From left: Jim
Teel, Brad Poling, and Jeff Paulson with their reproduction 1933
Stinson Model “O” parasol. Photo by Frederick A. Johnsen
Full-size airplanes are often the
inspiration for radio-controlled model aircraft. Occasionally it happens
the other way around.
While perusing a model construction plans
catalog, Brad Poling of Sacramento, California, noticed the Stinson
Model O and ordered a set of plans. His intent was not to build a model;
it was, instead, to locate and purchase the real thing.
A typical vintage airplane search ensued.
But when the production run for an aircraft type finished 76 years ago
and consisted of only 10 examples—nine of which left the United States
as new airplanes—the likelihood of success was very small.
“I was looking for a prototype,”
Poling said, “and that was a couple years worth of frustration. When
that came to a dead end we decided that maybe we could build one.”
Plans for the small-run model were just
as difficult to find as the airplane. Poling had a few details and
dimensions, but needed more.
One suggestion Poling received was to
approach the project just as Stinson had in 1933. Stinson received a
requirement for a military trainer from the just-forming Honduran air
force. In a 90-day project the wings, tail, struts, and landing gear of
a Stinson SR Reliant were married to a newly constructed, open cockpit
fuselage. A new wing center section replaced the space occupied by the
cabin fuselage of the SR.
Another search by Poling, more successful
this time, ensued for a Stinson SR to use as a base for the reproduction
Key help for the missing fuselage and
wing center section came in the form of a set of photographs. Howard
Emaugh, a radio-controlled model enthusiast, had several pictures of the
under-construction airplanes, including critical views of the uncovered
After getting the photos from Emaugh,
Poling believed he had enough to get started. Although he was an
experienced homebuilder, he and his partner Jim Teel, also from
Sacramento, felt the project was a bit beyond their capabilities and a
search started for some help.
“We looked for a shop in the Sacramento
area,” Poling said. “There are several restorers, but none that
wanted to take on this project.”
Ultimately Poling located Jeff Paulson of
Evergreen Aviation Services in Scappoose, Oregon. Paulson was willing
and the project got underway.
“We built this one like the originals,”
Paulson said. “The wings were highly modified. When you have a 7-foot
center section and a much narrower fuselage [than the SR], some
dimensions needed to change. We cut 2 feet off of the wingtips, the
struts were moved in 19 inches, the flaps were removed and five new root
ribs were built to transition into the center section.”
Paulson digitized one photo of the
uncovered fuselage. The known dimensions of the landing gear mounting
points were then used to determine other critical measurements. Tubing
diameters were matched to Stinson standards for the era.
The final configuration and trim of the
new O is modeled after the one non-military example that remained in the
United States. Paint trim and colors were chosen from known Stinson
palettes of the era as no color photos of the original exist.
A few concessions to the modern era are
included. They include a lockable tail wheel in place of the original
full-castering version, Cleveland brakes and a very well hidden set of
Poling and Teel plan to show off the rare
bird at air shows primarily west of the Rocky Mountains, and east of the
mountains as time permits.