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Glites, Gliders, and North Pacific Products

When I was a freshman in high school, I remember picking up an odd paper kite at Walgreen’s. It was called a Glite, and was billed as a “gliding kite.” I was intrigued, and as it might have cost as much as 35c, I was willing to try it. The instructions indicated that even on a completely calm day, you could pull it aloft on a string, let the string go slack, and it would glide gracefully to the ground.

I never tried that; completely calm days were unusual where I grew up. However, I did try just tossing it horizontally, and it flew better as a glider than a lot of the small balsa wood gliders I’d played with over the years. Unlike the diamond bow kites I’d always flown, the Glite had a center of gravity a lot farther forward, giving it the balance of a glider rather than that of a conventional kite. Its two lead edges were relatively thick wooden dowels, as was its spine, making it a lot heavier than most kites as well.

It’s a shame it didn’t fly better as a kite. The one day I did try to fly it kite-style, there was a nasty wind, and my Glite looped helplessly in the air over the Edison schoolyard before ending up in the low branches of one of the kite-eating trees that stood in the parkway up and down the full length of the school property. I managed to get it down, but tore the sail badly in the process. It sat in my corner of the basement awaiting repapering, but I never got around to it and eventually threw it out.

I always wondered who made the Glite and how long the product had been on the market, though never badly enough to spend any time searching. Earlier today I spotted a paper Glite on eBay, and the seller kindly sent me the patent number printed on the sail. This led me to US Patent #3,276,730, which had been granted to Charles H. Cleveland of North Pacific Products of Bend, Oregon, in 1966. The irony is that the patent is titled “Tailless Kite,” when in fact the damned thing needed a tail pretty badly. Interestingly, the patent text does not mention the device’s gliding ability at all; Cleveland must have discovered that later on, or perhaps did not consider it a patentable aspect of the product.

Searching for other inventions patented by Charles H. Cleveland led me to US Patent #2739414, a balsa wood “knock-down toy glider” in which the wings were attached to the fuselage by a short length of plastic extrusion. I recognized it instantly as a species of glider abundant at Bud’s Hardware Store and other places when I was eleven-ish. You could fine-tune the balance of the glider by sliding the red plastic extrusion forward and back along the spine, and I remember that they flew very well, for something that probably cost a quarter. Cleveland liked things that flew; he also patented an oddly cubistic boomarang (which I never saw in a store) and a rubber-band catapault launched glider toy, which I did see once in a hobby shop, though never bought.

I did a little looking for North Pacific Products, Inc. and found no trace of the firm. A Portland, Oregon lumber products company is now using the name and does not mention toy manufacturing in its history. The SSDI lists a Charles Cleveland whose last residence was Bend, Oregon, and lived from 1917-1982, which would be about right. (His last patent was filed in 1980.) I may buy the Glite and would love to do an article about it; if you know anything else, please pass it along.

74 Comments

  1. Jack Isberner says:

    I remember these kites…My older brother would buy these, and I would try to engineer a better one from the cheaper kites to no avail. We spent alot of days in Evanston flying these. They were definetly the better kite, and yes, they need a very long tail!

  2. Gary Butters says:

    Jeff,

    I read with interest your entry on North Pacific Glites. Please allow me to share my experience with Glites and also my knowledge of North Pacific.

    In the late 1960’s, I recall seeing some small ads in Boy’s Life for Glites. It seemed like a neat concept, so I brought my first Glite. It reminded me of a .049 gas powdered rogallo free flight plane by A.C. Gilbert call the Wing Thing which I could not afford.

    The first problem with the Glite was that it was a lousy kite – it really did require a tail to fly even semi-decent and I was used to flying tailless Hi Flier diamond kites. The gliding was even more problematic. You would run several steps toward the kite to slacken the string. The glide would start, but the Glite would begin to “porpoise” and usually hit the ground hard pointy end first. The most frustrating aspect was that once you initiated the glide, it seemed it could never return back to the flying mode because the Glite was coming at you faster than you could run back to take the slack out of the line. I think I bought a second Glite and the results were the same. I did several recovering jobs, but eventually gave up. I think North Pacific gave up soon thereafter, as I remember them being available only for a year or two

    I am much more familiar with the North Pacific planes. In the 1960’s, they were the gold standard. I remember four models that used the plastic wing extrusion design. The first was a hand toss glide similar to the patent drawing. The name was something like “Stunt Flyer” and it sold for $.10. Their rubber-power planes were excellent flyers and much preferred over the Comet and Guillow offerings. The Skeeter was $.15 had no landing gear. Next, was the Sleek Streak at $.25 which was larger and featured landing gear. Larger still was the $.50 Star Flyer (not sure of the name). The extrusion was clever for a couple of reasons that are not evident on first blush. First, they allowed easy insertion of the wing half into the extrusion slot. When you then slipped the extrusion onto the fuselage stick, it would clamp down on wing, holding it firmly in place. Second , it allowed the wing halves to be flat, permitting much thinner packaging. The competition (Guillow, American Junior’s AJ Hornet) use a one piece wing with the dihedral warped into it. This reqired thicker packaging and they were never as stable as the North Pacific design because they did not have enough dihedral

    It was the Sleek Streak that was my favorite as it hit the sweet spot for price/performance. The extrusion and allowed for easy trimming simply by moving it slightly foreward or aft. It also had a nicely engineered plastic propeller mount with a groove for the landing gear wire. With a little lubrication on the rubber band, flights over one minute were common and I lost several after they got caught in thermals. If you google “North Pacific Sleek Streak” I think there will be a couple of references. The last versions of the Sleek Streak had foam instead of balsa for the wings and tail surfaces.

