How It All Began – from Pegasus to the 1/37th scale model version of the NASA Space Shuttle!
In 1987, shortly after the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, Jim Wilson was inspired to create a radio controlled (“R/C”) model rocket version of the space shuttle. During this time, he was actively involved in R/C airplanes and model rocketry and believed an R/C space shuttle would be a nostalgic, exciting, and cutting edge product to develop. He would follow his dream and create a unique product that came to be known as “Pegasus.”
Mr. Wilson was told by many experts in the model rocket and R/C (radio controlled) airplane industries that it would be virtually impossible to combine both rocketing and gliding within a single product design; especially since rocketing and gliding are at opposite ends of the flight spectrum, and since Mr. Wilson had zero aeronautical, mechanical, and rocketry engineering expertise. Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson forged ahead assembling a team of engineers and funded the project.
With the completion of Pegasus about two years from its inception (complete with high production poly-styrene molds and capable of mass production), Mr. Wilson finally had the opportunity to unveil and demonstrate his creation in front of thousands at a1987 rocket event in the California desert. The shock and awe resonated through the crowds as Pegasus rocketed to about 2000 feet and was flown back to a target landing strip. Then Mr. Wilson mounted the Pegasus on top of an R/C power airplane for a piggyback mid-air release demonstration as well; no different than the NASA shuttle that was mounted atop of a 747 Jet airliner to test its flight capabilities before being launched into space.
The key performance success factor – why Pegasus bridged the gap between both the rocketing and gliding flight spectrums, had everything to do with weight. At lift off the Pegasus fully loaded weighed about 12-ounces (or 1-pound). That fact that Pegasus was so light in weight, coupled with an ultra-sleek delta wing design and ever so subtle airfoil (over the top of the wing); it accommodated for super fast rocketing speeds and about a 20-to-1 glide ratio.
The significance of the Pegasus being so light and having such a strong glide ratio, it also allowed Mr. Wilson to achieve his third and final goal for the product; to make it a Slope (aka ridge soaring) Glider. Mr. Wilson achieved that objective too with sustained Pegasus flights of 30+ minutes; similar to that of a Sea Gull.
In the end – Pegasus had been transitioned into the first ever “3-in-1” versatile and marketable flight mode product; a Rocket Glider, Slope Glider, and Piggyback Mid-Air Release Glider!
Pegasus had exceeded all expectations and became a unique one-of-a-kind engineering marvel!
After the success of Pegasus, Mr. Wilson went on to pursue a college degree in Business and dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
However, as the years passed Mr. Wilson always pondered about his ultimate dream; creating a radio-controlled scale version of the NASA Space Shuttle design.
The prime factor holding back Mr. Wilson in years prior is that rocket motor technology was at its infancy when Mr. Wilson created the Pegasus. With the advent of new propellant composites spanning over 20-years since Pegasus was developed, Mr. Wilson put in motion a new initiative – develop a scale live radio-controlled model rocket version of the NASA Space Shuttle.
Mr. Wilson selected Andy Woerner (formerly What’s Up Hobbies) as his lead engineer, and approximately 8-months after funding the product – they unveiled and successfully tested a 1/37th scale 7’ foot tall fiberglass composite of the NASA space Shuttle weighing about 70-pounds (fully loaded at lift-off). Today – it is known as the EIRTH R/C Space Shuttle!
Listed below is a description of its R/C flight sequence mission, which was designed to simulate that of the NASA version:
R/C Space Shuttle launches off the pad
Rockets to a speed of about 350 miles per hour
At an altitude of approximately 1500 feet, the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) are ejected from the main unit. A delayed charge within each SRB blows off the nose cones and they deploy a parachute for a soft decent back to land.
At an altitude of approximately 3000 feet, the 3-solid rocket motors on the Orbiter stop burning. The Orbiter is disengaged from the Extra Tank (ET) and is flown back to a target landing strip via radio controls. The ET has a delayed charge within that blows off the nose cone and deploys a parachute for a soft decent back to land.
While Mr. Wilson owns the production molds and does live demonstrations from time to time, he never intended for mass distribution as a live rocket glider product. It is far too complex and dangerous for that application. Rather Mr. Wilson has elected to sell these models as contemporary art on a stand, or with the Orbiter as a “stand-alone unit with landing gear down.