Model fliers gathered at Elmer's Restaurant in Springfield, Ore., on 2008 Northwest Regionals Saturday night to raise a toast to the late Frank Boden, fondly remembered as an enthusiastic lifelong modeler and a great friend. Left to right: Mel Lyne, Buzz Wilson, Bob Smith, Ken Burdick, Isabel Hajdik, Jim Green, Paul Gibeault, Henry Hajdik, Don McKay, Lee Letchworth, Caroline Wright-McPherson, Jeff Rein. Photo provided by Henry Hajdik.

A toast to Frank Boden

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Longtime Northwest CL flier Frank Boden died in October 2007. The Broadway Bod Busters organized a toast to Frank that was held during the Northwest Regionals. See also the Flying Lines obituary of Frank Boden.)

By Ken Burdick

We held the toast to remember Frank Boden at Elmer's Pancake and Grill, May 24th at 7:30.

There were several people there, many ex-combat fliers and control line fliers in general.

Henry Hajdik and his wife drove the 500 mile trip to Eugene primarily for this last chance for some of us to get together and remember our old friend.

The group felt the slight awkwardness of not exactly knowing how to proceed with remembering a fallen comrade since it was one of the first I can remember outside of a church service.

We sat there, close to twenty of us in the slightly loud and smokey bar, talking about whatever came into our minds still not knowing how to proceed. I asked everyone to order a drink so we could raise a glass to old Frank and say goodbye to him together. It was shortly after that that something memorable happened.

You never quite know when life will send you a smile, or an old friend will suddenly pop out of your past. You just never know when one of life's special memories will be made and leave an indelible mark , they do happen and it did.

The waitress was bringing several beers and some other drinks on a tray, she had just stopped to the left of Henry Hajdik, but on the opposite side of his lovely wife.

Henry and Frank go way back, 1956 was the first time Henry had observer Frank in a combat match and they were friends from the start.Henry recalled that Frank had given his opponent one of his own airplanes so they could fly in the finals. Old friends have a special relationship that is known to them and observed by others, thus it was with Henry and Frank. Frank was not above the occasional practical joke so what happened next gave me pause for thought.

I had been talking with Paul Gibeault when there was a sudden noise and Henry sprang to his feet. Somehow, the tray of drinks had tipped from the seasoned waitresses hand and landed squarely on Henry. There he was, a man who attends church even when away from home, doused thoroughly in alcohol. No one else even received as much as a drop ... it was planted directly on Frank's old buddy Henry who seemed to take it in stride.

Do you suppose, just in the far reaches of your mind, can you imagine that Frank may have proposed a final toast of his own? I'd like to think so.

We no longer felt awkward, and remembered together why we were there. When the red faced server brought another tray and everyone had theirs, we raised a glass in remembrance of the life of Frank Boden. Stories came tumbling out of everyone who had met the man, Mel Lyne read aloud a memory and observations from Greg Wornell (see below).

Food was served, drinks were drank and a group of old and new friends spent the evening together enjoying each others company.

As the rest of us see it
January 7, 1986

(with apologies to Life Member Boden)

By Greg 'Wicked' Wornell

A lot of people pooh-pooh Frank Boden's ever-evolving series of combat abominations. However, these Von Boden (VB) airplanes have earned themselves a remarkable reputation of sorts, not least of which for their ability to stay airborne. Many people idenitfy VB planes by their seemingly limitless number of ugly protrusions (Bodenisms) including hunks of ballast and strap-on pacifier pods which, while offering all the aesthetic appeal of an acne-ridden teenager, draw spectators from all around. Others applaud the meticulously chosen wing section. Though some suggest that the airfoil was traced from the sole of a size 10 hiking boot, such an airfoil would be considerably more aerodynamic. No, I am convinced that his airfoils originate with a couple of arcs suitably traced from some part of a basketball.