    North Pacific’s fate? Somewhere down the line, Comet Model and Supply Company of Chicago purchased North Pacific. (in the 70’s?). For a while the North Pacific’s design were available under the Comet name. In 1998, Comet sold out to Guillow, but the North Pacific designs had ceased production long before that. The Guillow designs that with that I remember as a boy competing with North Pacific are still available. Now, they cost over $2.50 and I venture to guess, they still fly nowhere near as good as the Sleek Streak.

    By the way, I happened upon your website several years ago when researching Hi Flier kites (excellent writing, by the way). Also, I got a kick out of your entry on the “Lil Orby” wall walker which I instantly recognized as a favorite childhood toy of mine (1958?).

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Regards,
    Gary Butters

    1. Fantastic! I had all of those balsa aircraft in the early-mid 60s but have long forgotten who made them. I know I had a number of Skeeters and a few of the higher-end rubber-band craft as well, though there were several manufacturers and I’m sure I tried them all. One of the models of rubber-band planes that sold for 49c circa 1963 used a brittle red plastic for the propeller, and if the plane nosed down into the street with the prop turning, chunks would break off the prop, rendering flights pretty erratic.

      I just ordered a 70’s plastic Glite from an eBay seller, and it was cheap enough ($7.95) that I think I’ll try and fly it, at least after I take some photos. My memories agree with yours: It was a lousy kite, at least without a tail. However, I remember that it did glide well when tossed from the hand, and I wonder if it would glide if lofted from a “tow string” that fell away from the device once the flier stopped pulling on it. I’ve seen model gliders launched that way many times.

      I loved those balsa planes, and will sniff around for additional information for a short article. If you come up with anything else, do pass it along. Many thanks!

      1. reza says:

        Ah. Mr. Jeff
        THANK YOU

      2. Patti Lemaire says:

        I have a North Pacific Products inc. Nimbus Sailplane stock #2600 still in the box. Where can I get some info. On it? Do they still make them?
        Thanks
        Pattimary54@hotmail.com

        1. I’ve never heard of that particular NP item. I’m mostly a kites guy, though like most boys in my age cohort I bought and flew and wrecked a fair number of balsa wood planes too.

          North Pacific has been gone now for probably thirty years. Dave Pecota’s article on the company is superb:
          http://www.oldwoodtoys.com/north_pacific.htm

          He probably knows more about balsa gliders and ROGs (rubber-band powered balsa planes with wheels) than anyone else on Earth. If he checks this article from time to time he might have additional comments. Alas, there’s very little beyond his articles and this one about North Pacific products.

          Good luck with it

        2. Barakuda says:

          I just found a Nimbus 4 North Pacific glider. Was wonder if you still had yours. And more specifically the directions? I think cockpit area that holds the wings in place is warped. Im having trouble getting the wing to stay in place.

    2. Nancy Cleveland says:

      Hello Everyone:

      My father was Charles H. Cleveland and I appreciate all of the comments about the products he created. To clarify a few points from Gary, numerous versions of the Glite were sold through 1982, as were many balsa wood gliders. You did great on the product names. The first product was the Stunt Flyer and originally it was hand packaged in a paper bag and sold for $.05.

      The true secret to the balsa planes was that my father created technique to “slice” balsa wood and create a natural air foil for the wings. The balsa slices were then steamed, to give them more resiliancy, and then printed and dye cut using an old Heidleberg printing press. My father patented both the extruded wing clip and the propeller — used on the Sleek Streak and the Star Flyer.

      Unfortunately, the recession of the early 1980’s caused the company to fail and the product lines were sold by the bank. It was my understanding that they were sold to Guillow. However, even though the product lines (and perhaps the original equipment) were sold to Guillow, they did not produce the same product. They reverted to cutting and sanding the wings, which did not provide an adequate airfoil and the planes did not perform the same.

      The company was originally founded in Portland, Oregon by my father and his brother Wallace T. Cleveland around 1952. They moved the business to Bend, Oregon in 1954. My father designed the planes and then he and his brother designed and build the machinery to produce the products.

      I loved hearing that the products are still remembered and appreciated. Thank you for your comments.

      Nancy Cleveland

      1. Art Davis says:

        I suspect you are a sister of John Cleveland who attended Oregon State University. From January to June of 1968 John and I shared an apartment, actually old army housing, on the south side of Corvallis. I got married in June of 1968. My wife Patti and I graduated in 1969 and went in the Peace Corps (Iran) for two years. We heard from John a few times after we left Corvallis. I think he did a short stint in the Army and then we lost touch. If you know where or how I could get back in touch with him I would really appreciate it.
        Art Davis

        1. Mary says:

          Actually John is my brother, and Wally Cleveland is our father. I’ll send him this article so he knows you are looking for him.

