen in the August 2019 issue of Model Aviation.

tim lavender
Tim Lavender’s (far R, standing) Smyrna Flying Aces Squadron is one of the most successful FF club in the US. Members meet once a week for building sessions in their club workshop and hold a year-end contest.

Free Flight (FF) has a reputation of being a subset of our hobby with an aging demographic. Although it’s true that the average age of the participants is probably in the 60s and we haven’t done a very good job of recruiting new fliers, there are exceptions.

Take Rev. Tim Lavender’s Smyrna Flying Aces Squadron in Smyrna, Tennessee. This is one of the most successful US FF club of the last two decades. Founded by Tim in the 1990s, the club is made up entirely of schoolage kids and their adult mentors. Members hold weekly building sessions at Tim’s church and build mostly simple stick-and-tissue models for indoor flight.

The club has remained popular throughout the decades, proving that simple FF models continue to bring joy to young minds. Hundreds of alumni have passed through the club, and many have kept with the hobby or segued into aviation careers.

FF Cottage

Suppliers In defiance of expectations, there has also been a surprising surge in new cottage suppliers for FF products in the past five years.

Hummingbird Model Products

Bernard Guest, a 35-year FF enthusiast and geology professor, founded Hummingbird Model Products (HMP) in 2016. He’s an expert in CAD design, laser cutting of balsa, and tissue printing. Most impressive is Bernard’s amazingly prolific pace. He has introduced a new product (usually a kit) each month for approximately two years. He wrote:

"My primary interests are FF competition, particularly the FAI classes, but also Scale, Old-Timers, and the AMA Endurance classes. The other thing I like to do is design for FF. I enjoy designing and drawing model airplane plans and have recently started designing and developing tools for aeromodelers. I started HMP because my designs were becoming popular and I needed a way to pay for my hobby (mostly travel to contests). So, here we are.

"I hope you enjoy my products, and please do feel free to send me a note if you think something could be improved or if you have a burning need for a particular design or product."

HMP offers everything from simple Catapult gliders, to balsa strippers, to precision rubber Scale designs. To date, I’ve built three HMP kits and have been absolutely delighted with their quality.

the hawker hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane by HMP is a 24-inch stick-and-tissue, laser-cut beauty. It’s offered in six options, from a short kit to a full kit, with prices starting at $29.

Volaré Model Products

George Bredehoft started Volaré Products in the early 1990s. Initially, his only products were his original-design plans. He took a break from modeling from 2000 to 2012, and when he returned, he saw that Shorty’s Basement was for sale and bought it from Carole Kane.

A year later, in the spring of 2013, he bought a laser cutter and produced his first laser-cut kit, the Phantom Flash. He now has nearly 70 kits—mostly short kits—available. These, along with his personal involvement, are focused on Flying Aces Club (FAC) events and include a variety of Scale and Old-Timer designs.

products also offers
Volaré Products also offers the critically needed tools and gadgets for FF, including this freewheeling clutch.

George retired from the federal government in the summer of 2016 and is able to dedicate all of his time to the hobby. As part of his business plan, all Volaré plans and kits must be built and flown to at least the FAC minimum 20-second flight before being offered for sale. This is reflected in the name of the business. Volaré means "I will fly" in Spanish.

volare products blatter 40
The Volaré Products Blatter 40 is a simple rise-off-ground design that is suitable for FF novices.

D&V Laser

Worx A joint venture of Oklahomans Robert Dunham II and George Voss, D&V Laser Worx specializes in CAD plans and lasercut kits of high-performance, glow-powered models. The business came into being approximately five years ago when George returned to FF after a long hiatus for career and family.

Expertly drawn plans include the Eros Vintage F1C; FAIBar for Nostalgia Gas; Long Shot Mulvihill; and the soon-to-be-released Lucky Lindy 1/2A. George posted recently on the D&V Lazer Worx Facebook page:

"We are in the process of prototyping the very special Lucky Lindy 1/2A and A Nostalgia model. What makes this kit so special? It’s the wood. Except for trailing edges and fins, all balsa is 6 pounds per cubic foot or less. We make the fins out of hard stock since they take a beating and, of course, trailing edges need to be stiff and strong and therefore, need to be made out of heavier wood, but we’re shooting for nothing over #10 wood on the laser-cut trailing edges.

"That’s correct, all of the trailing edges are laser cut. All you need to add are the spar and shear web material. We’re hand picking through hundreds of sheets to make sure you get A-grain fuselage parts and as close to C-grain ribs and other parts.

800w laser is shown
D&V’s 800W laser is shown in action. Note the high-quality, hand-selected balsa.

"Price will be $99 for this very special kit. Look for it later this month. Preorders will get free shipping!"

laser worx specializes
D&V Laser Worx specializes in larger FF lasercut kits and CAD plans. Here is the company’s latest 1/2A design, the classic 1970s Mexi-Boy, designed by the late Al Vela.


National Free Flight Society (NFFS)


Hummingbird Model Products

(587) 894-2006

Volaré Products

(269) 420-9477

D&V Laser Worx

(405) 620-7170

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Donde vendeden kit de Phantom Flash II con envio a Chile?

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