Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is It Summer Yet?

I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate being cold. I hate getting colds. I hate icy roads. I hate big heat bills. I hate cars that won't start. I hate scraping windows. I hate frozen water pipes. Most of all, I hate it when my niplets get all pokey and rub themselves raw on the inside of my shirt, damn I hate that. There's nothing worse than having sore, bleeding niplets. Yep, I'm ready for spring.

I remember when I used to like snow, back in the days when I didn't have to drive in the shit to earn a living. Maybe after I win the lottery I'll like snow again, just like back when snow meant a good excuse to go sledding. Back when snow meant a good excuse to go do donuts in a parking lot somewhere until the Gestapo showed up and gave everybody the boot. And snow forts, remember those?

I grew up in Eastern Montana where the snow never melts, it just blows around until it wears out. When I was a kid it'd snow a foot or so, then the wind would come up and blow it all up against whatever happened to be in the way. Six foot high drifts sometimes, excellent opportunity to do some serious tunnel building. After I win the lottery, I'm gonna build a snow fort. Then I'm gonna get in my airplane and fly to some island in the fucking Caribbean where it never goddamn snows and stay there until spring. Y'all can have this rotten white shit.

I know, I know, quitcherbellyachin', but it is the first real snow that we've had this winter after all, so I'm still not used to it for the year. By the end of January I won't even notice the crap but right now I'm still lamenting the end of another way too short summer. It's all good though, because before we know it the temp will be hovering around 100 degrees and I'll be bitching that it's too damn hot. Is there anyplace in the world where it stays between 60 and 80 degrees all year, never snows, and there are no bugs? Anyplace? Didn't think so. Better learn to like snow I guess.

So how does everyone like the site's new look? Personally I think it sucks ass but at least it's a change of scenery. I was hoping that Blogger's new template editor would make it easier to customize these blogs, but it turns out that they consider being able to easily change colors "customizing". I already knew how to change the colors, I want photo backgrounds and custom headers and nifty little whizbang doodads that I'm far too uncreative to think up on my own. Maybe since the weather sucks anyway, I should spend a little time researching html code eh? Hell, maybe I should spend a little time thinking up something worth a shit to write since that's what people really come here for anyway, not to see what color the background is today. Sorry, I've just been feeling a little uninspired lately. Don't be surprised if the look changes again however since I'll likely be fooling around with it some more.

Did everyone get everything that they wanted from ol' Santa? I didn't get shit from ol' Santa, but my beloved bride helped me get one step closer to finishing this. The wife and kids loved their stale, half eaten pretzels. We ate loads of my wife's outstanding cooking, and of course my daughter and I observed the time honored Christmas tradition of dancing in the living room and singing along with Boris Karloff's striking original rendition of "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch", which is my favorite Christmas song of all time. Actually, it's the only Christmas song I can think of that I can even tolerate. May anyone who remakes it be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels for I've yet to hear a remake that doesn't suck. While my head was plunged deeply into the toilet over the course of the past week, my world was thankfully devoid of the rotten Christmas music that I'm sure was belching forth flatulently from practically every speaker in town. I think I'll release a Christmas album next year since I seem to be about the only person on the whole damn planet that's yet to do so.

Wulfgar has the results of the weblog awards posted. I didn't win. I'm not surprised. Actually I'm sort of glad I didn't win. Sarpy Sam and Moos put a lot more effort into this whole endeavor than I do these days, so I really don't think that I deserve to beat them. Maybe the new year will bring an uber creative blogstorm out of the old Justinmeister, then we'll see what happens in next year's contest. I don't want anything that I don't deserve. Sportsmanship - get some.

How do you really define a "Montana Lifestyle" though? When you think about it, anyone that lives here has a "Montana Lifestyle", since the one common thread that most all Montanans share is our love of the freedom to just be ourselves and do what we want within reason. With every passing session of the legislature more and more of that freedom seems to say bye bye, but compared to a lot of other states that I've been to we're still mighty damn free lemme tell ya.

Sarpy Sam made a comment a while back about how he didn't really fit the stereotype of a "Montana Lifestyle" because he doesn't hunt or fish. Hunting and fishing are hobbies, not a lifestyle . . . well maybe they're lifestyles . . . for the exceedingly wealthy or exceptionally lucky, but not for us normal folks.