      2. reza says:

        NO KIDDING?!
        not only those products are still remembered, but their inventor is still adorable. So the names of two great men are Mr. Charles and MR. Wallace. You know ,your father was indeed a genius. I think Mr. Wallace was a genius too. forming a thin balsa sheet around an probably aluminum warm cylinder with a help of steam and mass producing it with the price of few cents is genius. The prop, well you may not know that small red prop was a master piece .you may not know that prop is still one of the finest and most efficient ever.
        Even the packings were unique ,(remember flight base?)
        You wont believe if I tell you for many years and even now, I dreamed
        I’m visiting your father and talking about his brilliant works.
        Although I almost knew he should not be alive.
        I searched everywhere in internet to find who created these fine masterpieces.

        may seems funny but i even looked bend oregon in google earth just to see what the land of sleek streak looks like!!
        I live in IRAN. I produced small foam model aircraft base on your father’s design ,name sanjaghak means dragonfly in persian.
        I sold some 500.000 in the year 1989.
        i ended up this business 2 years after but I still keep the molds.
        I wish you the best luck
        Reza

        1. Scott says:

          please let me know more about sanjaghak, I want to produce again electricbasscott@yahoo.com

      3. reza says:

        You know what dear? Sleek Streak and your father’s other models were not a simple toy. they played a very important role in many many young boys life. Why? they were FLYING. although others one also flied but not this good and not this soon!(although ready to fly things were available those time and before.eg FROG Co. or GUNTER in Germany) for example the AMA RACER from sig also flied but you have to build them first. I was 11 when I first bought a sleek streak and it was my first time to SEE how a model airplane FLIES. after 3 years of unsucsessful tries with SIG’s , Guilows , VERON, KeilKraft, mercury, and so on. Now I am single engine instructor pilot, I trained many people fly safe everyday. Sleek Streak kept me in airplane field.

      4. Gary Butters says:

        Nancy,

        I think it’s so neat that you were able to find this website and to add some clarity to the history of these wonderful products. I guess my memory after 40+ years is not as good is as I think it is and I apologize for about my less-than-glowing comments on Glites!

        I just wanted to echo what Reza said in that you should be very proud of the positive impact your father’ plane designs had on thousands of kids in the 60’s and 70’s. North Pacific, along with Cox (gas engines for model planes) and Hi Flier (kites) were mythic-like companies for kids who loved flying. They are all well-designed, reasonably priced, and above all, worked well.

        I think models like this are something today’s kids have missed out on. About 10 years ago, for my son’s Cub Scout den meeting, we built AMA Cubs, which have similar flying characteristics to the Sleek Streak and the kids were amazed at how well they flew.

        So here I am in my mid-fifties, and I still get a kick out planes and flying. Now it is watching plane stuff on the History Channel and messing with RC electric planes. But it all started for me (and undoubtedly countless others) with the North Pacific Sleek Streak.

        Kind Regards,
        Gary Butters

      5. Scott Griffith says:

        Hello Nancy,
        I grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon in the late 1950’s and 60’s and the ready to fly models I flew were the North Pacific Skeeter and Sleek Streek. I still have one of each of these models and I have collected some information from the old American Junior Company where your father worked before starting his own company. I believe I have a photo of him from that time and would like to share it with you. I believe it would be very nice to put some North Pacific history on the Internet for others to see. I have photos of many of the North Pacific models, but it would be nice to have a more complete history to share. Hope to hear from you. I would like to have your e-mail to share any photos I might have that would be of interest.

        Scott Griffith

        1. reza says:

          Mr Scott
          I’m dying to see a picture of this great inventor.
          I don’t know your rules ,but is it possible to see this picture?

      6. Lana Schaubhuth says:

        Hi Nancy,
        I have a ‘toy’ that my Mother gave me in 1969, it has a sticker on it ;
        “Pend-U-Lation”
        North Pacific Products, Bend Oregon

        It is all black, has four cylinder legs w/ plastic top that holds the 5 metal balls suspended by nylon strings.
        Was this one of the toys made by your father?
        Thanks

      7. Joe Bergeson says:

        Your father’s designs and the beauty of a glider in flight will always bring back amazing childhood/young adult memories. I would buy them now if i only could! All the best!
        Joe Bergeson

      8. Iskandar Taib says:

        Wow.. this is just what I was looking for. I’ve just started flying indoor rubber models, and was just telling my friends about the old North Pacific rubber powered models. My all-time favorite was the Star Flyer, which was a little bigger than the Sleek Streek. For some reason, all the Streeks I got had a warp that would cause a roll, the Star Flyers were straight. I figured out how to (with just hand winds) get them to fly for a long time, losing many up trees and on roofs. Eventually I started scratch building my own models of similar size. Yes, the prop (especially the 7 incher on the Star Flyer) was very, very good, much lighter and thinner than other rubber power props from SIG, Top Flite, Guillows, even Peck Polymers. I wish they were still being made.

        Iskandar

      9. Charmg313 says:

        Nancy! I remember you! We went to school together! I went looking for North Pacific..over a post I saw..a child playing with NP products. Eleanor Olson used to work for your father. She lived next door to us (remember Kaye Olson?..seems to me you knew her). They lived next door to us back then..and on very special days, Mrs. Olson would bring home planes for us to play with.

        I didn’t know NP was your dad’s!

    3. R Jason Webster says:

      Found this info & pics at this website – http://www.oldwoodtoys.com/north_pacific.htm I was and am still looking for the Strato or its larger cousin Hi-Flyer glider. Boy, did I enjoy these planes some five decades ago and have a story or two to tell.

  3. Did a little sniffing, and the plane with the brittle prop was the Testors Little Dipper. There’s a so-so photo here, along with numerous other balsa gliders and rubber-band planes, inc luding the Sleek Streak:

    http://www.oldwoodtoys.com/new_page_2.htm

  4. WV.Hillbilly says:

    I always had pretty good luck with these, I always bought them at the beach. They flew good for me in a stiff beach wind.
    I dug my old one (North Pacific Super Glite Red Baron) out of the basement a few months ago and discovered the vinyl had deteriorated pretty badly in places.
    So I sewed up some new nylon to fit the frame and I’ll try flying it whenever I buy some line.

