Airplanes and Rockets website
visitor Mel G. wrote to ask that I scan and post this article on Dick Mathis' famous Bounty Hunter 1/2A free
flight airplane. Mel says he built one from a kit bought at MAL
(Model Aircraft Laboratories) back in the 1980s. According to their website MAL Hobby
has been in business in Irving, Texas, since 1948. I could not find the Bounty Hunter kit listed on their website.
by Dick Mathis
hot 049 or 051 size powerplant; VTO's with a passion; designed to take advantage of latest advances in model
engineering and to fit the new short-run rules. Over 50 already tested in contest warfare!
Working toward a
PhD degree, Bounty Hunter designer Dick Mathis teaches freshman sociology at the University of Texas. Credits the
East Dallas Exchange Club, sponsors of the Southwest Championships, and Maurice Teter, noted Exchangite and
long-time air-model leader, with helping him along, not only in modeling, but in his, college career.
ship lives up to its name. It does everything but accept the trophies. It's no one-man design either, since many
others are winning with it in sizes up to 1,000 square inches and all over the Southwest.
Hunter" is an unusual bird, but there are good reasons for its differences. And, unlike most well-known designs,
the reasons were considered before the first ship was built, not afterward. It isn't just a re-designed version of
an old standard.
Have you ever considered when the "big" designs of today were first introduced? The Starduster, the Ramrod and the
Satellite were all conceived before 1959, which is six years ago. That was before the unlimited weight rules,
before the super-hot Cox Tee Dee .049, before exotic fuels like K&B speed fuel and Wysong's "This-is-it" were
generally available, before pressure fuel feed became popular and before really good "contest" balsa was
accessible to everyone.
Dick releases the Bounty Hunter for another great flight.
Cox .049 engine up front. Mechanical timer.
These are big changes and it would appear that a new idea or two might take
advantage of the increased power, reliability and the potentially lighter weight. But, no! It seems that everyone
is content to stick with the same old stuff, or minor modifications, and just see how much higher models will
climb. If any manufacturer comes up with a hotter engine we will be faced with re-entry problems.
a human, not aerodynamic limit beyond which altitude in the climb hurts rather than helps. A hot Starduster got so
high in nineteen seconds that a good thermal could take it out of sight in less than three minutes. The timer
isn't the only one who can't see it. What about the frantic retriever chasing a speck overhead? To avoid this
problem, many excellent flyers purposely cut their motor runs short. (New rules enforce the short run.) Would you
fight Zorro with your X-Acto knife if you had an axe at your disposal? That's what these guys were doing.
Why don't we put some of that excess climb into a better glide? The two best ways would be to use higher aspect
ratios and high lift-drag airfoils or to use more wing area. Of the two choices, the latter is preferable since it
makes the whole thing easier to see. Also, there seems to be more possibilities for a fine glide in reducing the
wing loading (weight divided by area equals wing loading) and the only practical way to reduce wing loading now is
to build bigger ships.
This is easy to see, since we have about three ounces of "inert" weight consisting
of the engine, prop, tank, timer, screws, hooks, fuse rubber bands, fuel and the fuel tubing. This weight we can't
easily reduce. If we build a 200 square-inch ship that weighs 2-oz. without the hardware it will total in at 5-oz.
But a 400 square-inch ship that weighs 4-oz. will only total 7-oz. We all know it's easier to save weight when the
area goes up and still have strength. Anyway, it boils down to this: a 100 percent more wing area in the ship, but
only 40 percent more weight using the same construction!
Enough for the past, the Bounty Hunter is a "new breed", "people engineered" design that uses effectively
all the newest developments in the hobby industry. Its wing is 391 square-inches projected. The stab area is 40
percent of the wing. Weight comes in usually between 7 and 8-oz ready to launch. The airfoils are thin by today's
standards, being 8 and 6 percent for the wing and stab respectively. The sections are not "Lindy" but from the
1958 Zaic Yearbook by Curtis Stevens. The swept wingtips are in line with Don Foote's theories on thermal hunting.
The high thrust line is for handling power consistently.
Over fifty Bounty Hunters have been built by
others, including one nice one by a ten-year-old. Much of the success of the design is due to comments and
suggestions from these people about modifications to improve flying and building. There is nothing more difficult
than designing a ship that will work well for others and that can easily be built by others. The design has proven
itself in this respect and I am prouder of that than its tremendous list of contest wins.
Making a big
ship light enough to really be hot and at the same time keeping it strong enough to allow handling in high winds
is a good task. The Bounty Hunter is one design that won't wrap itself around your arm in high winds.
secret is in attention to structural design. While the birdcage construction may look complicated, it is easiest
and fastest according to those who have tried it. I was prompted to use it first because I dislike cutting out
ribs. It's supremely light and really rigid. It works for all sizes, too.
Construction instructions are on
Hobby Helpers' full size plans.
NOTE: Dick Mathis teaches freshman sociology at the University of Texas.
Working toward a PhD. Has BA in history from Arlington State College. Working this summer at the University's
Population Research Center. Has three year National Defense Fellowship which will allow full effort studies. Wants
to finish PhD in 1967, do more college teaching, some research, eventually go into business as a consultant in
urban planning. Other hobby (apart from model airplanes) is tennis. Was high school district champion at Arlington
High for three years. Plays tournament tennis. Dick says, "I owe a considerable debt of gratitude to the East
Dallas Exchange Club (sponsors of the Southwest Championships) for their financial aid throughout my college
career, and particularly to Maurice Teter, a leader in the club." Dick is 24 years old, single, a native Texan.
Thinks modeling has had a very good influence on his life. The Bounty Hunter is available in kit form. Send $4.95
plus .30 postage to Model Aircraft Labs, 106 Lee Street, Irving, Texas. Full size plans are also available as part
of Group Plan #965 from Hobby Helpers, 1543 Stillwell Ave., New York 61, N.Y. ($1.10).
<click for larger version>
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.
Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.
Posted June 13, 2012