This was posted on the VRCS forum, but it is just too good not to share.
Hal DeBolt on some early R/C history
November 18, 2004
You want info on Live Wires. I will be quick, need more just ask.
A preamble is needed regarding LWs
My buddy George Swank had built a Rudder Bug. Another club member, Tom
Parry, had demonstrated a R/C all one afternoon at a C/L meet, This
me that R/C was finally for real. I had been waiting for that to happen.
George could not get the Aerotrol to work.I conned him out of the Bug
got it flyable. We flew the Bug every evening until dusk for 3 weeks.
what an R/C needed, Bug was sure not right.(1951)
Good friend Bill Winter had R/C experience so I consulted him. Between
we came up with 14 factors we felt would make a good R/C. I was delegated
to see if I could produce a design to feature them.
I did my best and the result we labeled the Live Wire. This you would
as the LW Senior. Added the Senior name when we ran some investigative
after the Trainer was in production,
When the Live Wire design was offered to the industry the reply was no
would pay the $15 needed price. Highest priced model kit was $7.95 so I
needed to have an R/C kit at that cost.
Answer was to reduce the size of the Live Wire about 50% and cut
costs. Result was the Live Wire Trainer This one sold in many thouands.
At the time all R/C was heavy. it could not be lighter for a smaller
What was amazing was the little .o9 model flew fine with the heavy
on I tried it with a Schmidt 5 channel reeds, even that did not phase it!
Actually the Trainer seemed at its best with a Mills .08 diesel, 10x6
The Live Wire investigation showed guys would pay $15 for a kit. So we
added scale like features to the Live Wire and called it the Cruiser and
well. Now we had a .09 and a .19 kit while others had .15 kits. So it was
thought dmeco needed a .15 also, So in effect we made a .15 size Live
as a Champion look a like. When it was ready to kit the shop was at
so it was put on the shelf and forgotten for over a year.
Finally demand slackened and something was needed so it was easy to slip
the Champ in. Result was a surprise, seemed everyone wanted one Again we
had a kit that was produced in many thousands, more than any other R/C
Noteable was for what ever reason the top gun modelers latched on to
the Champ and it trained most all of the pioneers after the real early
like Kraft, Dunham, Wieirke and on and on. The Champ remained in
production through 3 versions (structural) for 32 years and if Midwest
had not quit kit
production it could still be available, would believe.
Actually as a Trainer it was far better than these so called Trainers
today in that
anyone could have success with it without R/C experience. It flew itself
pilot simply guided it. Cute could be that the prototype wound up in son
hands with the R/C out of it and he flew it as a free flight for some
On to the "Custom Live Wire" bipe. This was my competition design for
several years and it got me a Nats Championship and on the first FAI
What amazes me is to see these at a VR/CS event with modern euipment
looks like they would be competitive today!
Like most all designs this one evolved. I had an urge to fly inverted
this had yet to be done. Being a C/Ler I realized the virtues of a
airfoil. So I put a symmetrical wing on a Cruiser and was surprised when
worked like a charm, labeled that version the "Over and Under" This craft
inverted as well as upright, performed the first outside loops etc.
Obviously was the way to go. Much later the O&U would be kitted as the
Sonic Cruiser. We had the first reed systems and they were heavy!
Obviously low wing loadings was an asset. I had tried a large (big) Live
Wire with about a 12 oz
loading. It handled the weight well but was slow and sluggish. It flew
fine but they looked like it was floundering through them, not
I had a lot of Bipe experience so the thought struck me a Bipe would
have the desired area and be compact, thus should maneuver more crisply.
For a look see I added a trainer wing to a Cruiser, had a Cruiser bipe.
proved great., looked fine!
Now I had two apparent possible assets, both adaptions to exsisting
There was available time so I thought it worthwhile to take a chance with
unknown, work from scratch and use both assets in a new craft.. Go all
with the design, hold nothing back.What you see today may not seem so
but for those days the "Custom" was like a Form I compared to a NASCAR!
Now I can say it was one of my best accomplishments, served me well with
competition and actually sold well when kitted.
Nuff sed? Boy, memories! You get into them and the required details to
them plausible drag on and on. nice thoughts but major writing efforts?
Otherwise does everyone know my eldest son Ronald dropped dead? What
an unexpected shock! He was only 59. I found it hard to believe, bawled
my head off for a day and night. Boy, when your kids start leaving before
you do it tells you something? God has sure watched over this old man,
thank him daily!
Anyhow Ron got taken care of well by his friend Barbara, they gave him a
military funeral in the National Cemetery at Bath, NY. Such a beautiful
Gosh, you punched a button and I rattled on, hope as you wished?
SUL and be good!