What makes Sarpy Sam fit the Montana stereotype, in my opinion anyway, isn't the fact that he does or doesn't hunt or fish, it isn't the fact that he's a rancher, it isn't the fact that he's likely forgotten more about horses than I'll ever know, it's the fact that even though he doesn't hunt or fish, he's not trying to tell me that I shouldn't. It's the fact that even though he's a rancher, he doesn't look down his nose at me because I'm not. It's the fact that he knows what the word "respect" means, gives it appropriately and only where it's deserved, and doesn't expect any more or less than his fair share of it in return. He takes care of his own and doesn't worry about everyone else's in other words. That's not to say that he wouldn't lend a helping hand should the need arise, we Montanans are well known for our generosity and I get the idea that Sam fits that stereotype quite well, he just doesn't feel the need to force everyone else to do things his way. If you do, then go back to California where you belong and leave us the hell alone.

When it comes to a Montana lifestyle, how could anyone downplay the story of a woman that moved here from New York to marry the love of her life, and rather than trying to make the rest of us into New Yorkers, hopped right into step with the life of a rancher and farmer? After facing the terrible loss of said love, our hero didn't pack up and head back to the Big Apple either, she's sticking it out and running the show just like a real pioneer and doing what she has to do in spite of her tears.

That's how this country was settled in the first place. A lot of folks came here from back east with everything they owned strapped to the back of a horse or piled into a covered wagon. The ones with the grit to be Montanans survived and prospered, the ones that didn't either starved to death or went home with their tails between their legs. Karen may have came from New York, but from what I can see she's been a Montanan all along. Too bad more of these out of state immigrant types don't have the cajones that she's got. If I wanted to live in New York I'd move there, this is Montana and we like it just the way it is tank you veddy much. If you don't have grit like Karen, then pack up your crap and head back to where you came from, we don't need your kind here telling the rest of us how to live.

Congrats to all of the winners, and thanks again Wulfgar for MCing the whole shebang. I'm sure it takes a lot of time to keep track of all the nominations and votes, and I salute you for doing it.

So what are your resolutions for the New Year? Last year I made the same resolution that I make every year: To not make New Year's resolutions. It's great, I always stick to it, I'm never faced with the guilt that some people feel when they gain 20 pounds after resolving to lose 30, I don't have to face the failure of not being able to quit chewing my finger nails, I'm never disappointed when I don't walk five miles a day like I said I would, I don't drink enough anymore to have to worry about quitting, and I'm smart enough to know that unless I just decide to on my own someday, I'll likely not quit smoking until several minutes after they're finished cremating my cancer ridden carcass. The best way to not have to deal with failure, is to not set oneself up for such I say.

Well folks, it appears that even though the ground is shrouded in that meddlesome white shit, the sun is shining brightly and I'm sure that I'll soon have two of my own, and several of the neighbors', enthusiastic rugrats begging me to tow them around the neighborhood on their sleds with my 4 wheeler. OK, maybe I don't completely hate snow. ;)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bah . . . . Humbug

So has anyone else tried out this new Christmas shopping shit? Who's the douchebag that came up with this idea anyway? I actually found myself at the mall today.

That's right.

The Mall.

Now I go to the mall about once a year, less if at all possible, and every time I'm dim enough to venture within I'm immediately reminded as to why I only go to the mall once a year. I've been to the mall twice this year. No . . . I'm not pleased.

The trouble is, that there's few places on the planet that I fit in less than at the mall. I'm the kind of guy that can go to a rodeo, a biker rally, a country concert, a rock concert, any kind of a racing event involving any type of powered equipment, a trap shoot, you name it and make myself right at home. But the mall? There ain't no Abercrombie and Fitch on this sumbitch.

