Experimental Aircraft Association and Model Airplanes
EAA full scale aircraft serve as inspiration for RC designs
The Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, is an international organization dedicated to full scale homebuilt, antique and restored aircraft. The EAA is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and has over 160,000 members and 1,000 chapters worldwide.
The EAA publishes Sport Aviation, one of the best monthly aviation magazines available. The EAA covers a wide range of aircraft suitable for RC model plane design projects and is a great source of inspiration for the RC model plane enthusiast.
The Experimental Aircraft Association was founded in 1953 by Paul Poberezny, a noted homebuilt plane designer. The EAA started as a flying club. These modified or self designed airplanes were required by the Federal Aviation Administration to display an EXPERIMENTAL placard by the aircraft door or cockpit, thus the term Experimental Aircraft Association was quite natural.
Homebuilt aircraft are still a mainstay of the EAA, but over the years the organizations has grown to include almost every aspect of aviation and aeronautics.
Each year the EAA sponsors the largest general aviation event in the world called the “EAA AirVenture Oshkosh,” or more commonly known as the Oshkosh Airshow. This is a “must attend” event for RC modelers. I have attended several Oshkosh Airshows. This annual event is extremely well organized and occurs the last week of July. Oshkosh is easy destination to get to. Just fly into Chicago O’Hare Airport and Oshkosh is a 2.5 hour drive north.
Be sure to bring a camera to the airshow as you will gain lots of great ideas for future modeling projects. The Air Venture Museum is at the Oshkosh airfield and provides an opportunity to view fully restored aircraft from the earliest days of flight.
I am always intrigued to see the construction methods of these antique flyers and how they parallel our RC model plane building methods. For a stand off scale model such as the Blackburn I used pictures to “fill in” much of the model’s structure and design details. Attending an EAA event such as Oshkosh and E-Fest can provide a wealth of aircraft information for future modeling projects.
EAA homebuilt aircraft are an especially interesting area to discover future modeling design projects. Many of these original designs are not well known, as there usually are few built and flown. However, there are many appealing and original aircraft that are well suited for micro RC airplane projects. AirVenture enjoys an open and friendly atmosphere, and it is a simple matter to get very close to the various aircraft for photos and inspection. You likely even have a chance to chat with the aircraft designer.
Sport Aviation magazine
The EAA’s monthly magazine, Sport Aviation, covers a huge range of aviation subjects. I have been involved with various aspects of civil and military airplane flight since 1972. Yet every issue of Sport Aviation covers some flying topic that I did not even know existed.
For example, a recent article covered the EAA building of a full scale Bleriot airplane replica. The builders were all volunteers and the journey to get this aircraft finished and airborne was fascinating. The parallels to designing, building and flying your own RC plane design are very close as well.
The Bleriot team found an existing engine from around 1910 that was used to power their project. The Bleriot airplane plans of that era were rudimentary and assumed whoever was supervising the build had a certain level of assembly and finishing knowledge to complete the project. Many manufacturing details were simply omitted from the plans. Safety adaptations were made along the way by the EAA replica team, such as with airframe bracing, as many of these early aircraft were essentially structurally unsafe by today’s standards.
Bleriot test flights
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Bleriot recreation was the test flight of the finished aircraft. Few of today’s pilots have the skills to properly fly these types of airplanes.
The controls were not well harmonized and the Bleriot did not even have ailerons, relying instead on wing warping for bank control. In fairness to these pioneers of flight, everyone was learning the basics of manned flight at the same time.
Cross wind flying techniques were not well understood, thus the Bleriot literally flew from a “flying field,” always landing and taking off directly into the wind.
First flights were cautious straight ahead hops under calm wind conditions. The EAA test pilots wisely decided that the Bleriot was not suited for a full flight profile involving turns and retired the aircraft to the museum shortly after the initial runway flights were concluded.
The Bleriot article provided useful insights to the construction techniques of these types of aircraft, highlighting methods ideally suited for an RC model airplane design project. Working with the EAA, either as a member or visitor to various EAA events can offer a wealth of ideas and motivation to your RC model airplane design and flight activities.
Author: Gordon McKay