My retirement in early March correlated directly with the major outbreak of the Covid 19 Epidemic and essentially shut down all aviation related activities that I had planned to engage in throughout the spring and summer flying season. So that left me with not a lot of events and activities to engage in and talk about. That then raises the question, ‘so what have I been spending my time doing?’. Let me assure you that I have been anything but idle over the past 5 months of my retirement!
I had launched the FlyBoyz Store several months prior to my retirement but didn’t have the time to adequately invest in it until I retired. Since then, it has become the better part of a full time job for me! It seems that during this pandemic, there have been a lot of modelers sitting at home, with stimulus money in their pockets, looking for something to do. So they have been on a hobby related buying streak and have been buying models! I have been full out fulfilling orders for my classic and vintage kits as well as the new line of Tony Ray kits that I now have for sale. And it has not just been me that’s been busy supplying the modelers needs. I recently spoke to the folks at Brodak who reported that they’ve been full time filling orders. And my local hobby shop reports that the past several months sales activity has been ‘like Christmas’. All this adds up to the fortunate situation for me of having picked a great time for my major launch of the FlyBoyz Store!
Besides filling orders, I’ve also been busy acquiring new collections to add to my inventory. The problem I’m having now is getting all the new products listed in the store. I’ve been so busy shipping product that I haven’t been able to keep up with adding new product listings into the store. I’ll be working over the next few weeks to replenish my store inventory listings.
In late May, I also added a major addition to the store with the arrival of the first batch of laser cut kits from Tony Ray. This resulted in my launching the Tony Ray kit line in the store. That was a major effort that is now well in hand and the kits and accessories are fully stocked and available.
The following photo depicts some of the inventory that is either awaiting to be listed in the FlyBoyz Store or has already been listed. It is followed by a photo taken upon the arrival of the new Tony Ray kits and accessories.
(Click on photos to zoom in on them)
In May, I took stock of my personal kit and plane building status. I had a lot of planes in various stages of initial construction or needing repair/restoration and I counted an entire storage rack of new plane kits waiting to be built. I determined that if I either repaired, restored, completed one partially built plane, or completely built one new plane kit per month, I’d be busy for the better part of the next 5 years. So I started my unofficial personal ‘Plane of the Month Club‘. The goal: to repair, restore, complete, or build one model plane a month!
To launch the ‘Plane of the Month Club‘, I determined that I would start with the repair and restoration of my Ringmaster. Since I had no flyable Control Line planes, I determined that to be a priority especially with the flying season in full swing. The work on this plane was fully documented in my post here on the blog: Ringmaster Redux. Here are before and after photos of that redux.
After the Ringmaster was restored, I did a couple ‘quick hits’ to increase my inventory of flyable planes. I quickly cleaned up and returned to flight condition both my 1/2A Lil’ Wizard control line plane and my Spirit 2-channel radio control glider. The glider has since had a couple successful flights under the expert flight control of an experienced STARS R/C instructor. The Lil’ Wizard is ready for the Ringmaster Fly-A-Thon this Fall. Here are a couple photos of these planes all ready to go and back on the ‘Active’ hanger roster.
For the June ‘Plane of the Month Club‘, I went after the Twister. The fuselage was broken completely in half and the wing had a puncture all the result of a crash last year. The repair turned out to be both easier and faster than I had expected and it made the end of June repair goal. I have since flown it a couple times and it is flying as good as new. Here are before and after photos of the Twister repair.
About this time, I decided that I needed a better storage solution for my expanding squadron of flyable planes. So I spent a bit of time constructing a PVC model plane storage rack. That also necessitated cleaning up a corner of the basement in order to locate the storage rack. I envision that I will need a few more of these in the future! Here is a photo of the completed storage rack with some flyable and some not so flyable planes stored on it (the Lil’ Wizard is on the top tier up in the ceiling rafters!).
The end of June also saw the first of the local club events to be held since the pandemic started. The Finger Lakes Air Pirates (FLAPS) held a small scale Swap Meet and Fun Fly. I spent a nice Saturday there in attendance. I thought it might be a good opportunity to get some exposure for the FlyBoyz Store and maybe sell a plane kit or two. I was successful on all counts. The FLAPS are a nice bunch of flyers and I look forward to attending their events again in the future. Here are a couple photos of that event. One inside the the swap hanger (barn) and one of the small table I had set up for the store goods.