Still others rightly praise the fine foam shaping and wood-crafting of the wings, evidently assisted by a team of hungry beavers. Invariably, though, the host of lumps and gouges in the wing are deftly hidden when the structure is slipped into its loose-fitting silk fishnet stocking and doped a few dozen times 'til it warps enough to be confused with a German pretzel. Final touches include a rigorous sanding with a well-chosen hunk of road pavement.

But we all know that combat planes are best characterized by functional beauty. And, in this respect, VB planes are no exception. There is a certain excitement in the air each time Frank straps a spanking new Fox onto the latest VB and tightens on one of his trademark Lawn-Boy props just pulled from an old mower that morning. Then the pre-flight show begins. Two car batteries later, the VB scrambles into the air, hanging on its lumbering propeller. On a good day, it will stay at the end of its lines at least for brief intervals to allow real showmanship. As all will attest, each VB plane demonstrates a smoothness of flight matched only by a drunken housefly pre-soaked in turpentine. This show is a must for all those foolish enough to believe that anything will fly on control lines. (Even Giffen would concede this point.)

Now at this point, most readers might be thinking poor Frank is getting mercilessly picked apart here. The fact is, however, his ability to win matches is well beyond the realm of the uncanny and far closer to that of the supernatural. Just how he ends up with your streamer draped lazily over his wing after droning around the circle level the whole match is one of the great mysteries of our time. One day we'll figure it out. Either that or we'll bust his U-Reely.

Wicked Wornell first met Frank about 10 years ago while flying control line at False Creek. Frank was flying a Fox 35 powered styro-foam life preserver with a 10-inch Phillips-head screwdriver for rear ballast.

Boden beats the best at the Bladder Grabber!

(Apologies in advance to Phil Granderson, one of the all-time great combat fliers. The story is just too good not to use.)

By Mel Lyne

Frank Boden was unique, colourful, a one-off, a real "character" who added his own "ambience" to meetings, contests and flying site appearances. Frank had his own way of looking at things. I can remember Greg Davis and the Dreaded Canadian Contingent pitting for Frank in many combat matches through numerous years at Bladder Grabber. Heck, we've all pitted for him at one time or another. It was always an "Experience." His racing prowess was widely known also, through such epics as "The runaway NW Sport Racer" which cut its own lines and terrorized the carrier circle at Raider Roundup.

What follows is an accurate account of actual events at a combat contest.

Scene: The 1988 Bladder Grabber combat circle. Boden vs. Granderson, Davis and Wornell pitting for Boden. Petri and Salvin pitting for Granderson. 

Granderson: "Shoot! Do I have to fly you again? I flew you last year, and the year before, and the year before that!"

Boden: "I guess you're just lucky. You'll probably kill me in 2 seconds anyway."

(The start horn goes, Granderson starts and is airborn immediately. The sound of Granderson's screaming Fox. Davis keeps flicking Boden's motor.)

Davis: (Yelling) "You got a plug in this motor?" (Keeps flicking) "Why isn't there any compression?"

Boden: "It ran fine when I tested it last year."

(Granderson lands, refuels, and goes up again. Davis keeps flicking Boden's motor. Finally it starts and Wornell launches. It goes a lap, quits and lands half a lap away from his pit crew. Davis and Wornell run around to the plane, pull him out to the safety circle, and Davis starts flicking again.)

Davis: "How much fuel did you put in this thing?"

Boden: "Ooooh, some. You might want to add some more."

Wornell: "It's totally empty! Where did all the fuel go?" (Wornell refills the bladder. Davis starts flicking)

Davis: "There's fuel coming out everywhere! The needle must be busted."

Boden: "Can't you fix it?" (Davis and Wornell frantically re-plumb Frank's needle valve. It finally starts, and Wornell launches. Boden drones around oscillating up and down.)

Wornell: (Looking at his watch)  "There's only 10 seconds left in the match." (The horn goes to start combat, Granderson flies over Boden, who is much slower, and Granderson's whole streamer is left on Boden's model. The horn goes to end the match. Boden wins.)

