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Monday, August 18, 2014

Small planes can produce big smiles

By DON HIMSEL

Staff Writer

Joe Lupo, Brian Komenda and Chip Young have a friendship bound by glue, tape and rubber
bands.

The three gather when they can at the Joppa athletic fields. ...

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Joe Lupo, Brian Komenda and Chip Young have a friendship bound by glue, tape and rubber
bands.

The three gather when they can at the Joppa athletic fields.

They met by chance when Lupo was driving back to his Bedford home from work.

“One day I drove by and saw him, stopped to talked to him, then became friends. He introduced me to Chip over there. We come here together if we can get our schedules to sync,” Lupo said.

The resulting friendship and foam-built squadron includes World War II German Messershmitt, an U.S. Navy F4 Corsair and Polish Yak 12.

The planes are hand-built with plans off the web. Sometimes they use a 3D drawing program to tweak a design, and sometimes they just wing it.

“We’re getting pretty good at it,” Lupo said.

Some have accurate paint schemes. Some are decorated with Sharpie pens. The Corsair has a cockpit canopy formed from a Windex bottle.

“There’s a whole subculture on the Internet,” he said. “ You can find plane plans for anything you ant on the Internet and you just print them out as a PDF file.”

The number of planes in Lupo’s private air force? He counted 30.

“He got me into this. He’s the culprit,” said Komenda of Lupo, after taking a turn flying a trainer on a breezy August morning. “ It took me about a year and a had where I could actually fly and wear out a battery.”

“I started flying when I was a kid. I used to use the Cox .049 engines. I didn’t do it for many years and got into it with the electrics and my son,” Lupo said.

The modern electric planes are easier to deal with than the old gas engine planes that were popular decades ago. Lupo described them as “dirty, make a lot of noise, they can cut off your finger.”

The stiff wind makes flying a challenge for the trio. There are swooping turns, rolls, dives and crashes. And there are smiles.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or DHimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).