Come July, I figured I’d work on both the July and August ‘Plane of the Month Club‘ builds at the same time. I wanted to start building one of the new Tony Ray laser cut kits but I also wanted to complete a neat little 1/2A Control Line plane that I had started back during the winter. The Lil’ Darlin’ is a vintage kit from Enterprise that caught my eye from one of the plane collections I had acquired. I decided that I’d like to do a high gloss dope finish on it and hoped to make it into a bit of a show piece. I thought that it’d be a nice little plane to try out some of the high end finishing techniques that I’d been seeing in Windy Urtnowski YouTube videos. I seriously doubt that it will end up looking like a ‘Windy’ plane, but so far it has been a fun build and I’m learning a lot. I’ll be doing a separate build post on this plane once it is completed. Here are two photos of the L’Il Darlin’, one still in the box, and the other taken a day ago as the model was ready for the first coat of silver dope (primer).
The second of the combined July and August ‘Plane of the Month Club‘ builds that I’m working on is one of the new Tony Ray laser cut R/C kits, the Hummingbird. I haven’t made nearly as much progress on this as I’d hoped and I think (actually, I know) this will slip into the September build slot. As it stands right now, the fuselage is about 1/2 completed. Given the delicate nature of this build, I’m using a magnetic building board and Canopy Glue for the main parts of this build rather than the traditional pins and CA approach. I’ll also be doing a separate build post on this plane once it is completed. In the meantime, here are two photos of the Hummingbird, one with the laser cut balsa and kit components all laid out and one showing the current state of the fuselage build.
One of the reasons the Hummingbird is being bumped to the September build slot, is that I decided to work on a ‘Mystery Plane‘ for the Ringmaster Fly-A-Thon. I have started some preliminary work on this plane but it will require an all out push to have it ready for the Fly-A-Thon in early October. Since this plane is a ‘Mystery’, there are no photos of it here but I will be doing a separate build post on it once it is completed. Stay tuned!
In addition to all the store and building activities outlined above, I have been managing to get in some actual flying time over the past couple months. While I continue to try (mostly unsuccessfully) to advance my Control Line flying skills, I have also joined the weekly Thursday night Radio Control flight training classes being offered by the STARS Club that I belong to. Several of the club members have asked if I’ve come over to the ‘Dark Side’ and given up Control Line in favor of R/C. I emphatically assure them that I HAVE NOT! LOL! I love gliders and already have one (the Spirit) in my flight hanger and plan to soon add another. Since these gliders are R/C, my goal with the R/C flight training classes is to become proficient enough that I can enjoy flying these gliders. Like my skills in Control Line and Free Flight, my skills in R/C will be enough that I can enjoy flying the planes that I like building at least at a rudimentary flying level. To that end, here are a couple photos of me flying both Control Line and (learning to fly) R/C.
This past weekend (August 15), the STARS Club hosted their annual Airshow. Due to Covid, it was a scaled back event but it still worked out to be a great gathering for many pilots who’ve been cooped up with no public events to attend over the past few months. The event was basically a Fun Fly with an outdoor Swap Shop also set up. I used the occasion as yet another opportunity to get some exposure for the FlyBoyz Store and once again maybe sell a plane kit or two. As with the earlier FLAPS event, I was successful on all counts. Here are a couple photos of my ‘store’ setup at the STARS event.
Throughout these past many months, one other thing that I have been doing is maintaining a regular dialog with Tony Ray concerning his kit offerings. Specifically, there has been lot’s of discussion as to which planes he might consider offering as kits. He has made an investment in a larger laser cutter which allows him to offer ‘bigger’ kits than his current offerings. And with that in mind, his next kit will be taking full advantage of that new laser cutter. It will be a 1/12 scale replica of a German Minimoa glider. And it will have a 57″ wingspan! I am really looking forward to stocking this kit in the FlyBoyz Store come September. And there are more neat planes in the works to follow that! Here are a couple photos to hopefully wet your appetite for the soon to arrive Minimoa glider.
So, in looking back over what I’ve written here, two things jump out at me. #1: This has been a rather long post…probably my longest to date! But it turns out that in reality, I’ve been quite ‘active’ over the past several months since my retirement. And #2: It is very evident that my plane modeling interests are varied and all over the place! Along with that comes the observation that when it comes to model planes, I’m a jack of all trades and master of none! But I’ve been having fun and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Thanks for taking the time to read to this point of this post. I hope it’s been an enjoyable read and that you too are having some fun through these crazy times!