Make your own free website on

What's this "Cobra" maneuver the Russians invented, and how come American pilots can't do one?
-Jerry in Jersey City, NJ

Dear Jerry:
I'm not so sure the Russians invented it, but even if they did, the Americans can do the Cobra maneuver just as good as anybody else.

The Cobra is a pattern maneuver that many RC competitors have added to their repertoire. It is usually executed when you overhear the judge telling the scorekeeper to write down a 6 or less. It is performed by turning around, rearing your head back while hissing, and then spitting venom at the judge.

The effectiveness ofthe Cobra maneuver is in doubt. Scores of subsequent maneuvers almost always go down, and the judge can retaliate by performing the "Mongoose" when the flier bends over to pick up his airplane at the end of the flight.

I'm new to RC and have been having more than my share of troubles. Based on recommendations from the hobby shop operator and from other modelers, I bought what I thought was a highly reliable radio control set. I installed all the components per the instructions and it worked fine on the bench. At the field, the range checks with and without the engine running both went well.

So I took it off for its initial test hop, and it locked up and flew into the woods at low altitude. It hit several branches, shedding pieces as it went, and finally flew straight-on into a tree trunk. Needless to say, the plane, motor and radio were junk after the crash.

One of the regulars at the field said it looked like the batteries had gone dead and asked me if I had charged the RC system. I told him that the instructions had stated very clearly, "Charge Before Flying," and that since I had purchased the set on my MasterCard, that yes, I had charged it. He looked at me like I was an idiot and walked away shaking his head.
Did I do something wrong?
-Novice in Newbury, CT

Dear Novice:
Afraid so. You should have used the Discover Card. They give you cash back.


Advice for the Propworn
-By Jake

If I had $20 to spend and wanted to get started in RC modeling, what would you recommend?
Beginner in Borox, CA

Dear Beginner:
Two more zeros or some other hobby.

You shouldn't discourage prospective modelers like "Beginner" in the last letter by scaring them off with horror stories about the cost of our hobby.

For $20, a newcomer could purchase several books on modeling, or a magazine subscription, or a how-to video.

So please, in the future, don't deter our future modelers from the pursuit of such a wonderful hobby.
-Wallace in Walla Walla, WA

Dear Wallace:
For 20 bucks I can buy "Dorf on Golf, " but that doesn't make me a golfer.
- jake

I know you're good at naming things, and I've really been stuck trying to come up with a name for my latest project. So, enclosed is a picture which I hope will inspire a name to pop into your head. What do you think?
-Marty in Martinsville, TN

Dear Marty:
Well, I would have to say "Blonde Bimbo," but is there any chance you sent me the wrong photo?
- jake

Maybe I'm from the old school, but I have a hard time accepting the modern engines on today's market. In my time, there was just one needle valve and you wound it clockwise until the engine ran right. Nowadays, you've got high, low, and mid-range needles to adjust; hot, cold, and lukewarm glow plugs to choose from; nitro and oil levels to worry about in your fuel; and a blankety-blank tuned pipe that must be set within a millimeter of the ideal length. That ideal length, of course, is a function of all those other

variables, not to mention air temperature, altitude, and relative humidity. It's a miracle anybody can get one of these modern wonders to even start, let alone run with any consistency. Don't you agree? Don't you think there must be a better way?
-Fundamentalist in Fremont, TX

Dear Fundamentalist:
I do agree, and there is an alternative. It's called rubber power. And just like that old needle valve you mentioned, all you have to do to get a rubberband motor to run right is to wind it clockwise.
- jake

I heard that Barney the Dinosaur is named after Barney Oldfield, the famous daredevi1 and race car driver. Is this true? My kids just love Barney, and so do I. He's so cute and adorable. Why, I know if I ever met him, I'd give him a great big hug!
-Dad in Decatur, IL

Dear Dad:
As far as I know, Barney is just a name that they thought would appeal to young children and would be easy for them to say. I don't believe there is any connection to the early days of motor sports.

Isn 't it funny how two people can have entirely different reactions to the same person or thing! Whenever I see Barney, I get the urge to grab that overstuffed talking eggplant by the throat and wring his purple neck until his cardboard teeth fall off. Well, different strokes for different folks, I guess.
- jake

With miniaturized RC systems on the market and quiet electric motors available, why aren't more of us flying right out of our backyards?
-Preston in Pacoima, CA

Dear Preston:
I don't know about more of us in general, but what keeps me from flying in my backyard is my neighbor's dog. He's eaten the last two patio chairs I bought and my lawnmower is missing. I have a feeling if I landed a model airplane in my yard, it would just become more kibbles for Cujo.
- jake

Reprinted From MODEL BUILDER Magazine July 1994
Click here to go to the DEAR JAKE archives.

Comments? Questions? Email the Webmaster