Imagine if you will, a grumpy old bastard in a dirty black Carhartt coat (yes, I earned the right to wear Carhartt, no fashion statement here), camo ball cap emblazoned with the logo of the trucking company of your choice, work boots, jeans that look older than most of the mall's typical patronage, a camo T-Shirt, and a really bad attitude, at the mall, in a futile attempt to get in, find what I want, and get out. At least all of the other guys that looked equally as unenthused to be there as I was were being towed along by their wives, I was by myself and therefore woefully without an excuse. Have you ever realized that malls are purpose built to thwart the efforts of people who want to just get in, get what they want, and get out? At every turn is some other schmuck attempting to interest you in something that you never knew you needed until you blindly wandered into the mall.

No, I don't need a cellphone with a camera and an MP3 player built in for $399.95 on a 50 year service contract. My current cell phone is a useless piece of shit and I do need a new one, but that doesn't mean that I'm a moron put on this earth to boost your commissions income you ignorant fuck.

No, I don't need my picture taken and digitally superimposed next to some scrawny assed little beach bunny in a bikini. My coat would look out of place on a beach anyway and she probably wouldn't like the way it smells, even if she isn't real which is probably for the best since if she was real my wife would likely track her down and kick a mudhole in her skinny little ass and stomp it dry. She tends to frown on other chicks sniffing my Carhartt. Ya'll got any pictures of farm gals in that there computer?

No, I don't need a giant pretzel with a teeny tiny little thimble of some kind of radioactive cheese sauce that's likely been around long enough for its half life to expire. No, I don't need some floofy assed coffee drink to wash it down with either. I like my coffee just like I like my women: strong and bitter. And you thought I was gonna say hot and black didn't you?

I can't even go into Hot Topic and find anything cool anymore. Well, except for the chick with the tattoos and the hot pink and black striped hair that works there, she was kind of cool.

I ran screaming from the mall headed for someplace hopefully less populated, yeah I'm a dumb fucker. With squealing tires and cloud of diesel smoke I headed for ~insert favorite overpopulated huge assed box store of your choice~ only to find that it too was not designed for antisocial old goats like myself, at least not at this time of the year anyway. I managed to find a couple of the things that I was looking for, and hopefully the wife takes into account just how much I hate shopping and therefore isn't disappointed when all she gets from me for Christmas is a stale, half eaten pretzel and a thimble full of green haired radioactive cheese sauce. I tried alright, what the hell do you want from me? No, of course that isn't a hot pink hair on my coat, you must be imagining things.

One more observation before I go. Who, pray tell, is the mindless dipshit that came up with the idea of having greeters at the door passing pleasantries even to folks like myself who would obviously rather be left alone? It was bad enough when Wal-Mart was the only place that had them. Back then I figured what the hell? Gives some old retired duffer something to do and keeps his ass out of traffic, big deal. Said old duffer would have been a lot smarter to head straight to the sporting goods section, pick out some fishing gear, and run screaming like a frightened little school girl being chased by well hung pedophile sodomite demons from that awful place in my opinion instead of filling out a job application, but that's just my take on the situation. Give a man a fish and he'll eat for day then get a job at Wal-Mart, teach a man to fish and he'll get a Cabella's catalog, an ice auger, and a walleye boat and never go to Wal-Mart again.

If anyone happens to see me working at Wal-Mart after I retire, please, please do me a favor and shoot my sorry ass. Be merciful, since if you ever see me working at that shit hole it means that I've likely already sold all of my guns for grocery money and therefore am incapable of ending my suffering myself. Thank you in advance for your compassion.

Now, every place I go has greeters accosting me at the door and gleefully exclaiming "WELCOME TO ~insert favorite big box store here~!". As if either they, or I for that matter, are actually happy to be there. You'd think that they actually believe that it's a good idea to give people fake assed greetings as they come in the store or something. What the hell? Most of them aren't even old retired duffers, hell, they're not even cute young chicks, they're these metro looking guys in their mid twenties with perfectly coiffed hair and well trimmed fingernails that don't even have any dirt under them. What are these idiots thinking? Is this little wuss supposed to make me feel welcome? Am I supposed to look at this douchebag and think "I must be in the right place"? Am I supposed to have any reaction to this guy whatsoever except to give him that "say one more word or take a single step toward me and I'll give you a power wedgie just like your mom does every night when you get home from work" look? Hell no.

