The Sig Akrobat was my step up in control line flying after having wrung
the Jetco Shark 15 out fairly well with
most of the standard stunt pattern. I never was able to pull off a recognizable
clover leaf, so I figured the Sig Akrobat with a Fox .35 engine should do the job.
At the ripe old age of about 15, I set forth to build my dream airplane. The bedroom
floor was my workshop at the time, and a piece of that old black fiber board that
used to be used as sheathing on the side of houses under the asbestos shingles was
my building board (it held straight pins fairly well). Anyway, in-between interruptions
like school and a paper route, I enthusiastically cut, glued, whittled and sanded
for weeks. The finish was Silkspan with Sig butyrate dope, done up in scale colors
to look just like the box cover. Too bad that I don't have any pictures of it.
The Fox .35
was the biggest engine I had ever had, and if memory serves me correctly, it seemed
a bit foreboding with the high compress pressure against the equally large propeller.
I loved it, though. Unfortunately, my engine starting equipment had not progressed
much beyond the Cox .049 days, so the ritual of endless flipping of the prop due
to a crappy battery and no electric starter ensued. The Fox .35 brought with it
a surprise that I had never experienced before - it liked to pop and then catch
on fire! On more than one occasion I realized it was aflame and had to pick it up
and swing it around in the air to put out the fire. That'll get your attention for
sure. Well, the engine had finally reached the recommended amount of break-in time,
so my flying buddy, Jerry Flynn, and I set off for Klinken's Field at the edge of
our neighborhood of Holly Hill Harbor, in Mayo, Maryland.
OK, there we are at the field, lines stretched out, controls checked, fill the
tank, start the engine, hold the plane nose-up to adjust the engine, set the Akrobat
back on the ground, and run out to the center of the circle and pick up the handle.
I give the thumbs up to Jerry to release the bird. He lets go and in just a few
feet my Sig Akrobat is airborne. A few laps around the circle and I'm ready to see
what she's made of. A wingover blows me away (that's what we said in the early 1970s),
so I do a loop. Awesome. A horizontal figure-eight. More awesome. The force on the
handle is unbelievable to some one who has flown only Cox .049 and Fox .15 power.
Next on the list is sustained inverted flight. I had always been a little shaky
there, but had developed an emergency pull-up reaction in case I panicked too close
to the ground while inverted... or at least that's what I thought. Yep, I must have
had a brain fart, forgot that up was down, and somewhere around the second inverted
lap I buried my beautiful Sig Akrobat. Actually, I more than buried it, I demolished
it... beyond repair.
The Fox .35
lived to run again, but the next of kin had to be notified for the airplane. I think
I might have gone into catatonic shock because I'm told I just stood there for a
long time. If school kids were being routinely drugged by doctors in those days
as they are now, I certainly would have been a candidate at that point. Somehow,
though, got past the devastation and lived to fly another day. At some point I bought
a Sterling Ringmaster and mounted the
Fox .35 to it. Oddly enough, I have no recollection of its ultimate demise. Jerry
Flynn -- if you're out there, do you remember?
In 2007, I spend a little time and money into acquiring kits some of the models
and engines that I had as youngster. Of course the Sig Akrobat was high on my list.
eBay proved to be a good venue for finding most of what I was looking for. Sometimes
the bid prices can get very outrageously high, so I skip those auctions and wait
patiently for the next one in hopes that others will be asleep at the switch. At
the bottom of the page are some screen captures from eBay auctions at the ends of
the bidding periods. Prices typically, as of January 2008, end up around $110 to
Wingspan = 51" Engine = .29 to .40
To the right above are photos of the Sig Akrobat kit that I snagged on eBay around
the middle of 2007. It's funny how seeing something after so many years can instantly
seem so familiar. One look at the plans and my mind was instantly taken back to
1973 (or was it 1974?) with the smell of Duco Cement and Sig dope. Oh, and for the
record, Sig dope was the only kind of dope I ever used. My hair was long like all
my peers of the day, but I never touched a single illegal substance.
Posted December 3, 2008