Most people start out with a four-channel trainer
and then progress to more advanced airplanes and have never owned or flown a
simple, lightweight three-channel model.
Planes like Gonzo are reliable, low maintenance
and low stress. They are also a lot of fun. I do not mind handing the
transmitter over to anyone - particularly friends and family who are not really
interested in getting into R/C but would like to give it a try.
I had very few opportunities to build or fly
models while I was in the
Army. Living in barracks makes model building
difficult and frustrating. The situation changed when I was stationed in
Germany in 1998.
In Heidelberg, I lived in a flat that had eight bedrooms
(two per roommate) plus common areas (kitchen, living room, etc.).
At that point I turned one of my two rooms into a shop and began building
plastic models again.
did not take long before I wanted to get back to flying. I took some leave
in the summer of 2001 and completed the
Herr Pitts Special. I hadn't flown for years and the Pitts looked like
it was going to be hot so I decided to get back into flying with something a
I bought an
(ARF) kit of a Piper
Cub that was designed for a .25 engine. It was built it in an evening and
flown the next day.
One of the wing panels had been manufactured with a
warp that wouldn't come out with a heat gun. After a few weeks of
unenjoyable flying, I donated the Cub to Reiner Pfister's hobby shop in Germany for him to do with whatever he
Because the local shops had nothing but ARF's, I realized that I would have
to design my own plane or order a kit from the States. The decision was
easy. I bought a stack of wood and got to work.
I designed and built Gonzo in less than a week in
August 2001. Essentially I wanted something that I could get into the air
as quickly and cheaply as possible.
I did not expect
Gonzo to make it back to
the States in one piece so there was no point in putting a lot of effort into
constructing it. I just wanted something solid and simple that I could fly
for a while before leaving Germany.
basis for Gonzo's design was a three-channel plane I built back in the 80's
named Stinky which was essentially a Craft Aire Piece 'O Cake with
shortened wings and fuselage.
I did not have any drawings or tech data for Stinky so I went from memory and
what looked right.