Either get some old duffer with a genuine smile and nothing better to do out there, or some drop dead little hottie with a pretty face and perky little boobies that might actually have a prayer of cheering me up and put little girlie boy back in the fucking warehouse where he belongs. Let the little peckerhead heave heavy boxes around for a year or two then maybe he'll grow some hair on his nuts and be able to actually relate to a guy like me. There's probably already some hot looking pink haired goth chick with a nose ring and a barbed wire tattoo around her neck back there unloading trucks with a forklift that'd kick his peachy little ass if he got in her way though, so maybe that's why he's working the door. Maybe I should start sneaking into the stores through the freight entrance, I tend to fit in better with the folks on the dock anyway.

Now if you'll all excuse me I must go put my head in the toilet and flush repeatedly until Christmas is over.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Nominations Are In, And Wulfgar Is Now Taking Votes For The Montana Weblog Awards . . .

And wouldn't you know it I made the cut in one category. I highly doubt that I'll win, the competition is mighty stiff in the "Most Exemplifies A Montana Lifestyle" class, but I'd like to at least show up for the game if you know what I mean. Of course anyone that doesn't vote for me will not be receiving a Christmas card this year, but then again the people that vote for me won't be receiving a Christmas card from me either . . . . . . .

So go vote for somebody, even if it isn't me, just make sure that you get over to Wulfgar's and support your favorite Montana bloggers.

Just for the record, I will not be voting for myself, just as I did not nominate myself. I don't know why I'm taking the high road this year, but I am so deal with it. The other thing that I'm doing differently this year, is that I'm keeping all of my votes and nominations secret until after the polling is complete, then maybe, just maybe, I'll post them. I'm not ashamed of my nominations or votes, it's just that I don't want anyone to be guilted into voting for me because I voted for them or anything like that. I want everyone to be frightened into voting for me because I'll hunt them down and kill them if they don't. OK, just kidding, I'll aim for the genitalia . . . . ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, It Flies. But Then Again . . . Did You Have Any Doubts?

I managed to make it to the park Sunday morning to test fly the new Mugi Evo, and I'm happy to report that it does indeed fly, however the action of the semi frigid weather upon my stubby little thumbs made it difficult to really wring the thing out. This one's a little heavier than my other one, and therefore flies a little different and I'm not quite used to that yet. The speed is phenomenal, as is the vertical performance or at least for what little I've been able to test it. This bad boy will shoot straight up as far as I want it to at a speed far greater than my other one will run flat and level. Besides manning the catapult for a flawless launch, Mark grabbed the camera and caught a little video of the first flight, but I haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet.

Besides the aforementioned numbness in my thumbs, I was noticing that the flight characteristics were indicative of the thing perhaps being a wee bit tail heavy, so I added another 1/4 ounce to the nose but haven't had a chance to test it yet. I've also noticed that the controls were a tad sluggish for an aircraft of this type, but I haven't quite made up my mind whether that's due to the conservative control throws that I set up for the maiden voyage, or perhaps due to the inflexibility of cold plastic. I used flexible control linkages on this one in a quest for less drag, and I have to imagine that cold weather would make them far less flexible than they were sitting on my dining room table when I tested everything. If I had it to do over I would've routed them a little differently as to not require as much flex, but that's a good part of the reason why I keep building these things: I learn something new every time and that's part of the fun kiddies!

Be sure to check out Morgan's new page over at the Mugi site. He sent me an email the other day asking if it'd be all right if he put this up. I basically said "hell yeah!" If I keep this up I'll be able to start running around with my ass hanging out any day now, just like a real live famous person! It's kind of odd when you think about it, but before the internet came along the probability of a simple yet effective model aircraft designed by an enthusiast in England becoming wildly popular in Billings, Montana was slim to none. These days however, it's not only probable, but highly likely, and that's a beautiful thing methinks. We modelers are no different than anyone else in this neck of the woods. Simple and durable are important qualities to folks around here, and I think that's a big part of the reason why these planes have built up such a following. Practically everyone that sees them wants one, and I don't see much of a decline in interest from the current owners either, especially not from this one. I'm still just as stoked about these things as I was when I blasted across the park with my first one, pulled it vertical and checked out the roll rate. Toss in a little heart stopping performance coupled with a price even my friend Mark could love, and it's no mystery why we love our Mugi Evos. ;) (sm)

Sorry Mark, I just couldn't resist that one, hehehehe.

