Control Line planes fall into basically three categories: Trainers, Sport and Stunt.
The practice of control line airplanes has a rich history in model aviation. Perhaps most model airplane enthusiasts from the 1950's onwards began model aviation with a control line airplane. A control line airplane is a miniature aircraft that flies attached to a set of steel wires that controls the flight surfaces for performance. What is unique about a control line airplane is that it flies in a half sphere with the pilot in the center of that hemisphere. At all times the pilot has a direct link to the flight of his airplane, feels all the movements and controls all the characteristics of flight.
There are only a handful of manufacturers making kits in this discipline now but the number of enthusiasts has seen a rebirth in lately, mostly because of the information that is being shared through resources on the Internet.
The challenge is having the nerve to fly the airplane that you are attached to at heights as high as sixty-five feet and as low as four to five feet. Control line fliers prove they are a hearty bunch by allowing their works of art pull out of dives at speeds of over 60 mph in a space of five to ten feet above the ground at a distance that is, literally, right in front of them.
I began my model aviation hobby because of this type of airplane. Like all kids, I started with a commercially produced model that could hardly fly and began making my own from kits that flew just great.
Airplanes like the Goldberg Li'l Wizard or Jumping Bean were great and helped my skills improve in making model airplanes that worked. In later years the control line airplanes just got bigger.
Just last season (2006), I built a Sig Skyray 35, below, from scratch because I decided to do an experiment by re-sizing the tail. I get into the development of this airplane in build section of the site.
Other control line airplanes, from the three main categories, are showcased in the build section of the site as well. Some are built from kits and some are my own successful designs. Check out the White Lightning, shown below, and perhaps download the PDF of the plan and build one for yourself.
So, if anyone ever tells you, “It's just a plane on strings”, feel free to let them know that they really should understand that this is a very challenging and exciting area of model aviation with some of the best fliers, model builders and craftsmanship found in any of the disciplines.
The airplanes built and flown in this category are truly flying works of art.