PTEROSAURS AS FLYING MODELS
The flying vertebrates which dominated the airspace of the Earth during the era of the dinosaurs have always been a source of fascination since the early times of paleontology. Even the classic authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got their inspirations partly from the painstaking reconstructed art impressions of the paleontologists. Similarly, numerous artists created illustrations and sculptures reflecting the world of dinosaurs. The best examples of this work today are surely the paintings of John Sibbick and the famous sculptures of Stephen A. Czarkas.

The idea to build up a flyable model of a pterosaur was first realized by the zoologist and behavioral scientist Erich Hoist, This construction was a wing beat model based upon the known "artificial bird" mechanism and resembled the Rhamphorhynchus from Sollnhofen with a wingspan of 1.2m. It was made out of balsa, Japanese paper and incorporated a complicated rubber band power system.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the society of paleontology in Wilhelmshaven, this model fulfilled successful demonstration flights but only with a horizontal tailplane added. The false conclusion drawn, that the tail of Rhamphorhynchus had a horizontal elevator function, was disproved later when clearer fossilized remains were found.

Also well known to the modeler is the model Pterodactyl from the BBC television documentary "Pteranodon", from Steven Winkworth (FMT article - 1985). In this case, the pterosaur modeled was realized as a fixed-wing soarer with a tail-less airfoil, oversized vertical feet and added stabilizers under the femurs. This model flew very well over the slopes of Dorset. A smaller version of this soarer is available from the FMT plans service and is highly recommended. It looks a bit like a young pteranodon and flies very well in light lift. We've proved it!

The most ambitious project was the famous McCready experiment to construct a model of the largest known pterosaur "Quetzalcoatlus" as an RC flying model with half of the natural wingspan of 12m. The model ended up with a wingspan of 5.5m and was additionally controlled on all axes by gyros systems. Even more amazing was the wing beat powered flight which provided a spectacular introduction for several documentaries and even an IMAX film. Most of the flight experiments were performed in the desert landscapes of Death Valley. An unfortunate crash after a winched start ended this successful project of the 80's.

Another original idea is the Rhamphorhynchus model powered by two electric motors mounted in the claw section of the wing. The constructor, Fred Ludwig, introduced his model in FMT magazine (12/83). The layout seems to be a successful was to get a pterosaur in the air by electric power. We are sure that other interesting creations will be displayed in the future that will provide us with an opportunity to see RC flying creatures, extinct or alive.