A brief look into RC Plane History
Hello, all. Much of this is what I picked up from RC Plane forums over the years and magazines I read as a kid. I researched some of it that I was foggy on and feel it is a pretty accurate post on the, let’s call them “highlights” of the early RC years. The history of RC planes is rich and many of the names you run across were notable from other scientific fields of the time.
While Nikola Tesla is the “father of radio”, the birth of RC Planes is often attributed to Clinton DeSoto and Ross Hull. Both were very active in amateur radio and became fascinated by the idea of controlling model airplanes by radio signals and in 1936 Hull successfully flew the first of what would be an estimated 110 flights.
In 1937, The RC Nationals event brought in contestants, Elmer Wasman, Patrick Sweeney, and Chester Lanzo. The event was plagued by technical difficulties and several other men were unable to even take flight. The prize went to Chester Lanzo whom flew successfully for several minutes with his 6lb RC plane, making RC Plane history.
The nation was taken by storm and the following year, during the 1938 RC Nationals over 25 men signed up. While it is not confirmed that any took flight that day due to unexpectedly high winds, the award was eventually won by Mr. Walter Wood. The infamous Good brothers, RC plane history GIANTS continued to win several years and built a true legacy with RC Flight.
Then, 1939 brought us a man named Joe Raspante. Joe was a mentor to younger builders and an electronic genius that actually designed an early telephone dial to control his RC plane which had the Nationals a buzz. He took 2nd place, defeated by the great Walter Good and his “Guff” plane.
Much has changed over the years. Vacuum tubes turned into transistors, batteries became lighter as did the planes, servos and small electronics took over and commercially sold RC Planes and other radio aircraft became easier to build, control, and more affordable. Today there are thousands of different models, makes, and distributors, and the hobby attracts new builders and operators every day.
Approximately 80 years have passed since Clinton and Ross set out to make actual flyers from their model planes they so loved. We have to wonder, where will the hobby be in yet another 80 years?