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John Yager
Roscoe IL

A friend of mine received a phone call last summer. A fellow flier from another town had passed away with no one to continue his hobby. Family members were going to throw it all away in a dumpster, so my friend, Dick Prevencher, made a mad, 40-mile dash in his van and collected everything.





The following morning, Dick, being the great guy he is, delivered everything to our field and lined it up, free for the taking. There was everything: tools, radios, electronics, building supplies, motors, parts and pieces, etc. Everything was there including airplanes—some complete, some not. I was the third person to arrive that morning, and what caught my eye was an unfinished biplane. It was covered with antique Solartex, but hadn’t been assembled. It had no motor or servos and was basically an ARF.




I took it home. But why hadn’t he finished it? On closer inspection, it had a few problems. Someone had mounted the aileron pin hinges too low in the wing and there was hardly any up-aileron movement. The elevator and rudder leading edges hadn’t been tapered or rounded off to allow for movement after the hinges were installed.




I started searching the Web to find out what airplane it was and who made it. It took a while, but finally discovered that it was a Puppeteer by Flair Modeling Co. in England. It seems the company made more than 10,000 of them. I’m new to this hobby—two years—and have always dealt with ARFs. I started asking questions at the field about how to fix the problems. One of my friends, George Vesley, offered to help. I was extremely happy and a little shocked, but grateful to accept George’s help. George is an expert builder and repair man, but seldom volunteers his help. He suggested we work on it in his workshop. We agreed that it wouldn’t be possible until spring, and all was set.




Spring came and we discovered that the bellcranks in the wing had never been properly tightened. This had us wondering what else might be messed up. We stripped off the old Solartex, but we only found a couple other minor problems. The entire airplane had been put together with Ambroid glue, but surprisingly, it had held up well.

After four months, countless hours, some minor disagreements, and more cash than I really wanted to put into it, the Sopwith Pup Puppeteer was reborn! We did away with the bellcranks in the wing; it now has dual servos. George replaced the pin hinges with 1/4-scale CA hinges, and rounded off the rudder and elevator leading edges. We recovered the airplane with Solartex. The cabanes were missing so we had to manufacture those. The airplane had been set up to be fuel powered, but I opted for an electric setup. The airplane came in at 9 pounds. A Turnigy SK3 50-55 430 Kv motor, E-flite 80-amp ESC, and a Nanotec 6s 35-70c 5000 mAh LiPo battery swings a 15-8 propeller.




The airplane is a little strange. It has a 58.5-inch wingspan. That roughly figures out to be 1/5 and a half scale, which caused some problems. The machine gun is only 1/6 scale, and I had to have Callie Graphics custom the Roundels and other graphics. It’s beautiful and I love it. Forgive me for being so long winded, but I felt the story of a beautiful biplane that almost ended up in a dumpster had to be told.




I had Jeff Jones one of our best and most experienced pilots maiden it for me. It was tail heavy of course, and we ended up adding 10 oz.s of weight to the cowl to get the CG correct. But after a little trimming it flies great. During take offs it seems to leap into the air with seamless effort. And during landing it glides in like a duck to water. What a great plane. So don't pass up those old planes you find a swap meets and garage sales, you might be surprised at the jewel you'll end up with.




A special thanks goes out to all who helped me or have helped me, thanks to that great bunch of guys at the field, and happy flying. RC groups, Kieselburg flying group, is our online thread. All are welcome to view the thread, pictures and videos by clicking here.



2 comments

I also have a Puppeteer that I rescued. I powered mine with a .52 four stroke. Most people said the .52 would never get it off the ground But it flies like a dream. Even with the glow engine it needed nose weight.
If you should need parts, Radical RC sells the kits and some parts.
All we need now is some spring weather so we can get out flying.

I watched the morning the Pup took to the air. What a exciting thing to see. After it took months and hours of work to complete. She taxied short distance and climbed to the air like she was alive, how exciting this was to see. She is a beautiful plane to see in flight. And I thank those who saved her.

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