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Al Backstrom and inspiration from model aircraft

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cluttonfred

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
7,683
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
The late Al Backstrom is know as a pioneer in plank flying wing sailplanes in the USA. I was lucky enough to meet him at a flying wing symposium in the mid-1990s and found him to be quite modest, a can-do guy who saw something he wanted to do and just got it done.

Backstrom was also an avid model aircraft builder and designer, and here is one page that pulls together (some?) of his model plans.


As you might expect, there are a number of tailess designs, both historic and Backstrom's own designs, but also some conventional planes, at least in configuration.
  • Aeromarine Klemm AKL-26-B
  • Born Loser
  • Invictarwing International
  • Kinner Crackerbox
  • Lippisch Stork IX b
  • Mr Malcom
  • Persey
  • Sopwith Bee
  • Watkinson Dingbat
I don't have any deep meaningful point to make here, it's just that looking at this particular collection of Backstrom models fuels my imagination when it comes to homebuilts. There's a lot here, from historic record-setters to fanciful imaginings that could still fly well. Just thought I'd share....

Cheers,

Matthew
 

lr27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Messages
3,822
I wonder, if one were to build a newer version of his plank, how well it could be made to perform? Sailplane or motorglider, of course. One easy refinement would be to extend the chord of the ailerons.
 

JohnB

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HBA Supporter
Joined
Aug 18, 2019
Messages
71
The late Al Backstrom is know as a pioneer in plank flying wing sailplanes in the USA. I was lucky enough to meet him at a flying wing symposium in the mid-1990s and found him to be quite modest, a can-do guy who saw something he wanted to do and just got it done.

Backstrom was also an avid model aircraft builder and designer, and here is one page that pulls together (some?) of his model plans.


As you might expect, there are a number of tailess designs, both historic and Backstrom's own designs, but also some conventional planes, at least in configuration.
  • Aeromarine Klemm AKL-26-B
  • Born Loser
  • Invictarwing International
  • Kinner Crackerbox
  • Lippisch Stork IX b
  • Mr Malcom
  • Persey
  • Sopwith Bee
  • Watkinson Dingbat
I don't have any deep meaningful point to make here, it's just that looking at this particular collection of Backstrom models fuels my imagination when it comes to homebuilts. There's a lot here, from historic record-setters to fanciful imaginings that could still fly well. Just thought I'd share....

Cheers,

Matthew
Small world, back in the early/mid 50's Backstrom kept his Plank under the wing of my Dad's Super Cruiser at the Irving TX airport. Dad towed him many times and remarked how very small the diameter of his loops were. I think I have a pic of me sitting in his Plank somewhere. JohnB
 

Tiger Tim

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Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Messages
3,367
Location
Thunder Bay
I never met Al in person but I got to know him through a stick and tissue forum a number of years ago. He was always very helpful and it was clear he had a lot of experience to draw on. Prior to his passing I only knew him as a relatively prolific model airplane designer and builder who had built a glider of his own design decades back. I later learned just how accomplished and known he was in the full-scale world.

To me, Al will always be that rational, helpful, modest man who seems to always be accomplishing something and I strive to be more like that myself.
 

Victor Bravo

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Joined
Jul 30, 2014
Messages
7,866
Location
KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
Make a list of the greatest aircraft designers and engineers in the history of aviation and aerospace, from all countries.

I'll bet anyone a steak dinner that at least 80-85% of the people on that list started with free flight rubber powered models.
 

Bille Floyd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Messages
298
Seams like, every time i see that yellow airplane avatar, of cuttonfred
at the begining of a new Thread ; i think :
"This is probably gonna be interesting, and Fun to read" !!!

Bille
 

Doran Jaffas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
239
The late Al Backstrom is know as a pioneer in plank flying wing sailplanes in the USA. I was lucky enough to meet him at a flying wing symposium in the mid-1990s and found him to be quite modest, a can-do guy who saw something he wanted to do and just got it done.

Backstrom was also an avid model aircraft builder and designer, and here is one page that pulls together (some?) of his model plans.


As you might expect, there are a number of tailess designs, both historic and Backstrom's own designs, but also some conventional planes, at least in configuration.
  • Aeromarine Klemm AKL-26-B
  • Born Loser
  • Invictarwing International
  • Kinner Crackerbox
  • Lippisch Stork IX b
  • Mr Malcom
  • Persey
  • Sopwith Bee
  • Watkinson Dingbat
I don't have any deep meaningful point to make here, it's just that looking at this particular collection of Backstrom models fuels my imagination when it comes to homebuilts. There's a lot here, from historic record-setters to fanciful imaginings that could still fly well. Just thought I'd share....

Cheers,

Matthew
Years ago a friend of mine sent away for a set of 7/8 scale SE 5A plans.
After receiving them he went out and bought I believe a Sig model airplane kit . Those plans were much better detailed so he built his bird from those. As far as I know it is still flying and was/is a work of art.
 

EzyBuildWing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
62
Location
Sydney NSW Australia
Best looking "flying-Plank" ever in fact the best looking plane ever was the Opal Facet.... better even that the BD-5........all the Facet needed was a laminar-flow wing made using Alex Strojnik's S-2 and S-4 simple construction techniques, et voila, a world-beater! HKS 40hp 4-stroke for around 150kt cruise. Breathtaking!
Check it out here:
 

Jay Kempf

Curmudgeon in Training (CIT)
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
4,080
Location
Warren, VT USA
Gawd I would love to build about a 1.2:1 Opal with a proper engine and a little bit of baggage capacity with a bit more sane wider and taller landing gear. It would be so simple to tool the thing.

And that reporter gets the worst rug of the century award!
 

Dennis K

Member
Joined
May 23, 2014
Messages
19
Location
Portsmouth, NH USA
I also attended a Nurflügel symposium at the National Soaring Museum back then. Seems someone had submitted a proposal to DARPA for towing the space shuttle up to high altitude to eliminate the solid boosters and the only people who had done something similar were the WWII Germans who were invited to speak. Dr. Karl Nickle and Test pilot Heini Dittmar were two I remember along with Al Backstrom and Jim Marske among others. I think the transcripts and tapes may still be available from TWITT. org
 
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