Plans for Don Burnham’s 1929 A-frame pusher, published in Carl H.
Claudy’s Prize Winners’ Book of Model Airplanes, 1931.
“The A-frame model is simple to build, and should
fly far when properly adjusted,” noted author Carl
H. Claudy in his 1930 book Beginner’s Book of Model
Airplanes (They Fly!).
He goes on to explain that A-frame pushers can take
many forms, but “it cannot (sic) be contended that any
one form is best—scarcely that any one is better than
others. All shapes, sizes, plans, combinations have their
points, their advantages and disadvantages; finding
these by building many, trying combinations of this wing
with that frame, this propeller with that tail structure, is
one of the delights of model flying.”
Vic Cunnyngham Sr. agreed. In the 1970s and 1980s,
he researched and built reproductions of many A-frame
pusher designs. After they were built, he would get the
completed model approved and authenticated by the
original designer or pilot, ensuring that future generations
would be able to remember and recreate the early
excitement of flying.
One of Vic’s A-frame pushers was designed by Donald C.
Burnham in 1929. Don flew it to a first-place finish in the
Junior division, Outdoor competition, at the 1929 Nats in
Detroit. The model features an undercamber wing section.
Don noted that it “seems to give a better lift and glide than
any other style of wing I have used.”
Don also incorporated an adjustable front elevator into
the model by building a series of small steps at the front
of the A-frame pusher. Adjusting the elevator’s LE on a
different step changed the elevator’s lift.
Vic changed this set of steps to a slope in his reproduction.
He also strengthened the design by adding additional
angled ribs at the center of the front elevator and on the
wing where it rests against the frame.
Unlike Don’s original design, Vic built the reproduction
for rise-off-water, adding hydroplane floats designed by
Bert Pond in 1929. Bert’s signature is on one of the floats,
offering luck to Vic and his endeavors. Similarly, Don’s
signature is on a paper adhered to the wing.
The A-frame pusher was donated to the museum
in 1996. Thanks to Vic Cunnyngham Jr. for providing
information and memories.
You can read more about Don Burnham and Vic
Cunnyngham Sr. on the museum’s blog at http://amablog.
—National Model Aviation Museum staff
Vic Cunnyngham Sr.’s
reproduction of Don’s 1929
A-frame pusher. Source:
National Model Aviation
Museum Collection, donated
by Vic Cunnyngham Jr.
12 Model Aviation MARCH 2014