PHOTOS OF A 1953 Studebaker Starliner/Starlight coupe jogged my memory about the Harley guys and the ramjet. All this happened 67 years ago, and please excuse my rambling tale appearing in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow.
Raymond Loewy’s ’53 Studebaker.Automobile Quarterly, First Quarter 1987, Volume XXV, Number 1, said the car’s “dynamic composition exceeded even the taut Italian sports cars that theoretically inspired it. The low, sloping nose was framed by continuously tapering, full-length fender ‘pontoons’ on each side that supported a rakishly angled cabin.”
“Originally,” AQ continued, “the Starliner/Starlight coupe was just an adjunct to Studebaker’s regular line of cars but, surprisingly, it became the dominant statement in the company’s recognition pattern.”
Tom’s 1953 Sedan. AQ’s comment about dominant styling is spot-on to my tale because Tom, an advisor of our control-line flying club, drove a ’53 Studebaker sedan.
Given that other cars of the era were boringly beveled boxes, we all thought Tom’s Stude was cool. And we particularly appreciated that he didn’t talk down to us; this, despite his being an older guy (he was probably 25 at the time).
Tom had beautifully finished control-line aircraft. In a sense, he was the master craftsman for our apprenticeships in the hobby.
Our Flying Venue. We did our control-line flying on a vacant field along the Cleveland waterfront of Lake Erie. This, by the way, caused me no end of confusion as a kid.
I clearly remember flying until the sun dropped into the lake. And, of course, Cleveland was south of Lake Erie, which separated Ohio from Canada.
Ergo, the summer sun must be setting in the north.
I was disappointed when a map revealed the odd sweep of the Cleveland shoreline. I won’t embarrass myself here by telling when I acquired this geographical insight: Aha, I learned, the sun actually sets in the west!
Anyway, we had good camaraderie with Tom in flying our control-line craft along the lakefront.
Tom’s Ramjet. Whereas almost all control-line aircraft had single-cylinder piston engines, one of Tom’s models was ramjet-powered, a real rarity in those days.
Wikipedia describes a ramjet as “a form of airbreathing jet engine that uses the engine’s forward motion to compress incoming air without an axial compressor or a centrifugal compressor…. sometimes referred to as a flying stovepipe or an athodyd (aero thermodynamic duct).”
Tomorrow in Part 2, my tale continues with the ramjet’s startup procedure as practiced by the Harley Guys.