Flying the White Mystery, Elmer Wasman placed third in the first RC Nats in 1937. The White Mystery had an elaborate control system based on wind-driven controls. Walt Good has a detailed description of the controls in the April 1986 issue of Model Aviation in the article, “History of RC Flying.” A shortened version can be found in the Model Aviation “History Preserved” column, June 2014.
After being updated and flown in other contests, and used as a teaching tool, the White Mystery was eventually retired to Elmer’s attic where it sat for over 50 years. Fred Mulholland rescued the model from the attic in the late 1990s with the intent to restore it.
Fred describes getting the model out of Elmer’s attic noting that it was covered in dust and had been chewed on by mice. The glue joints weren’t solid, so it had to be very carefully lifted down and out of the attic.
Fred involved Elmer in the restoration process, gaining insight and information on the model’s original construction.
While most of the fuselage was salvageable, the wing had to be entirely rebuilt. It took Fred two months to restore the model and he described the process as, “blow, scrape, sand, study photos, build, restudy photos and rebuild.”
Fred Mulholland working on the restoration of the White Mystery. National Model Aviation Museum, photo by donor, 2000.35.01.
Eventually the restoration project was concluded. Fred covered the model just as Elmer had originally, with doped white silk on the wings with a red scalloped edge. The front part of the fuselage was covered in white bamboo paper, but the tail section wasn’t doped to save weight. In order to see the interior components on both the original and restored model the top section of the fuselage was covered in removable clear Celluloid sections. No attempt was made to reproduce the original control system. Tom McCoy donated a Forster 99 engine to the project to replace the original installed engine.
Before donating the model to the museum over Memorial Day weekend in 2000, Fred brought it to the Jacksonville, FL nursing home where Elmer, and his wife Johnnie, were living. Despite Elmer’s illness, he was ecstatic to see the model completed and refused to stay in his wheelchair.
Thank you to Fred Mulholland for all the restoration work which he completed with the assistance of John Hatch. Thank you to Tom McCoy for donating the engine, and to Fred Mulholland for donating the model airplane and documentation.