HAFFA Tribute to Tem Johnson: Our Famous KC Glider Guider!

Tem at his best! Studying his details notes ready to compete in the auditorium!

2020 HAFFA Thanksgiving update: As it is now Thanksgiving week….which is now over… and I have had my yearly dose of turkey, sandwiches…turkey pot pie, turkey soup, turkey salad sandwiches…

I was thinking of all the people I have been lucky to meet over the years. One of those people was our own club member Tem Johnson. I wanted to get out a quick post about Tem. I am so thankful to have known him for at least a decade or more.

Example of Tem Johnson’s Cat 1 Glider (I have 30 or 40 of these drawings) plan included

We have been updating our Glider pages for the HAFFA website. This post will eventually morph into a separate page under the “Galleria of Gliders” section of our website. Nisley has done a “bang-up” job….and has enlisted the assistance of Dave Higgins from the Seattle area. I have been wanting to get a start on another local HAFFA member who left us with a legacy of competitive glider designs….so this post is just a start on “Tem Johnson’s Legacy”

Tem Johnson was an excellent model airplane craftsman and competitor. He passed away going on 3 years ago…..and caught the big thermal June 22, 2017 for his final flight. He was a local active member of the Topeka Model Aircraft Club and Heart of America Free Flight Model Airplane Club for decades within the KC area. Tem was a fixture at many model airplane contests, on the local and national levels. Tem competed and won against some of the worlds best free flight modelers frequently at the yearly national contests in Moscow Idaho and Johnson City Tennessee over the years. Tem logged many miles going to contests with his OFBs “old flying buddies” Emil Schutzel, Gary Hodson, and Larry Coslick. Tem majored in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue. He always took an organized scientific approach to model construction as well as the art of flying competitively. He created many personal reference note books with full of documentation and records and data along with a performance summary of each design. Many of his designs and aerodynamic related technical articles were published in technical journals and news letters. His JETEX Payload design appeared on the 1961 Zaic Yearbook page 238. His HLG the Bronco appeared in Zaic Year book as well. (Dave Higgins researched Tem’s Bronco outdoor chuck glider is in Zaic’s 1964-65 Yearbook on page 166.  This is the same yearbook that the Sweepette 16 Mk. III and Sweepette 18 Mk. 9 appear.) Tem had an encyclopedic knowledge of model airplanes and lectured on many flying and design topics. His dry wit and competitive spirit are deeply missed by the model airplane community.

Dana Field always reminds me of Tem’s indoor 30 second flights in our 26 foot ceiling gym at Osawatomie. “Tem would pull out his catapult glider….walk to a certain pre-determined point on the floor…..aim at a certain spot in the ceiling and let it go…..just has it appeared his glider was going to bounce off the ceiling….it would transition instantaneously into a perfect set-up for a slow descent circling gracefully ….it seemed forever to land perfectly on the gym floor with no damage…..really amazing”.

I intend to keep adding to this post over the next few weeks. Come back and visit it again for more info. There is so much to cover. When I met Tem he was mostly into indoor gliders. By the way his real name is “TEM” spelled with an “E”….I will explain that in a future post. However for years he had been flying and designing outdoor competitive designs decades before I had met Tem. One of his most famous designs was the “Bronco”.

Dana Field had published this “Bronco” design a couple of times in our “Dispatch News Letter” over the last few years. Several of our club members have built this glider. A good consistent flyer. I will get the plan and add it in a future post.

Image courtesy of Dave Higgins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s