By Jerry Lips
We spent the weekend building the craft and it was now time for its maiden flight. Nine-year-old Paul and 5-year-old Justin were beaming with excitement as we looked for the appropriate place to serve as an airport.
Now the hallowed ground of an LDS temple, the bankrupt Four Season Golf Club parking lot would serve as the runway. I explained to the eager boys that dad should perform the takeoff and after the plane was in the air, they could each take their turn flying the remote controlled aircraft.
The takeoff was smooth and quick, as the aircraft ascended to the heavens. Nothing I did changed the flight path as the unmanned craft headed straight up to the clouds, then out of sight. Suddenly the plane appeared and the sound of the engine increased with the revs of the engine as the aircraft headed straight down. Nothing I did with the controls seems to change the trajectory of the craft. The speed accelerated as it dove straight to the ground; it hit with a thud, the loud engine noise stopping instantly as it struck and nearly disintegrated upon impact. There was now total silence as the boys looked over the pieces and without words, expressed their disappointment. I felt guilt and tried to ease the tension with the words, “OK! Let’s start over.” The boys seemed less than enthusiastic as we picked up the pieces and dug out the engine and propeller from the fairway.
Now 27 years later, I was about to meet the undisputed “king” of remote control aircraft, Bud Turk. He was going to give me a tour of his private museum with hundreds of the most sophisticated remote controlled aircraft ever built. Bud had made his fortune in Southern California and Colorado real estate and his passion for perfection had turned to model aircraft. His quest was to own the best and most authentic flyable creations.
A visit to his museum made the most fascinating afternoon that I can remember. Bud said, “I subscribe to your San Diego Airport Journal and I’ve seen pictures of the 1/4 scale 1939 Cabin Waco that used to be part of my collection, published in the paper.”
I explained that the Waco was the highlight of our hangar office and every celebrity and other visitor to our office stops and admires the Waco. I said, “If there’s any way you would consider parting with some of your treasures, we would be most honored to hang these where more people could appreciate and enjoy them.”
Several days later, we were finished hanging some of his masterpieces in our offices: a replica of the Folke Wolf 190 Bob Hoover stole from a Luftwaffe base in Germany and flew to freedom during WWII, a replica of the only remaining Japanese Zero, a scratch-built Spitfire that fought in the Battle of Britain, an Air Cobra that helped the Russians so successfully knock out German tanks, a German Stuka with incredible detail, and trainers including a beautiful PT17 and a gorgeous 1/5 scale Beech Staggerwing. Yes, these aircraft, some of the finest large scale, flyable aircraft ever built, are now yours to see at Airport Journals’ offices. If you’d like to stop in and visit, you too can enjoy these amazing aircraft. We’re featuring an article on Bud Turk in the next issue of Airport Journals.
Also next month, Airport Journals will feature the “Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2005. This is a special salute and recognition of a true aviation visionary. Not since Bill Lear has anyone made such an impact on making the whole general aviation pie bigger and better.