Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, well planet earth any way, back at the Nationals of distant past. Jon Tappin and I used to compete against a man called John Dodd in F3A.  We were absolutely amazed that in the evening he brought out a flying dolphin which was free flight. This little thing was so stable, more stable than me that is for certain; it always stayed in our minds.


As we have grown up and matured, watched the years go by. We are now on a mission to pursue and recapture our youth. We have had a lot of laughs on the way. We are mastering control line flying with success, gone are the days of trying to start a diesel all day and coming back covered in blood with lacerated fingers and half a lap considered a success.

It’s time to move onto the next thing to master. Free Flight here we come!! Jon managed to get in touch with the son of JD, Chris. He sent us a slightly enlarged plan of the dolphin.

Construction consists mainly of sheet balsa, wings and tail 3/16 with the fuselage being 3/16 with 1/8th sheet laminated and a couple of traditional beech engine bearers. Covering is with light weight tissue which is doped then painted.

The dolphin was going together well until I decided to weigh the fuselage down with my domestic iron. I could have sworn that it had no water in it. One twisted fuselage which I could not straighten. The painting was done free hand, up at the flying field on the camping weekend when pouring with rain and blowing a gale, this is no Rembrandt.

Hey presto a few weeks later one dolphin appears and a killer whale. In all five actually turned up at the NATS.

Jon and I have been distracted a little bit from practice by these little things, see pictures. Free flight and it’s not going that well after last night, I actually got a decent engine run and away she climbed only to do a slow roll right and accelerated and hit terra firma hard, it’s now in two pieces. Jon was laughing at me and a few minutes later he launched his, off it went slowly and hit the ground, his was badly snapped in two, a lot worse than mine.  We were laughing that much our sides started to ache. I think we were so surprised that we had actually failed at something.

 “Flipper” has been repaired and is awaiting another launch this will happen at the nationals. Hopefully when at the nationals we remember that we are actually there for the IMAC competition and not running around chasing free flight models. Not that they will get very far anyway.


Well having returned from the Nationals I can now report that out of the five dolphins that were there three flew very well and two were embarrassingly bad. I will give you two guesses as to whose they were.

We have tried to work out why they would not fly and could not come up with a valid reason all we have is a pile of bits to show for all of our effort. Just remember that when any flying machine is built “They are all doomed it’s just a question of time”. One will be rebuilt and another new one will arrive, we will not be beaten!!

Epilogue to the Epilogue

On the Saturday following the Nationals weekend, Jon managed to successfully fly his ‘Orca’. Starting from scratch the cg was reset, a new APC propeller was installed and with a few launches and wing tip weight adjustments it finally flew 2 good flights, the last one actually landing on the strip! Only ‘Lucky Mitch’ that's me to go now!