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VintageViews W

hile walking through my hangar a bright yellow plane caught my eye. There hung a LiveWire Cruiser which brought back some interesting memories. Back in about 1960 or 1961 a friend had just completed a Thermic 100 sailplane and we decided that it would be fun to tow that beautiful sailplane aloft with an R/C plane. I had a LiveWire Champ in my hangar, as most R/C’ers in that day did, but with the K&B .23 on board it didn’t have enough muscle to do the job.

We needed a larger and more powerful plane and purchased the LiveWire Cruiser from fellow Aeroguidance Society club mem- ber George Buso. George had built the Cruiser using a break-a-way engine plate which allowed me to mount a SuperTigre .60 on the nose. That certainly would provide enough power to do the job and off to the fly- ing field we went.

We had never seen an R/C glider tow and so we were very low on the learning curve. Being not too smart—although we were both engineers just a few years out of col- lege—we decided to tow the Thermic 100 from the tail of the Cruiser. Hey, the big guys do it this way!

Big mistake! We quickly realized that this was not the way to do it when the Thermic got too far above the Cruiser and that Cruis- er didn’t like to maintain altitude with is tail being pulled to the sky. As I remember, we did have a few successful flights but it was a struggle.

That fall we went to Indiantown Gap, PA to participate in the famous Labor Day gath- ering. All the East Coast big shots of R/C were there including Walt Good and Howard McEntee. This event was the place to see and learn about the latest in R/C sys- tems and planes that had been developed during the summer. This event went on for several years in the ’60s. It was originally held at the Selinsgrove, PA airport but quickly outgrew that venue and moved to the Indiantown Gap military reservation. It was those first Labor Day gatherings that gave birth to Vintage RC Society. It was at Indiantown Gap that I saw Walt

by bob noll You can reach Bob Nollvia e-mail at


The author with his LiveWireCruiser along with fellow club member, Bob Nestoriak. Noll used the Cruiser to piggyback launch a Thermic 100sailplane. See text for details.

Good and Howard McEntee perform a “pig- gyback” glider launch. As I recall, Walt’s glider was attached to a cradle on top of Howard’s plane and after gaining consider- able altitude, the glider was detached. What a neat idea! I had to try this. So back to my workshop to design and build a custom cra- dle. A Bonner Duramite was attached to the cradle and operated a release pin which se- cured the sailplane. I was flying the Cruiser with an eight-channel Orbit reed system and since the Cruiser did not have ailerons I was able to use that channel to operate the release servo. It worked great and the Cruis- er did its job for many flights. I did find a photo of my LiveWire Cruiser but was unable to locate the photos of the “piggyback” operation. Those slide photos are somewhere in a box. I was certain I could

find a photo or two of Walt and Howard at Indiantown Gap doing the “piggyback” in my magazine collection but had no luck. I would be interested in seeing old photos and learning of your experience with glider towing or piggyback flights in those earlier days. The LiveWire Cruiser was one of many de- Bolt designs and was kitted in 1954. Hal sold 5,000 Cruisers at a price of $14.95 each. It was the fifth in the LiveWire series and was preceded by the Trainer (15,000 sold), Senior (1,500 sold), Kitten (5,000 sold) and the Clipper (3,000 sold). The LiveWire Cruiser was advertised in the April 1954 issue of Model Airplane News. That issue also advertised the Royal Rudderbug by Berkeley at a price of $6.95 and the Berkeley Super Aerotrol 27 mc crys-

The LiveWire Cruiserad that appeared in many magazines (above left) in 1954. The Cruiser was the fifth in the LiveWireseries by Hal deBolt; 5000 Cruiserkits were


sold. An early R/C design (above right) using NACA 2412 airfoil. Designer unknown. This airfoil provided a very fast and maneuverable plane, very different for that time.


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