Budd Davisson, Plane and Pilot

Caution: Lazy Bee Ahead

Everyone needs a dumb idea to fuel their daydreams

All right, folks. I’m about to give everyone a license to laugh at me. I expect this. Actually, I encourage it because it’s not healthy to keep a good belly laugh bottled up.

First, let’s remember that most people don’t put their daydreams out in front of a couple hundred thousand people to be laughed at like I’m about to do. So, go ahead, get your laughing out of the way. Then, let’s get on with the program.

Many folks have projects lounging around in the back of their minds that they’d like to do. Most are super low priority and many aren’t even close enough to a back burner to stay warm. Usually they are forgotten for long periods of time. Then something triggers an interest button and they slide over onto a burner, come to a slow boil, then drift away to cool off again.

Last week I had one of my daydreams come to a high boil totally unexpectedly.

The AZ Redhead (AKA, Marlene) decided we should replace the Arizona Tent and Awning curtains in my office with some nice, natural wood Venetian blinds. Frankly, I’d never noticed that the existing curtains looked like WWI camouflage nets until she took them down. Voila, major difference. I agree. Time for new curtains. Then I made the mistake of leaving for a few hours.

I came back and she had everything pulled away from the walls (this is a very big room and absolutely packed with junk). It looked like a train wreck. “Gee, honey,” she explained. “We can’t put up new blinds without painting the walls.” Bear in mind, this is my office. This is where I live. And it was a disaster! The place needed a total cleaning, which is not one of my strong points.

It was obvious that the fastest to get my world in order back was to jump on the project with both feet and do a complete search and destroy mission on the mess that was my office. And that’s how I stumbled upon the innocent looking folder labeled “Lazy Bee.”

You model airplane guys are already laughing, aren’t you? Lighten up. We haven’t gotten to the good part yet.

I have literally hundreds of folders lying around that cover all of the back burner ideas I’ve ever had. They act as repositories for notes, thoughts, articles and drawings for each project and the Lazy Bee File had all of those. At one point, I had done a lot of thinking about it.

What, you may ask, is a Lazy Bee? An insect on welfare? No. It’s a model airplane, designed by fellow Zonie, Andy Clancy, that has totally captured the imagination of the modeling community to the point that it’s gone past fad status to become a full-blown legend. This is pretty amazing considering it’s as funky as dirt. Maybe funkier.

No I’m not going to talk about models in a real airplane magazine, but hang with me while I finish the explanation.

It should be noted that the Lazy Bee’s so-ugly-it’s-cute looks wouldn’t be enough to make it a runway pop star unless it was also an incredible flyer. It started out as a super light, backyard flyer with something like a two-foot wingspan and has now been cloned in every size up to 17 FEET!

The instant I saw the airplane, my brain went into hyper drive and the corner of my mind that’s always reserved for designing airplanes began frantically dusting off mental drawing boards and polishing rust off of old engineering neurons. A message flashed upon my mental annunciator panel: I WANT TO BUILD A REAL, MAN-CARRYING VERSION OF THIS AIRPLANE!

Okay, I’ll wait a few minutes until you stop laughing. There, feel better?

In a matter of seconds I was imagining truss layouts for the tubing fuselage and ways to make the round window frames. Images of possible wing fittings to handle the outboard joint popped into my mind like flip cards until I had to sit down with a sketch pad so I wouldn’t forget what my mental eye was seeing.

Landing gear designs rattled on stage, were examined, and then discarded. Everything from wheel-to-wheel leaf springs to an out-rigger gear with a vertical shock strut pinned to the top of the fuselage (now that would be classic) made a showing. My brain was on a roll. Somehow, however, as life took its many turns, the Bee trundled off to mental obscurity and was forgotten—until yesterday. Now I’m in the Bee-game again and ready to rock and roll.

Yeah, I know: this is a really dumb idea, but picture looking up on final and seeing those big balloon tires, slab sided fuselage with windows shaped like John Denver specs and polyhedral wings coming at you. What an absolute hoot!

Will I do it? Maybe. Besides, I have a Pitts and I manufacture four-place, 260 horsepower airplanes so it’s only fitting that I have an airplane which redefines the word “funky.”

Dumb idea? Probably. But it’s not a stupid one.