  5. Thank you for bringing back old memories! The web site URL I’ve entered is not mine, but is from a collector/historian who has a lot of balsa toy gliders, many of which are long out of production. I had one of those North Pacific “adjustable right-angle boomerangs.” It flew pretty far, but it didn’t always return (the red plastic “Wham-O” boomerangs were much better). I lost my North Pacific boomerang in a cemetery near my house when it flew in front of the Sun. I had to stop looking for it when a funeral procession drove up just minutes later!

  6. Mark Casselberry says:

    Hi Jeff, I came across a Sleek Streek and a Star Flyer made by the North Pacific Products Company. I found them at an estate sale. I think they must be from the 60’s or 70’s. I remember buying them as a kid. The Sleek Streek that I have originally sold for 29c and the Star Flyer for 49c. I think this should narrow down the age range of my planes. These items have not been opened. I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should sell them on ebay or show my daughter how much fun I had with them as a kid. I want to play with them with my daughter, but I also hate to open them. It has been so long since I have seen them. It was nice to see other people talking about this, because it brings back great memories.

  7. Victor Diaz says:

    I also have childhood memories of the bolsa wood gliders. I recently purchased one at a swap meet still in the plastic packaging, not the paper as mentioned in one of the previous posts. It originally sold for $0.05 as marked on the original packaging, patent # 2739414 but it was called a Strato Glider. Does anyone have any info on this particular glider? Perhaps a year? I’m thinking 1958 because I found it in a box of photos dated 1958 but have not been able to find anyone mentioning a Strato Glider.

  8. Greg Ludwick says:

    I recently purchased a home and while doing some plumbing updates in my basement I stumble onto a “red baron” super glite with all accessories that has never been flown. Everything is there even the instructions. I wanted to know how old it is and if would be worth anything. Thanks for your help!!

    1. I never had nor saw a Red Baron Glite, but I’m guessing that it was made after the song “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” made it up to position #2 on the national Billboard charts. That was in February, 1966, and I’d wager that the kite is no older than that. (I’d never even heard of the Red Baron until after the Snoopy thing became a cultural icon.) As for how much it’s worth, the best way to tell is to search for “Glite” on eBay’s Advanced Search, with Completed Listings checked. You have to have an eBay account to search completed listings. I did it just now and saw no recently completed auctions for Glites, but there are three Glites currently listed for between $8-$10. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Glite go for more than $15 on eBay, so that may be a top-end value for the item.

  9. Richard says:

    Sad News,

    Went to The AJ Classics website to find that it Closed in 2009 after the Death of it’s owner.

  10. J.W.Lockhart says:

    I am not into gliders. I have a pend-u-lation mfg. by
    North Pacific Products Co., Bend, OR. One steele is lost and I need new cord. Are you familiar? Or who should I contact. Thanks for helping me. JWL

    1. I have no idea where one might get parts for one of these, so I’ll throw it out to my readership. Here’s the gadget:

      http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/second-hand-homeware-and-collectables/381457

      Good luck with it. I never knew North Pacific made things like this, and I don’t think finding parts will be easy.

  11. Dan Askew says:

    Greetings,

    I discovered this site last year and, as an enthusiastic collector of kites and balsa gliders of my youth, I throughly enjoyed Jeff’s article and Gary’s commentary.
    It is this discussion of my passions that brings me back. I am delighted that Nancy Cleveland has offered a rare glimpse into North Pacific Products and of her father, the creator of those fascinating toys. American Junior and North Pacific acquired a generous portion of my allowance through the ’50s and ’60s, and as a collector, their creations continue to do so.
    Like Scott, I hope Nancy will share more information with us about her father and North Pacific Products.

    Dan Askew

  12. Ray von der Fecht says:

    Hi All,
    I too have the same fond memories of flying the SLEEK STREEK in the 60s.
    I lived on a farm near Chester in the UK and bought the streeks from Woolworths. Back then I had little idea about the USA and wondered to myself where this Bend Oregon place could be…. if it realy was a place and not some other technical term I had misunderstood!
    They were absolutely fantastic and I remember having competitions with my school pals to see who could achieve the longest flight.
    These small planes realy did perform well and encouaged my growing interest in flight. I’m a keen private pilot today, flying a Cessna 172 which I feel somehow is a ‘grown up’ Streek.
    Nancy Cleveland should be very proud of her fathers achievements in providing such an economic, encouraging and educating item for so many youngsters in a more simple time.
    Ray.

  13. Malcolm Greenway says:

    I remember those ‘Strato Gliders’ from North Pacific. There was a small grocery store across the road from the grade school I attended, and we bought them for 5 cents. they came in a plastic bag, with directions on it. I remember reading in a popular mechanics magazine, that the red plastic piece that held the wings on was an innovation that made the planes cheaper to make as you could use shorter pieces of balsa.
    In 1961, me and a friend, Herbert Duncan, would fly these, on the school playground at recess, while others were playing ball. These were cheap enough that we did experiments, I painted one, and discovered that it would drop like a lead weight,( paint has weight, what a concept!) would trim the edge of the wing, where it went into the plastic bracket, to give a ‘swept wing’ — did not fly well ether, and I did one where I took 2 gliders and made a biplane by cutting the bottom of the fuselage so that the wing I glued on the bottom would have the same angle as the top. This flew, had the same flight time as the stock monoplane, but flew slower. I had a cigar box full of parts, These were popular enough, that the school principal made an entercom announcement that if they landed on the roof, you could not try to climb and retrive…. Thanks for a pleasant memory!

