Caution: Really Big Lazy Bee Ahead!
Editor’s note: Budd is the editorinchief of our sibling publication Flight Journal, a magazine dedicated to fullsize aircraft and heavy metal World War II warbirds. Budd also has a soft spot for RC models.
Everyone needs a crazy idea to fuel their daydreams. All right, folks. I’m about to give everyone a license to laugh at me. (I expect this; actually, I encourage it because it’s not healthy to keep a good belly laugh bottled up.) Many folks have projects lounging around in the back of their minds that they’d like to do. Most are super low priority and many aren’t even close enough to a back burner to stay warm. Usually, they are forgotten for long periods of time. Then something triggers an interest button, and they slide over onto a burner, come to a slow boil, then drift away to cool off again.
I have literally hundreds of folders lying around that cover all the back burner ideas I’ve ever had. They act as repositories for notes, thoughts, articles, and drawings for each project, and the “Lazy Bee File” had all of those. At one point, I had done a lot of thinking about it. What, you may ask, is a Lazy Bee? An insect on welfare? No. It’s a model airplane, designed by fellow Zonie, Andy Clancy, that has totally captured the imagination of the modeling community to the point that it’s gone past fad status to become a fullblown legend. This is pretty amazing considering it’s as funky as dirt. Maybe funkier.
It should be noted that the Lazy Bee’s souglyit’scute looks wouldn’t be enough to make it a runway pop star unless it was also an incredible flier. It started out as a superlight backyard flier with something like a 2foot wingspan and has now been cloned in every size up to 17 feet!
The instant I saw the airplane, my brain went
into hyperdrive, and the corner of my mind that’s always reserved for designing airplanes began frantically dusting off mental drawing boards and polishing the rust off old engineering neurons. A message flashed upon my mental annunciator panel: I want to build a real, humancarrying version of this airplane!
In a matter of seconds, I was imagining truss layouts for the tubing fuselage and ways to make the round window frames. Images of possible wing fittings to handle the outboard joint popped into my mind like flip cards until I had to sit down with a sketch pad so that I wouldn’t forget what my mental eye was seeing. Landinggear designs rattled on stage, were examined, and then discarded. Everything from wheeltowheel leaf springs to an outrigger gear with a vertical shock strut pinned to the top of the fuselage (now that would be classic) made a showing. My brain was on a roll. Somehow, however, as life took its many turns, the Bee trundled off to mental obscurity and was forgotten—until yesterday. Now I’m in the Bee game again and ready to rock and roll.
Yeah, I know. This is a really crazy idea, but picture looking up on final and seeing those big balloon tires, slabsided fuselage with windows shaped like John Denver specs, and polyhedral wings coming at you. What an absolute hoot!
Will I do it? Maybe. Besides, I have a Pitts and I manufacture fourplace, 260hp airplanes, so it’s only fitting that I have an airplane that redefines the word “funky.”
While not a humancarrying version, this giant-scale KirBee is about as close as you can get. Kirby McKinney’s 17-footspan Lazy Bee was built in a team effort with Mark Davidson, and like the original
Lazy Bee, it has only throttle, rudder, and elevator control. And it flies great! First flown in 2009, it was powered by an Air Hobbies 9.8ci twin-cylinder engine. It weighs 80 pounds and is now hanging in the main hangar at the Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Laura McKinney)