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START HERE NMPRA Hall Of Fame Inductee - 2015

Lyle Larson

If you have been involved in RC Pylon racing long, chances are you have a Lyle Larson story. Here is mine: In the summer of 1989, I was a 12 year old boy racing Q-500 under my father’s tutelage in Billings, MT. My first memory of Lyle was on the trailer headed to the flight line. I was flying a Rossi powered Larson T-Tail Q-500, as most were in Montana at the time, that was monokoted black. He said, “Nice plane; you know black is hard on radio gear.” That is Lyle in our first brief exchange, always offering helpful advice and support. Even if you didn’t ask for it. The next day he asked me to call for him in Formula 1, and after the race he made my father and me a deal. Get a F1 and race it for a full season. If you do, the following year there will be a fully equipped F1 waiting for you at the NATS. Needless to say this left quite an impression on a 12-year-old Montana boy. True to his word, a Larson Midget Mustang was fully equipped and ready to race the summer of 1991. Getting to race at the NATS was an amazing experience and a memory I cherish to this day, all thanks to Lyle.

Fast forward 23 years to 2004 and my wedding in Kestone, SD. At the reception my brother leans over to me and says, “You’ll never guess what is on the gift table.” After several anxious moments, I finally caught a glimpse of a Larson Vendetta sitting amongst the other wrapped gifts. Thanks, Lyle, my re-entry into Pylon racing was complete.

The following February, with Lyle calling, I flew my Larson Proud Bird for my first Q-40 race in Phoenix, Arizona. I turned a 1:05 and could not believe the exhilaration and excitement of Q- 40. Jumping ahead to 2009 and I was very fortunate to capture the first of 3 National Championships with a Larson Proud Bird II.

25+ years after that first encounter, I have countless great pylon friends and hundreds of memories, in large part due to Lyle’s support, mentorship, and generosity over the years. What is your Lyle story?

Lyle has always been fascinated with airplanes. He started building airplanes out of peach crates when he was about 5 years old and started control line when he was about 12. In his early 20s he went to a local RC contest in the spring. He asked some of the locals, “How long before I could fly that good?” The participants told him 3-4 years. Lyle couldn’t wait; he bought a Falcon 56 with a Hobby Lobby 3 Channel Radio and practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. He went through 30 gallons of fuel that summer. That fall he entered and won 4 out of 5 events. They asked him not to come back.

Lyle flew QM 15’s in Sioux City and won the first contest he entered. He was hooked. However, he got a reality check when he flew against the NCPL and got his ass kicked! So, he flew with those guys for a couple of years honing his skills. Lyle entered his first NATS in Lincoln, NE and took 2nd.

From there he moved to California where he met Henry Bartle. Together, they started racing Formula One. That was the start of his building career. In the 80s they made their own kits to fly. Over the years, the wings have gone from Styrofoam to composite, and he is still building airplanes today. Lyle was a man of his word; if he told you your airplane would be ready in a week, it was and it was beautiful. Lyle produced the “NO SECRETS” videos that many used to hone their building skills.

Lyle tried out for the FAI team and went to Australia with the team in 1990. The USA team won. Dub Jett, Henry Bartle, Dave Shadel (returning champion), and Lyle won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (in that order). He went on to compete in Austria, Australia (again), and the Czech Republic (as manager). The teams did very well, but nothing could stand up to that first World Championship!

For several years he raced around Europe with Fred Burgdorf. We all miss Fred very much. Also, he has made very good friends with many of the European flyers and continues to visit Europe occasionally for racing and fun. He loves motorcycles as well.

Lyle has always believed in teaching and sharing his knowledge. He has taught flying classes in Puerto Rico and Mexico. In addition, he has taken various young flyers under his wings.

Submitted by AJ Seaholm and Marilyn Larson

Lyle and His Daughter Michelle At Mile Square Park In CA

Lyle and A.J. Seaholm With Formula 1 Racer