Memoirs of an obsessive aeroplane hater. Part 14

By 'Tubby' Day

I really enjoyed the job of 'RCM&E' assistant editor. For the first time in my life I had found something that meant more than just earning a living. I would hesitate to say that I now lived to work, but it came close to that. It was annoying to be turfed out of the MAP offices at 5 pm when I would willingly have worked well into the evening.

It was a real bonus to have access to all of the worlds modelling publications. On one occasion Ron Moulton asked me which publication I thought was the best. Without hesitation, I said 'Model Builder' (A US publication edited by Bill Northrop) . Ron then accused me of being disloyal! I thought this was very unfair, since 'RCM&E' was an R/C magazine, whereas 'Model Builder' was a general aeromodelling magazine. I still wonder what he would have said if I had said 'Aeromodeller'! Remember that the editorship of 'Aeromodeller' was the job I really wanted.

Colin (Rattray) did a great job as editor. However, he became increasingly frustrated by the limitations imposed by others. On one occasion, following yet another change of direction by his managing editor, he smashed his fist down on his desk in frustration - and broke his wrist! That was the last straw and he gave in his notice. he told me of this before anyone else and told me that the door was open if I wanted the job. I immediately wrote a memo to Ron Moulton indicating my interest. I never received a reply.

When it became known that Colin was leaving, others showed interest in the position. One of these was Lorna Cullen, then graphic artist for both 'Aeromodeller' and 'RCM&E'. She wasn't an active modeller but would have done a good job. She asked Ron about the posibility and was told that they already had a volunteer!

At this time I was writing a monthly half page for 'Aeromodeller' entitled '25 years ago in Aeromodeller'. This was Colin's idea. I was also asked, by Tony Dowdeswell, to take on the 'Counterpoint' (trade) column with the intention of producing two pages per month at 20 per page. I more than filled my obligation, but there were rarely two whole pages in the magazine and I never received the agreed 20.

It came as a considerable blow when 16 MAP employees (including myself) were made redundant in May 1982. Not only was I jobless again but several months of commissioned writings were never used or paid for. This really was insult to injury but the lesson regarding Tony Dowdeswell had still to sink in.

It must have been an even bigger blow to Cyril Freezer (editor of 'Model Railways'), his assistant editor and his secretary, who were all dismissed a day ahead of the rest of us. Cyril (a legend in the model railway world) had been head-hunted from 'Railway Modeller' and persuaded to move from Devon to Hemel Hempstead.

Ever a glutton for punishment, In 1980 I built yet another "Nobler', this being christened 'Even Nobler'. This had a wing-mounted undercarriage and a fully sheeted wing and tail. Mick Wilshere enabled the loan of a professional spray booth with a water curtain, which allowed me to spray the model with Hobbypoxy. It was heavy at 54 ounces and powered with another ST 35. One reason for the weight was the use of an electronic shut-off. This counted the transitions from full up to full down elevator via two microswitches on the elevator pushrod. The motor was stopped by pinching off the fuel line with an R/C servo.

This wasn't reliable so I changed it to a straight timer. At this time the F2B rules required that all controls to the motor and model must be via the lines. I consulted the late Bob Horwood (member of the FAI C/L Tech Committee) on this and he advised that the timer would be legal if I started it via the first application of up elevator on reaching the handle. I used this for years and it worked well.

Despite my declining interest in F2B events, the two models were used in several events:
1980:
Even Nobler 4 events 1 win
Nobler Still 3 events - 13th Gold Trophy
1981:
Even Nobler 1 event
Nobler Still 3 events - 37th Gold Trophy
1982:
Even Nobler 3 events 1 win
Nobler Still 5 events - ? Gold Trophy
1983:
Nobler Still now Merco 35 powered 3 events - ? Gold Trophy
1984:
Nobler Still 1 event - 9th Gold Trophy
1985: Nobler Still 1 event = 10th Gold Trophy

