Bargara couple and Bundaberg Aeromodellers club members Patsy and Richard Brown have taken advantage of COVID-19 restrictions to build life-like flying planes.
During the recent lock-down period Patsy and Richard said they had spent tireless hours building not only a new P-51 Mustang from their moulds, but also a new WW1 German plane called a Fokker DVIII (D8).
“The full-size plane was built with fabric covering so we have made a mould over the fabric covered ‘pattern’ or ‘plug’ so that our one third size one will have the same texture and look similar,” Richard said.
Patsy said they made the warbird moulds to be as accurate as possible to the full-sized aeroplane; including the finer details of even the pilots with the help of 3D printing.
“They have simulated panel lines and rivets, and we try to make them look like they’re made from real metal panels,” she said.
“We paint the plane’s colour scheme into the mould and then vacuum the fibreglass cloth and resin on top of that. When the parts come out of the moulds they are already painted.
“It’s a long way from the old ways of balsa wood and razor blades, tissue and dope covering.”
The Bundaberg Aeromodellers Club members have their own unique “RAP Fun Factory” at their farm in Bargara, where all their flying creations are made.
“It’s not really a factory, we don’t sell what we make, we just do it for fun and the name was a joke,” Patsy said.
“It’s a shed, our own maker space, where we make large 2-3metre wingspan composite fibreglass warbirds such as Mustangs, Corsairs, P-47 Thunderbolts and P-38 Lightnings.
“They’re not just static models, we fit them out with petrol engines and all the electronics needed to fly them with a remote control.”
Plane building hobby takes off
Patsy said she fell in love with flying and making aero model planes after watching and taking photos and videos of Richard flying his creations.
“I was talked into making pilots figures to go into the cockpits and also helped paint the planes,” she said.
“There’s a lot of art work that goes into making the planes.
“I was encouraged to have a go at flying and with dual controls it made it really easy and fun to get started.”
Patsy said she started about 15 years ago with a simple, slow flying, electric powered plane and then worked her way up to now flying the big warbirds with Richard and their friends.
She said Richard had been building planes “since forever” as he had always enjoyed making things, designing, and problem solving.
“It’s also engineering, so the undercarriage has to work and retract and doors open and shut,” she said.
“Originally everyone in the hobby built their own planes but now, virtually no-one does.
“They just buy them ready to fly.”
They said to build planes it helped to think like an engineer, but it was best and easy to learn by starting with something simple.
“There are also endless resources online now – forums, YouTube, Facebook groups etc,” she said.
“Any question you have about anything you can find the answer online.
“If you have an engineering bent, it’s an excellent outlet.”
Aeromodellers Richard and Patsy's P-51 Mustang stands out
Over the decades the couple have been building and flying model planes, they both agreed there was one project they both preferred.
“The P-51 Mustang because it looks so beautiful, it’s iconic, has great colour schemes and flies like it’s on rails,” Richard said.
“The design was particularly rewarding because it was built from historic full-size drawings and in traditional modelling circles – it was said this wouldn’t work.”
Patsy said it had turned out to be one of the best planes Richard had designed.
“Because of the size and construction, it’s simple enough that we can have multiple ones and race them,” she said.
“Richard and I fly together and sometimes with another friend all at the same time, mock racing at over 200kph and that is extremely exciting!”
More to flying and plenty of social benefits at Aeromodellers
The couple said like most clubs Bundaberg Aeromodellers has had its ups and downs over the years, but it was currently in a golden period with a great bunch of people, world class facilities at Coonarr and its also never been cheaper or easier to get into the hobby.
“It’s also a very social thing to do, getting involved in the flying club with lots of help and support,” they said.
“Learning to fly is also an excellent way to keep your brain sharp; it requires a lot of concentration and is a lot more challenging than Sudoku!”
Patsy said people would often buy a ready to fly plane, take it down the park and crash it, which knocked their confidence and they gave up before really knowing how exciting the hobby could be.
“If they do manage to master it, they get bored flying by themselves,” she said.
“This is what the club has to offer, advice and mates to fly with to keep it interesting.”
- Earlier report: Bundaberg Aeromodellers hooked on flying