Granderson: "Shoot! Hey, how'd you do that?"

Boden: "That's my instant surprise attack!"

Davis and Wornell: "He did it again! Now we have to pit him next round, AGAIN!"

Scene: 1990 Bladder Grabber. Boden vs Granderson.

Granderson: "Shoot! How come I always have to fly you?"

Boden: "You're just lucky I guess."

(The start horn goes and both pit crews flick away. Boden gets started and launched but dies and lands half a lap away. Davis and Wornell run around to pit. Granderson's crew keep flicking.)

Granderson: "Don't you guys know how to start my motor yet?"

Petri: "Your motor's a piece of junk!"

Granderson: "That's my best motor! Just start it."

(Davis gets Boden started again, Wornell launches, and Boden drones around oscillating up and down. Granderson's motor finally starts, he gets launched, and they fly around. The start combat horn sounds and 2 seconds later Granderson's motor makes a sickening YAAAK! sound as the crankshaft breaks. Boden wins again!)

Granderson: "Shoot! My crankshaft broke! I don't believe it!"

Davis and Wornell: "He did it again! Now we have to pit him next round, AGAIN! Frank defies all logic. His equipment barely flies, yet he keeps winning combat matches against some of the very best fliers. UNBELIEVABLE!!!"


 Numerous of us sitting in the pit area at Bladder Grabber over the years would have tears in our eyes (from uncontrollable laughter) as we stood to applaud Frank's efforts as he brought his winning plane back to his pit after a match. Frank was so very entertaining (unintentionally) in his unassuming way. It was always a treat to watch one of Frank's matches. Frank, thanks so much for all the great memories.

The Tale of The Runaway Sport Racer  

By Mel Lyne and John Thompson

Raider Roundup, Boeing Space Center, Kent, WA. circa 1996....

Northwest Sport Race circle. Four entries waiting for the start signal.

In the center pilots circle Nitroholics' Mike Hazel glances at his three fellow pilots including Mel Lyne and Frank Boden.

The start horn goes and John Thompson gets the Nitroholics entry quickly into the air from their downwind pit, followed quickly by two more planes. Frank's entry is still on the ground in his upwind pit position. Frank's racer finally starts and the pitman releases it. Being upwind, and a bit squirrelly anyway, and with Frank not really doing any "piloting," but just sort of watching the takeoff, the plane immediately goes slack on the lines, turns left towards the center and drives across its own lines cutting them neatly.

The three already circulating pilots look on in horror as they see the racer aiming towards the center. Handcuffed to their handles they know that running is not an option if that snarling "Thing" heads for them. Fate (dumb luck?) steps in and Frank's "Street Racer" roars across the circle narrowly missing the cringing huddle of pilots and heads towards the Nitroholics pit. John deftly steps aside just in time and Mac Ryan, the timer, sitting in a lawn chair, lifts his legs to make sure the plane can roar through on a clean pass.

It then proceeds into the next circle, the carrier circle, and then starts doing powered ground loops. Nobody is flying at this time in this circle, but fleet-footed Todd Ryan is nearby, so he approaches the plane cautiously and tries to step on its elevator as it careens erratically about. Unfortunately he only manages to give it a mild kick, which straightens it out so that it roars away into the next circle, which is the stunt practice circle. There it begins ground-looping again.

In hot pursuit, Todd tries once more to corral the beast by stepping on its tail, but only manages to give it another kick which improves the trim sufficiently to start it on a relatively straight course. Now picking up speed and running out of suitable targets to terrorize it settles for one last Kamikaze attack run at a light pole. It barrels full-tilt into the concrete base of the pole, and finally comes to rest, much to everyone's relief.

The race ends otherwise uneventfully, Frank sitting alongside the pilot's circle, watching the events unfold, wondering if he'll need a new prop. Frank has the last word as he asks "Do we get to fly a second heat to try and qualify for the final?"

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This page was upated June 25, 2008