While looking through some old issues of American Aircraft Modeler, I was quite
surprised to find that none other than radio great Paul Harvey is (or was) a builder
and flyer of radio controlled airplanes. There was a feature article done by Paul
Harvey in one of the issues in the 1974 timeframe. Mr. Harvey then wrote a regular
column titled "Paul Harvey Views."
Understandably, the column only ran for a few months - probably because of his
extremely busy schedule. This one is from the December 1974 edition.
See Paul Harvey columns in the
May 1974, and
issues of R/C Modeler magazine.
Paul Harvey Views
The Lone Eagle of Breckenridge, Texas
So you fly RC but ...
If there were no one around with whom to compare skills and share experiences
If there were no kibitzers, no bor-rowers or lenders of fuel, props or pliers
I mean if you were out there in an unmanicured expanse of wasteland utterly alone
day after day after day ...
Would your interest in RC flying sustain?
Herndon prefers the loneliness of the small city flier. With a sailplane, pattern
ship, semi-scaler, Q/M racer and free flight, Bob enjoys the diversity of our hobby/sport.
I met Bob Herndon during a Dallas speaking engagement. The
Texas Hos-pital Assn. was in convention and Robert T. Herndon, administrator of
the Stephens Memorial Hospital in Breckenridge, Tex., was present.
The convention brought us to Dallas; our hobby brought us together.
The "Lone Eagle of Breckenridge, Tex.," may have a fondness for RC flying greater
than anybody's. There is rarely a dry day when the Texas wind is tolerable that
Bob Herndon is not out flying - alone.
It wasn't always like that.
In the late 1930s as a schoolboy in Miami, he and neighborhood youngsters were
finger cranking rubber band models. His first "gassie" was a Zipper Junior, and
it is best remembered bitter-sweetly for Bob's first experience with a flyaway.
World War II, and the subsequent preoccupation with college interrupted the flying.
Then Bob's first job took him to Carthage, Tex. Within days he'd homed in on the
drone of mini-engines and found a largish group of CL fliers doing their thing.
In less than a week he had a plane in the air and was one of them.
When Bob's son was 10 and developed an interest in free flight (he won a trophy
at his first contest) there were some happy years when the interest was shared.
At the '65 and '66 NATS, son John won trophies while Dad picked up a fifth place
Then, one day, son John discovered girls, and it was about this time that the
Herndons moved again. For himself and family, Bob vastly prefers the relaxed informality
of a smaller town, but for a hobby flier it does have drawbacks.
In Breckenridge, the nearest hobby shop is 60 miles away. "I buy two of most
things and 12 of some things," Bob says.
And in Breckenridge there is no one with whom to share his interest- yet he continues
to fly-perhaps more than do you and I. Why?
"I can't answer that question beyond saying I love it. I'm not a good pilot.
Even flying three and four days a week, the aging reflexes would classify me as
nothing more than a 'Sunday flier'."
"Besides," says Bob, "one of the dis-advantages of flying alone is that there's
no one around to make your sloppy roll look sloppy."
And with no one to learn from, "flying continues to be a trial-and-error proposition,
with most mistakes costing a hundred bucks or more."
"Sometimes," says Bob, "I'll drive a hundred miles to fly for a few hours with
an old friend."
At the moment the Lone Eagle is spending most of his time with an old Taurus
and a new sailplane. Of the soarer he says, "It's slower, more relaxed- and maybe
my interest hearkens back to that boyhood fascination with free flight. I really
enjoy watching that graceful bird sitting up there, floating on a thermal, knowing
I can summon it back to roost at my feet."
Also, west Texas winds are friendlier to sailplanes.
There are other compensations for the small town's inconveniences. For example,
the easy accessibility to flying sites.
Often the local airport will grant per-mission to use their parking apron or
taxiways, or the school its playground. And in west Texas there is always level
pastureland within minutes of home.
Of course, a loner misses the fellowship and the shared building and the competition
and the small talk and the big talk and the somebody to whom you can say, "Remember
when ... "
But Bob has a ham radio rig with which he has located other fliers who are hams
(Aren't we all?)
"And we get together on short wave and talk flying for hours at a time."
Posted December 7, 2016