  14. David Roberts says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I’m working on an article about North Pacific and its magnificent planes, and I would very much like to get in touch with Nancy Cleveland. I noticed that replies to posts on your blog require an e-mail address. Would it be possible for you to send a message to Nancy and ask her to contact me? I would like to find out more about her father and the history of his company.

    Thanks!

    1. reza says:

      An article about North Pacific!
      Dont forget to let me know how to reach it.
      And Jeff , Nancy Cleveland seems to be the only person in the world who knows the amazing stories and details about North Pacific.
      Please knidly ask her to contact me too!

    2. Nancy Cleveland says:

      Hello Everyone:

      After I made my first post, sadly I failed to revisit this website. Thank you to everyone who has commented and loved the North Pacific Products toys! I have to admit that the posts brought me to tears.

      I do need to amend my original post to add credit to two ladies who were instrumental in the vision and development of North Pacific Products. First and foremost is my mother Norma (Ruddock) Cleveland. She was an integral part of the company from the beginning until the close. Second, to my uncle Wally’s wife Gigi. While she was only involved for the first several years, believe the venture required every single person to evolve into the company it became.

      Actually, I have ended up with a fair supply of old North Pacific toys. I did try to donate some to the toy museum in New York City, but never received a reply.

      If anyone would like to contact me directly, here is my email: Nancy@SlidingGreenhouse.com.

      I did work at the company for many years and my favorite part of the job was responding to customer letters — like those saying that the plane flew too well and it was lost!

      Thank you all for remembering!

      Nancy

  15. I live in the UK, I am 57 years of age. I assembled and flew so many of the North Pacific series of models back in the 50s and 60s. I was 3 years old when I had my first model plane and I still built and fly models today. I would love to get hold of one of those models again. I had so many models as a kid, but I can say in all honesty that the Sleek Streak was one of the best models I had. I lost count of the hours of fun I had with those models.

    I had a friend who lived in Bend Oregon, but I had no idea it was the home of North Pacific Models. I even visited Bend about 10 years ago, but have never been back since.

    Today I build models and teach others to fly them, I have turned a life long hobby into a business and I still enjoy it as much today as I did the day I flew the first Sleek Streak plane in the back yard of my parents home.

    I would love to know what ever happened to all the tooling for the models and has anyone any idea if they may be available again one day.

    Regards

    Martin Bedding for Xel-Model Flying Services.

  16. Carsten says:

    Agree on all the positive remarks.
    Around 1964-70 I enjoyed flying the balsa-models here i Denmark; Scandinavia. Marketing of the planes was brilliant with colourful plastic bags. Bought many of them (maybe 20), they flew well.

    Bravo, a fine true US-product.

  17. TJ Olney says:

    Yes, I was just tossing my only remaining North Pacific plane and wondered whether I could find any on the internet. Thus I found this forum.

    I flew glites successfully in the 60’s. It wasn’t easy to notice, but they were the first commercial two line kites! They had spots for a dual bridal allowing you to use two lines. The next commercial two line kite was quite a few years later, the Tribly, based on the rogallo wing as well. To fly them with one line, they had to have the bridal just right, or they were very unstable. I had a couple paper ones, but the plastic ones looked and flew much better. I was enamored enough with North Pacific that after College, on my journey West, I stopped in North Bend, OR to see if I could get hired. No go. 🙁 I ended up working for Denesh Bahadur at the Come Fly a Kite Store for a while, instead.

    My first long duration tossed flight was with a 5cent Strato launched from a Park in Clarendon Hills. It flew three blocks and stayed airborne for an undetermined number of minutes, after catching some orographic lift on a mound of earth then some more on the Prospect elementary school building. Since I never got into other flying, that remains my longest flight where I wasn’t in the air with my wing. I much preferred the two small gliders to the Skeeter. I never went for the biggest one, since I could get several Strato’s for the same price. Over time, I built up quite a collection of spare parts from wings that had died for one reason or another. Last time I looked in the cigar box, there were only enough parts to put together one Stunt Flyer and one Strato. Those have since broken. So the one I was tossing was a Stunt Flyer with Strato tail and the broken stunt flyer tail as it’s rudder. Another reason I liked the Strato is that it’s turning radius was short enough to fly it in circles in my room. 🙂

    The dihedral connector is what made the planes great. It was also a weak link in the overall design in that after a few assemblies and dis-assemblies, they would crack and become unusable. Maybe Martin (above) will make some dihedral connectors, the patents have long since expired. (I have used cork for the purpose, but it was too heavy on the scale of the original. Works OK with much larger gliders. Maybe the new artificial cork will work better.)

    I saw a large display of the current Guillow planes in an airport in Calgary this weekend. Maybe they would make some dihedral planes if enough of us wrote enquiring letters. All of them were the “slide wing through the fuselage” design.

    So write to Guillow, our Grand kids deserve better planes to play with. (They sure have better kites than we did!)

    TJ Olney
    Bellingham WA

    1. Hello TJ,

      You must have read my mind, I have been thinking making something like these models and the wing joiner is something I am working on.

      Martin Bedding,

      Xel-Model Flying Services.

  18. TJ Olney says:

    http://i.ebayimg.com/19/!BnMVf-QBWk~$(KGrHgoOKi!EjlLmFs2+BLil6-K59Q~~_12.JPG

    Does this look like the North Pacific dihedral connector to anyone else?

    on ebay,
    Soaring Elastic Powered Aircraft Glider Model Toy Gift

    TJ Olney

  19. Terry Tucker says:

    I flew so many of the Strato and Stunt Flyers from 1960 until about 1982. It was the best way possible to spend 5 or 10 cents as a kid besides a tube of BB’s for my Daisy Air Rifle. I was the neighborhood champion of our Sleek Streak Contests. Those things really flew.

