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Super Fli Gets Super Response

Photos courtesy Mark Radcliff
Super Fli
Phil Kraft’s Super Fli

Chicago Classic Pattern
Mark Radcliff with his R/C Super Fli

Chicago Classic Pattern
Chicago Classic Pattern in 2010

1975
A young Mark Radcliff with the full-scale Super Fli, circa 1975

In last month’s editor’s note, I asked readers if they could guess the airplane in the photo I posted. From the minute the newsletter was sent out, I began receiving quite a response from people. I was surprised at just how many readers knew not only the airplane but also its designer, Phil Kraft.

What’s truly amazing is that the airplane may have gained more fame as a radio-controlled (R/C) model than as a full-scale design. When the airplane was introduced, Kraft was a leader in R/C model equipment, so the design was adapted for that purpose. Kraft’s design also inspired others and stirred memories of the full-size version.

The photo inspired many interesting responses from modeling enthusiasts. Dan Rihn  wrote: “The aircraft was designed by Phil Kraft and flown in competition and air shows by Steve Nelson, both from the San Diego, California, area. A 200-hp Lycoming and fixed-pitch propeller powered it. It had a steel tube fuselage truss and wood wing. Phil was the owner of Kraft, which at the time was the world leader in radio-controlled model equipment. The design was based on his experience with aerobatic radio-controlled models.

“Phil let me fly Super Fli in the late 1980s; it was a very sweet little airplane. However, the roll rate and power-to-weight ratio was not up to the rate of the current crop airplanes. It did handle very nice, and the lines were very nice to judge in the box.

“Ian Padden bought Super Fli in the early 1990s and modified it extensively. He enlarged the ailerons and put on a 300-hp engine. The cowl area was completely redesigned to look like it had a round engine.

“Phil did provide me with a set of drawings for the Super Fli. I studied them and got some ideas from them for the DR-107 One Design.”

Here’s a response from the R/C world by Mark Radcliff:

“The airplane pictured is the Phil Kraft Super Fli. It was designed and built by Phil Kraft of Oceanside, California, in 1974. Phil was a world-class R/C aerobatic pilot and designed and built the Super Fli for his desire to compete in full-scale aerobatics. Phil’s friend, Steve Nelson, flew the airplane in air shows. Phil passed away a few years ago and was a friend. I’m attaching a couple pictures of my R/C Super Fli, which incidentally is being inducted into the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) museum on Sunday, July 18, 2010 [catalogued by AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum on July 20].”

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