I don't know whether this "Modelers You'd Like to Know" column became a regular feature in American Modeler, but it is the first and only I have seen so far. Here, a short biography is given of five noteworthy modelers of the era. Howard McEntee is a familiar name to most people who have been in the model airplane hobby since the 1970s, but the others are not necessarily so well known. What qualifies each for highlighting is not necessarily having achieved great fame and/or fortune, but the story of their journey in the life of aeromodeling. A good example is Pete Sotich. He and his brother, Charlie, were well-known in the 1950s and 1960s for their contest activity. Pete served as president of the AMA for a while. Interestingly, Pete had his modeler career interrupted by being drafted into the Army during WW II, whereupon he spent 14 months as a POW in Germany after being captured at Anzio in February of 1944. It likely was not a Hogan's Heroes experience.
Quite a number of people, including many of his friends, may be considerably surprised to learn that the first gasoline powered model (and first R/C model) that Howard McEntee ever flew was flown in 1950. Considering how far back Howard's history in both models and radio go this is indeed surprising.
The young McEntee's introduction to flying machines began when his father brought home aviation magazines during the war - World War I, that is. Howard's first models were built in high school during the early 1920's. These models, from kits by Ideal, Wading River and White, were generally of hard wood strips put together with small nails. The first model he had that flew consisted of the wing and prop of a Japanese wire and silk model and a stick fuselage and tail which Howard supplied.
During lulls in college study (BS from the University of Maryland in 1928) Howard continued building, mostly scale models. He remained an avid scale builder after he left school. Most of his projects were based on plane plans he found in aviation magazines and scaled up himself.
Howard's career in radio work goes back just about as far as his modeling. This he began while still in high school. Ham radio was still in its infancy and Howard remembers the spark coil and crystal detector quite well.
While still a sophomore in high school Howard had an encounter which was to have far reaching consequences. He met the renowned Charles Hampson Grant at the summer camp Grant was running for boys in Vermont at that time. Grant thought so highly of the young McEntee that he hired him for one summer to teach model building. And when Grant became the editor of Model Airplane News Howard began his long association with that magazine, first as contributor, then as editor. His early contributions included many models such as the S.E.-5 (a particular favorite), a Cessna, the Nieuport 28, the Boeing B-9 as well as a series of articles on construction which, Howard recalls, "went on and on".
Howard became editor of Model Airplane News, a job he was to hold for five years, at just about the time WW II ended. He started going to the Nationals (Wichita, 1946) at about the same time and has continued to do so with few exceptions ever since. He is usually accompanied by his wife Elinor who, has shared a lot of her husband's experience with models, modeling, radio and writing. Since well before they were married (1935) she can remember encounters with "the egg beater" as she calls it and many many happy flying days. Elinor still goes to the Nationals with Howard every year where she collects and tabulates the R/C data which appears ultimately in the American Modeler Annual.
When Howard left M.A.N. about 1950 he devoted himself full time to the freelance writing at which he has earned his living for most of his life. In addition to his considerable output for this model magazine with which most of us are familiar he has also written extensively for "the Pops" (Popular Science, Popular Mechanics) and "Boy's Life" as well as for a number of radio magazines. Like any dedicated writer Howard spends a lot of time reading. There are the model magazines, foreign as well as domestic to go through, four or five monthly radio magazines and piles of newsletters. This sort of load has helped him keep TV at arms length (apparently without too much difficulty) and has tended to cut into the time that he might have spent bowling or playing tennis in years gone by.
Today that first R/C model (a Berkeley Brigadier begun in 1945 and flown in 1950) is well behind Howard and the McEntee name is closely associated in most minds with radio flying. He does like to harken back to 1939 and what may have been the first of all two-speed R/C engines. It was a Brown with two sets of points and although the range between speeds wasn't great there was enough of a variation, Howard insists, to call the old Brown a dual range radio engine. Over the years his singleness of purpose with two-speed engines has resulted in a remarkable proficiency. Today he flips the prop once and heads for the transmitter. He rarely has to go back and flip again.