    Does anyone still have a complete one we could use to trace the outlines of the parts full size? If so, we could put some of these little rascles up in the air again. I would certainly build a few if I had dimensions or a full size photo from which to work.

  20. wayne stout says:

    i have a set of kinetic balls made by north pacific products of Bend,Oregon.i have been trying to find out if this company still exists.the kinetic balls are very old and in need of repair imjust checking if parts are available.

  21. Shawn Kelley says:

    I have a PEND-U-LATION kinetic balls on a black wood stand given to me by my grandfather sticker says North Pacific Productions I also am in need of repair to the strings I have all the balls.Does anyone have any information on where I could get repaired or a how to guide would really love to restore it to its original look means so much to me!

  22. Gary Frederick says:

    I loved the Sleek Streak airplanes..I agree, they were the best flying by far, over other company’s offerings. They were the beginning of a long interest in airplanes for me! The Star Flyer was great too…but I can’t count how many Sleek Streaks I had. I wish I had one for my boy!

  23. Rod helmuth says:

    I can remember back in about 1970, on a very stormy windy day there was only one kite flying due to the conditions and I was simply amazed. Being a avid kite kite flier since a young boy, I had to find out what kind of kite and get one. While I was watching it get tossed and turned in the wind, I noticed that a flapping noise was coming from the sky, it was the kite… now was really amazed… a kite that flies in this wind and makes noise! I asked the older man what kind of kite he was flying and he said “Its the Red Baron”…
    “Does it have a motor on it” I asked… he said “no but I did modify it a little bit… ” I noticed that the Kite string he was using was not the normal string bought in the local 10 cent store and looked more like rope to me, so I asked him why such heavy string and he said “here, feel how much this thing tugs” As he let me fly his kite, I never felt anything tug this hard.. I was sold!
    When I was done from flying his kite a ran as hard as I could to my Grandpa’s house and said ” I want and NEEEEEED a Red Baron Kite and a mile of string!” and I described it to him.
    Well my grandpa just did that, He said he had a hard time finding a Red Baron kite but, he did find a kite made by North Pacific, and it was Flying tiger schemed back ground… and I was hooked for the rest of my child hood. I did find many Red Barons, Moon Birds, ect that were made by North Pacific, but the Yellow Red Baron kite was always my favorite…. and to this day I own and fly vintage Red Baron and Moon Bird Kite that I grew up with! Oh and that noise I heard… Now it’s my secret!

  24. Michael Bronniche. DK says:

    As a kid i flew various sizes of the stunt flyer ( even the smallest ones flew amazingly well ) for years. Eventually i ended up trying the Skeeter and later, the Sleek Streek, fantastic planes.
    Today i just bought some old unopened sets of Sleek Streek on the ebay. I havent opened any yet but will take one out on saturday to fly it with my son.
    i wonder if the rubberbands are still ok, after 30 years.
    I am not surprized that so many people have fond memories of the north pacific produts, they were superior to anything else.

  25. Forrest Lindsey says:

    Like many of the others who have written their memories of the North Pacific products, I was a kid in the late 50s – early 60s who bought as many of the Sleek Streaks, Star Flyers and Stratos as I could get. I grew up (actually just got larger – I never grew up) in Southern California and in those days, people used to throw their empty soda bottles out of their car windows and I would walk along the road to find them. The small ones would get me 2 cents each and the big ones a nickle and very redeemed few bottles would get me great-flying North Pacific planes. A little later I graduated to Top Flite Jigtime models (couldn’t get enough of their Rascal 18s and Messerschmitt 109s) but I never forgot the long and graceful flights of the North Pacific balsa planes.

    A long time later – after at least one war and three marriages – I have six kids and seven grandchildren and all of them have flown North Pacific products, thanks to e-bay.

    Thank you Cleveland brothers!

  26. Greg Fake says:

    Folks, I aquired several planes in packages several years ago. I still haven’t opened them. Got them from someone on E-Bay. I have a “Skeeter”, 15 cents. A “Stunt-Flyer”, 10 cents. A “Sleek Streek”, 29 cents. And lastly, a “Star Flyer”, 49 cents. No dates of any kind on the packages, but they’re the real deal from my childhood days. These were always my favorite toys. I always had a few on hand for spare parts and when something got broken, I used to trim them down, proportionally, and just make a smaller plane. A couple of these could entertain me for a week !!!!!!!!! I’ve always wished they could still be found. They were the BEST !!!!! One of these days I’ll have to open them up and go flying. I’m 57 now and sure miss those days.
    BTW………balsa wood airplanes are fun to toss off high bridges on the downwind side. They fly a long way before hitting the water.
    Also, as most stated, the Guillows do NOT fly like the North Pacifics. Not even close.

  27. […] company was sold to a competitor who made inferior models, and the North Pacific line was dropped. Glites, Gliders, and North Pacific Products – Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary My college aerodynamics lecturer would be able to save himself hours of Powerpoint presentations […]

  28. K Wood says:

    The weak point on the Glite was the polyethylene “arrowhead” which was both the front point and the attachment for the three dowels. I can’t remember how many of those I broke before just plain giving up on kites. You couldn’t glue them.

    BTW, the instructions (and the markings on the kite) advised of two ways to attach the string. You could do it “kite style” on the keel rod or “fighter style” with two strings, one on each of the wing spars. Dots on the kite showed you where to poke the holes for each style.

