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Written by Don DeLoach
As featured on page 69 in the March 2013 issue of
Model Aviation.
As featured in the
Model Aviation tablet app.


Way back when, as a ten-year-old son of a military officer, Bill Stevens had no idea he’d be the owner of an electric RC kit manufacturer someday.
He started at this age with Cox plastic CL ARFs, with their ubiquitous spring-start .049 glow engines. “I also did model rocketry for a time with the help of my dad, and then RC cars,” he explained.

Bill dabbled in RC airplanes in his early teens, but then his hobbies took a back seat to school and eventually family and career. Until recently he was a GIS engineer with the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I got back into RC as a helium blimp pilot flying at trade shows and popular sporting venues like College and the U.S. Air Force Academy,” Stevens said.
This is about the time career met hobby. According to Bill, “My job as a mapping engineer required me to learn AutoCAD, basically on my own. I got good at it, and was soon using it in my off-hours to improve the performance of my blimps. From there I met Doug Binder of Mountain Models, an RC kit manufacturer, then based in Colorado Springs. He laser-cut some of my early Stevens Aero kits that I brought to NEAT Fair in 2002.”

That NEAT Fair was a smashing success. Bill recalls being sold out of his kits by noon on the first day. Upon his return home to Colorado he began thinking more seriously about Stevens Aeromodel as a part-time business opportunity.

“2002-2003 was a great time to be launching an electric RC kit business. The designs on the market at the time were heavy and of disappointing performance. My lightweight CAP 232 was a renowned aerobatic .40-sized park flyer that changed the game, despite the fact that it used a tame (by modern standards) brushed motor and NiCad battery.”

By 2004-2005 Bill bought his second and third laser, added more kit offerings and was struggling to balance his full time job at the city while also doing design work and filling internet orders for SA kits. “I knew something had to give, and I cut back to part time at the city, and then eventually left to devote all my time to SA in about 2005.”
Around 2007, with the kit line still expanding and demand soaring, Bill opened a retail hobby shop/manufacturing warehouse, and with it added several employees. It was an experiment that was rewarding, but taught him a valuable lesson.

“I learned that I would rather devote most of my time to developing great kits than serving as a full-line hobby shop with full-line hobby items like cars, trains, etc. So we closed the shop in 2011 and have shifted our focus back to the Stevens Aero RC line.”

The latest news for the company involves the purchase of 80 acres of rural pastureland east of Colorado Springs, where Bill and his family are pursuing their dream of the Stevens Aerodrome: a private model airport mere steps behind a family home and company headquarters. “The plan is to open it to the public in the fall of 2013. We’re excited!” he said.



Uncommon Products
Stevens Aeromodel prides itself on innovation. From the beginning they’ve been proving wrong the hidebound constraints of the past; for example, the misconception that balsa kits are difficult to build. Bill explains:

“In the beginning we decided to use balsa and very light plastic coverings out of necessity. We simply couldn’t get the high performance out of heavier airframes using old brushed motors and NiCads. The difficulty was that we were catering to a younger generation mostly interested in flying and not building. So this first customer group was basically dragged kicking and screaming into building.”

He adds, ”But this was not the more difficult kind of building involving lots of cutting and sawing. Our kits basically go together mechanically, with little or no cutting and little glue required. This enables a typical builder to put one of our kits together in a fraction of the time of a traditional kit.”



Micro Builder Program
Our Micro Builder Program is subscription based and offers annual priority access, exclusive member only discounts, and quarterly shipments of the latest indoor micro kit offering from Stevens AeroModel. Continue reading for a brief summary of key benefits.

Program members will receive:

    • Four new Stevens AeroModel micro indoor kits shipped free to your door once per quarter, a $200 value!
    • Four free shipping coupons redeemable for free standard delivery or up to $12.50 off any other shipping method, a $50.00 Value.
    • Special member only savings of an additional 15% off the sale price on Stevens AeroModel kit products at StevensAero.com

Your $125.00 annual subscription delivers an immediate combined product and shipping benefit of $250. That’s a 50% savings! Plus save hundreds more with exclusive member only savings at StevensAero.com



Uncommon Customers
Stevens Aero customers are a cut above, too. They are discriminating and loyal, and they expect different things from ARF customers.
“Recent years have seen the big box hobby companies offer much better flying small RC kits and ARFs than they used to,” Bill says. “This has focused us even more intently on serving our loyal customers.”

The typical Stevens Aero builder is drawn to more to nostalgia and whimsy than cheap price. SA’s model designs are easy on the eyes, and they carry only top-line motors, batteries and speed controllers.

“We’re probably best known for our Diddlebug indoor kit and our new Micro Builder Program, an annual subscription service that ships a newly-released kit quarterly,” Bill said. “Subscribers get the new kits at a significant discount and about a month before public release, which has been a well-received concept.”



The Future
2012 was a year of transition for Stevens Aeromodel; with the opening of the new factory and airfield, 2013 will be the year of its rebirth.

Stevens Aerodrome will be a place to test aircraft as well as fun fly. And Bill plans to host customers from around the world. “Folks always like to see where a product is made,” he said. “Here they’ll be able to test it out before buying it, which will be a much more personal experience.”



Sorry, the following promotion has ended.
Win A One-Year Subscription to the Micro Builder Program
For an opportunity to win a one-year subscription to the Micro Builder Program, which includes four kits, submit your answer to the following question: What was the Micro Builder Program kit of the quarter for July 2012? You can find the answer on the company’s website.

To submit your entry via email, send your answer, full name, postal address, and telephone number to MA Editor-in-Chief Jay Smith. Please include “About Us” in the subject line. To enter via postal mail, send the preceding information to MA at AMA, to Jay Smith’s attention. You can also use the form below.

Entries will be accepted through March 30, 2013. The winner will be selected on or before April 1, 2013. One entry per person is allowed. Those that are lost, late, misdirected, garbled, or incomplete for any reason will be ineligible.

This contest is open to legal residents of the 50 states, District of Columbia, and US military members with APO/FPO addresses. AMA employees are not eligible to win.

The winner will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries with the correct answer by an Academy employee or employees. The winner will be notified by telephone or email and his or her name and state of residence will be published in a future issue of MA and posted on the AMA website.