Archive for January, 2019


Building a “Darn Good Airplane”

That is actually the name of this plane. It was a late thirties airplane, the Howard DGA-9.

This is a very small dime scale kit from Easy Built models and yes it will actually fly and fly very well. This is the smallest model plane I have built to date and I must say it has been quite challenging.

It will be tissue and dope covered. And it is contest legal for FAC AMA events I plan to enter in the future.

The cowl I made on the wood lathe is a mod over what they had designed into the build that will improve it’s looks to appear more like the actual airplane.

Actual full sized airplane

Here are some progress pictures of the build thus far.


So where is all the creatures and starship models?

Good question. Nothing is coming in as of present and our studio has a clean slate.

I am working on a lot of paintings and sculptures for a Steve Neill upcoming art show later this year. I can’t show you the progress because it won’t be revealed until the show somewhere between May and June of this year.

I don’t have any model builds besides the airplane as of present but if something doesn’t come through soon I’ll build something from my stash.

I like models best that actually function. Fly, sail, and or submerge. Slot cars too and I have a few scratch builds planned where I’ll make everything from the body to tires and wheels from scratch.

We also have Mary’s fantastic art and soon paper mache sculpture coming to the mix. Our friend and fellow SNG Studio member Dr. Chris Landon will be creating such art as well.

I plan a full sized grey in paper mache among other things.

You’ll get to see all this stuff in pictures and posts and once in awhile we’ll have a video on the studio and the goings on to entertain you.

That’s the status at SNG. It will be interesting and a mixed bag of making things this year. We at SNG hope you will enjoy it all!


DGA-9 or Darn good airplane

Yes another build but this time it’s super small. It’ peanut scale and these little gems fly very well. Not too easy to build at this size but I have a few planed. I want to try and attend the NATS in Edgar Arizona in May. It’s a huge indoor national free flight invent in the football field dome. So I need a few scale birds by then so here we go.

This plane was from Easy Built models and I also have a Fokker DVIII on the way from that is a real true scale 16 inch span WW1 plane and one of my favorites.

Back to the DGA-9 here are some pictures of the build so far. I just have to comment on the quality and easy build (literally) from this 82 year old company. It’s my 4th built to date and they have all been good.

The plane will look like this when finished although I might pick a different paint scheme.


These are not toy airplanes!

Let me get this straight one last time. A toy airplane is something you wind up and it rolls across the floor. A model airplane is something totally different.

Without model planes there wouldn’t be full sized planes. In fact there would have never been manned powered or gliders flight at all.

Every time you fly safely to your destination on an airplane or jet you did because of the, “Model Airplane”.

OK. Now you have an education. It’s not nice to discount the importance of model flight, the hobby, or the men and women who have the passion for flight.


Wakefield Finished?

Well it’s just about done except for the canopy glue to dry on the windows. So far less than 7 oz. AUW.


Wakefield is covered

More progress. I’m ready to dope the covering. In the past I have used two coats of Sig dope thinned 50/50.

Right now the Sig Silkspan is pre-shrunk with a mist of water which tightens it up for a smooth finish as it dries. After two coats of the nitrate dope is applied the fun begins with painting.

This model has been built as it would have been 80 years ago.

What do you guys usually use?


Next Film Project

I posted this in the Flying Aces Club of FB. The Flying Aces Club is and all free flight group that has been around for a very long time:  I recently joined this group of wonderful people who actually build their airplanes and have a level of skill and craftsmanship rarely seen on the RC foam airplane scene.

In my years since I started in RC model airplanes in 1985 I have always marveled at the free flight airplane. In more recent years I have flown RC less and less although I still indulge in large scale RC gliders I have left the scene at the local field with prop and jets models.

When I started in 85 it was still the golden age of RC. We scratch built from plans or built wooden models from kits. The people that taught me to fly were WW2 veterans. They also taught me how to build. It was a different era and the camaraderie and friendships were amazing.