  29. ray kelly (ladd) says:

    I worked at north pacific prod for allmost 2 yrs 1973 -1975 i worked in the cut shop we cut & ripped pine boards for use in making tv trays etc, and we ran a big resaw that cut fir 2×4’s into 4 thin flat pieces that then went to a moulding machine and made into sticks for the glites. i worked on the band saw cutting balsa wood only some of the time, the machine that peeled the balsa wood blocks to make the wing was called the slicer in had huge blade 3 to 4 feet long that went up n down at an angle slicing very thin pieces off for the wings it was very very sharp like a giant razor blade very dangerous .i will add more later

  30. Lynn Averett says:

    Glite kites – does anyone remember a contest involving entering a stunt for your Glite? I remember my Aunt Shirley Breedlove telling my mother that she finally figured out where all of her hair roller clips were going. My cousin Larry Breedlove (who I have lost contact with), while living here in the Roseburg Oregon area WON the contest, and that’s how Aunt Shirley found out about where her clips were going. As I recall – Larry got the Glite afloat, then rigged up a way to pull quickly on the string and set the Glite free of the string to fly free to the ground. Can anyone confirm my memory? I am 53 this year, and I seem to remember the Glite being…orange and blue maybe??? This would probably have been late 60’s or so.

  31. I found quite a few old north pacific balsa and foam planes in a box in my attic a few weeks ago. I’ve put them up on ebay in case anyone is interested in them.

    Skeeter

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/230858387524?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

    Stunt Flyer

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/230860285259?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

  32. Bob Bartlett says:

    I worked for them as a mainenance machinist! This was in the early 60’s… the company made their own machinery for slicing balsa, as no one made any equipment for that. The company used Heidelberg printing presses to cut out the thin balsa and to print the logos on the plane parts. It was owned by two brothers, Wally Cleveland and Chuck Cleveland. The plant was just out of Bend on Century Drive. It was very active, and a popular business!

  33. john waters says:

    had occasion to speak with chuck near the end of his life. i had found that slats under the wing would enhance the glide and prevent stalls for the kite. don’t know of anyone mentioned, but the sparing is almost identical to the rainbow stunt kite, just a lot lighter and without the curve of the spine (although this could be added, too), being spared with port orford ceder, mostly arrow shaft seconds. yes, it did fly well bridled and trained as rainbows would be, just in much lighter winds. chuck was interested in the mod’s, but it was near his death then….wasn’t that old. his gliders flew better than anything on the marked at the time, and the best ones cost only a nickle. wow.

    1. anthony richards says:

      I loved all those great gliders. I now own a handful of boxes of the dies and stamps for those great planes, can’t wait to go through them. to grow up playing with them was great, but to hold the tools in my hands is even better.

    2. Nancy Cleveland says:

      Hi John:

      I would love to talk with you more about when you met my father and the last conversation you had with him.

      Thanks so much!

      Nancy

      Nancy@SlidingGreenhouse.com

  34. Clyde Lyman says:

    The last I knew of North Pacific (gliders) was from the Guillows website some 5 years ago and it showed the usual suspects (Sleek Streek, Skeeter, Stunt-Flyer) and some I never heard of. That too, seems to have gone away

    The first North Pacific planes I ran acroos were the Strato-Flyer (1957 or 8) and the boxed VTO Streek) Same timeframe

  35. Barakuda says:

    Anybody remember the tough foam models they made. I had more of these then the balsa models because the local New Deal market sold those. They looked like the balsa models but with blue foam wings. They had the Sky Master had a 17″wingspan landing
    gear, looked like a Star Flyer. Sky Flyer which had 15″ wing span landing gear and looked like a Sleek Streek. Super Jet looked like a skeeter with wings a liitle more swept back jet style,15″ wingspan. Strato looked like a bigger version of the small balsa Strato. Jet Flyer 12″ wing span with rounded wing tips. They all had balsa fusilage. Except two gliders. Drifter was like Jet Flyer with 12″ wing span but had a tough foam fusilage. They also had a Strato glider with tough foam fusilage. The foam wings were great has they had a molded airfoil design. The models had nice stable, steady, high climb abilties with long smoth, steady glide. They store display box would say Flight Deck if had the two all foam gliders or Flight Deck II if it included the gliders that had the balsa fusilages. Guillows made foam wing versions of the Star Flyer and Stunt flyer that sucked. Foam wings were flat(no airfoil) and were way to flexible. When i wound the Star Flyer and let takeoff the wings nearly folded in half. I also seen balsa versions of the Skeeter with round wing tips and the signature Guillows red rounded off prop.

    Barakuda

  36. Barakuda says:

    Also some earlier comment said the AJ Hornet didnt have the proper dihedral in the wings. Actually i bought a remake from American Jr classics. The hornet wings were steam formed high lift dihedral and front to bsck camber airfoil. They climb high and glide far. The rise off the ground with ease. Unlike the Guillows planes with hardly any dihedral. I can never get the Strato Streak(Guillows biggest rubber powered rtf) to fly right without any major wing adjustment. They always dive left or right so you majorly have to warp the rear edge of the wings down on one side to get it to climb.

    Barakuda

  37. Barakuda says:

    Actually the all foam gliders were called the Drift which i mentioned. But to correct myself the other one was called the Chuck’r not the strato. The Chuck’r name was also used for a all balsa glider kit North Pacific produced several years ealier.

    Barakuda

  38. I was the Art director of North Pacific and designed and took to market many of the designs. Chuck was a good man and helped me become who I am. The one thing good is North Pacific airplanes/kites and toys really flew!

    I have a few or my Original kites for sale if anyone is intrested.

