Memoirs of an obsessive aeroplane hater. Part 9

By 'Tubby' Day

Some time in the mid-60s, the Wolves Club had moved from the SMAE Midland Area to the North Western Area. This was felt to be a good move, because the NW Area was far more active. Following my ban from SMAE membership, they made an approach to the Area to do something about getting the period of the ban reduced. This process was to take the best part of a year. The ban was eventually lifted, thanks largely to the efforts of John O'Donnell, who pointed out that the correspondence showed quite clearly that something was seriously amiss. I still have all of the correspondence and it is quite damning against certain parties.

I solved the insurance problem by taking out MAP insurance. This was run by the company that published 'Aeromodeller' and is still in existence. Not being able to attend SMAE C/L contests in 1968 meant that my R/C flying increased and more or less took over. This was to have long lasting effects on my competitive C/L flying.

There were some curious anomolies in the way that the ban was enforced. I attended the SMAE Southern Gala, was allowed to fly in the stunt event and won, in a howling gale. The report in 'Aeromodeller' carefully avoided any mention of my name. Their report of the Wanstead Rally (where I could legally compete) also ignored me and omitted the flyers initials in the result.

I travelled to the Nats at Yeovilton and got the judge, John Perry, to judge a flight for me during the lunch break. He made me a clear winner. It's interesting to note that the Gold Trophy managed with a single judge (and single flight score) for many years. John Perry did sterling work during this period.

With the ban lifted in '69 I was now heavily into R/C Pylon Racing. However, nothing was goinng to stop me winning the Gold Trophy, which I finally managed to do with the 'Spacebird'.


Success at last!

This gave me the motivation to finish 'Iroquois 6', which I had started the previous year. It was essentially the same as number 5 except that it had an inverted engine. By adding an air scoop I was able to enclose the cylinder head and clean up the appearance. I retained the balloon tank and changed the geometry of the non-linear flaps to eliminate the jump in the response. This model was only flown in one event, where it placed third.

Iroquois 6 Iroquois 6

It flew very well and had great potential, but I never had two engine runs that were the same. The original motor was an the OS 35S from the 'Chief 2' which would start inverted without problems. It went well in the 'Chief' and in other models later, but not in the 'Iroquois'. I tried different tanks and motors without success. It is very clear to me now that it had serious cooling problems.

Late in the year, I travelled to the London Area Rally at Greenham Common to compete in the R/C pylon event. This had long periods of inactivity and I wandered over to the stunt circle. I borrowed Mick Harvey's 'Skylark' to put in a flight and placed fourth! Poor Mick was fifth.

Blue Lou Blue Lou

Never one to discard something which might be useful, I used the wing and tail from the ill-fated 'Shoestring' to produce a new Goodyear (later Formula One) pylon racer, 'Blue Lou'. The wing even survived to see use in the next model, 'Mister Unlucky', although neither lasted very long.

Mister Unlucky

The caption in 'RCM&E' said, "Dave Day's 'Mister Unlucky' seemed to live up to it's name".

Mr Unlucky Mr Unlucky

In 1967, a new pylon racing organisation, the British Miniature Pylon Racing Association (BMPRA) was founded, at a meeting at Aviette Kits. All of the founder members put 10 into a 'kitty' to get things going. An annual championship was founded for Goodyear pylon racing (I have often wondered just how you raced a pylon). Later, another championship was founded for FAI Pylon. 'RCM&E' magazine helped things along by presenting two magnificant trophies, one for each class.

At a meeting at Topcliffe in 1968 I met a man called Dave Tappin, who enthused over pylon racers. I advised him to join the BMPRA and he said he would in 1969. Curiously, he now thinks he was a founder member! He has even written a (highly fictional) history of the BMPRA.

I had some fairly unconventional ideas about how pylon racers should be constructed and incorporated these in an O/D model based on the full-size 'Dick Ohm Special' which I rather liked. The basic idea was a one-piece wooden model (like a C/L stunter of the period) with all access being via a hatch in the bottom of the fuselage. This was stronger, lighter and flew better (funny how the C/L people have forgotten that).

Dick Ohm Special

It was far too fast for my limited experience and it's main claim to fame was leaving a large red mark (and a dent) in the Hullavington runway. It did give me my first pylon win at a thinly attended meeting at Topcliffe (The one where I met Dave Tappin). I moved on to more conventional models but still wish I had built another.

Dick Ohm Special

'Dick Ohm Special' on the biggest lawn in the world (Middle Wallop).

The general R/C flying continued with a variety of models. The learning process is always enjoyable but tends to consume models at a fair rate. I built my first example of Phil Kraft's 'Bar-Fli' design (I eventually produced four!) and my first 'Aeromaster' (number two came much later). The point about the 'Aeromaster' is that it was designed by Lou Andrews, who was responsible for the 'Trixter Barnstormer' and other famous C/L stunt models. I always liked the 'Barnstormer', but my first was a long way in the future.

My old friend(?) H J Nichols liked my 'Aeromaster' enough to immortalise it in his then-famous '308 Catalogue' (below). Although badly damaged some years later, I kept the bits for many years but eventually scrapped them.

'Aeromaster' from 308 Catalogue

'9937' was my MAP insurance number.


Other things were happening which had an effect on my modelling. In 1965 I bought the only brand new car that I was ever able to afford. This was a Ford 'Anglia' in what at that time was considered to be an anti-social colour - red. Not the sort of colour that any true Farrari fan would cherish, more a sort of tomato colour. The trials and tribulations of obtaining such a device at the time of a delivery drivers strike would fill a book. When it eventually arrived, it was clearly not the car that I had ordered.

One of the mysteries about this car was it's performance. It would pull 6,000 rpm in any gear - including top. It also had a tendency to lapse onto three cylinders from time to time. At around 3,000 miles, this became permanent, accompanied by a loud clattering noise. The cause was a large washer which was lurking in the inlet manifold and which eventually found its way past a valve and beat a piston to death.

Ford were very reluctant to repair this under warranty, apparently because I had added extra instruments to the dash, including a rev counter. At 30,000 miles, the centre main bearing decided that it had had enough of this treatment and disintegrated. Some of the consequences of this were detailed in Part 8 of this chronical.

The plot thickened when I rebuilt the engine myself. I have seen the inside of many Ford engines, but not with a cylinder head like this one. My warranty problems were explained, but not the cars origin. Maybe it was intended to be a demonstator... Afterwards, the car went as well as ever. Maybe too well. In August of 1968 (during my SMAE ban) a partly deflated tyre rolled off the rim while rounding a bend and rolled my still shiny car into a ball of scrap. Part of the result was that the open drivers door was driven halfway through the shell and actually made contact with the transmission tunnel. Quite why the drivers door was open is a mystery, but it was clear that I had already vacated the car, otherwise I would not be here now.

Personal damage consisted of a broken collar bone, a torn ear and a night in hospital with concussion. 'Bar-Fli' number one, having already suffered a folded wing, was residing in the boot and received mortal injuries. 'Mister Unlucky' had been written off the previous day. A good weekend!

Bar-Fli 1

I have always found that the cars in my life have alternated between good and bad. The insurance settlement for the write-off eventually (after a winter on public transport) allowed me to buy another 'Anglia' from a year later that served me for almost 100,000 miles with virtually no problems. Red models were rare (they were now discontinued) but, acting on advice from Ray Monks, I found a grey one and had it resprayed by yet another modeller, Tony Day (no relation).

At the end of 1969 came the biggest change in my life so far. I found myself a flat and moved out of my parents home. I still tell people that I ran away from home at 35!

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