What building he does these days is on a large ping pong table in the rather cosy basement workshop of the McEntee home in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Cases around the wall are full of ham gear and models, some 15 or 20 years old and still in flying condition, hang on the walls. Howard complains that it takes him longer and longer to build a model these days and states that he prefers to repair old models, even when the damage is extensive, than to discard them and start new ones. He also wishes he could build with a little more finesse but confesses that he is an inveterate beefer-upper. His current project, a copy of the KD-3, has been abuilding for about nine months and still has a way to go before completion. The fact that he no longer stacks a pile of boogie-woogie records on the player before he sits down to build as he once did may have something to do with his more leisurely pace.
Otherwise Howard McEntee is a satisfied man. His only rueful reflection comes as a consequence of having earned his living all these years at something he enjoyed doing. "I don't have a hobby any more," he says.
MODELER ON SPOT - HOWARD McENTEE
INTERNATIONAL TEAMS. "I think it's a good thing. Our fellows who went over there got along wonderfully with the foreign builders. They make friends and keep friends for a very long time. It's a real good thing. I just hope the politicians keep their hands off the model builders. They get along wonderfully by themselves."
ODD MODELS FLOWN. "I once flew an electric U-control model that a friend built. You carried a little battery under your arm and had a rheostat in your hand to control the speed ... to slow it down if it went too fast. It worked out very well."
CHIEF BEEF. "I have a gripe against towns that do nothing for modeling. Ridgewood (N.J.) has a ban on model flying throughout the whole town. Of course engine noise is the complaint everybody makes. About ten years ago a couple of active model builders approached the village fathers about it but they never got to first base. Some people fly down at the school grounds every now and then but as soon as somebody hears the noise and calls (the police) they get chased."
MOST MEMORABLE MODELING MOMENT. "I guess that would be the flying at the '61 Nationals. I'd had a bad time for two years. I took along everything for '61 ... a box of tools, dope, silk - and everything went like clockwork, like a dream. It wasn't only the winning, but everything went just right every time."
FOR THE BEGINNER. "I've always stressed starting simply. Older people especially tend to jump into R/C with full-house and also a scale job. Start with a sturdy, simple, reliable kit and reliable equipment."
To those model builders who manage - despite the protests of the family - to sneak in an occasional hour's building on a corner of the dining room table Larry Scarinzi is going to seem a man to be envied above all others. It is doubtful if anyone anywhere has his life so arranged to accommodate his hobby as Larry has. Take the workroom for example. Whereas most modelers fortunate enough to have a basement would count themselves lucky to have a little clearing in the jungle of furnace pipes, wash tubs, water lines and clothes dryers. Scarinzi has settled for nothing less than a complete take-over. After all, was the model builder made for the basement, or the basement for the model builder?
Larry's answer to this question is a large, well lit room in which one hardly notices anything but models. They hang in clumps from the rafters a little the way bats hang from the ceiling of a cavern and it's not difficult to count fifty or sixty before giving it up. In one spot there's a row of Free Flight models, in another a string of racy looking Proto Speedsters, elsewhere a cluster of Giant Killers, the builder's favorite Combat job. Sprinkled about, leaning against the walls, piled on tables, stuck in slots, are boxes of balsa, rolled plans, kits, and half constructed models in such array that you have to look hard to see that there is, after all, such a thing as a furnace in the basement too. And you're forced to the conclusion that the place is clearly and unmistakably, first and foremost, the province of Larry Scarinzi, model builder.
Upstairs somewhat the same condition prevails that one finds downstairs - only to a slightly lesser extent. In any other living room the trophies might embellish the surroundings; in Scarinzi's case the room is obviously there as a setting for the trophies. Fortunately it's a good sized room. Let's see now, anything more? Oh yes! Larry even has his own "airplane car" - a Chevy station wagon used (almost) exclusively for carting models to contests or over to Rich's Hobbytowne in nearby Parsippany where he does a lot of his flying.
