Old Farts Flying Club, (O.F.F.C.)

Last Updated November 15, 2003

"Guerilla Flying" and "Scofflaw" plans

The "Scufflaw" is a sturdy little demo model that is easy to build and trim. The Butterfly props are available commercially, or you can make a "cottage cheese" prop. A balsa prop would work fine, too.


The prototype "Scofflaw"

This is the prototype "Scofflaw", dressed in corporate logos for a mission at a convention center. Its easy to print onto japanese tissue with a standard bubble-jet printer.


The "Scufflaw"

click on the image to download a 'portrait' (vertical) format, A4 plan


The "Scofflaw" and its larger P-18 companion

The P-18 is more impressive but doesn't handle rough air as well and is much harder to manage on covert guerilla missions.


A "Scofflaw" in flight in a hotel lobby atrium, at 5:00 am

An audience of commercial flight crews gathered to watch, on their way to the checkout desk. Air conditioners were off at that hour so I got a very nice flight.

Guerilla Indoor Flying

"Guerilla Indoor Flying" is the practice of flying an indoor model without permission, especially in a public place, with the goal of delighting passers-by who might never otherwise see an indoor plane in action. Proponents have established an etiquette of accepted techniques to help discourage ventures that could cast a negative light on our sport.

The concept involves very lightweight rubber-powered models, generally smuggled into the site fully-wound. A well-chosen venue has fairly still air, plenty of space overhead, and steady pedestrian traffic. The plane must be utterly harmless to all objects it may strike, human or structural. Photography is encouraged, to help in sharing one's exploits over the internet.

The basic concept is nothing new. Individuals have launched planes in interesting but unauthorized sites ever since indoor model flying began. I myself once set an unofficial record for indoor helicopters of 500mph at 34,000 feet in a Pan Am airliner cabin. This record might never be broken because Pan Am went out of business shortly thereafter, hopefully for reasons unrelated to my activities.

With the rise of internet communication, word of such isolated adventures could be spread worldwide accompanied by color snapshots. If conventional indoor modeling was a bit sedate, a Man Of Action could achieve fame overnight (if he avoided arrest).

At the turn of the century Guerilla Flying was becoming not just popular but controversial, as opponents argued that such antics risked our already precarious access to legitimate sites. Websites hosted stimulating discussions on whether Guerillas should be encouraged or suppressed. Suddenly, the 9/11 attacks settled the question. Such shenanigans were, at least for the moment, clearly inappropriate.

Now the guerilla flyers are timidly re-emerging. As an ardent proponent, I decided to test a specialized design called the "Scofflaw". Like a cheesy superhero with a secret identity, the prototype has performed at many classroom demonstration sessions, trimmed for level flight. However, when retrimmed for a fast climb it has occasionally ventured into forbidden airspace. Simple, sturdy construction helps Scofflaw survive being smuggled and flown in unusual places.

In today's security-conscious society a guerilla flyer must carefully choose his site and never appear furtive or suspicious. Use a semi-transparent plastic box to hold a pre-wound Scofflaw and a winder. No tools, nothing harmful. If possible bring some kids along to help. You will be busy so have someone else do the photography. Wear a smile and keep a friendly attitude.

Choose an open area slightly off the beaten path, so as not to create a traffic-jam hazard. Launch at an opportune moment and the fun begins. Interested spectators will immediately pepper you with questions. Usually, 1 or 2 nice flights and a departure can be made before being noticed. If an authority figure does object, politely apologize and quickly pack up. The crowd will generally take your side and provide verbal cover for your escape.

Do these techniques work? Anonymous Los Angeles guerillas have made flights in Union Station, the Natural History Museum rotunda, and a helicopter ascent in the Downtown Main Library atrium. The Ontario and San Diego convention centers have been similarly defiled. Coincidentally I have the pictures to prove it.