Andy Housden’s 2019 Retrospective

Here’s Andy’s look back at what went on in the world of UK and European carrier-deck flying in 2019. It makes jolly encouraging reading! He writes:

“Firstly, a Happy New Year to you all!

Another year has ended, leaving me in the usual state of chronic unpreparedness, I still cannot finish 20l9 without thanking all you Carrier officials for the effort you have put in to ensure that the contest calendar was successfully executed, that we continued to promote our area of aeromodelling for our own survival and, of course, that we enjoyed ourselves! Carrier is, of course, an entirely volunteer organisation. My experience in the last 26 years of contests – for modern carrier has been going for that long! – is that we cannot treat our organisation in the same way as conventional commercial or state businesses since our volunteers are free to choose whether to officiate in any way or not.

It is, however, an unfortunate but inevitable truism that such organisations as ours are run by ‘the same few people’ each year, and this is ALWAYS hard on us, since some of the time we would otherwise have spent on contest participation instead has to be spent on officiating. The main body of participants is also seldom as generous as it might be in recognising the entirely volunteer nature of our activity and consequently our contribution. Despite these conditions, the officials nevertheless choose to operate on Carrier’s behalf year after year after year – and without this THERE WOULD BE NO CARRIER – so THANK YOU – FOR THE 26th YEAR!

Even though Carrier officials and participants are not joined together in a formal organisation like some other Special Interest Groups, we are effectively considered such by the BMFA, which is why I have a permanent invitation to attend the meetings BMFA’s Control Line Committee. Considering the nature of our ‘loose’ organisation compared with that of the more formal nature of others, our  achievements are, in my opinion, outstanding. Below, then, in my humble opinion, are this year’s successes. I hope you’ll pardon me for NOT naming individuals involved in particular projects as each of our contributions to Carrier are freely given and, therefore, different people will contribute differently – so no names, no pack drill! However, WHATEVER your contribution, large OR small, it is and will always be of very great value to me personally, and I am proud to be part of a team that makes so much difference to aeromodelling!

So what’s special about Carrier?

Firstly, we promote ourselves, and the discipline of Control Line, by operating Hands-On training sessions at a number of contests and particularly at the Nationals, where we have become extremely well-known indeed. Most of the BMFA Officers of all disciplines and areas of the Society have taken part over the years, often with their families, in our Nationals training sessions where we cope with grandchildren to grandparents. The effect of this exposure cannot be easily measured – but it is potentially of inestimable value to us. T

his year, the BMFA CEO deliberately visited us with the CAA Director concerned with the forthcoming introduction of the CAA’s controversial Competency Registration and the Director was given our usual Hands-On training! It’s possible that this was the ONLY time the Director has been properly exposed to the realities of Control Line. So now, before the end of this year, the mandatory Competency Registration has been imposed by the CAA for all areas of aeromodelling in the UK – except for Control Line! There have, of course, been many other people working on Control Line’s behalf, but you don’t need to spend much time working out that our own contribution could have been really quite critical.

Secondly, after an idea originating within Carrier’s officials and rather a lot of follow-up work, we now have HMS lncontinent as the BMFA Buckminster Lodge-based carrier deck. The deck was built by Carrier flyer Alan Morgan from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire and, until its movement up to Buckminster, was the property of Carrier flyers George and Nick Ford near Stroud in Gloucestershire. We tragically lost Alan several years ago and, also very sadly, George died only a few days ago – but they would both undoubtedly be absolutely delighted with the pivotal position their deck now plays. It
has already become the Contest deck at the Barkston Nationals, its easy access meaning that its transportation for this very busy and resource-demanding event becomes the simplest of matters. Its existence has also facilitated the creation of new Carrier events at Buckminster (see below) and will make Carrier’s participation in the BMFA’s Corporate Days at Buckminster considerably easier

Thirdly, there are three sizeable SAM35 events that have been running at Buckminster for the last year and Carrier has been repeatedly invited to participate both by SAM35 and Manny Williamson, the BMFA’s Buckminster manager. Although Carrier is obviously not a vintage event, Buckminster has a convenient central-UK position with excellent facilities including camping/caravanning, the SAM events each have sizeable swapmeets, and the presence of Carrier at multiple-class/multiple discipline events (ie: F/F, R/C and C/L) gives us excellent exposure for future possible recruits. So, courtesy of HMS incontinent and new Carrier contest management – not me! – one event has already been run this October and the full schedule of three events will be run next year. See our website’s 2020 contest calendar for details.

Fourthly, now that Buckminster, in its role as the BMFA National Centre, is up and running, the BMFA is using the facilities to run in-house ‘Corporate Days’. In essence, this means inviting selected groups of people to be fed and watered for the day, and to be offered the opportunity of flying various sorts of model aircraft under the guidance of suitable instructors. Two of these events have now been run this year – one for Manny Williamson’s Buckminster volunteer workers and one for our BMFA insurers lntegro. On both occasions, Carrier was invited to provide Nationals-style Hands-On training sessions and did so successfully. This promotes Carrier to a wider audience and, of course, does no harm whatsoever to both Carrier and Control Line’s image within the BMFA. There will certainly be more, and regular, Corporate Days in future years and Carrier is very likely to be involved in these too – and as you might expect, the presence of HMS Incontinent at Buckminster makes the provision of our training infrastructure SO much easier.

Finally, the Nationals itself! The weather was absolutely outstanding and undoubtedly helped Carrier’s contestants, visitors and spectators to get the most enjoyment and resultant happy memories
from the event. We were also lucky to be finally able to manage our prizegiving at our own convenience, the resultant awards process being the best it’s been since l can remember. HOWEVER, it the mega-busy and hardworking officials, that actually made it happen – particularly for the excellent flight schedule timekeeping and problem-solving on Saturday and Sunday and the beyond-the-call-of-duty late running of the contest deck on Sunday evening so that all flights could be completed and Monday left free for our prizegiving. It was the best Nats We’ve had for years! Now that’s not at all bad going, is it, and it’s a good note to end on!

So once again, thank you all the officials for your contribution to Carrier this year! We must also mention the contestants that come from all over the UK and Europe to particpate too, flying in evry kind of weather from heatwave to rainstorm – thank you too, as without fliers, there would be nothing for the officials to do!”

Best Wishes