Balsa USA Stick Collection
I have a rather sizable collection of Balsa USA Stick airplanes. Below is a picture of my fleet:
In my fleet, I have four Stick 40s and two Stick 30s. Two of the Stick 40s are the original Swizzle Stick design (with the rounded fin and rudder). The blue and white Stick 30
is the only one I did not build, myself. And the orange & white Stick 30 was scratch-built, using carbon fiber rods for the fuselage and wing to make it super strong and
I have given names to each aircraft in my collection, in order to make it easier to distinguish between them. Below, is a description of each of my airplanes and the
origin of each name.
Meet Sigmund, or "Siggy". This was the first plane I ever built, back in 1982. It is still flying as of this writing, and has returned to the skies after a rather
on July 1, 2017.
Siggy was named after Sigmund Frued, due to its theraputic nature. Siggy has been with me throug many stages of my life, and has had quite a bit of history of its own,
as you can see from the patchwork on the wing. The crash on July 1, 2017, was rather tragic in that most of the wing covering was damaged and had to be removed
striking a cactus patch. The photos above show how I have turned the wing into a flying photo album, displaying some select imagery from the Arizona Sonoran Desert;
including one shot of the crash site.
The images below show the wing as it appeared shortly before the crash:
I enjoyed building Siggy so much, that I built another Swizzle Stick a year or two later, in 1983 or 1984. This airplane also is still active as of this writing.
I named this one Leonard, or "Lenny", after Leonard Nimoy. It just seemed logical. I was/am somewhat of a Star Trek fan, and I always related
to Mr. Spock.
I have launched model rockets off of this aircraft (even have some Super 8 movie film showing one of the launches
back in the
early to mid 1980s). The rocket launcher has
long since been removed, but now the aircraft carries a bomb hatch. I have dropped everything from TI-30 calculators, to super balls and rubber gorillas from Lenny
(and from Siggy, using a makeshift drop mechanism). Mainly, however, it is used to drop little plastic men on parachutes. Some have caught thermals in the summer in the
desert, never to be seen again. As for Lenny, it continues to fly
to this day.
"Abby" came along much later. Remember the movie Young Frankenstein? There's a scene where Igor was instructed to fetch a brain, and returned with an abnormal brain.
He was asked what the name was on the jar, and he said, "Abby, someone". This is Abby - my airplane:
Abby was completed and flew its maiden flight in July of 1992 after a long wait-and-build period spanning nearly two years. Abby was my first Stick 40 - the revised Swizzle Stick that
no longer had a round tail fin, and with narrower trailing-edge sheeting on the wing. The first time I took this plane out to fly (in July of 1992 - summer in the desert),
the wing began to inflate like a balloon after sitting in the heat in the back of the car. I had to poke a few tiny holes in the wing to prevent this. Apparently, I did
a good job of sealing it. I flew this plane, along with Siggy and Lenny, on Labor Day weekend, 2017, and I enjoyed flying Abby the most, doing a seemingly endless
series of touch-and-go's.
This next airplane does not really have a name. I just call it "the Hobby Hut plane". I originally intended to build this airplane to film it crash, but about half-way through the
building process, I teamed up with a couple of friends to finish building it as part of a public access television show, which aired on Tucson Community Cable Corporation cable TV
channels in Tucson, Arizona in 1993. You can find the show on YouTube.
It took nine months to put the show together, partly due to the time it took to finish building the airplane. I have recently started doing some cross-country flights with this
airplane (as inspired by the ending scene of Hobby Hut
) after not having flown in over 20 years. You can also find a peek of
this recent footage on YouTube
. More is slated to come, later.
The last two aircraft are the Stick 30s. This first one is named after Captain James T. Kirk's middle name - except that I got it wrong. I guess I'm not that big of a Star Trek
fan. James T. Kirk's middle name is Tiberius. My aircraft's name is Tobius, or "Toby" for short.
A guy at the flying club I belonged to at the time - somewhere in 1993 - knew I had some Balsa USA Sticks, and he had seen Hobby Hut, and he approached me one day with a
Stick 30 he was looking to sell. I bought it on the spot - I simply couldn't pass it up. It came with a set of plans, and even some templates that he had used when building
it. I love flying this plane, and the wing is tweaked in some peculiar ways, making it possible to perform some maneuvers I've never seen before. Then again, I have a rather
peculiar flying style to begin with.
The latest addition to my Stick collection, is a Stick 30 that I scratch-built, based on the plans and templates that came with Toby. Meet Quincy.
I started building Quincy in September of 2016 and completed it somewhere around April of 2017. It is a night flyer (with LEDs built into the wing, fuselage and tail) and
a custom alternator, driven off the engine, to power the lights, the radio, and charge the batteries. Except, I don't have the alternator wired up, yet, and I'm in the
process of trying to analyze and resolve some abnormal flight characteristics that it has (I'm close to concluding that it is just too light - too susceptible to torque
and prop wash effects from the engine. Either, it needs a smaller engine, perhaps, or I need to add some weight to it. It just doesn't fly like Toby, and it's currently
not very fun. I also flew it for one brief flight on Labor Day weekend, 2017, and couldn't get it to turn left.
Quincy was actually not the first Stick 30 that I attempted to scratch-build, but it was the first one I completed. I still have an unfinished project, awaiting completion
on some magical, mystery day, called Questor
Questor was named after a character in an old movie, called The Questor Tapes. Not sure why - I think I was just looking for an unusual name, and that was the first thing that popped
into mind. I'm not sure how Quincy got its name. I must have been thinking about what other names begin with "Q". Either that, or it was named after the TV show, Quincy, M.E.
Perhaps it was because this airplane was supposed to be just what the doctor ordered. Quincy reconnected me to the hobby after reconnecting with an old friend and flying buddy
who encouraged me to build it.
So, that's my fleet. Feel free to grab and use any of the images here. I have seen people use earlier images of Siggy, Lenny and Abby in various advertisements. Also, feel
free to link to any of my YouTube videos featuring any of these airplanes. I love the Balsa USA Swizzle Stick and Stick 40 (and Stick 30) and am always excited to discover
someone else flying one or interested in one. They are a lot of fun to fly, and they are very durable. My oldest is now 35 years old (as of 2017), and I hope to continue
flying them long into the future. And when I'm gone, I can only hope someone will pick them up and continue to fly them until they fall out of the sky for the last time.