Cau­tion: Re­ally Big Lazy Bee Ahead!

Model Airplane News - - MODEL ENGINE MAESTRO - by Budd Davis­son

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)

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