The Perfect First Flight

Rich Moss

I am sitting at the bench building a small rubber powered plane, gluing my fingers together, and thought of an amusing story that older RC lovers should enjoy. The year was about 1981. I was 17-18 and heavy into RC. My dad loved model planes, but he was getting up there in age and really needed me to help him with this "new-fangled RC stuff" which I of course enjoyed doing. Well, you have to know my father. He was a very proud man and refused, I mean REFUSED to accept, let alone ask for help from anyone. He had to do everything himself (which usually meant things ended up at a very high standard or simply didn't get done). It was just how he was.

Time had gone by and I had to leave the nest to go to school as kids tended to do back then. While I was gone, my dad decided to build an airplane himself. He ordered a Falcon 56 Mk II, a great plane if I don't say so myself. He covered it silver and blue as I remember (everything was silver with this man for some reason) and powered it with a "Not so cheap at the time" Enya .40, and all guided by his favorite Futaba tan box radio on AM (remember those?). He was able to finish the airplane and it actually looked good as I remember. I saw it once while visiting during a school break.

Falcon 56 Mk II, plan

Our local club had lost its field due to noise, and the local private club got tired of our members using their field, so the members had to go to the county and ask for permission to fly "Some-where". The county told them that the only place available was the garbage dump. But the dump was located a long way away (as garbage dumps tend to be) and most guys just gave up the hobby.

Well, dear old dad decided that he wanted to see his new creation fly. So he got up one morning, checked everything out, and packed up the car. When he got there he was by himself, no one to help. He decided he wasn't going to waste such a long trip, so he unloaded the plane, assembled it, and fueled it up.

Falcon 56 Mk II, box art

Now engines and radios back then were not as user friendly as they are today, so on this cold morning, the new Enya decided it wasn't going to cooperate. He tried and he tried but the thing would only sputter. Finally though "Persistence pervaded" and it barked to life, sloppy rich and barely running (no wonder it wouldn't start, huh?).

He got the needle set and soon the engine was running full bore and sounding great. In his excitement, he turned to grab his transmitter and .... you guessed it, he let go of the plane. Off it raced across the field making a perfect take off and flying straight and level away from him.

He panicked and grabbed the transmitter. He jammed the throttle closed, but the airplane just continued to fly majestically off into the distance.

Carl Goldberg at work

Then he got that awful feeling: he realized that he forgot to turn the receiver battery on! See, since the Enya wouldn't start, he had turned off the receiver battery to save the charge. Remember, radios were not what they are today by far and the batteries were not only expensive, but didn't hold much of a charge, and we didn't have fast chargers yet ? unless you were rich or could build one yourself. When the engine started, he completely forgot to turn the receiver back on.

Completed Falcon 56 Mk II model (thanks to Andy Coutts)

My dad for years laughed about that day and said he stood there patiently, watching his creation fly off into the horizon, and out over the Long Island Sound. When he could no longer see it, he packed up the car and quietly drove home.

My dad is gone now, but we laughed at that story for years. We referred to it not as flyaway, but as a perfect initial flight. We use to say if anyone ever asked "What ever happened to that Falcon 56?" he could say "Took it up, and flew straight as an arrow!".

Back to the building board as they say.

User comments

That was a great little story; it gave me a smile. I'm returning to the hobby at the age of 67, so I'm looking forward to many happy landings. Wish me luck!
Paul_Morayshire_Scotland - 22/08/2018
I still fly my mk1, mk11 and have a mk111 still new in the box I haven’t built yet. I love flying my Goldberg planes. Cheers have a great day
David Schaefer - 24/05/2022
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