I've already referred to the FAI Pylon (F3D) Technical Committee and my annual visits to the CIAM meeting. The main purpose of everyone on the tech Committee was to get pylon racing made up to world championship status. It became clear that the powers that be (or were) in the FAI didn't want this. All sorts of stumbling blocks were put in our way, including an increasing emphasis on silencers. At one time we were told to go away and produce a working silencer specification for the next years meeting. Following lots of work we found that this was a complete waste of time because 'someone' had decided to form a noise technical committee and place the whole matter in their hands. At this point in time I had become the chairman of the pylon committee and, in sheer frustration, stood up in the CIAM meeting and called the president a liar!

As chairman I set out to get a set of rules that were acceptable to both european and US flyers. One penalty of this was that in order to get the support of the USA, I had to concede the large model which had become very popular in Europe in favour of the smaller model popular in the US. Unknown to me at the time, the french committee member, who agreed to the changes, spread word in europe and the UK that I had let them down. However, I had decided at the outset that I would do whatever was necessary and that it would be silly to expect thanks or appreciation.

While I was chairman, I visited and competed in the 1984 Sopwith and OPS Trophies at Milan. This was to the new rules with the prospect of a world championships the following year. A separate write-up on this can be found here. I travelled there with Alan Laurie and the intention was to go on to a meeting in Czechoslovakia the following weekend. Unfortunately I had a fall at the Milan meeting and cracked my kneecap. After one attempt to get treatment at a Milan hospital, I really had no choice but to fly home. The meeting took place just one kilometer from the Monza Autodrome, but there was no way I could persuade Alan to visit this shrine to motorsport. I also missed the Czech meeting.

As it was clear that the tech committee was never going to succeed I relinquished the chair and set out to get a proposal made by the SMAE that pylon be made a world championship event. In this I was helped a great deal by the chairman of the SMAE R/C Power Tech Committee, Pete Burnage. I arrived at CIAM the following year with several hundred leaflets explaining our case. After 14 years of regular competitions and numerous international meetings, they couldn't really refuse without losing face.

Thus, I had succeeded at last. One unexpected side was that the Helicopter tech committee were in exactly the same situation and followed my lead, with the result that helicopter became a world championship event too. I was made a member of the helicopter committee for a year as a result of that. It also meant that I had upset certain people twice.

Needless to say, those certain people moved heaven and earth to ensure that I never attended another CIAM meeting. The new chairman of the pylon committee accused me of going behind his back by entering a proposal from my national body!

I did actually get a reward for all of this in that I was invited to be a jury member at the first pylon world champs in the USA in 1985. This was held immediately following the AMA Nationals at the same venue. Thus, by travelling a week early, I was able to attend the 1985 US Nats. Remembering my previous experiences, I hired an air-conditioned car for the week. The distinction is really unecessary - all cars are air-conditioned in the US.

There I met Pete Waters, expatriot Welshman and former British R/C aerobatic champion. Pete owned an R/C servicing company specialising in Kraft radio and named Kraft Midwest. Pete enquired whether I would like to take part in a C/L contest and went off to find us a model. What he found was a Sterling 'Yak 9' powered by a Fox 35. The model had been built by Windy Urtnowski and was now owned by Ron Connors. All three of us were to fly this model in the OTS (Old Time Stunt) event, an unofficial event flown in the evening.

As I was borrowing the model, I was not allowed a test flight. Here I was lucky, because both Pete and Ron flew the model before I did. The needle setting was fully sorted and I knew that the model had a very big tank. The US rules differ from those used in the UK in that you only give one hand signal before you start the official schedule. This meant that I was able to fly a complete practice schedule before putting my hand and flying the official schedule. I even had time to fly extra manoeuvres before the motor cut. Apparently, no one else had ever thought of this and it was hailed as a masterstroke! I've never seen a set of results for the event but I believe that I came seventh, Ron was forteenth and Peter 28th. More significant, perhaps, was the fact that this led to the return of my interest in control-line stunt events.

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