Ames Model Airplane Club

1948 Olav Smedal photo courtesy of Del Brue
The six regulars of the Hot Rock-Itears model airplane club give their 9-year old mascot, Delmar Brue, advice on take-offs for his model, as the boys hold session in their clubhouse converted from a former chicken house on the Myhre lot, 1411 Duff.  The older boys, left to right, are William Kelley, Jr., president; Charles Quade; John Midgorden, secretary; Ted Myhre, Larry Nigh and Odale Brue.  Not pictured are Dave Jehlik, Don Jehlik, and Jim Triplett.

The derivation of the club name comes from a model airplane introduced in 1947 by Control Line models.  Named the Hot Rock, the model won the open stunt category during the 1947 national championship competition.  Plans for the model were printed in the March 1948 issue of Model Airplane News.

Bill Kelley's pulsejet-powered model used technology identical to the Nazi's V-1 buzz bomb.  It was started with an automotive tire pump and a Model T Ford ignition coil, the reed valve allowing it to run on its own once the gas was ignited.  The six ounces of white gas fuel stored in the fuselage provided power for only about a half dozen circles. The thirsty engine's 250 pulses a minute created a "terrible sound" easily heard several miles away.  On one occasion, the boys were testing the engine by holding the plane on the ground in the alley behind the shop.  The terrific racket attracted Ames police to the scene within minutes.  The club normally flew their models in the field near the cemetery northwest of the ISC Armory or on the Squaw Creek floodplain north of Lincoln Way.  When flown with a 70-foot control cable, the model would go over 100 mph as it scribed a 140-foot arc, the engine tail glowing red from the heat.  Pulsejet model airplanes are still available today, but probably cost more than the original price of about $35.

Any evening William Kelley, Jr., 17, Charles Quade, 15, Larry Nigh, 15, John Midgorden, 15, Ted Myhre, 16, or Odale Brue, 15, can’t be found at home it’s a good bet their parents know where they are.  For practically any time these teen-age fellows can find a spare hour from their school work and jobs they hit for the Hot Rock-Itears club, which actually is a converted chicken house to the rear of a garage at the Arthur Myhre residence, at 1411 Duff.  As the club name hints, the Hot Rock-Itears club is strictly for fellows who are interested in building model airplanes, and while lots of talking goes on, there’s also plenty of building by these young Edisons who possess an unusual amount of mechanical know-how among the six of them.

Nine year old Del Brue perusing the latest issue of Model Airplane News.

Possibly it is inaccurate to say "the six of them," although that is the number of the paying members.  The seventh Hot Rock-Itear is blond-haired, 9-year old-Delmar Brue who has been more or less taken under the wing of the club as the official mascot.  His work so far has been confined strictly to making rubber band models.  "We are starting the plan of each sponsoring one younger boy," 17-year old William pointed out, "for we feel it helps to keep them out of mischief."

Odale's four-foot wing under construction on the bench inside the shop behind 1421 Duff


There are no girls, though.  Girls may be all right in their place, but their place isn’t in a model airplane shop, the HRI’s emphatically agree! The 16 by 18 foot chicken house clubhouse actually couldn’t have more atmosphere if it were right out of a Mark Twain yarn about a 1947 Tom Sawyer.  The chicken wire still remains over a couple of the windows, but in place of roosts there are now orderly work benches built around the walls.  And woe to the member who allows his work to overlap onto the workbench of a fellow member.  There’s a radio, and between it and the talk, which the boys admit is constant, the Hot Rock-Itears club isn’t exactly quiet.  Nevertheless there’s a business-like approach to what might literally be termed the art of building miniature planes in various scales of reproductions of the big ones.  Sunday afternoon was a typical time, though the hum of activity may have been somewhat accelerated because of the impending Lions club model airplane meet which several of the six plan to enter.  William Kelley’s jet-propelled Diana was all ready to test, and it looked like a beauty as it rested on his work bench.  The red and blue jet plane indicated its owner keeps up with the latest plane designing since he had to work the details for this one out himself.  Its Diana jet engine delivers over 3 ? pound thrust, William said.

Larry Nigh's big 6-foot wing free flight model airplane which he expects to have finished for the Lions club contest Oct. 12.  Larry, a sophomore in Ames high school, spends every spare minute from school and his job as busboy at the Sheldon-Munn hotel, reading airplane magazines or working on planes at the Hot Rock-Itears club.


"Borrowed Time," a model with a 46-inch wing span is the plane John Midgorden has just finished, and Charles Quade’s dark blue speed model should get off to a fast start since it is built without wheels and rests on a take-off dolly.   Ted Myhre was putting the finishing touches on "Yellow Jacket."  Since some of the boys go to school, work at part-time jobs and build model airplanes, it is plain to see their schedules are tight, and club sessions must be squeezed in just whenever it is possible.

President William Kelley said they aim to have a business meeting each Friday night, and at that time the secretary, John Midgorden, does whatever a secretary of a model plane club is supposed to do including giving the treasurer’s report.  Although six members are just a nice number for their present quarters, the HRS’s [sic] are not averse to increasing their rolls providing the candidate can meet the qualifications – "he has to be able to pay the dues and get along with the fellows," John explained.  Dues amount to $1 to enter and 25 cents per month thereafter.

Don Jehlik, Odale Brue and Bill Kelley are taking a much needed break from model building behind the Brue home at 1421 Duff.

October 6, 1947, issue of the Ames Daily Tribune, page 1 By Ellen Landon, Staff Writer


Ted Myhre spends his Saturdays as an assistant janitor at the Mary Greeley hospital and William Kelley is learning to be a first class cook as an assistant at the Elks club where he also does some janitoring.  Larry Nigh, who spends several evenings each week working as a busboy at the Sheldon Munn hotel, is just about through with his big free flight model, Honeychile II, to be entered in his first contest.  Larry has one characteristic typical of all six of the boys – he has an absorbing interest in model airplanes.  One only needs talk with him five minutes to realize that his interest like that of the rest of the Hot Rock-Itears is more than passing.  When he is finished with school, Larry would like to do something with airplanes – he’s not just certain what.  "I’d like to go to aeronautical school or work out an apprenticeship at an airport as a mechanic," he related.  Whether they become pilots, airplane mechanics or lawyers – the Hot Rock-Itears comprise a group of fellows who not only are having a pretty special time for themselves but are proving there’s no such thing as juvenile delinquency when hands and minds are busy.

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Del Brue is enjoying the prize of an airplane ride for winning The Youngest Contestant award.