Ok folks, I've bored you all long enough. I've got some motors to pick up at the post office, and I wouldn't mind spending a little more time working on this before it's time to go to work. At least I'm done Christmas shopping for myself, I suppose I should get started on the wife and young'uns one of these days though. ;)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

If They Keep This Up, You Won't Have To Get A Chick Drunk To Get Laid Anymore

Has everyone heard about this new "Hug Me" shirt? No, it's not a summer version of the straightjacket, but a shirt embedded with all sorts of sensors, and actuators, and gizmos and gadgets that can actually simulate a hug from another human being. The shirt uses Bluetooth technology, and therefore can be activated via cell phone from anywhere in the world.

So what this means is, that I could give one of these to my ol' lady, call some magic number from my cell phone in the middle of the night, and give her a virtual "hug" from the comfort of my rattly old truck cab. Yippee, sounds great. What will they think of next?

This is assuming of course that:

A - My cellphone had signal long enough to actually complete the call, which is seldom/never.

B - She happened to be wearing it when I called.

C - She was awake and had consumed an adequate quantity of coffee when I activated it, thus preventing me from having the inside of my colon hugged at her every whim forthwith from the moment I returned home and she shoved it up my ass.

With my luck the damn thing would be laying in the laundry pile, the cat would be sleeping on top of it, and fire a cat shaped hole through the fucking roof when it was unexpectedly "hugged" from beneath. No thanks, I think I'll just stick to real hugs for the time being.

What I'm thinking though, is if they can make a hug me shirt, what comes next? Could I get slap me gloves for my kids? Kick me boots for the cat perhaps? This technology could give the term "fuck me pants" a whole new meaning! This is exciting technology, I'm off to contemplate the possibilities.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Waste Your Time Reading This Post. It's Way Too Long And There Isn't Anything Worthwhile In It Anyway.

The man regarded by many to be the greatest fighter pilot ever to roam the skies was born in Kleinburg, Germany on the 2nd of May, 1892. The son of a soldier, he was groomed from an early age in preparation for a life of military service. At the age of 11, he entered the Cadet Corps. in Wahlstatt, but soon found that he had a certain distaste for the rigorous daily routine and strict discipline of military school. He excelled at sports and all feats of balance and physical prowess that he attempted however, and soon earned himself a reputation for being quite reckless due to the constant stunts he was known for pulling.

Revered by his friends for every sort of daredevil escapade imaginable, an important quality for anyone destined to pilot one of the stick and tissue paper flying machines of his era, our future aviator entered the Armed Service in 1911, although not yet as a pilot. Serving first as a Cavalry soldier, and becoming an officer only a year later.

When World War I broke out, our subject was still busy playing horsey, but the disease had began to take hold. For every time young Manfred heard the drone of an "aeroplane" passing overhead, he was overcome with excitement. At this point however, our young friend doesn't even know how to tell the difference between a German aircraft and one possessed by the enemy, let alone how to fly one. Later he would discover that German planes were marked with a cross, and enemy planes with a circle, or Roundel. An important discovery for sure, for soon he'd need to know that information in order to not be a secret weapon for the enemy.

Eventually ending up in the trenches of France, Manfred soon became bored by the endless days of just sitting around waiting for nothing to happen. When sneaking off hunting wild boar lost its appeal, he sent a strongly worded letter to the Commanding General saying that his talents were being wasted, and that he wished to be reassigned to a post with a little more action. In May of 1915, his wish was granted.

The very next day, he'd take his first ride in one of the glorious flying machines he'd been watching as they droned overhead, and from that first terrifying and rather disorienting flight, he knew that his destiny was forevermore to be controlled by stick and rudder. Serving for a time as an observer and navigator on reconnaissance planes, and later as a gunner on one of the larger twin engine battle planes which he affectionately called "The Apple Barge". Manfred had many close encounters with death, but still no taste of what it felt like to man the controls of one of the beasts. Fearing that the war would be over by the time he'd completed his requisite 3 months of training to become a pilot, he was content to continue his current assignment of a Cavalryman observer, attached to the Flying Service.

