Guest Model Page - Chris Starleaf

Chris Starleaf lives in Illinois, USA, a well known figure in the Flying Aces Club, and very successful in their competitions. In fact he was crowned Grand Champion at the 2002 FAC NATS. I think he builds beautiful scale models, which are usually great performers as well. Many thanks to Chris for letting me share some photos of them with you here, together with some notes provided by the builder.

As you will see, Chris is not afraid of multi-engined models, and I am determined to have a go at building at least one of them myself. Hopefully you will find these photos as inspirational as I have!

This rubber-powered D.H.C.Dash 8 is Chris's own design and spans 31 inches. He describes it as "stand-off" scale, and it is a very reliable and stable performer, doing 90 second flights easily. The model is begining to show its age now, apparently, as it has been flown so much, and has even spent a few nights in the trees. When he sent me this photo, Chris said he might build another one with a full paint job, and if you scroll to the bottom of this page you will see he has now done so (though rather bigger).

Spot the difference!

In spring 2004, Chris decided to clean the model up, but it turned into a full blown restoration and makeover, with the model being given a completely new fuselage. It now represents the stretched series 300 version, making the model a full 7.5 inches longer than the original, and sports the very smart pre-World Image British Airways scheme, all done with coloured tissue. Weight is 70 grams without rubber. I think it looks great!

Is this not an absolutely gorgeous aeroplane? The D.H.84 Dragon is one of my favourite types, here lovingly reproduced in model form. Great livery as well - Hillman Airways, and if you look, you can see it even has all the seats in. The model is 33 inch span, weighs 160 g ready to fly and is twin electric powered.

Structure is close to scale, and it is a great flyer, winning many contests.

This Savoia S.71 tri-motor won Chris many competitions in 2000 and 2001. It is an outstanding performer, and has thermalled on several occasions. FAC rules give good bonus points for trimotors, which helps of course. Note the stock Peck Polymers propellers. Span is 34 inches, amd weight about 90 g without rubber. Just look at the neatness of the detailing and markings shown below - outstanding.

This Piper Chieftain was built from the Dick Howard plan back in 1996, and is rubber-powered with a span of 27 inches. It weighs 70 g without rubber. It is a nice flyer, but needs a calm day to get over a minute flight time. It has at least one flight of 90 seconds to its credit, and was still flying well in 2002.

Chris built this beautiful rubber-powered Sikorsky S-38 in 1998 - definitely a challenging subject! Span is 29 inches and weight 100 grams without rubber. So far it has made some successful flights, but has proven to be slightly unstable and difficult to repair. The intention is to put more effort into getting her to fly well, but until that happens, this is a great looking model to have on diplay.

This impressive twin electric ducted fan Fokker 100 was built as a test bed, but has proved to be a really good flyer, and looks very realistic in the air. It weighs 270 grams, and has a wing area of 144 square inches. Chris reckons this is probably on the limit for a free flight model - anything larger or faster would probably be easily lost out of sight, or damaged on landing.

This is a D.H.(Australia) Drover for rubber power. Fine tuning of the trim is still underway, but the model has still managed a best flight of 50 seconds.

Chris was so pleased with his rubber powered Dash 8, that he went and built a bigger version, with a span of 50 inches. The model flew very well straight off the board, and made a trimming flight of about 90 seconds.

At the FAC Non-Nats at Geneseo in 2003 it did a 50 second flight. Chris used plastic 10.5 inch props on this Dash-8 and they seem to be the perfect match for power with 4 strands of 1/4" rubber each nacelle.

In fact, he has now changed the props on his smaller Dash 8 to standard 7 inch Peck plastic props with a loop of 3/16 inch rubber in each nacelle. Chris reckons this has made it a much nicer model, which regularly does 90 to 100 seconds per flight.

This fantastic electric powered Lockheed L-188 Electra was built for the 2004 FAC Nata, and Chris describes it as easily the biggest modelling project he has ever done! It took him nearly a year of fairly steady work to finish.

Marvellous workmanship on display - just look at that structure! Almost a shame to cover it up.

Chris says he was inspired by Richard Crossley's Electra, and even used the same color scheme. The total weight is 11 ounces and wing span is 40. Power is by 4 MPS-1A high voltage motor systems. and a 340 mah dual (7.4 volt) LiPoly cell. A friend of Chris's made a custom timer that can handle the voltage.

As you can see, the model has successfully survived the trimming process (and a cartwheel) and the length of flight now depends on what the timer is set to. The climb is flat and steady and she just slowly works her way all the way up. Not having to recharge between every flight is a bonus (power drop-off from the LiPoly cells seems minimal).

This is Chris's latest WW2 mass launch model, an very smart P-51D Mustang based on the Herr laser cut kit. This is a substantial model, with a 28 inch wing span, and a lot of effort was made to shave weight off while the model was being constructed. The final all-up weight is a very respectable 58 grams.

This was Chris's big winter project to get ready for the 2005 season - a rubber powered Savoia Marchetti SM 79 for the FAC Jumbo Scale class. Wingspan is 41 inches and it weighs 133 grams without rubber.

Great workmanship evident in this bare bones shot, and plenty of evidence of lightening measures. The wing construction is interesting, as it features cracked rib construction, but with three upper spars of varying height ahead of the main spar to give a realistic airfoil section.

Excellent detailing evident on the completed model - hopefully Chris will send me some flying shots when he gets it trimmed out.

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