Ray Harlan got his start with indoor models in 1954 when he met a fellow modeler who had actually flown these gossamer craft. After being shown how to build them, Ray completed a "C" stick and went to the Nationals in Chicago. While learning to fly the model, the wing collapsed and had to be rebuilt on the spot (including pouring microfilm). Near the end of the day, the model began to show promise and very late made a 14:01 flight to win the Senior Stick event. That set the hook and he has been flying these models ever since. He has been a member of two US teams competing in World Championships and has held numerous National records.
In 1974, the idea of selling special tools and supplies was appealing. Ray had several machines in his basement shop and decided to manufacture a copy of a balsa stripper designed by Bill Atwood. A little later, an Italian modeler had created the "pigtail" thrust bearing. Ray improved on it by cutting a diagonal slot to provide full 360 degree support for the prop shaft. After developing tools and fixtures to produce these little gems, the indoor modeling world was able to get reliable thrust bearings.
In 1981, Poland was in crisis and the famous Czeckowski rubber stripper became unavailable. Redesigning it with simpler parts, Ray was able to produce it at reasonable cost.
When the Science Olympiad program first tried Wright Stuff in middle schools, Ray helped the daughter of a former colleague win the Massachusetts event. Kit production began when the event became official and included high schools.