On October 15th, of 1915, that was all to change however. Upon meeting a rather insignificant looking Lieutenant named Boelcke on a train, Manfred struck up a conversation and soon learned that the man was a fighter pilot. A fighter back then, to a German such as Manfred anyway, was a Fokker, and although primitive by modern standards it was a far cry up the performance and agility ladders from the Apple Crate who's guns he had been manning. From that moment on, he was determined to make pilot, and take command of a Fokker of his own. After only 25 training flights, was ready for his first solo venture into the wild blue yonder. As it turns out, he was indeed ready for that first solo flight, and make that flight he did . . . . . it was the landing that didn't turn out so hot. 2 days later, with passionate resolve and a different airplane, Manfred completed that solo flight and started on his way to being one of the world's most famous legends of aviation.

He managed his first kill on the 26th of April, 1916. A French Nieuport biplane fell victim to the haphazard machine gun that he'd fastened to his two seat training plane, he had not yet acquired for himself his beloved Fokker but he hadn't long to wait. Soon after the news of his prowess in shooting down the Nieuport, he and a friend were given the priveledge of sharing one of the greatest technological marvels of the time, the venerable Fokker DR I Triplane.

With a top speed of 115 MPH, and a climb rate unlike anything else of its time, it could easily outrun or outclimb any opponent likely to be encountered. By using three wings as opposed to the customary two of the era, the wingspan could be shortened thus increasing the roll rate. Aircraft of this time period were definitely not strong enough to withstand very hair raising aerobatics, but the increased roll rate translated into the ability to turn, and just as importantly, stop turning much faster than the French, American, and English planes that it was designed to pursue. This would prove to be one of Manfred's favorite maneuvers in combat. When he would get an enemy plane on his tail, he'd pull his Fokker into an ever tightening circle in which his opponent could do nothing but follow him in a two airplane dance to the death. Neither could fire at the other since there was no way to get on target while turning so tightly, but when his enemy's craft would attain too high of a G loading, it would snap stall, stumbling and falling out of the sharp turn floundering for airspeed and the precious control that it would bring. The speed at which the controls would again become effective was seldom attained by enemies of this pilot however, since as soon as the enemy craft bagan to falter, Manfred would then simply whirl his more agile Fokker around and send the unlucky chap to his maker.

When his friend, who flew the Fokker in the afternoons as opposed to Manfred's morning shift, managed to get shot down in it over enemy territory, Manfred was issued a Fokker of his own. "It climbed like a monkey, and maneuvered like the devil" he was quoted as saying about the three winged aviation legend. The third time he flew it however, the finicky old Oberursel engine, (a notoriously unreliable German copy of the French made, rotating cylinder LeRhone) which had so amazed him upon his first sight of one, sputtered and died immediately after takeoff, forcing him to set down in a field. The resulting forced landing was a far cry from graceful, and although he survived mostly unscathed, his beloved Fokker was basically reduced to so much rubble.

He'd get another however, several more actually, until he found himself in the one that even those with no penchant for aviation whatsoever could likely pick out of a crowd, or at least they could if it still existed. The one painted bright red, as if to mock the inaptitude of the enemy airmen who went skyward attempting to hide in camouflaged planes with the 80 previous victories of Manfred remembered, and an insatiable thirst for his blood in revenge for their fallen comrades.

80 victories. This was by far the most enemy planes shot down by any single fighter pilot, before or since.

CORRECTION: As Jay Stevens has pointed out, this statement is not true. While Manfred did indeed shoot down more enemy planes than any pilot before him, his record has since been beaten, although not during the 1st World War. In WWII however, Erich Hartmann of the German Luftwaffe, was credited with shooting down 352 planes from the cockpit of his Messerschmidt Bf109-G6 fighter while flying on the Soviet front. Thanks for the clarification Jay, and I apologize for the misstatement.

On the fateful Sunday morning of April 21, 1918, Manfred's aerial reign of terror was finally ended. As he pursued a British pilot by the name of Wilfrid May, fellow Brit Roy Brown spied an opportunity while Manfred was thus engaged and took it. When the guns of Brown's trusty Sopwith Camel finished hurling lead at the unsuspecting German airman, Manfred reached the end of his reign over the skies of Europe in a trail of smoke, and a ball of fire. Stories would be told and embellished. A legend would grow. Songs would be written about him, and various things related and grossly unrelated would be named after him, but Manfred Von Richthofen . . . . . AKA: The Red Baron, would fly no more.

