The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Herb Calvin: Flying high with model airplanes

Written by David Green.


Retired Fayette appliance store owner Herb Calvin has survived more plane crashes than any of us probably care to imagine. Of course, an aviator’s risk of getting injured in a crash drops dramatically when he’s not actually in, or even near, the plane he’s piloting.

herbcalvin That’s one advantage of flying model airplanes. You also don’t need to rent hangers to store them.

Herb has a love for model airplanes that stems from a lifelong fascination with aviation.

“It’s in my blood,” he says.

His father earned his wings flying during World War II, and he and Herb made frequent skyward sojourns.

“The first time my dad took me up I knew. I loved it,” says Herb. “I knew I wanted to be a pilot.”

He built and flew his first model plane at 13, when he was too young to get behind the controls of a passenger plane. At 16 he started flying lessons, but after just four months  heart damage from a bout with rheumatic fever brought his piloting days to an end.

“With my condition they didn’t want me up there piloting.” says Herb. “I always knew how to fly, though. My dad taught me.”

To this day, Herb uses his childhood experience in the cockpit when constructing and piloting his models.

Model aircraft are built under the same principles as regular aircraft, but to a much smaller scale. Super light woods like balsa and bass are used to construct a frame, then sheets of paper-thin heat-curing plastic are ironed on to seal the fuselage airtight.

 Today, companies offer expensive custom-built ready-to-fly models, but Herb prefers to buy a kit and build from scratch. For him, it’s an enlightening way to spend the winter.

“People buy the ready-to-flies for eight hundred or a thousand dollars, and when they crash them, they pick up the pieces and don’t know what they’re looking at. They have no idea how to fix them,” says Herb.

He saves the instructions and layouts for each of his models, so that, when it’s necessary, he can make repairs. His favorite model, a trainer plane he calls Old Blue, has been in more crashes than Herb can remember, but it’s always returned to the skies.

“After all it’s been through, it really has no business flying,” says Herb. “Poor Gonzalez would probably be dead of a heart attack by now if he were alive.”

Gonzalez is the name Herb gave to the pilot figurine in Old Blue’s cockpit.

Crashes are usually the result of “pilot error,” a term Herb says people more commonly refer to as “stupidity.” He’s filled up barrels and barrels with crashed planes.

One of the more ridiculous mishaps occurred during a session with Morenci resident Marlin “Hutch” Hutchison  at the old Morenci airfield.

“I was having trouble with a plane, and Hutch thought clunk in the fuel tank had strayed, so he took the plane and was shaking it to get it loose.”

The only thing Marlin successfully in shook loose was the battery, which fell from the plane mid-flight the next time Herb took it up.

“I set the remote down and watched it fall.”

But Herb never lets a crash deter him.

“I love planes. I just love them. Ask anyone. If we go out to go flying and it’s raining or windy, boy do I get upset.”

He still flies two or three times a week, and doesn’t look to let up any time soon.

“People don’t understand what a blessing these planes are,” says Herb. “With my heart condition I can’t go out and do what others can. I can’t golf or play tennis.”

“I fixed TV’s all my life. I can’t stand to look at them. I have absolutely no use for computers. I come down here in the workshop, turn on the Adrian hillbilly station, and I can feel my nerves uncoil.”

  - Aug. 10, 2005

Three types of controls 

When people first started flying model planes by radio, controllers were much too expensive for Herb. Using his experience with electronics, he was able to buy the separate parts and assemble a controller on his own. Radio control is only one of three ways to fly a model airplane.

• Free flight planes follow preprogrammed flight paths. In the period between their take off and landing, they require no interaction with the pilot. Free flight plane models were around long before the Wright brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk.

• Control line planes are attached to the pilot by a series of wires. The pilot stands in the middle of the plane’s flight radius and maneuvers it by flexing the appropriate wires.

Round-the-pole flying, a variant of control line flight,  employs a mediator between the pilot and the plane. The plane is attached to a pole that pivots as the plane circles. Some of the most complex round-the-pole designs actually have control panels mounted on them.

• Radio controlled flight takes full advantage of a model plane’s aerodynamic capabilities. Radio signals broadcasted by the pilot’s controller correspond with various systems on the plane, such as the throttle and the rudder. The more channels a pilot broadcasts on, the more flight variables he or she can control.

Radio signals are typically sent out at 27, 72 or 75 megahertz. Pilots have to be careful, though–tuning in to an occupied frequency usually causes the plane to crash.

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