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Damyn’s Hall Airfield in the Essex countryside south of Upminster is home to a range of light aircraft and a microlight flying club which, with the busy Carrier and Scale circles of Cosmo’s event, meant that there was always some entertaining aviation wherever you looked! The weather was just right – blue skies, pleasant sunshine and only a light breeze for most of the day.
Organiser Peter Tribe took advantage of the lack of early queues to test fly his new Class 1 model, an electric Bell XFL Airabonita. Still experimenting with the power set-up, Peter tried different batteries and obtained a maximum speed of 75.9mph. Whilst this was a good result, Peter’s aim was to get up to the 85mph achieved by his West 36 powered Vought Kingfisher. So – more work required! Peter then chose to fly his extremely quiet Gloster Meteor – a twin electric/propeller design – for his BCD entry and two consecutive flights achieved very consistent scores, the best of which, 197.6 points, was enough to place him fourth overall.
Andy Housden, flying the ex-Trevor Tabor Short Seamew for the third season, surprised himself by two flights with no cock-ups. The Seamew has been broken – sometimes very badly – and repaired on numerous occasions, yet still soldiers on amazingly well despite astoundingly warped wings and a dreadfully scarred fuselage. Andy’s best score of 207.4 points eventually turned out to be worth third place. Blimey!
A rather more impressive approach was demonstrated by Gary Church and his extremely rapid Grumman AF Guardian. This model is powered by the very underrated but truly excellent Irvine39 – a screaming 40-sized engine in a 25-sized crankcase. Gary’s very first flight set the bar horribly high with a dauntingly-long slow flight and, despite a single overshoot, he achieved a final score of 229.6 points that got him second place. Surprisingly, his second and third flights suffered from unusual bad luck, as both had poor engine runs – the silencer falling apart on the third flight and the model coming down hard enough to cause extensive damage.
Ian Gilbert had brought two models and first tried his very lightweight electric Fairey Spearfish, but despite a score which very nearly equalled Gary Church’s best, decided that the model was just too floaty and concentrated on his tried-and-tested Westland Wyvern for the rest of his flights. It was a good choice! The conditions were almost perfect for the model and Ian’s piloting skills – a constant light breeze – and his best flight gave him a score of 257.7 points which was unbeatable!
The brothers of Ken and Bob Taylor were very busy competing in the adjacent Scale contest, but fortunately managed to spend some time flying their Carrier models as well. Ken’s Mitsubishi Zero was actually one of the alternative versions of the free-plan Grumman Hellcat published in Aeromodeller in 1998, and Ken flew it cautiously but competently for a fault-free flight and seventh place. Bob flew rather late in the day when the breeze was getting a little stronger and more erratic. His first flight with his small Fairey Barracuda suffered from engine failure during the slow run, and the late afternoon wind on his second flight caused the model to balloon on landing, missing all the wires. He still got eighth place, though!
Mike Welch invariably provides good entertainment value whether he has a successful or an unsuccessful day, his models and control systems rarely conforming to the conventional! Today featured his Blackburn Firebrand, which, 40-powered, flexed alarmingly if not held in exactly the right place! The fact that its thin sections have held together without a problem for two full seasons is merely part of the Welch Effect! Today Mike’s ninth place was unfortunately one of his more unsuccessful days and the power unit, or perhaps the fuel supply, misbehaved and dropped the model in the briny twice before he could attempt a landing. Shame!
Fifth place Trevor Tabor was persuaded away from the Scale circle to become briefly reacquainted with his old model – Andy Housden’s Short Seamew – and put in a very good flight that missed beating Peter Tribe into fourth place by only 1.6 points. Trevor has achieved much higher scores with this model in the past, so it can only be presumed that he flew more conservatively than he might have done as he didn’t want to risk further damage to the already beaten-up airframe! You’re a gentleman, sir!
Team Phillips was present as expected! Bob was unlucky in tenth place, flying a 1/12th scale blue foam converted R/C Grumman Hellcat. Pretty though the model was, the Thunder Tiger 25 was simply NOT powerful enough. Not only did the model struggle to take off in the available deck space, there was really insufficient reserve of power for slow flying and, allied perhaps to fuel supply problems, resulted in the Pilot’s metaphorical toes being more than just dipped in the water! On a distinctly more positive note, though, despite flying towards the end of the day when it was a little windier, John put in two very good flights indeed with his Grumman AF Guardian. His first flight would have been his best had he not been unlucky during the landing when the hook bounced over all the wires, the model missing the wires again after the overshoot and subsequently ditching. John’s second flight – and score of 194.4 for sixth place – was the result of a more conservative slow run and one of the most careful – and accurate – landings of the day.