AERO MODELLING DAYS
My early ventures into radio control flight can be more accurately described as free flight with occasional and unreliable radio interference. I remember one flight with a KK Super 60 and a single channel bang bang set up. It was a flat calm summers day and I was having a great time flying around the ground based transmitter with the remote bell push in my hand. For the last flight of the day I decided to go for it and filled the tank. Up to then I had been restricting the motor run to about 90 seconds. A full tank should last about 6 minutes I thought. Well the first 3 minutes were fine. I was concentrating on keeping the model tight in to the transmitter and all was going well but I found that my right hand, the one with the bell push in it, was being pulled down. A quick glance down revealed the problem. As I was following the model around I was winding the lead around the transmitter and shortening it. I finished the flight on my knees praying for the engine to cut. When it did the laughs of my club mates were the loudest noise on the field.
A homebuilt transistor rx allowed a much smaller and tougher model called a Sharkface to be constructed and I flew this extensively, wearing out more than one small diesel. But again it was rudder only and non proportional at that.
This was followed by a one of the early RCS Digifive proportional sets. What a contrast, good range, multiple controls and best of all reliability. This was replaced by a Kraft gold then EK Logitrol sets allowing me to try pattern aerobatics and pylon racing. In my early 20s I was motor racing and surfing so there was not enough time and I dropped out of aero-modelling for a few years, But in the early 80s I was back in to modelling, flying helis for fun and thermal soaring for competition flying.
I dropped out of modelling while I was sailing but as soon as I returned to dry land and went back to work in 1997 the bug bit again and I was flying RC. The new discipline of 3D aerobatics attracted me and a couple of home brews lead to a Limbo Dancer with a MDS 38 and a Pete Tindal Excitation with a MDS 148. I flew the snot out of these, year after year and only retired the Dancer to the loft in 2006. During the years I flew these I would listen to endless stories of how poor MDS engines were and how unreliable the throttling was. All this while I was prop hanging at a few feet. Once the needle was set for the summer it was flick and go, and then 2 or 3 clicks richer for the winter. Carol is learning to fly with the 38 on a Ripmax trainer which it hauls around in fine style.
I also found out about 12th scale combat, joining the merry bunch at Pulloxhill and having a whale of a time streamer chasing. I was lucky enough to become joint British champion in 2002 and The Eurocup winner in Rechlin Germany the following year. I learned a whole new bunch of skills, building blue foam and brown paper models with judicious use of glasscloth reinforcement and getting maximum mph in the air by carefull fuel and prop selection. I moved from 15 to 21 powered models when I found that a Spitefull becomes unstable when towing 2 streamers from a wingtip.
The pylon racing bug was still there to and I found a simple class to race in and the first Sunday in the month will find a bunch of us, all go fast turn left, lunatics chasing each other around pylons in a field.
Some heli flying 3D with a Raptor, fixed wing 3D with a Morris Hobbies Sledge and indoor 3D with a mini Ifo and various shockies kept me going for a while but I needed a challenge.
Seeing John Greenfield flying gas turbines and watching Joe start up his home builds tempted me to buy a Wren SS and a Baby Boomerang. The BB was followed by an Avonds Lockheed F104 Starfighter which flies like a dream although, boy, does it get small quickly.
The two years I spent touring the USA in a RV allowed me to visit flying sites from Mexico to Alaska. I put together an OMP Yak and had a great time being the oldest 3D hooligan around. I would contact the club in advance and always found a great welcome. I was amazed at the quality of the facilities that is the norm in the USA, a tarmac strip starting benches and a shaded set of bleachers with little or no noise restrictions.
On a couple of occasions I was asked to demonstrate that I could show that I was in control of my model with the club safety officer by my side. It turns out that in these days of Almost Ready to Fly models they had had people turning up claiming they could fly and demonstrating that they could not by having spectacular crashes sometimes in the spectator area. I must confess that I would show off by taking off into a prop hang, completing the required circuit in a high alpha knife edge then making my approach inverted and only flicking upright at the last second.