By now the table-corner modeler is going to be wondering to himself: "Does this guy have a wife?" Yes, in a rare moment, about 1951 he reckons it was, Larry put the glue tube down long enough to go roller skating one night in Florian Park, N.J., and there he met Ginger. She was passed on to the rank of modeler's wife, Larry says half jokingly, "only after a very careful screening process." This meant going to contests, filling in as pit crew, launching models and helping to lug home the piles of trophies that would one day brighten her living room. She even underwent a mild sort of brainwashing during the years she was engaged to Larry when he had her folks hang his very first gas model, a .29 powered Misbehavior, over the head of her bed.
Ginger proved equal to all the tests and even went so far, after flying one of the boss's Killers, as to build her own model, a .35 powered Ringmaster. Despite some trouble she had stunting Larry was now completely convinced and took her for better (she could get into loops ... ) and for worse ( ... but couldn't get out) on the day after he was graduated from Newark College.
With a house and two young daughters to look after Ginger doesn't get out flying as much as she did in the old days. But when the dishes are done and the kids are put to bed she usually goes downstairs where Larry spends a large proportion of his evenings working with intentions on adding to the collection in the living room. She sits in an easy chair that her husband keeps handy and reads, or knits, or holds one end of the latest ukie while the Man at Work glues something to the other. Few people are going to cavil when Larry Scarinzi calls his wife the most patient, understanding and sympathetic one a model builder ever had.
Part of what keeps Larry tied to the work bench so much is the commercial model work he does. During his years in the Air Force, which he spent at Langley Field, Va., Larry found he had enough spare time to do articles for the national magazines. Since his Greased Lightning appeared in print in 1955 there have been many others such as the Gay Devil, the Werewolf, Li'l Dynamite and the Gray Ghost. His Giant Killer has been kitted by Consolidated and he is presently at work on a new model for the same firm.
Naturally all this building is accompanied by a lot of flying. One or two things do manage to keep Larry Scarinzi away from model building for at least a few hours during the week. Like work for example. He is a development engineer on the Zeus Project - sort of hush-hush - and although he is employed by Western Electric he is currently assigned to the Bell Labs in Whippany, N.J., the same town in which he lives. (One of his co-workers, incidentally, is Ernie Babcock, the guy who won two real live Ercoupes at model contests some years ago.)
There are, of course, no modeling programs on TV, so Larry has not been lured too often to the idiot box - except to watch "The Untouchables" which he says, with a sly grin, "accurately reflects my past character." He has owned three motorcycles (his father was a competition rider) but the cycling, like the roller skating, is something he has no time for any more. Too busy building models.
MODELER ON THE SPOT - LARRY SCARINZI
MOST ENJOYS. "I think I like best a fast, tight turning Combat model ... one that can be flown in the wind. And I really like to hear an engine wind up, so I do my own hop-up work."
ADDING EVENTS TO THE NATS. "The two that would come to my mind are .35 Carrier and Rat Racing. The Carrier event is pretty much controlled by .60's now - brute horsepower - and the .35 is a much more popular motor."
AMA FUNDS FOR FAI TEAMS? "They raised the dues in the AMA for it. I'd gladly contribute my extra buck and a half or whatever it is if only in order to be able to read about the American teams. They have state sponsored everything over there. I think we should help out a little bit too."
CHIEF BEEF. "Apparently the builder-of-the-model rule is much abused presently by a lot of Stunt fliers. I don't know exactly what to do about it but it seems unfair. I know a lot of Stunt fliers around here who give models to Juniors and Seniors, nice kids ... and the kids fly them. In one contest recently there were four kids with models they didn't build. I never did that. Maybe I would've done better if I had. Maybe we should disqualify them all some day. It might mean disqualifying half the contestants in some contests but that might help to stop it."
