The Other Side of the Treeline - Bob Aberle

By Rachelle Haughn complete list of all of Bob Aberle’s published designs and plans. Bob was featured thee Fall 2015 Park Pilot.

Chances are, if you’ve ever built a small aircraft from plans, you have heard of Bob Aberle. Since December 1973, 124 of Bob’s plans have been published in various magazines. He writes a column in Model Aviation magazine, serves as technical editor for that publication, has been a contributing editor for Model Airplane News and Backyard Flyer, and an editor-at-large for RC Microflight Newsletter. Bob has also published two books. A handful of honors have been bestowed upon Bob in his 77 years: an AMA Distinguished Service Award, being named an AMA Fellow, and his favorite, being inducted into the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame. To learn more about this AMA member with a diverse modeling background, read his biography at You can also see his full list of published plans at the bottom of this article. Rachelle Haughn: Which do you prefer: RC or Free Flight? Bob Aberle: I started with FF (Free Flight) models as a teenager. Without the help of an RC system, FF flying requires a lot more skill when it comes to trimming out the plane in flight. But I choose RC over FF because RC does not require a large flying field. After World War II, on Long Island [New York], home construction started and flying fields quickly disappeared. I’m not exactly in shape to chase a model aircraft, so RC has been my choice for many years.
RH: Now that you’ve bowed out from the competition scene, what do you miss most about it? BA: Competing to me added a purpose to my hobby. Just flying around the field and doing a few maneuvers can quickly become boring. I’m a competitive person and I love winning, be it model airplanes or golf. But competing can take a lot of effort and can involve traveling to the various contests. Over the years I’ve flown in many AMA Nats, as well as SAM (Society of Antique Modeler) competitions. But you never know you just might see me out in Muncie in 2016 [for the Nats].
RH: You have a lengthy history of designing, writing, and editing. Which experience has been the most rewarding? BA: I’d have to say that designing has been been the most important to me. It is the greatest thrill, to me, to draw a plan from an initial sketch, then to go on to construct and fly the design. I’ve designed and published 124 aircraft of all different types. Sixty-three of the 124 were micro or park flyer designs that appeared in the webzine known as RCMW (RC Micro World; Interestingly, all of these planes flew. Some better than others, but they still all flew. I would never publish anything that didn’t.
RH: What do you like about park flyers? BA: I like park flyers because they can be flown in relatively small fields. In my area of eastern Long Island, I have several soccer and baseball fields at my disposal, so I never have a big trip to a flying field. All of my aircraft are electric powered, so I often fly at sunrise or sunset, and the local people don’t even know I am there. Another plus for park flyers is that they can be built or assembled fast and are moderately priced. Small RC components, motors and batteries, make park-size flyers a practical choice.
RH: Which honor bestowed on you has meant the most? BA: No question my 1998 induction into the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame. Next in line would be the AMA Fellow Award, which I received in 1982. That award granted me lifetime AMA membership and the assignment of a three-digit AMA license number. My original number from 1951 (age 13) was 8409. I sit on the AMA Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and have for many years.
RH: If you had never become interested in modeling, what would your career choice be? BA: I think I really should have majored in journalism in college. I love to write! As it turned out, I settled for a combination of engineering and business. My 30 years working for the Grumman Corporation was primarily in the category known as planning engineer. But I did end up doing a lot of writing while at Grumman.
RH: What’s on your bucket list? BA: Well, recently I designed a park flyer-size model of the Patchen Explorer. It features a motor that is mounted above the wing on a pylon. This leaves the nose open for a digital camcorder. I’ve already taken some excellent aerial videos and hope to pursue this into still photography. After that I just have to try FPV. Everyone is doing it these days.
RH: What airplane would you like to build next? BA: I’ve never built a true 1/4-scale aircraft in my 64 years in the hobby. I took some flying lessons back in 1959 in a little-known Piper Cub Special PA-11. This was a Piper Cub J3, but with a fully cowled-in engine. I don’t know if I have a project like that left in me. An alternative that was published several months ago in Model Airplane News, is a 1/7-scale Piper Tri-Pacer. It is available as a laser-cut parts kit. This might be right up my alley.
RH: How has aeromodeling changed throughout the years? BA: This answer shouldn’t come as any surprise. First of all, electric power has really taken over in recent years. Development in motors and batteries made this possible. Then the biggest improvement came with the introduction of 2.4 GHz spread spectrum RC systems. Frequency control is no longer a problem. Antennas are short, and most important, these radios are extremely reliable. When I was chairman of the AMA Frequency Committee back in the late ’70s, I never dreamed of the progress that we see today.
RH: What was the most difficult airplane that you have ever built or designed? BA: Probably the most difficult plane that I designed and built was a park flyer version of the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster. This plane had a most unusual fuselage that resembled a wing airfoil. It was a twin (engine) and it employed three-blade props. The final design was only 200 square inches—perfect as a park flyer. Its weight was 20 ounces. The structure design and equipment installation was a really tough job. I suspect I spent the better part of two months building this plane. The reward was perfect flights, despite its odd configuration.
Bob holds his Patchen Explorer. This plane’s motor is above the wing on a pylon, leaving the front open for a digital camera.

This Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster was Bob’s most difficult aircraft design. It had a fuselage with an airfoil shape, and motor and equipment installation made the project difficult.

the design to a park flyer size. The smaller aircraft is shown in front of its big brother.

RC Designs of Bob Aberle - Chronological Order as of August 2015

Name (1) Long Islander-RC sailplane (2) Dayton Wright Racer 1/2A Pylon (3) Field Kits (4) Guillow Trixter Beam Revisited (5) Seaweed .60 power with floats (cover) (6) Nothin’ Special 1/2A Pylon Racer (7) BEDE VI .20 power Stand-Off (cover) (8) “76” Special Qtr Midget Trainer (9) Cannonball .020 tiny acro (cover) (10) Grumman Kitten .40 Stand-Off (cover) (11) Lil’ Eaglet .010 micro sport (12) ACE 310 .09 RC sport acro (13) Blanik L-13 Stand-Off Scale sailplane (14) Aqui-Duct .40 ducted-fan boat (15) New Angle 1/2A acro sport (cover) (16) GP-700 .60 glider tow plane (17) Next Step .09 basic trainer (cover) (18) Long Islander Two-Meter sailplane (cover) (19) Mini-Moni 1/2A Stand-Off-Scale (20) Fastball 1/2A sport acro (21) Image .80 four-cycle sport pattern (22) Kerswap .40-power Old-Timer (cover) (23) EMF electric pylon racer (24) FMQ-250 .09 pylon racer (25) Frisco Kid .15 RC Free Flight nostalgia (26) Infant Sportster micro RC electric (27) Atomizer 1/2A Texaco (28) Schmaedig Stick for electric Old-Timer (29) Live Wire Kitten nostalgia electric (30) Playboy Senior 425 (31) Watt-Fun (32) Pro-Pod (33) Thurston/Patchen Explorer (34) Profile Powerhouse, micro electric (35) Guillow Trixter Beam (reduced size electric) (36) Microball (reduced-size Cannonball) electric (37) Kiwi 3.4-ounce Indoor electric - LiPo batteries (38) Lil Dakota 1.3 ounce Indoor RC Electric (39) Scratch-One (From the Ground Up series) (40) Micro Pod 1.2-ounce Indoor RC electric (41) Lil Sioux 3.8-ounce Indoor RC electric (42) Sling Shot catapult launched Indoor RC glider (43) Playboy-225 Old-Timer Indoor RC (44) Over & Under (45) Scratch-65 (65% of Scratch-One) (46) Piper PA-11 (47)Mini-Moni Revisited (48) Pong-Revisited (49) Laird Solution Bipe (50) The First Step-all foam board (51) Ord-Hume Ultralite (52) Impulse (53) Wonder Wing (54) Poly-T (micro fantasy scale) (55) Lil Eaglet-II (56) Burnelli CBY-3 (57) Micro Wonder Wing (58) Ranger-30 (59) Micro Indoor Trainer Aircraft (MITA) (60) Profile Dakota (61) Mini-Impulse (70% of original) (62) Micro Impulse (3.3 ounce) (63) Micro Poc (proof-of-concept) (64) Nano Impulse (28 gram) (65) Boeing L-15 Scout (66) Pilatus Porter (31 grams micro) (67) Turn-Around (4-ounce Indoor) (68) Pete’s Dream (electric FF) (69) Lanzo Duplex Old-Timer rubber (70) Playboy Cabin-200 Old-Timer (71) Lanzo Bomber 200 Old-Timer (72) Micro Kerswap Old-Timer (73) Kerswap-200 Old-Timer (74) Live Wire Cruiser-150 on twin floats-vintage RC (75) Park-Pattern-200 (76) Trixter Beam-75 vintage RC (77) Micro Park Pattern (1.54 ounces) (78) Scratch-65 Foamy (1.64 ounces) (79) Lanzo Airborne Old-Timer (80) Live Wire Kitten-100 vintage RC (81) Swallow-2 (Micro 2.1 ounces) (82) Swallow-2 (park flyer 12.1 ounces ) (83) Micro Brigadier (4.4 ounces) Old-Timer (84) 1950 Electron-125 (85) Ceiling Soarer (39 grams) (86) Tatone’s 1941 Atomizer-200 Old-Timer (87) Lanzo 1937 RC Cabin Stick 200 Old-Timer (88) Ray Heit’s 1938 Scram 200 Old-Timer (89) Profile Sioux Old-Timer FF, now RC (90) Rudderbug-200 vintage RC (91) Bucaboo vintage FF, now RC (micro) (92) Micro Midiwatt - four-channel micro-aerobatic (93) Buzzard Bombshell-200 Old-Timer (94) Jr Falcon-100 vintage RC (95) Bootstrap-A/RC-100 (96) Smog Hog (97) Anderson Pylon-200 (Old-Timer) (98) Marabu-150 (99) BAC Super Drone (100) Lil Tri Squire – vintage RC (101) Tom Thumb – vintage FF (102) Schmaedig 1938 Flying Stick-200 (Old-Timer) (103) Ace Three-Ten (mini-pattern) (104) Minnie Mambo (vintage RC) (105) Oriloe-III-65 (Wagner FF) (106) Sun Fli-IV (mini pattern) (107) Nothin’ Special-100 racer (108) Ord Hume OH-7 (scale homebuilt) (109) Outlaw-100 (110) Kwik Fli MK-III (mini pattern) (111) Perris Special-200 (Old-Timer) (112) Left Over-67 (sport with carbon boom) (113) LIT Special (114) Pacific Ace (1939) rubber now electric) (115) Transition - 75 4.2 ounces (116) Atomizer-II (a revised 1/2A Texaco design) (117) Kraft’s BI-FLI, (a revisit of a 1959 design) (118) Folly-200, a 1939 Old-Timer) (119) Thermix-13 PF (reduced-size electric sailplane) (120) Flying Fool micro/indoor (121) Senator (122) Swayback Old-Timer (123) Infant Sportster (124) Explorer - aerial videos Plan No. CF-317 CF-334 CF-352
CF-361 CF-367 CF-380 CF-405 CF-410 CF-431 CF-442 CF-456 CF-481 CB-11 CF-505 CF-527 CF-352 CF-589 CF-611 CF-645 CF-692 CF-736 CF-745 CF-769 CF-809 CF-827 CF-866 CF-873 CF-994
Magazine Issue FM 12/73 FM 6/74 FM 11/74 MB 6/74 FM 3/75 FM 5/75 FM 9/75 FM 5/76 FM 7/76 FM 2/77 FM 6/77 FM 12/77 FM 8/78 FM 1/79 FM 5/79 FM 1/80 FM 3/81 FM 2/82 FM 10/82 FM 10/83 FM 4/85 FM 11/86 FM 4/87 FM 2/88 FM 8/89 FM 5/90 FM 10/91 FM 1/92 FM 6/96 RCM 6/00 S&EM 8/99 MAN 10/99 MAN 10/00 RCMF 1/01 BYF 1/03 MA 10/04 RCMF 1/03 RCMF 5/03 MA 11/03 & 1/04 RCMF 11/03 QF 4/04 RCMF 4/04 RCMF 6/04 MA 12/05 MA 2/05 RCMF 12/04 FM 10/05 FM 9/06 FM 02/06 BYF 05/06 BYF 1/07 MAN 1/07 BYF 7/07 RCMW 11/06 RCMW 1/07 BYF 1/08 RCMW 8/07 RCMW 9/07 RCMW 1/08 RCMW 2/08 RCMW 3/08 RCMW 6/08 RCMW 8/08 RCMW 9/08 FLY-RC 3/09 BYF 5/09 RCMW 1/09 FM 2/09 RCMW 6/09 RCMW 7/09 RCMW 8/09 RCMW 9/09 RCMW 10/09 FLY-RC 2/10 FLY-RC 7/10 RCMW 12/09 RCMW 1/10 MA 5/10 RCMW 3/10 RCMW 4/10 RCMW 5/10 EF 3/11 RCMW 7/10 RCMW 8/10 RCMW 9/10 RCMW 10/10 RCMW 11/10 RCMW 12/10 RCMW 2/11 RCMW 3/11 RCMW 5/11 RCMW 6/11 RCMW 8/11 RCMW 9/11 RCMW 10/11 RCMW 11/11 RCMW 12/11 RCMW 1/12 RCMW 2/12 RCMW 3/12 RCMW 4/12 RCMW 5/12 RCMW 6/12 RCMW 7/12 RCMW 8/12 RCMW 9/12 RCMW 10/12 RCMW 11/12 RCMW 12/12 RCMW 1/13 RCMW 2/13 RCMW 3/13 RCMW 9/13 RCMW 10/13 RCMW 1/14 RCMW 2/14 RCMW 3/14 RCMW 7/14 RCMW 11/14 RCMW 1/15 RCMW 4/15 RCMW 5/15 RCMW 6/15 RCMW 8/15

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