We received this from Rich Weber last evening:
Stork Squadron – the End of an Era
Greetings fellow Free Flighters,
It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news that Russ Brown has gone west. I received a note from his granddaughter late yesterday informing me that Russ passed peacefully, with members of his family by his side.
It is not too much to say that Russ was the backbone of the old Cleveland Free Flight Society for many years. He was the fellow who made all of the flying field arrangements with the folks at LCCC, got the AMA sanctions, submitted the contest dates to Model Aviation for posting on the calendar, did the FAC Scale judging, tabulated the scores, made up the contest forms, sent in the contest reports, and handled the kanone reports, not to mention hauling tables, chairs, and a big pile of plans to the field and home again in his trusty Saab. He was probably the longest serving of a long line of editors for Crosswinds, and certainly the one with the most distinctive “flat hattin'” style. As an early convert to the FAC style of flying, he brought the local club around to embrace the FAC, too, and created the Stork Squadron as the third official squadron in the national organization. He was a regular volunteer at the FAC Nats and Non Nats over the years, usually serving in the capacity of a Scale judge. Russ was rarely seen on the flying field without his camera in hand, which is a practice that carried over from his days at the Cleveland Air Races in the 60s and 70s. Some of his photos show up in Reed Kinnert’s air racing history books. He was a quiet guy, with a wry sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye, never very comfortable in the spotlight, but he always wore his Blue Max with pride.
Compared to many of you, I came into the CFFS late and got to know Russ after he had essentially stopped modeling. He was the guy at the contest who would always find a way to get the new kid into the game and offer encouragement. And that big pile of plans was a treasure chest for me. I think one of the most remarkable things about Russ was his willingness to lend his incredible aviation history expertise to any and all. It was almost comical when he would overhear me mention some slight interest in an obscure aircraft, and a month or two later, he would drop a large pile of documentation on the type into my lap. Those
were the beginnings of many modeling projects for me.
Due to the current public health emergency, there will not be a wake. I will send along more information as I get it from the family.
Use the good wood!
As Rich says, Russ dedicated himself to the FAC and the CFFS. By the time I found the Cleveland group, Russ had already stopped flying. He stopped at 45 kanones, but he was the CD for every monthly contest. His boxes of free plans were an inspiration to me, too. Who knew there were so many airplanes to build? He gently and quietly encouraged me to build and fly. And he encouraged my plans; he was a tough editor, as he had me rework the Falcon Special II plan for the Crosswinds about five times until it met his (or came close enough to) his standards for the little racer.
I miss those Cleveland contests in the late 80s and early 90s. These were my only contact with Free Flighters and the FAC, and it took me about two hours to get to a contest. So, I had no meetings, no building buddies, nothing – except driving north to Lorain County Community College (LCCC) and flying with Russ Brown, Gordon Roberts, Del Balunek, Dennis Norman, Jim Hyka, and – eventually – Rich Weber. Of course, there were several others, but Russ Brown, the Blue Fox, was the leader and a mentor to me.
This was in the late 90s, I think. This had to be in Lorain, Ohio, as I don’t recall Russ ever traveling to contests other than Geneseo.