WORST MODELING MOMENT. "That happened while I was painting the house ... the time the bugs got into the basement. I was painting when I found some suspicious holes in the shingles. I stripped them off and found holes in the wood of the house. There were little piles of sawdust around. Then I found one in a box of balsa and after that we rushed around picking louse eggs off the balsa supply; we took out every piece of wood in the house and shook it out. I called in the exterminator and the place was sprayed and there's been no problem since then."
MODEL BUILDING IS KID STUFF! "That hurts me. I don't think it's kid stuff ... to me it's an outlet for constructing something. It's a chance to put some original thought into some of your own work. My biggest. enjoyment is not necessarily contest flying but the satisfaction of sitting down and building something original from scratch, following my own ideas through ... see if it works and hope that it's a little different than any other guy has. Shortly after it's built I generally become a little tired of it and then I build something else."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE ON AN F.A.I. TEAM? "Yeah, if I could take the time off to go to Europe. Stunt is what I would go for. For partners the better the guys are the better. I don't have any close allies like Red Reinhardt any more. I would be sure that a fellow like McFarland or Silhavy would do quite well at it. This country should have good Stunt fliers. I don't know what happened last year. Maybe we were robbed, who knows? Maybe you have to do European horizontal eights to win the contest."
ADVICE TO STUNT FLIERS. "Build 'em light!"
HOW CAN WE HELP THE HOBBY? "By encouraging new people to come in, Juniors particularly who would grow into older fliers. I think the thing that would help this is better dealers and distributors, retailers who would take a personal interest in kids who are building models and also trying to sell them modeling supplies that are good and that work. Not junk! Some of them push the poorer plastic models on the kids from the start, stuff that won't fly, or barely flies, and this is a very bad start for a kid. The dealers don't want to train kids to be model builders. They'd rather sell them a ten dollar item. They're in business and we can't hate 'em for it but I think in the long run it might help if they'd encourage model builders."
A lot of people know that Bob Sifleet (sigh-fleet) won his second National Championships in 1962. What very few people know is that he did it with one arm literally tied behind his back. Bob was a student at Chicago's Devry Technical Institute (studying to be an electronic technician) and just didn't feel that it was worth while to break stride completely at school for a mere Nationals. Consequently he attended school every day of the Nats with the exception of Thursday. This meant that it was almost two in the afternoon before he was out of school and three or a little after before he got to Glenview N.A.S. This gave him two hours at most each day to fly and not the best hours of the day by any means. Despite this he managed to accumulate more points than the fellows who were on the field by 6:00 AM and had all day to get their officials in.
How does he do it? At least part of Sifleet's extraordinary success can be attributed to his strategy. He does not fly for firsts in the National Competition but simply to amass points. This, he feels, necessitates flying rather conservatively. As a matter of fact he has only won a single first at the Nats in all his flying, that being in senior Wakefield in 1959. One thing does bother Bob, however. This is the fact that Woody Blanchard was absent both times he won the National crown. The question lingers in his mind: Could he beat Woody? A comparison of the total points each of them have accumulated in their respective wins would seem to indicate that he could. But Bob realizes that this is not the whole story by any means. In any event the two of them better battle it out soon. Jimmy Skarzynski isn't getting any younger.
Nobody should get the idea from his single Nats first, however, that Bob Sifleet doesn't hanker after firsts. Anyone with such a foolish idea would abandon it long before he finished counting Bob's 200-plus trophies. From his first trophy (1953) Bob has won them in all kinds of events. Besides the two National Championships (1960 and '62) he won the King Orange Internationals twice (as a senior in 1958 and Open in 1960) and was a member, with Jerry Ritz, of the 1959 Nordic team. One of his latest firsts was with a Sailplane (powered by an Anderson .65) at a recent old-timers contest at Bong AFB near Chicago. He also found out that ignition flying could be fun.
In collecting all the honors he has Bob has naturally flown all manner of models. These include hand launch and tow-line glider, rubber, Jetex, PAA-Load, all classes of gas, a little indoor, stunt, speed, combat, Navy carrier, ukie scale and single-channel R/C. It was radio, incidentally, that aroused his interest in electronics and determined his future career. The fact that he has designed and built his own stereo equipment gives an indication of how far this interest has gone.