    You can always tell my kites because they are all signed by me.

    Thanks
    Daniel Florea
    503 572 8892

  39. Jeff Green says:

    North Pacific made the best planes. I spent my lawn mowing money on Stratos, Skeeter and Sleek Streaks. I moved on to the Comets and Guillows models, R/C and later a pilot’s license and degrees in aerospace. I remember the day it finally clicked that the “Bend Oregon” was talking about where they were made and not how to bend the elevator. My wife and I finally “cut” through Bend on one of our many trips from San Jose where we live to Montana where we have relatives (secretly my plan was to find the NP factory that was such a force in my youth). The surprise was that Bend was such a charming town in its own right. We’re coming up there this summer to vacation and are looking to retire there. Thanks for all the other memories!

  40. Lowell Ford says:

    I still have some spare parts for the 5 cent Stunt Flier, tail feathers, wings and a plastic wing root or two, from back in the post war years, 1946 – 50, some have made good bookmarks. Use to fly them with friends. I found that by reversing the wing they would stay aloft for a much longer time. Later in my career in aerospace, I was tasked with researching German FSW designs and found that North American Aviation, Inc. had toyed with putting an FSW on the Mustang airplane. With the glider, when the wing was reversed, the CG was moved way back of normal, but it sure worked well. Sad to see the design go away.

  41. colletta munk says:

    I moved to bend Oregon and I loved it so much I wanted to get a job and right down the road from me was north pacific products I worked there a long Time,I loved it I ran cleat saws bevel saws worked on the round table stacked pallets with wood,sometimes id vet to see some of the big gliders they made there,my bosses name was Roy,he was a really nice brings back happy memories….

    colletta McKinney munk

  42. Space Patroller says:

    North Pacific pretty much invented the “clip wing” balsa plane. That was a glider where, instead of a 1-piece wing, the wign was die cut in two pieces which you would separate from a center strip and put into a provided plastic “clip” then mount that on the body of the plane. They first arrived in my area. Southestern Ma/Northeast RI in c1956 in the form of the 5-cent small Strato-Flyer. In 1958 the prop-driven swept-wing VTO Streak and a catapult-launced plane with an underslung wing who’s name I forget followed. In about 1958 came the Hi-Flier (later Stunt-Flier) a 10-cent “full size (about 1-foot wingspan)” swept wing hand-launched plane came in followed by the Space_Flier the same but with reverse coloration and rounded wingtips. After that, in about 1960 Came the Sleek Streek and a wheelless swept wing plane called Skeeter. Both were prop-driven and the Skeeter was 15 cents, a nickel down from the Sleek Streek and a better performer. In 1961 came the large VTO Star-Flier at 49 cents and the massive-split-body Sport Flier at a buck even, both prop-driven. In 1960 or thereabouts North Pacific released an interesting itme: Blue Angels 3 Strato-Flier like planes with blue grpahics instead of red the clipped together in a triangular formation. Things remained pretty quiet until 1969 when North Pacific provide the tiny plane that was the premium in “Clackers” early graham cracker cerial. Therafter the activity of North Pacific was mostly around switching to foam wings, cration of the Skymaster prop plane that repplaced the Star Flier, the Glite, a very strange split-bodied flying disk and finly the tiny all-foam 1-piced Delta Dart in the early 1980’s and the return of all-balsa planes. As I understand, the company was later bought by Comet which was in tern bought by Guillows and then ceased to exisit

  43. James John Craven says:

    I have a specific toy i have questions about. Its a catapulted sailplane from North Pacific Inc called the Columbia Space Shuttle copyrighted 1981 trying to find as much information as I can on it would appreciate any help that you may have thank you

  44. Luci R says:

    I also remember the North Pacific Planes and they were amazing but I am curious if anyone knows anything about North Pacific Stock. My parents bought some shares in 1970. I am assuming they are worthless since the company is out of business, but thought I would ask to see if anyone knows for sure.
    Thanks!

  45. Allan Tompkins says:

    My grandpa was Roger Tompkins. The “ROG” was named after him. It was really cool to read through all of this and relive some of the stories that I was told growing up. He had a big box of almost all of these product in his garage that he would show me once in a while. I remember stories of John Wayne and other movie stars stopping by and meeting all of the workers while they were intown shooting a western. Very Cool!

  46. Lars says:

    I liked the Strato. Flew them for hours and hours every day in the summer. 5ȼ was all I could afford with collecting coke bottles. It was a bargain for learning to fly. It was about 1957-8. When they would break I would trim them down until I had a micro version of the glider which I named the mosquito. It flew rather well in an animated jerky fashion due to its dimensions. I wish I could get one for my 6 year old grandson.

  47. Don says:

    It was great finding this group of messages. Funny how “small” things of our childhood give us such joy! I was a child of the 60’s and a teen in the 70’s and remember the balsa gliders. They were a lot of fun. My hobby now is buying and selling collectibles and today I found two display boxes of North Pacific Products Inc. Drifter Gliders that are of Tuffoam, not balsa. Wonder if this was an original design of Charles H. Cleveland or of the new company. Fun! Fun!

  48. Don says:

    I noticed there was a patent number for the Drifter Glider so I Googled it. The patent number (2739414) seems to be the generic patent from 1954 by C.H. Cleveland for the Kockdown Toy Glider. No information on the Drifter Glider. There is a number on the box which includes 74 and the people in the picture on the box look to be wearing styles from the early 70’s so that’s probably a good guess. Taking the previous information entered on this page I’d have to say it was a Cleveland design since he still had the company at that time.

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