Maiden Flight of Frank Kaylor's Sky King
Article by Frank Kaylor
As many of you know, I have been building a large model of the “Songbird”, a Cessna T-50 used in the 50’s TV series SkyKing (Out of the clear blue western sky comes…Sky King!). This has been a 3 year project which I have enjoyed immensely! I spent countless hours down in my shop (thanks Deb for putting up with all of that) working on this project. I even had a chance to ride in one of the few remaining T-50’s N59188 (Ole #12)
I did a lot of research on the paint scheme, colors and markings to make sure they were very close to the plane used in the TV series…not an easy task as there were 4 Cessna T-50’s used in the series and there were slight differences in all of them. Back in those black and white TV days everything was a shade of gray so color specifics aren’t available and there isn’t anyone around today that can personally identify the colors. But I did find a person that had interviewed one of the characters in the TV series years ago and she knew the plane was white with red trim and a gray bottom. I think I’m pretty close…but not perfect! I was given the complete set of all the SkyKing TV episodes on DVD. That helped a lot in my research
One of the things I’ve learned about flying RC airplanes is that once you take off, you need to be emotionally prepared to lose that plane, and if you aren’t, then don’t take off. Well, I haven’t been to that point until the last few weeks. So Saturday, Jerry Gossner (AKA Pit Boss and Videographer ) helped me load everything up ( it takes two SUV’s) and head out to Crosswinds RC flying field east of Aurora. We did our preflight checks fueled up and started the engines. The #1 engine was running rich so we tuned the carburetor a bit and it ran perfectly. I love the sound of twin engines running in synchronization.
The next step for a first time flight (Maiden Flight) is to taxi up and down the runway to see how it handles on the ground; turns out it handled rather nicely. I had asked another friend and fellow Crosswinds member Jim Brown to be my spotter. Since I can’t take my eye off of the plane once it’s in the air, the spotter keeps me informed of everything around me that would affect the flight. He is also there in case I need an emergency adjustment to the radio control link to the plane. I taxied out to the center of the runway, ran the engines up to full power just to make sure the engines were running at peak performance. I brought the engines back to idle, stepped back from the plane and slowly increased the power. The Songbird began rolling down the runway and in about 100’, she lifted off the runway and climbed skyward…what a relief! There were a few adjustments to the control surfaces needed so Jim adjusted those on my radio transmitter. I think I made 3 trips around the pattern and decided (actually my shaking knees decided for me) it was time to land. This is the part shown in the video. I must say, this plane flies very smoothly and is quite easy to land. My first landing was pretty good but has room for improvement. Finally I could breathe!
I have built a lot of planes over the years, but never to this extent, in terms of size and complexity. And outside of just the building was the research. I found a lot of information on the internet and met some great fellow modelers who have or are in the process of building a Cessna T-50. One in particular, my buddy Rich in Texas (and he frequently reminds me of the Texas part) really encouraged me to add some additional scale features, taught me some new techniques and even made a dummy radial engine for the front of the engine nacelles. Rich is a world-class scale model builder.
In the link to the video, It’s difficult to judge the size of the plane, but it has a 105” wingspan, weighs 32 pounds and is powered by 2 gasoline engines of about 3HP each. By the way, I didn’t miss the runway but intended to land in the grass for the first flight…it’s much softer than asphalt!
Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL68ANTy208