Memoirs of an obsessive aeroplane hater. Part 15

By 'Tubby' Day

The main event of 1986 was my attending the European Model Helicopter Championships, at Toulose, as British team manager. This came about by my being asked by the relatively new AHA (Aerobatic Helicopter Association)to do so. It quickly became clear (to me) that none of the three team members approved of their choice. One of them actively campaigned for my removal. The other two were employees, directly, or via Kalt Helicopters, of John Elmer. John had bought Sprengbrook Precision from Harry Brooks, including the Kalt agency. He also negotiated another agency for JR radio - which pleased the existing importer no end. This situation reached the point where it would fill a book. I doubt whether anyone knows the whole - or the real - story. John was a controversial fiigure and had several agendas but, from my point of view, was a very generous man.

The team travelled to the event in a convoy of three vehicles: Len Mount, his caller and myself in a van, John Wallington and his partner in their car and Martin Briggs and his wife in their car. After losing Martin on the Paris Peripherique, we managed to join up on the road to Toulose. Len was charging the battery in his flightbox from the van while on the move. Having decided that the battery was charged, he pulled the plug from the box and was greeted by a six inch jet of flame. We executed an emergency stop, but all was well.

John Wallington had failed to renew the necessary FAI license and an elaborate plot was hatched to use the up-to-date license stamp from Len Mounts license - all this without telling the team manager! This was immediately apparent to the organisers because the embossing on the stamp didn't match the license. This could easily have led to the entire team being disqualified. After some discussion I was able to buy an up-to-date stamp and John was fined one hundred franks. This whole matter could have been avoided if the team manager had known!

Len and I had a shouting match over the wording of a protest he wished to make. When the protest was upheld I became the best team manager in the world!

The organisers of the event hatched a little deception by telling all entrants in advance that 35 Mhz was not legal in France and they would have to use 27 Mhz. However, I was aware that 72Mhz (not legal in the UK) was legal in France and all the British team had 72 Mhz (untried) equipment with them. When I revealed this at the first team managers meeting there were dark murmers from the other teams. The organisers then decided that we could use 35MHz at our own risk but it would not be monitored. Surprise! When we attended the first practice session, there was full monitoring in use. There seems little doubt that the plan was that the French team would have exclusive use of 72 Mhz.

The event was concluded by a banquet for which it was necessary to buy a very expensive ticket. We assumed this would be held in a hotel. To our dismay it was held in a tent on the flying field (a bulldozed tip). With some 2 hours between courses (and parts of courses), this was a disaster.

The experience of flying OTS (vintage stunt) at the '85 US Nats reawakened my interest in C/L stunt (as opposed to F2B where my interest was very low). This couldn't have happened at a better time, because the vintage scene - and C/L in particular - was just getting under way in the UK. I built a new 'Ambassador' (my eighth) for the '86 Nats, finishing it barely in time, as was my habit. It needed sorting and the motor was far from right, but I finished fifth.

The motor was one of two beam-mounted Elfin 249's that I had from my early days. The better one (an early lightweight example with lots of cooling fins) was seized solid from 30 years of misuse (no use in fact). The other was usable but had a cracked crankcase which had been welded up by Pete Ridgeway, via Gig Eifflander. The crack was due to using it in a 'Kombat Kapers' where the motor was sandwiched between four bearers - the model was stronger than the motor. The cylinder and crankshaft were far from 90 degrees to each other, but it worked.

The 'Ambassador' could be described as a 'young mans model' (particularly when built to the optimum weight of 11 ounces) and was too lively for my level of experience at that time. It took a while to realise that this could be cured by using an alumunium 'KeilKraft' spinner. After breaking most of my precious supply of 8 x 8 wood props, I used a nylon prop and plastic KK spinner.

The motor had a habit of the compression slackening off - or so it seemed. It took a while to realise that this was the barrel and head unscrewing. The cure was a spot of epoxy, but this had a limited life and tended to let go at the wrong moment. I enlisted the help of a model engineering friend to remove the barrel from the other motor, which neatly severed the conrod. Thus I was stuck for a time with the sometimes unreliable motor.

I flew the sheeted Nobler ('Nobler Still') in the '86 Gold Trophy and have no idea where it finished.

The 'Ambassador was flown in 6 events in 1987, getting two wins and three seconds. One of the wins was the Nats event (my seventh Nats win, though my sixth had been sixteen years earlier). The sheeted 'Nobler' managed forteenth in the Gold Trophy.

The 'Ambassador was flown in 5 contests in 1988 and only managed one win, mainly due to the motor. The 'Nobler' improved one place for thirteenth in the Gold Trophy and was then given away to friend Mike Gagg. Go here for more on this model and its subsequent adventures.

I eventually acquired another Elfin, this being a very late version with stronger crankcase and a threaded stub in the front of the crankshaft. None of this interested me - I just wanted the conrod! So, I was able to repair the good motor. In 1989 I built another 'Ambassador' as the existing one was now very much repaired.

The two 'Ambassador's were flown in a total of ten events in 1989, with four wins. Three by the old model - with the good motor - and one with the new one, which never seemed as good. The old one was third at the Nats, while the older film covered 'Nobler Still' finished a lowly twentyninth, after breaking uo in the air on its first flight.

The big event of this '89 Nats was the presense of George Aldrich. which was celebrated by a one-off 'Nobler' contest for a prize supplied and presented by George himself. There was no way that I could resist this and I built a new model to George's original plan for the old faithful (this one really was) Merco. One feature of this original (1950) model was that the inboard wing was 2.5" longer than the outboard. The result was a model that rolled noticeably in all manoeuvres but was superb in a wind.

I built the model in 9 days and actually returned home from the Nats to fuelproof the model at 3 am on the morning of the contest! Despite this it seemed I was the only person who was really prepared for the event. The weather was far from cooperative (There were rumbles of thunder between rain showers). I was the only entrant who actually completed the schedule and the model won the event on its first flight.

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