History of EPP and DS
EPP planes have become so ubiquitous that few people today realize where they originally came from. Pat Bowman, the creator of the JW glider and other popular planes, discovered EPP for use in R/C planes. Pat worked as a packaging specialist for the Navy and one day received a package with some unusual foam. He played around with the foam and found that it bounced when tossed to the floor and that any dents would spring back out. He did some research and learned what the foam was: EPP. After ordering some of the new foam, he built a prototype radio control glider he called the "Ruffneck".
Pat tested the new EPP glider and was impressed with its durability. Up until that time, combat gliders were made from beaded white polystyrene foam and the foam would turn back into beads rather quickly when subjected to abuse. EPP solved this problem while adding additional toughness to the plane.
Pat called his close friend Joe Wurts and showed him the new plane. Joe was leaving for a combat event over seas so Pat let him take the new plane with him. Joe flew the new EPP plane at the combat event and the new plane destroyed every competitor's plane! This got the attention of the other pilots who inquired about the new plane. Joe was so impressed with the new EPP plane that he wrote an article describing Pat's new foam discovery and indestructible plane. Pat received many orders for the new plane and the EPP plane era was born.
Some time later, Pat and Joe were flying their EPP Roughnecks at Parker Mountain when Joe got knocked into the lee side of the slope. He did some emergency maneuvering and the plane actually accelerated as it escaped certain doom in the dreaded back side of the hill. Curious about what happened, Joe started exploring the phenomenon by doing loop shaped maneuvers to exploit the newly discovered power source. Joe went home to contemplate what was happening and came back a few days later to perfect the technique with horizontal laps. Dynamic soaring was born!
Many years later, dynamic soaring (DS) became the main staple of Parker Mountain and nearby Vincent hill. The adrenaline rush of DS attracted pilots from far and wide who wanted to try to be the next fastest pilot in the world. By this time, the JW was developed and had become the gold-standard foam DS plane for comparing speeds and for DS acro. Then a relatively new DS pilot named John Buxton appeared on the scene. He would drive from Bakersfield to Parker Mountain constantly to be involved in DS. Pat's father owned a house in Weldon and so one day Pat told John he should check out the hill at Weldon because it is a great slope that gets a lot of good wind. John went to investigate the hill at Weldon since it was so close to Bakersfield and was blown away at how good it was for DS. John spread the word about the new world-class dynamic soaring hill and Weldon was born!
Today, pilots from around the world fly the JW epp dynamic soaring glider. Many of those same pilots make annual trips to Weldon to fly the world's fastest hill. Pat Bowman's discovery of EPP for planes along with Joe's incredible flying skill made the discovery of dynamic soaring possible. Pat's discovery of Weldon has allowed for the world's top pilots to push dynamic soaring speeds over 500 mph. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Pat and Joe for their incredible contributions to the radio control hobby. Thank you Pat and Joe!