The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 23, 2001 · Page 20
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 20

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, April 23, 2001
Page 20
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A model pilot Don Moden remains grounded in his hobby of remote-control flying By MICHAEL STRAND The Salina Journal As a sixth-grader in his aunt's attic, Don Moden built his first model airplane. At 70, he's stiU going strong, racing large, radio-controUed aircraft with 100-inch wingspans on a nationwide circuit. In the workshop behind his house in south Salina, he's putting the finishing touches on a new paint job for the plane he almost won with last year and installing the electronic guts of a new one. Last year's almost champ, now nicknamed "Goofer" because "you'd have to be goofy to fly these things," taught Moden a valuable lesson. It was the last race of the season, and Moden had handily won all the preceding events. "Nobody could catch us," Moden said. "Then my spotter told me we were two seconds slower than the previous lap. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, but the engine just conked out." This year, he vows that won't happen. "After every race, I'm going to tear that engine down, put the top (piston) ring into the second slot and put in a new top ring, and clean out the carbon," he said. "It's just like they do in NASCAR — you tear down the engine after every race." Moden draws a lot of parallels between NASCAR and radio-controlled aircraft racing — not the least of which is the old saw "go fast and turn left." "There's a set of specs your airplane has to meet, just like NASCAR. We all use the same engine," he said. "The difference is how well you build it, how well you tune the engine and how good a pilot you are." There are a lot of details that can make a huge difference in these racers, which can hit 160 to 165 mph in level flight, Moden said. "To break in these G-62 engines, I burn 25 gallons of gas through them full bore whUe they're just sitting on a stand." That's roughly 40 hours of operation. "And even after aU these years, I'm still learning new tricks," he said, relating a fuel intake adjustment he figured out last week that looks to add another 400 rpm to the 8,000- to 9,000-rpm engine. "You keep learning new tricks aU the time," he said. "I plan on being top of the pole this year." In the 58 years Moden's been building and flying models, he's seen radical changes wrought by technology — many mirrored in full-scale aircraft. See PLANE, Page 8 Don Moden, Salina, builds radio-controlled airplanes that he races on the national circuit. TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal

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