But that all started to change with ARFs. At first not so much but when the age of the electric airplane fully exploded onto the scene with foamy ARFs and RTF people stopped building. It was all about going fast, and instant gratification.

A few of us hung on and the old vets passed away bit by bit. They are mostly all gone and I miss them. So it all sort of lost its luster for me and I sold most of my RC planes off. I kept a few. But my field had become a mob of weekend warriors.

I wondered where this the builders and real wing nuts had gone. I started building free flight only to find they were still all alive and well building amazing flying machines, planes that didn’t need servos, radios, batteries and support equipment more than a stand and a winder. Ok maybe a few other items.
But the pure marvel of it all is its basics. Model flight began this way. In fact full scale aviation started this was from stick and tissue models.

With all the drones, fast turbine RC jets and planes the public doesn’t take much notice to the free flight airplanes and I think that needs to change.

I have been in the film industry for over 40 years and worked on all kinds of movies. You’ve all probably seen my work at one time or another but didn’t realize it.

I have my own studio in Ventura California and one of my projects this year will be to make a film about this hobby so the public might learn about one of the more important aspects of the model airplane hobby. I plan to get it released on Netflix or Hulu so that it can be seen by thousands of people. Not just another amateur video on YouTube.
To do this I plan to interview some of the best builders and flyers I can find in California. We will attend meets and interview flyers and show their planes flying.

I’m not doing this to make money either. As it is Netflix and the rest pay little for documentaries or indie films. It’s not about the money it’s about how important this hobby is and what it has inspired generations to do.

So many model aviators have contributed to the advancement of flight. And it all started with that little stick and tissue plane that flew its heart out.

The big question is where to find these people? I know about Lost Hills and the Grassy Null Squadron. It’s a start. I’ve met plenty of amazing folks online but few are on the West Coast or at least I haven’t found them yet.

Any help on this would be appreciated. I wish I had a real budget to travel and interview people all over this country but I don’t. But what I do have is good professional cameras, microphones, lights and one hell of an edit bay with the complete Adobe suite.

I want to make a real film. Not just a talking heads but something more cinematic with a good score and mood. 
I’d appreciate your input and direction.


Wakefield update

Steve Neill

38 mins

Now that I’m done with the movie job I had from hell I am free to build away. Got back to the Wakefield and started covering. I found that the tissue included is Silkspan.

I don’t know if it came with the kit or was added by the original owner. Even though the kit was still in it’s shrink rap it might have been resealed by my LHS because there were a few things missing from the kit and that’s not like Easy Built models to do.

I had never used it before but I sure did like it. It goes on easy and tightens up real smooth.

I’m excited to see this model come together it’s a real gem. But aren’t they all.


Between the lines

I have been working on this model. I say between the lines because I have been working on these 18 hard CGI and AF VFX shots for a movie for weeks now and it never seems to end. But I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and quite expect I’ll be finished at long last next week! Then back to all things SNG.

I started in on the wing. Got the center section laid up. Tomorrow the tips. With this older Wakefield kit you have to cut the parts out yourself. Easy though and goes together quick. I should get to tissue next week.

Only real question I have is about the motor rubber. When I wind it up about 400 turns it winds down slow and takes a long time to unwind. Should I being using a wider contest rubber? Turns out about 30 strands of 1/16 contest rubber should do the trick.


Wakefield update

It’s just so amazing building a model plane from the late 30’s. There wasn’t radio control and all the electronics we have today. These designers had to figure ingenious ways to get a rubber band powered model to fly and fly well.

Like this folding propeller that slowly wines down and as it does the spring allows it to come forward until it stops hitting a screw. The prop stops turning and folds back to reduce drag. The plane then becomes a glider and at a couple of hundred feet or more can keep flying on lift from thermals and updrafts up to 28 minutes or more.

Still lots to do. build the wing and finish off the fuselage but it’s going well.

January 2019

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