Bill Elliot’s TBM at Airventure 2015

I was born in Chambers, Nebraska, in 1930, and grew up in a flying community that, prior to WWII, had the highest number of private airplanes, per capita, in the United States. There were seven hangered in the area, with a town population of 300. Biplanes with tail skids were predominant and they had no brakes.
In the mid to late 1930s, stick and tissue kits of rubber-powered airplanes were available for ten cents. A tube of glue cost a nickel and was sufficient to build many airplanes. At age eight I bought one with pennies I had saved up, and proceeded to build my first model airplane. No one had told me to put waxed paper on the plane, so of course the glued joints also stuck to the paper. It was a ‘live and learn’ education.

We built airplanes in the upper level of a workshop during my intermediate grades. The early airplanes were stick-and-tissue just like the first one I had built. We later built control line airplanes with gas engines, which required on-board batteries, coils, condensers, working controls, and sixty or seventy foot lines to control up and down movement.
In college, I found that half-A engines worked well to modify the old stick and tissue models so that they flew on fifteen to twenty foot lines. There were other students doing that also.
I flew control liners for many of my early years, but radio control since about 1963. I kept a record of my flights on a Quaker Flash until it crashed with 173 flights on it.
The picture was taken at Airventure 2014. I spent four college years as Crew Chief on a TBM in the Naval Air Reserve.

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