Originally Published: January 2, 2003 6:10 p.m.
"A kid doesn't want to learn after 3 p.m.," Baush notes, "but can learn without knowing it."
Much of Bausch's educational savvy comes from his experience teaching science to middle-schoolers in California.
"They called me 'the fun guy,'" Bausch said. "Now I know what's needed (to rev up) the classroom."
Anything to do with flight or engines has always fascinated Bausch.
"As early as I can remember, I played with airplanes," Bausch recalled of his childhood growing up in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
"I loved flight in general and it was something I could do outside for hours on the field," he said. "I managed to keep them flying, too, even using tree sticks to fix them when they broke."
It was that propensity for models to break that initially propelled Bausch into his business.
Though Bausch's "Little Apache" plane, which he designed while a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, was already selling commercially in hobby shops, the clincher was in 1992 when he taught an Embry-Riddle aviation summer camp for fifth- and sixth-graders.
"The students complained about the difficulty of building the commonly available kits and the poor flight performance of the design," Bausch said. "When it was over, 90 percent of the students went home disappointed and with broken planes."
After that, Bausch took his toy venture to a full-time occupation.
"I went into business the next day," he said, designing his still-popular flyer, "The Lightning," a single-prop, elastic-band-powered balsa wood racing plane.
"I took a look at all the design problems in the competitor's products and, applying my aeronautical education and lifelong involvement in modeling, created a design that logically solved them," he said.
Eight years later, Hands-on, Brains-on AeroRacers boasts not only AeroRacers, but PropRacers, AeroFlyers, HydroRacers and FunShuttles – more than 50 products that include dragsters, prop-racing planes, boats, vertical take-off shuttles, rockets and more.
Three years ago, Bausch's miniature funny cars were featured on the Jay Leno Show, raced by Leno himself and John Force, a multi-year world champion funny car racer.
Bausch's newest invention, the FunShuttle, is a simple-to-assemble polymer flying wing (like a B-52 bomber, he said) with a balsa wood skeleton, plastic prop and elastic band "engine."
It propels itself straight into the sky 200 to 300 feet, then levels off and sails, a feat of which one enthusiastic kindergartner said, "it goes up like a rocket, then glides like a bird."
The FunShuttle goes retail this summer for a few bucks.
Bausch continues to invent more and more movement-oriented toys and loves what he does –"Period," he said.
"This is the greatest job in the world. When you see the look on a kid's face when he can make it go – that's what it's all about – and a hard thing to do nowadays. I know I'm going to do this for the rest of my life."
For more about Aeroracers, check www.aeroracers.com, or e-mail Bausch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Sandy Moss at email@example.com or 445-8179, ext. 2039.