aircraft captured the “romance” of the early years aviation better
than the Pan American Airlines flying boats of the 1930’s and 40’s.
So I was naturally delighted to purchase this large and graceful
Clipper glider from the Hi-Flier Manufacturing Company of Decatur, IL
… the company renown for making great kites.
glider was produced prior to WW2 and its graphics closely resemble those
of the 3 Martin M-130 Clippers built for Pan American in the mid
1930’s. The wingspan is
quite impressive for an RTF glider, at nearly 2 feet.
was founded in 1922/23 by Harry A Sellers, who held several kite design
patents. (I don’t think
there are many of us who haven’t flown Hi-Flier kites at some time in
our youth.) Reportedly, the
company also produced RTF gliders from about 1935 to 1941.
I was not aware until recently that Hi-Flier produced such remarkable
gliders. Strangely … less
than a week after I purchased this large Clipper … I came across a
complete box of 4 Hi-Flier “mini-Clippers” from the same period. These
small gliders have a wingspan of about 8 inches.
remarkable is the story of how this box of little gliders survived the
last 70 years. They were
among the childhood possessions of a gentleman who owned a farm in
Wisconsin. Sadly, he was
killed in a farming accident in 1951.
His devoted wife was so distraught, that she immediately nailed
shut their barn and sheds with all the equipment and materials inside.
She also stored all his belongings
(including these gliders) in their farmhouse.
For her, time stopped in 1951.
When she recently passed away … the farm was sold to a
neighboring family. They
were understandably amazed when they took over the farm, and discovered
it was a 1950’s time capsule.