A View from Broadway

The D Speed plane before the restoration project. All photos by Ken Burdick.

Good bones

By Ken Burdick
July 2022

Yes Folks. It’s true.


The term “good bones” seems to have many meanings. Usually the item referred to is in bad shape, but has a good foundation and or structure.


In this case it applies to a D Speed ship that was looking very dismal in the corner of John Knoppi’s collection of engines and models.


At first glance, it looked to be a wreck, and John said “you can have it.” I decided that at least the pan might be salvageable, so I brought it home. Epoxy glue had been smeared and globbed along the wing where it had splintered above and below the internal line groove, The button for the torque unit was missing, which made me believe the torque unit let go and the damage may have been due to a crash as a result of this.

First thought is usually wrong 

My first inclination was to toss it, but then I began to notice how well built this ship was, I re-evaluated the project and decided I might restore the sad-looking thing.

I wrote John Knoppi and asked where it came from, he gave me a name I didn’t know and I tried to get in touch with him. No luck. Then john gave me the name that this person had gotten this woebegone mess from; I did not recognize that one either.


I wanted to find the thing's history, but I was looking at a dead end.


The decal numbers on the wing were the first clue C354, Aha! A MAAC number from Canada, and a very old one at that. A test-text to Paul Gibeault was in order and I can finally say I had him stumped; I also tried Chris Cox who didn’t know the number either. We all thought maybe there was a number missing because it was just too old, What to do?

Enter the interweb ...

I put a picture of the suffering  model on Facebook, and, what do you know, I got a hit.


The son of the builder, Michael Baker, wrote me and said the plane had been built by his father, Al Baker. He had recognized the MAAC number!


Al, had passed away five years before and Michael was glad the Speed ship was being restored.


What luck — Al Baker and friends were from Ontario so not well known around the West Coast where I am.


Michael gave me a brief history of the once well-made model. It had changed hands in Texas.


I think things must have gone left in Texas, and  it worked its way to the Midwest and then to John Knoppi, and then to me. Al Baker was well respected in his area of Canada as well as the East Coast of the USA.  I have tried unsuccessfully to get some information on Al, but one friend described him as the Patriarch of Logan Field, so he must have been a leader of some kind.


Break out the Epoxy, no such thing as a free horse!


The extent of the repairs is pretty boring stuff, so let’s just say the major surgery was getting the torque unit removed. Thank God for Dremel tools. I had just purchased a D torque unit from Dick Hart in Scotland so this was the perfect use for it. I had another project for the unit, but that can wait.


I think I sanded the wing for two days to get the epoxy gobs off the inboard wing, but the open slash in the wing would need lots of time. A combination of aluminum tubing, bondo and carbon veil were used to get the wing back in D ship shape.


Originally the powerplant was an O.S. .61, so the McGee .65 should fit somewhat close.

The restoration pictures should tell the story better than me so, here you go.


The model was flown at the 2022 Northwest Control-Line Regionals. It flew well but had a fuel issue, causing it to short-run.



The restored, ready-to-fly, Al Baker D Speed plane, now with author Ken's AMA number added to Al's MAAC number.



And now for some history ...


It sure is interesting whenever one looks into the history of something like the D Speed model I restored.


Al Baker was the original builder, and was described as the Patriarch of Logan Field, which is near the town of Waterford, Ontario. That peaked my curiosity, and I asked his son, Michael, to expand on it. The text below contains some interesting views of a person many of us have encountered in our hobby; they are few and far between.


Al Baker, By Michael Baker.


In 1969 Bob Ball and my dad, Al Baker, were the founders of what is referred to as “Logan's.”


The original arrangement was “we'll cut the runway grass and in return we'll only fly on Wednesdays and Sundays.”


The question of flying on other days has come up occasionally but it always goes away because the simple answer is, “No!” This was the beginning of RC flying for everyone.


Dad in his own way touched everything at Logan's. He shared his knowledge of model airplanes, his mechanical knowledge, his ideals of teamwork, and his ready willingness to help get things done. He cut the grass, and maintained the two machines that were used for the first 35 or so years of field's existence, and the second machine, bought in 1991/1992, was still running as of three weeks ago.


The first shed began to fall down and the second mower needed a new home, and so my dad built the next shed in his driveway. Some other members helped to move it out to field where it still stands today, housing the third lawn mower. The fourth and most recent mower is behind the shed under tarps.


The grass cutting is a time-honored tradition and a coveted position among club members.


Bob Ball and Dad got the ball rolling, but it was Dad's quiet, well-thought-out ideas and the solutions to any problems he came up with that made Logan's what it is today.


When Dad passed in March of 2017 he was cremated, as was his wish. We waited until a beautiful Saturday morning in June to spread his ashes, and my three sisters and their spouses followed me out to Logan's for our ceremony.



Al Baker featured in a magazine article, holding an Egad 3.


So, lil' geezers, the wreck of a D Speed project led me to the builder, some of his history, building a field and fellowship with his model airplane friends. I know some here in the Northwest who give themselves to similar endeavors for the benefit of us all. You know who you are, so a heartfelt thank you to all the Al Bakers in our hobby. Thanks also to each and everyone who helped with the Northwest Regionals and where Al Baker's D Speed model last flew on Memorial Day weekend 2022.



D Speed plane restoration photos

Installing a new torque unit control system was a major step.

Repairs to the control-line channel in the inboard wing were time-consuming.

The restoration about half finished, showing the carbon fiber veil over the repaired control-line channel. Ken Burdick photo.

Primer on the repaired areas.

Repainted with top coat. Ken Burdick photo.

Almost ready to fly.

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This page was upated July 8, 2022