A Hawk is Born

     Spring 2003, Mike Kovacs shows up at the flying field with the first ARF, Bird of Time any of us have seen.  Everyone commented what a great package for the price.  An absolutely beautiful 118” rudder /elevator bird at the reasonable price of $149.00.

    Within two months members of the Houston Hawks have six or seven BOT’s and the start of a One Design class. Our competitions were to include a separate “Bird of Time, RES / One Design class”.  No more excuses, we are all riding the same horse!

   Jack Womack, our resident PHD in R/C Soaring (lovingly referred to as “Gas Bag Jack”), actually bought a Bird of Time kit and used the parts as templates. Jack hand selected balsa and with a #11 exacto reproduced the all parts.  Jack built a Bird of Time thin, air-ply wood fuselage, redesigned the spars and added shear webs; plywood joiners, and carbon fiber spar caps. Careful planning, exquisite workmanship, and liberal number of lightening holes, reduced the weight of the Jack’s BOT by about 20%. Jack’s result is a striking, cream body with transparent green wings, set off by cream and chrome highlights. So far the combination has been bullet proof. 

   Everyone noticed that the ARF Bird of Time wing was rather flexible on the winch launch.  Then disaster strikes as two Birds shed their wings on the winch, and one absolutely explodes.  Several weeks later Alan Jones had his aileron version of the BOT bite the dust as well. Diagnosis “Winch Wing.”  The manufacturer Dynaflite and distributor Tower products, recognized the problem, stepped up to the plate and offered to replace the “Bird” with a redesigned model. Just give them the time to make the redesign and get the new models into production. In the meantime our new “One Design Class” was grounded.

Jack Womack, Don Cleveland and others discussed having a work session to demonstrate the tricks of the trade applying Monokote covering.  As that conversation flowed the “One Design” concept was kicked around and finally “Lets build our own bird” came up. 

 Several things developed out of these conversations; 

At least half of the members professed that they didn’t
   know how to build sailplanes, but wanted to learn.

The plane selected had to be absolutely bullet proof on
   the winch.

It should be big and be able to handle our Texas Boomers.

It needed to be simple enough for the first timers to       
   build, yet sophisticated enough to compete with the big
   boy’s high dollar, store bought ships.


   The concept of the Hawk developed from those conversations.  The idea was tossed around at the field one weekend and six members said they would participate.  Rather than start a gun battle over airfoils Jack selected an S-3021 airfoil. Nuff said! He promptly disappeared and two weeks later had the general layout designed.

     The General Specs are 126” wingspan.  Each wing is 63” long, and the fuse is 2" wide.  Each consists of a 32” main panel: a 26” outer panel and a 5” tip panel. The Hawk has a nominal rib spacing of 2” on center. Conventional balsa construction with carbon and Kevlar reinforcement. Chuck Lackey took Jack’s beginner-CAD drawings and converted it to an extremely detailed set of CAD drawings.  Twenty-Eight and ½ square feet of drawing to be exact.  As drawings and wing plans began to develop additional members opted to join in. Presently 15 members are ready to start their own Hawk.

     Jack produced a detailed bill of materials, balsa, carbon fiber, Kevlar thread, plywood and aluminum.  It rapidly becomes clear that the local Hobby Shops don’t have enough quality balsa wood to do the project.  Compared to mail order the price is almost double in the local shop.  So, orders are being sent off the Lone Star Balsa for the proper parts.  

     Saturday, October 4th Jack shows up at the flying field with 15 sets of plans and the 15 sets of 7/16” x 12”, 2024 aluminum wing rods.  Big planes need big plans and these are big.  The CAD Drawn plans are 9 1/2 feet long X 3 feet wide. So, I am off to the copy shop for additional copies, which I can cut up and actually build with. 
     Monday night the 6th, we were all alerted thru our e-mail network, that the “Laser Arts” wing ribs and the shear web spacers have arrived. So, it appears we are about to get serious with this project.

   As the members of the Houston Hawks begin to complete this project we shall add to the website as soon as anything happens.  You don’t have to wait for the next months issue.  It hopefully will change daily.  So keep tuned and check often.  


Roland Beach
Houston Hawks, Secretary.

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