Durable Aircraft Models
I was fortunate to be exposed to a new trend in RC slope flying in southern California in the mid 1990's. Slope combat was redefined when Pat Bowman first introduced EPP as an airframe material and slope combat flying was changed forever. EPP brought the durability we all needed to engage in full contact, mid-air collisions. It was a real blast to fly models in this fashion. My design mentor was Dave Sanders of Dave's Aircraft Works. A true warbird fan, Dave saw the next evolution of EPP in slope combat and that was introducing kits of WWII heavy metal birds like the P-51, FW190 and Ki-61. I loved combat but I desired more scale fidelity and larger, EPP airframes. Dave encouraged me to get my own foam cutter and that's the push I needed to realize that I could make anything I desired to fly.
I started with a proof of concept model, a 70" Spitfire. I was not sure if such a beefy model would fly well in variable wind conditions so I needed to use an airfoil that would perform in low lift conditions and for this I choose the S3021 and it proved to be the right choice. Not as fast as more common slope airfoils of the day (i.e., RG15) but it delivered better performance when the wind was low. The Spitfire drew a lot of attention and folks began asking for one. Now that I proved that big EPP gliders were feasible I set off to start a part-time, cottage industry called Durable Aircraft Models (DAM).
I began selling kits in 1997. Our first kit was a 65" P-51 and it sold very well. Big foam PSS gliders were a niche market and I believe DAM was the first to introduce such a product made of EPP. The Mustang was followed by the release of our 65" Me109 and later we introduced our T-33. Where ever we flew these big scale models they drew attention and we received a fair amount of photo coverage in the magazines. The Spring PSS Fest, put on by the Inland Slope Rebels club, at El Cajon Summit was our premier event for the few years we were in production.
Ren Delio and his DAM Me109 and Model Airplane News Cover, Sept. 1999
I enjoyed providing a product not available anywhere else and meeting many modeler friends. However, the part-time nature of this business was such that my time to devote to the development of new products was limited as I had orders to fill. The labor involved in cutting cores and fuselages were significant and space was limited to my garage. In 2000, I decided to close down DAM so that I could focus my spare time on finding a method of production that was more efficient and effective. DAM was a short-lived venture, however it was successful in two things: 1) Providing a quality product that was in always in demand and 2) igniting my passion to create scale kits. The passion still exists and has been strong enough to get me through 10 years of design and manufacturing research and development.
DAM T-33 models by Phil Cooke and Martin Middleton of the U. K.