Ready for a trip down memory lane? Here’s a great collection of videos, pictures, and articles of early model airplanes and radio control systems.
Radio Control Hall of Fame
The Radio Control Hall of Fame is a private collection of over 1,600 radio control transmitters. The collection also includes many receivers and actuators (now called servos). Open to visitors by appointment only, the collection is physically located in Cleveland, Ohio. The focus of the collection is on early radio control systems.
The collection’s website is filled with nice photographs and articles about the radio systems. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to open up even larger versions. I spent about an hour clicking around the website, looking at the pictures, and reading the articles. I got the impression that I was just scratching the surface of this incredible collection.
Vintage Model Airplane Videos
To complete our nostalgic trip down memory lane, here’s a collection of videos I put together. Their dates range from 1928 through the 1960s. I think they are absolutely fascinating.
In the 1920s and 30s Time magazine used to have a regular column entitled “Aeronautics”. In those days, full-size airplanes were big news. I can imagine that for many, even watching little airplanes flying around was very interesting.
Note that in the earlier videos they are mostly free flight models. I also spotted some control line models. I presume that because of the early heavy and low power gas engines, the models were all large. Note how they give the models a nice hard push to get them going. I also don’t know if it was because if made for more interesting video footage, but the flights filmed almost always ended badly. Sadly, I have a hunch that breaking something on a landing was just the way it was in those days.
Some of the footage is about early radio control systems. Notice how incredibly clunky they were. Don’t take for granted the modern proportional radio systems. For many years all that existed were systems that gave you either full rudder or neutral rudder with nothing in between.
Every model I spotted was made out of balsa stick and covered in tissue. I believe the plastic heat shrink films were introduced in the 1960s, so some of the later models in the videos were probably covered with it.
I have organized the videos in roughly chronological order. The last video has footage of an electric model airplane from 1957. It claims it was the first officially recorded electric RC flight. Note the lack of proportional control on the transmitter box. From what is shown in the video, it looks like the flight did not end well. Needless to say, it took a while longer before these systems became practical.