Madman Yates and his Madman model

The museum portion of April’s Model Aviation “In the Air” column looks at J.C. Yates’ Madman CL Aerobatics airplane that is in the museum collection.  There wasn’t enough room in the column to share all of the information related to the model, so it is shared here in a “deleted scenes” type format. 

The original Madman was built and flown by Yates in 1947. The model in the collection is not the original, but a later Madman model built by Yates in the late 1950s.You can read the column in MA at this link

J.C. Yates' Control Line Aerobatics model airplane.
Donated by J.C. Yates in 2000, his Madman is on exhibit in the Control Line Aerobatics exhibit.


J.C. Yates wanted the best performance possible for the Control Line models he designed.  After all, he was pushing them to their limits – loops, inverted flight, figure eights and more – each time he flew.  He needed an engine and a propeller that could keep up with him.  To this end, he teamed up with engine manufacturer Henry Orwick in 1947.  The propeller they designed and manufactured has a wide blade that is narrow at the hub, flares out at mid-point and then narrows again at the tip. 

J.C. Yate's Madman, view of the propeller and engine.
A front view of the Madman, showing the Orwick .64 engine and the Y&O prop.

Although they were developed specifically for Yates’ stunt aircraft, Y&O props quickly became popular for use on both CL and FF models.  A museum volunteer commented that not only did the Y&O propellers fly well, but they also looked nice.  These qualities help them remain popular today. 

A close-up of the logo on a Y&O prop blade.
A close up of the Y&O logo on the prop blade of the Madman.

Yates’ model airplane designs are well-known for not only flying well, but also being pleasing to the eye.  None of his models were just a “flying box” like some previous CL Aerobatics designs.  The quality aesthetics were influential in later stunt models, but can most directly be seen in the lines of the rudder and fuselage of  Bob Palmer’s Thunderbird.  Bob Palmer and Yates were good friends.

Bob Palmer's Thunderbird II, a Control Line Aerobatics model airplane.
Bob Palmer’s Thunderbird II on display in the Control Aerobatics exhibit, donated by Bob Palmer.

When asked how the Madman flew, Bart Klapinski remembered that it was a bit heavy, as all airplanes of that time were, since it had to carry the battery to start the engine.  He also said it flew well, and he didn’t have problems performing any of the maneuvers.  He did note that it didn’t fly as well as modern designs.  Klapinski enjoyed flying it so much that he built his own Madman model, which he flew for 20 years and won 3 VSC Old Time Stunt events. 
The Madman design was kitted circa 1948.  Advertised as “The Best Model Value in the Country” by Burbank Manufacturing Co., the kit included some great new features.   “New type leather fillets,” “Diecut ribs,” and “Prefabricated inverted flight gas tank” are some of the fourteen features listed on the box.  It should be noted, though, that while the gas tank might have been prefabricated, it wasn’t pre-assembled.  Much like the aircraft, the pieces were there, but you had to put it together yourself.

Madman CL Model Airplane kit, manufactured by Burbank Mfg. Co.
Madman model airplane kit, Johnsonbuilt by Burbank Mfg. Co., c. 1948. Kit donated by Richard Kortum.

Many, many thanks to Charles Mackey, Bark Klapinski and Bob Whitely for taking the time to share their memories of the Madman and J.C. Yates with me.


  1. A great story, Many thanks to the men that donated there time, planes, and memories. I’ve visited the museum and for me some exhibits were like opening a time capsule. I enjoyed myself quit well and plan a return. Thanks for the story.

  2. In 1949 I built a Madman and powered it with a Super Cyclone 60 and really enjoyed reading about Madman Yates. Still have the engine after 66 years.

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