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Getting ready to launch a Dream-Flight Alula at Beachside, Oregon in late summer of 2015. (image: Michelle Klement)

That was fun, can we do it again?

Welcome to the February, 2021 issue of the NEW R/C Soaring Digest. In last month’s column, my first In The Air, I introduced myself and talked a little bit about RCSD’s history, where things stand today and where I hope to take it in the future — with your help — as each new issue is published.

The time since the January issue was published has been filled with all sorts of exciting developments, some significant challenges and, yes, a few surprises I wasn’t expecting. But mostly, I look back on the past month and my thoughts are about the…


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Barron Shurn prepares to launch his model sailplane at a Seattle Area Soaring Society contest in June of 2008. This would have been very similar to the competition described in the essay. (image: Bill Kuhlman / RC Soaring Digest)

Dad did his fair share of dreaming big. Particularly when it came to his kids.

This article from 2019 originally appeared in The Selected Curve and is reprinted here with the permission of the author. It includes new material not found in the original article.

On a whim in the summer of 1976 — no doubt in part because he wanted to drive his shiny silver Alfa Romeo on the twisty and dangerous road through the mountains — my father suggested I have a stab at the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada National Championships held that year in Calgary, Alberta. This was on the strength of some spotty success at similar local model airplane competitions…


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The original R/C Soaring Digest masthead designed by its Founder, Editor and Publisher Jim Gray, which appeared in Volume 1 Number 1 back in January of 1984. The beautiful contemporary update is by Editors Emeritus Bill and Bunny Kuhlman.

Welcome back. We really missed you.

In his first monthly editorial, Terence C. Gannon, the recently appointed Managing Editor of the NEW R/C Soaring Digest, pays tribute to the past and talks about the future of the publication.

I am both humbled and honoured — and a little nervous — to bring you the very first issue of the NEW R/C Soaring Digest. Officially, this is Volume 36, Number 1 which means that RCSD published for an unbroken run of over 400 issues sweeping across 35 years concluding in December of 2018. Most recently, it was very ably published by Bill and Bunny Kuhlman. My first…


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left: David Falconer via US National Archives. | middle: US Department of Defense via Wikimedia. | right: Bethany Lindley via Facebook.

First hand observations from times I thought the world would stop turning.

My mother and I took Wardair to the UK in late 1973 to visit my still hail and hearty grandparents. The same could not be said for the UK itself which was suffering high inflation, pervasive labour unrest and a growing malignant malaise which would beset the nation for years. None of that had any effect whatsoever on a 12 year old living it up in the Pythonesque, quirky home of his ancestors while having the unalloyed attention of his doting grandparents and mother.

I spent my days ‘working’ at my grandparents clothing factory on London Road in Manchester. Getting…


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Passengers on a Trans-Canada Airlines DC-8 have pre-dinner drinks in the lounge. (image/caption: AirlineRatings.com)

Getting back on a plane may look more like the past than the future.

If I was an airline executive — I’m not even remotely close — I would spend all of my waking hours thinking about what my airline is going to do to ensure every passenger who gets on every one of my flights is as 100% COVID-free as humanly possible. Pre-flight blood tests, nasal swabs, quarantines, COVID contact tracking apps or whatever other newly invented magic is available are all on the table. Whatever it takes. I absolutely would not be waiting for new regulatory requirements to come down the pipe. They may well be in the ‘risk reduction’ realm as…


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An image of a real NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets. The digital crowd is courtesy of Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K20 video game.

A modest proposal for rebooting spectator sports in the COVID era.

Before I go any further let me clearly state that not being able to watch sports on TV is a concern not even remotely close to the trials routinely faced by health care and other essential workers in the time of COVID-19. We already owe them a debt we cannot hope to repay. Also, it almost goes without saying it’s not even in the same universe as those who have already lost loved ones to the diabolical virus or may be suffering with the disease itself. Compared to these things, not getting the see how the Raptors’ season turns out…


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In the movie “There Will Be Blood”, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) contemplates his terrible luck prospecting for oil in 1898 Texas. He didn’t realize everything was just about the change. (©2007 Paramount Pictures)

Who would have ever thought it would come to this?

It has been a long time since our last Ignition Sequence Start article here on Medium. We kicked off the publication with a couple of articles and dewey-eyed hopes that an oil & gas industry still reeling from the 2016 price crash would be interested in taking advantage of the latest in IT to make their operations more efficient. It’s not an exaggeration to say these articles landed with a dull thud layered over the the sound of crickets.

Then recently, as well all now know, everything changed in an instant.

To anybody who will listen, we tell a story…


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Left: The Dream Flight Alula. Middle: Jack Northrop standing with his XB-35 flying wing. Right: the Guillows Javelin which started it all (and is still available!)

In the second article in this series, abstract ideals are turned into concrete goals.

In the first article in this series, I kicked off The Sailplane project with the story of how it all began. On the face of it, that was September of 2019 at Pacific City, Oregon after a stunningly beautiful day of skimming my Dream Flight Ahi a few metres above the dunes rising from the beach. But this story of creating an entirely new sailplane design really begins 50 years earlier with a Guillows Javelin when my late father, brother and I stood “beside the Trans-Canada highway in suburban Montréal…as it curled into the summer sky." …


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Pacific City Triptych by Michelle Klement

This was the time and the place.

I have built and flown model aircraft for over 50 of my 58 years. They have provided all manner of rewards punctuated with some hard lessons which have served me well in life. For an avowed and unapologetic avgeek, they offer a connection to aviation, an unmatched creative outlet and an endlessly intriguing intellectual challenge.

The type of model aircraft in which I’m most interested are gliders, which are controlled from the ground by the pilot with a radio link to the airplane. Gliders, or sailplanes as they are often synonymously called, are like any other aircraft absent any means…


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Pacific Electric Railway cars awaiting destruction on Terminal Island, California in 1956. (image credit: UCLA Library Digital Collections)

Some thoughts on a failed Olympic bid and what it tells us about the shocking randomness of how we build our cities.

Although it has been many years since I last wrote computer code ‘to save my life’ I still vividly remember the five basic phases of the Cost of Change Curve associated with software development projects. While the fine details are now dim and distant the basic idea is this: the cost of making a given change rises exponentially as we work our way from the first phase, Requirements, through the intermediate Analysis, Coding and Testing phases and then finally to the Production phase. …

Terence C. Gannon

Not There Yet.

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