The source of all this energy and activity began in Lynchburg, Va., 24 years ago and grew up in Toledo, Ohio. When he was old enough to understand what model airplanes were he set to building them - Comet 59-cent kits. (This was during the war and Bob got more than his share of cutting cardboard - but then a lot of us had a tough time.) Dad bought these first kits but it wasn't long before the money stopped and Bob had to earn all his own modeling money So from the time he was 11 until he was 15 he lugged an awful lot of golf bags around. At the time the parental support stopped he was quite upset; but in later years Bob considered his father's action much wiser than he'd thought at the time - if for no other reason than the fact that the caddying developed a very handy pair of legs for retrieving models.
For a number of years Bob continued to build small and not-too-successful kit models. Then in 1950 fate intervened by dropping an honest-to-goodness contest model (a stray from a nearby contest) right into his back yard. This augered well for his approaching career. By winter he had his first engine, an .045 Spitfire, and when he'd flown a Firebaby to shreds with it he put it in a Mini-Hogan and soon wore that out along with the overused engine. By 1952 he was flying in contests and when he won his first trophy the following year the die was firmly cast.
At present Bob is a member of the Weak Signals of Toledo (and the Institute of Radio Engineers). Time, he's found, has slowed him down. Gone are the days when he could build a Thunder-buggy overnight (as he did at the 1958 Nats) and win second in Wakefield the next day. Now his building has become slower and more precise.
In the future he hopes to further develop his designs and feels that more math and physics would be a help. He would also like to become more active in organizational work and to continue, as he has in the past, giving help to youngsters just starting out in model building. And if he runs out of other things to do there's always Woody Blanchard's record as National Champion to shoot for. And nobody would be surprised if he did.
MODELER ON THE SPOT - BOB SIFLEET
SUCCESS. "I think a weather sense is very important in winning. We used to put little flags around the field and sort of keep an eye on things. You get a weather sense this way ... The model? Build and fly it till it falls apart. The secret of success is to know your airplanes - what they'll do, how they act."
MOST MEMORABLE MODELING MOMENT. "Actually there have been quite a few. But there was the 1960 Cleveland F.A.I. meet. I did five straight maxes there ... for the first time. That was in the space of about 45 to 50 minutes. I think that was really spectacular. Everybody stood there with their mouths open. The model was retrieved with a car. I think that was really outstanding."
DAY YOU WERE READY TO QUIT. "There've been a lot of those ... but I can think of one that would stand out. I remember I went to a contest about three weeks after I won the National Championships-at the '60 Nats - and I don't think I made a flight over a minute. Nothing flew that day. And of course everybody's watching you at a time like that anyway. It was pretty awful."
F.A.I. TEAM. "I'd like to be on the power team most. Power has always been my first choice as an event. For teammates? I've always considered Larry Conover as one of the best power fliers in the country. He'd make a good teammate. There's no doubt about it in my mind. For another ... I'd choose Bob Hayes of Flint (Michigan). I've competed against him for a number of years and I know his capabilities. He's an excellent F.A.I. flier."
FOR THE BEGINNER. "I've had a lot of experience here, in the shop and at the field. I always try to get the kid started off right. I always feel obliged to do this because of the help I got from hobby shops. I try if I can - when they get interested-to start them out with something simple like an all-balsa glider. It's hard to convince them because they want an engine powered airplane right off. Some of them can do it. It's most important not to try everything."
Pete Sotich & Charlie Sotich
Cough drops have the Smith Bros. Beer has Bert and Harry Piel. Baseball had Mrs. Dean's two crackpots, Dizzy and Daffy. The world of air modeling has Pete and Charlie Sotich.
