Cezar Banks

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2013 by nicholasandrewray

Cezar Banks 

It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Cezar Banks.  Jim Richmond told me he  had received a card from Cezar’s daughter Deena.  It said Cezar had been suffering with alzheimer’s for years. She said a celebration of life memorial luncheon to welcome friends is planned for Saturday May 25. Contact deenabanks(at) if interested. (Change (at) to @ to get the email address to work)

Steven Brown and Jim Richmond kindly shared some of their memories of Cezar.


Cezar Banks

I had never flown an indoor model when I met Cezar Banks in 1983 at Santa Ana. I didn’t know that first day that the people flying microfilm models were some of the best F1d flyers in the world:  Banks, Bob Randolph, and Erv Rodemsky. I quickly found out that Cezar was the best flyer on the West Coast.

Cezar had a commanding, patrician air. Chatting with him could result in the intimidating feeling that you were being examined and didn’t quite make the grade.

Like many beginners, I built one of his pennyplanes. When he saw that you would put in the work he opened up more. If you listened and followed his advice, your times improved. He became a mentor to me.

Ten years later, as members of the U.S. F1d Team, Cezar, Bob Randolph and I flew in the World Champs at the Salt Mine in Romania. It’s easy to become distracted by the mine, but I remember his practice day direction to the rest of us:  We came here to fly, not to talk. Concentrate.

It’s obvious how influential his designs were.  His Le Ordinaire II of 1984 was the prototype for much of the West Coast F1d development for the next 15 years. In response to Jim Richmond’s victory in Nagoya in 1984 using a variable diameter propeller, Cezar debuted his variable pitch propeller in 1988. That VP mechanism is still competitive today. He made variable pitch propellers practical. They did more to improve our results than any other design feature of the 80’s and 90’s.

By the mid-2000’s Cezar was coaching Science Olympiad. His Leading Edge SO design was kitted by Peck Polymers. I can recall his late evening phone calls reporting on his work on these seemingly simple models.

Cezar was an electrical engineer for IBM and General Dynamics. In his later years he would proudly recall his experience in the Mercury space program. Doing the voices of both the interviewer and himself, he would recount how at the time of John Glenn’s first flight he had been interviewed on national TV to reassure the public about the safety of the Mercury capsule’s escape system.

It’s not only for his VP prop or his many trips to the podium at World Champs that I will remember Cezar. It’s for his knowledge and dedication and his will to fight at every contest. It’s for his advice and his friendship. Every time I hold a model in my hands, ready to launch, I’m reminded of him, of those times, and of the effect he had on my life.

Steve Brown


CEZAR BANKS  1926 – 2013

Cezar was a good friend and fellow team mate during many world indoor competitions. His F1D abilities were developed along with several other southern  California flyers who frequently practiced in the Tustin hangar. These abilities became apparent when he placed second at Nagoya in 1984.

Cesar was born in Kenosha WI in 1926 and started modeling in 1935. He did 2 years in the Navy (1944-1946) then earned his BSEE degree at the university of Wisconsin in 1950. Family and career then took precedence and he retired from General Dynamics after 33 years as an engineering supervisor. As a side note, his pre F1D history is remarkably similar to my own.

He said he first tried for the F1D team in 1979 but finished dead last. Then he made the team the next 8 times in a row (1981-1995). During this run as a US team member he managed to win 6 silver medals and one bronze.

Cezar’s other notable modeling achievements for which he was awarded plane-of-the-year recognition were (1) for his 25 year old one and only ltd. penny plane which had become quite popular, (2) for his 1986 F1D “Le Ordinaire”, and (3) in 1999 for his variable pitch mechanism design. He was inducted into the Free Flight Hall of Fame in 2000.

Cezar had an acting sideline which I believe he enjoyed (this was southern California, after all). He said he was often chosen to play the part of a villain such as Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Moriarity.

Cezar had a dry sense of humor that will be missed. About the 1986 world championship in Cardington, England (which was held with hurricane Charley raging outside) he said “it was cold, windy, and rainy and the weather was bad outside too”.

Jim Richmond

Cezar’s Le Ordinaire II, asreference by Steve Brown

Banks 1

Click here to download a PDF of the plan.


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