[headline: Dick Sarpolus Model aircraft designer]
JS: How did you get involved with model aviation?
DS: I got a StromBecker solid hardwood model of a Piper Cub when I was young. I built it, painted it with a toothbrush, and then I wanted a model airplane that would fly. I went on to build balsa gliders, some Free Flight models, a lot of Control Line models, and radio control systems starting with tube equipment in the early ’50s. Model airplanes of many types have been my main and consistent hobby for the past 65-plus years.
JS: How has model aviation impacted your life and/or career?
DS: With my interest in aviation, I definitely wanted to work in the aviation industry. After college, I got a job with the Bendix Aviation Corporation and spent 44 years involved with technical marketing of electric power-generating systems for aircraft.
I traveled extensively to work with aircraft manufacturers and military installations. An overall interest in all things aeronautical helped greatly with my work.
JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?
DS: Primarily RC. I have competed in almost all forms of RC flying, and over the years I’ve constantly maintained an interest and some activity in CL Stunt flying. These days, carrying the large heavy airplanes up and down the workshop stairs is a bit too much for me, so I’m doing mostly electric foamie flying.
I’ve always liked to design and scratch-build my own planes, and working up design/construction articles for the model magazines has been an enjoyable part of the hobby. Over the past 45 years, I’ve had about 200 different aircraft design articles in the magazines.
Currently, my friends in the local flying clubs say my main interest could be in the hot dogs and burgers we have out at the field!
JS: What are your other hobbies?
DS: Photography. I went from roll film, to 35mm, and finally, happily, to digital. I always liked having an old car, hot rod, or custom car around to work on. A hot rod ’57 Chevy was my favorite, now have a ’01 Vette to play with.
JS: Who (or what) has influenced you most?
DS: The people in this hobby are great. I’m very lucky to have been able to meet so many of the people in the hobby who were heroes to me—Aldrich, Palmer, deBolt, Shulman, Scarinzi, Good, Ehling, McEntee, Hill, Schroder, Zaic, Winter, Kraft, McGovern, Northrop, Hunt, and others. And I’ve met so many more through letters, phone calls, and emails from modelers to discuss the magazine articles that were so much fun to do.
JS: What advice would you give someone interested in designing his or her own model aircraft?
DS: Don’t be afraid to try your own ideas. Modify a kit or ARF airplane design, or an airplane you built from plans. See how your changes work and you will always learn something.
Look closely at planes you like, see what other designers have done. Ask questions of the people who design and build their own planes. Draw your own plans to work from. This stuff is fun![dingbat]