What causes some kids to jump into a hobby with both feet while others never seem to work up any interest for it is one of those questions with an element of mystery about it. In the case of the Sotich (pronounce as so fish) boys a good part of the reason can undoubtedly be attributed to their father who was a machinist, a craftsman and a sometimes model builder. If this weren't enough the house in which pop Sotich brought up his boys was on Chicago's West 62nd Place, only a mile from Midway Airport. The family moved into the place in 1927, the year Lindbergh flew the Atlantic. Pete was five years old then.
In 1932, the year before Charlie was born, Pete got his first kit, a Spirit of St. Louis. He remembers that the kit came from the hardware store, cost a nickel, and that the glue and banana oil were extra. For the next five years Pete plugged along, squeezing glue out the wrong end of the tube and watching his baby brother grow. Then in 1937 one Osborne Bergman, a neighborhood lad, appeared on the scene with a Flying Quaker. This model, Pete says with characteristic Sotich humor, caused him to get "somewhat hot and bothered."
What came next is familiar to every model builder. Kit followed kit and model followed model. Pete built gliders, rubber powered models and presently his own first gas model, a Comet Clipper powered by a Baby Cyclone. One of these many models was the first that young brother Charlie, now old enough to toddle down the basement stairs by himself, ever saw. By the time Pete joined the Illinois Model Aero Club in the late Thirties Charlie was presumably beginning to get a little hot and bothered himself. In any event Charles was building his own first models within a few years, Comet scale kits. But by that time his inspiration was gone. Pete had been drafted into the Army.
Pete was slow in getting back to modeling after the war, apparently having had his perspective changed by the 14 months he spent as a POW in Germany after being captured at Anzio during February 1944. Eventually he did get around to models again, mostly HLG, gas, CO2 and Clipper Cargo. And like as not Charlie, who was building his first flying models by this time, tagged along.
Somehow the enthusiasm Pete had worked up didn't last. "Charlie was developing good about then," he explains, "and I was too lazy to chase." Then with a smile he adds: "So I decided to become AMA President." From that time on two distinctive and remarkable careers, both centered on air modeling, took shape literally side by side. Pete of course did eventually become AMA President, and one of the best we've had. Charlie kept on developing and developing and developing until he had accumulated a parcel of national records and a weight of trophies that may someday sink the Sotich house, foundation and all, right into the ground.
Neither the status of top notch administrator nor that of consistent contest winner was achieved without a long uphill climb. Pete at least didn't have any competition. ("Ever hear of a contest for CD's?" he asks wryly.) He directed many a meet, brought the trophies along, kept tabs on the results, published newsletters and in general made himself useful handling those dozens of details involved in running clubs and contests. When his AMA duties were added to this, including his post on the National Meet Executive Committee, the group responsible for running the Nationals, Pete found he had less and less time to do more and more. Nonetheless he did serve as Nationals Contest Manager twice, in 1958 and 1962. Finally he managed to squeeze in a little time during the week to earn a living. Pete works for the Crane Company, makers of valves, and has been with the company for 22 years, 16 of them as a design engineer.
Modelers all over the world are familiar with the large legible longhand of Pete Sotich. The hundreds of letters he puts out each year come from a liberally cluttered desk in the same basement where he began his model building over 30 years ago and where his father's many tools still hang neatly in one corner. It's a rare evening that Pete isn't at work at his desk for four or five hours attending to model matters.
Directly adjoining Pete's work area is the bench where brother Charlie spends upwards of three hours a night, five nights a week putting together the models that keep his name near the top of the winner's list in so many contests. The younger Sotich is somewhat of a conservative in his approach to the hobby, preferring gliders and rubber models to other types. He has, on occasion, branched out as far as CO2 and Jetex and in a moment of folly once built a gas model, but was so shocked by what he had done that he promptly burned it.
It was indoor flying, more than anything else, that took Charlie's fancy. He attended his first indoor contest in 1948 and the second one shortly thereafter. Everything considered his times were good and his early successes were fuel for the smoldering flame. From then on he went to all the contests he could, kept up a busy building schedule, test flew on the week ends when there were no contests and snuck in a BS and MS (in Engineering) from Illinois Tech along the way. This prepared him for the job he now has with Western Electric where he works on the development of capacitor winding machines which, Charlie hastens to add, have nothing to do with condensor paper.