What the hell is the significance of all this rubbish you ask? Just hang on a minute, keep reading, and I promise that it'll all make sense soon enough.

Now let's jump ahead a few years to 1967. It was in this year that one particularly ingenious fellow, one who's invention I'm quite fond of actually, managed to invent the world's first fully proportional radio control equipment. His name was Phil Kraft, and to this day antique Kraft radios still circulate around in estate sales and online auctions, many of them still functional although I doubt that anyone accustomed to the fineries of modern equipment would want them for anything other than a conversation piece. Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be after all.

Now Mr. Kraft needed a model in which to test his new invention, but rather than convert one of the existing free flight or control line offerings of the time which would've been far too heavy after adding the necessary equipment which at that point in history was about as light as a featherweight shot put and comparable in size, he decided to design his own so that he could keep the weight to an absolute minimum. What he came up with, was a simple wing and square fuselage affair with rounded tail surfaces designed more for gentle but somewhat spirited flight characteristics over anything else.

Although it was never really designed as such, it loosely resembled a Fokker Eindecker, an early German monoplane.

Since it was regarded by many to be quite ugly, and since it was made out of sticks, and since it basically resembled a stick, the name Ugly Stick, or Das Ugly Stick to pay homage to its WW I German visual cues, was born.

As RC equipment advanced by leaps and bounds over the coming years, and modelers began demanding more and more aerobatic performance out of their planes, the original Ugly Stick design was changed a little here and there, but still remained true to its "simple yet effective" roots, and amazingly enough they still remained . . . . period. The plane was designed strictly for its flight characteristics, not to look like any particular aircraft, but since the plane did indeed loosely resemble the aforementioned Fokker Eindecker, it was only a matter of time until one was covered in a loose translation of the final color scheme favored by the infamous Red Baron: Mostly red, with white stripes trimmed in black from the leading to the trailing edge of the wing, adorned by black crosses.

At that point, a monster was born.

Offered as kits and ARFs by several manufacturers over the years, Sticks as they've come to be called are still sold in a multitude of versions, as are plans for the modelers that prefer to build their planes from scratch. Sticks, Ugly Sticks, Das Ugly Sticks, Das Plas Sticks, Big Sticks, Giant Sticks, Ultra Sticks, Mini Ultra Sticks, plus a multitude of copies by other names altogether flooded the market for decades, and they still do to this day. Famous for their predictable flight characteristics and moderate aerobatic ability, hardly a modeler out there hasn't owned at least one stick in his life or a variant thereof.

Many RC pilots, myself included, regard them as an excellent 2nd plane after an aspiring pilot has become proficient with a basic trainer. With a little aptitude, and some help from an experienced pilot, I see no reason why a lot of beginners couldn't skip the first step and just start out with a Stick and spare themselves the agony of getting bored with a trainer and not having the money or time to move up to something more advanced and capable right away. They fly a little faster than the average trainer, but nothing that shouldn't be manageable with a little experience on a modern simulator and some back up by someone with some know how on the other end of a trainer cord. The part that's still somewhat endured in spite of all of the various variants however?

The Red Baron's color scheme.

Now I'll finally get to the point of this not so little history lesson. I proudly present my homage not only to Herr Von Richthofen, but also to one of the most fun and versatile RC models ever conceived: The Ugly Stick. I pay this tribute with another one of the most fun and versatile RC models ever conceived: The Mugi Evo. Believe me, it took far longer to lay out this color scheme than it did for you to read this post. The 3600 rpm/volt brushless motor strapped to the back of this bad boy says that not only does it look better than my last one, it'll haul ass like a fresh fucked fox in a forest fire. I'd be extremely happy to match the top speed of the Fokker DR I from which its color scheme was pilfered. 115 MPH? Not likely, but as soon as the weather allows, we'll find out. Long live the Baron.

There, now aren't you glad you spent all that time reading this?