RC Record Setter Dies


Maynard Hill, who set 25 aviation records and whom the Washington Post called a “virtuoso of balsa and glue,” died June 7 at his home in Silver Spring, Md. Hill was a legend in the remote control model aircraft world and his exploits included some remarkable records. He flew an RC model to 26,990 feet and one of his aircraft was clocked at 151 mph. As a metallurgist at Johns Hopkins University’s applied physics lab, his work with RC models became the foundation of the development of unmanned aerial aircraft. Of all his records, however, it was the trans-Atlantic crossing of his Spirit of Butt’s Farm that attracted the most attention.

The aircraft could weigh no more than 11 pounds, including fuel, to be considered a model so the design challenges were enormous. Hill and a group of engineers and computer programmers who were intrigued by the project built 29 versions of the model, which was powered by a four-stroke engine that used just two ounces of camp stove fuel per hour. After numerous failures and delays, the aircraft took off from Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador in August of 2003 and landed 38 hours later in Ireland. Hill was 85 years old.