Both the Sotiches are avid fans of the Chicago Bears. They go to all the home games during the season and watch the out-of-town games (but nothing else Pete insists) on TV. They do, that is if Pete doesn't have a contest to direct or Charlie one lined up waiting to be won.
MODELER ON THE SPOT PETE SOTICH
BUILDER OF THE MODEL RULE. "This is real touch and go. For example in R/C at the Nats - no specific names. In this category more than any other there are violators of the rule. Of course they come back with the argument that they're not judging the model at all but how well it's flown. I don't know if it's a powder keg or not. We had a case at the Mid-Western States Meet where dad wound junior's model. I feel that the juniors should start the engine, tow the model or wind it. Dad can help all he wants - as long as they comply with the rules. The builder-of-the-model rule will probably affect R/C more than any other event. t's quite a problem. I don't know how we can counteract it. How can you verify something like that?"
WHITHER THE JUNIOR MODELER? "I feel that there are too many distractions and diversions to prevent the would-be modeler from becoming active - Scouts Little League and so forth. In some cases it's a father and son deal. Because of the father the son stays at it. But there are too many other distractions and a kid's life is too regimented. If you check the AMA files you find that at least half the membership is in the Open age group."
INTERNATIONAL TEAMS. "I'm a strong believer in F.A.I. competition. When funds are available we'll support it, like we should. When not we'll act accordingly. We don't have subsidy. We go out and raise our own funds. The American way of life is to get our teams over there one way or another. We'd accept charity but the first thing you know they'd tell you how to do it. I've been overseas three times, closely associated with it. It's here to stay. I'd like to see it come over here. By rights we should serve as hosts."
ON BEING A CD. "When you hear some good words it makes you feel pretty good ... sometimes a letter. Nobody ever knows who the Contest Director is - just chews him out. He's a necessary evil. You gotta have a CD."
MODELER ON THE SPOT - CHARLIE SOTICH
ON WINNING. "Try to keep the design simple and get all your flights in. It's embarrassing to see that if you could have gotten your last flight in you would have been up among the winners. Be careful about wood selection. The models should be warp free during their life."
BUILDING HABITS. "I build super-slow. Usually two or three times slower than anybody else. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out a simple way of doing something. I waste a lot of time that way."
MOST MISERABLE MODELING MOMENTS. "This occurred at the 1960 Nationals in Dallas. I had made four straight maxes in Nordic A/2. When I went to put in my filth flight I found out that my watch was about 15 minutes slow and the flying was over for the day. I finished in sixth place less than a minute out of first."
SQUAWK BOX. "One gripe I have is where they don't follow rules or do change rules or the time schedule during a meet and someone is treated unfairly. Once rules are set you should stick to them fairly closely and have a tightly run contest."
ADVICE TO THE BEGINNER. "Stick with simple models. I don't want to say don't go for high performance but start with. a model that's easy to build, fly and repair so you can learn as much about flying as is possible. If he has a consistent performer the younger modeler will eventually start winning contests. It's usually when trying to do something too complicated that they get no flights in.
"Use a scale or beam balance to check the weights of the parts of the model as you build. Keep records of these weights for future reference. When you build a plane from a kit or plans be sure to locate the center of gravity as shown on the plans. Do not change the C.G. when making flight adjustments. Don't be afraid to ask more experienced modelers questions. They are almost always willing to help anyone who is really interested in the hobby."
NATS EVENTS. "I'd like to see more time given to Indoor at the Nats. They don't try to run three F/F Gas events in one day. There's quite a bit of pressure on you in one day in a new site and under new conditions to fly several events."
F.A.I. TEAMS. "Most modelers take pride in having their country's teams take part in the international events, especially when we do pretty well in these contests. I'm even interested to see how C/L and R/C come out although ordinarily I don't have any feelings about them."
Posted March 10, 2013