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My Glider: 1975 Hobie Hawk Resto Mod Project

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Restoring a 1975 Hobie Hawk

By Paul Naton

I first saw the Hobie Hawk glider advertised in the surfing and sailing magazines that I was reading when I was fifteen, that's way back in 1975. I always wanted to try RC airplanes since I was a kid, but I didn't have the money or an experienced adult willing to get me started. In grade school I'd seen stick-built gliders in magazines like Model Air Plane News, but the Hobie Hawk seemed to be the coolest looking toy in the world and I wanted to some day pilot one of my own.

Being a California kid, I knew of the legendary status of designer Hobie Alter, both from his surfing innovations and his famous Hobie Cat sailboats. If Hobie was now making an RC glider, it just must be the best.

By '75 when the Hobie Hawk was released, I was a crack junior sailor and already had many hours on Hobie 14's on our local lake and was learning to master the bigger 16 with it's trapeze hiking system. Every once in a while I'd see a Hobie Hawk ad in a magazine and lust after it. Never thought that 30 years later I'd be making instructional videos about R/C soaring and that the Hobie Hawk would be long out of production and now a piece of nostalgic California industrial design history. I would see them come up for sale online, but I have a big squadron of gliders already and a Hawk wasn’t high on my acquisition list.

Then a few months ago I got a call from a local flyer who was moving and selling off some his large glider fleet. He had an original Hobie Hawk for sale for only a hundred bucks, was I interested? I didn't even think of negotiating the price down as I knew used Hobie's were going for really premium prices especially if they were in good original condition. Sold! (A Hawk ARF was $129.00 back in the day)

Jim bought his Hawk new in 1975, so it's an original Hobie-built unit. He flew this Hobie off the dunes and bluffs of Alaska as he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands for a few years. He then took the glider to Southern California and flew a few contests as well as countless mellow slope soaring sessions along the Cali coast. Jim takes care of his planes, and while there were some minor cosmetic and mechanical issues, the airframe is in remarkable shape for 42 years of operation.

The fiberglass and ABS fuselage needs a few repairs and a repaint, I'll do it in gloss white. The wings are flawless though some winglets were added at the last re-cover, and I'm hoping the stock tips are still attached. The tails are also in top shape, just needing a re-cover and some de-lam fixes. Yellow is my least favorite glider color so the wings and tails will get new red transparent Monokote. There is a missing main wing rod tube and some other damaged parts but nothing I can’t handle.

I'm not interested in doing an OEM restoration, I want this Hobie upgraded to current technology so I've selected some nice MKS digital servos to move the surfaces, the radio will be a Spektrum 7020 DSMX receiver to be powered by an Eneloop AAA 4S pack connected to a Zepsus magnetic switch. I figure about 20 hours of labor ought to get her in the air.

I’ve been scouring the web for Hobie info and I’ve now found some replacement parts and a new canopy to finish out the restoration. I just love the retro look and the elliptical dihedral. This will be the first RE glider I’ve owned since 2001, and hope to have it flying in the fall of 2017. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the project. - Paul Naton Radio Carbon Art Productions



 

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