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RAFMAA Slope Comp

Speaking personally, this has always been for me the most hectic time of the modelling year. The BMFA Nationals, which historically was shadowed by the RAFMAA Championship on the following weekend. However, this year the RAFMAA Champs has been permanently changed so as to exclude this format, with the RAFMAA event being moved to earlier in August.

Like most of the old and bold the weekend after the Nats was effectively etched in stone and time off from work booked accordingly. With the variable date for the RAFMAA set to continue this will mean that my RAFMAA competing days are over. But hey ho I have been out of the RAF for over twelve years now and the “bat and ball” is in others hands now.

The other side of the coin reveals that Aug this year was even more hectic in that I managed to attend the last two days of the RAFMAA event (straight off a night shift I hasten to add), with the Nats following and a slope session at the end of the month.

The slope session was added due to the fact that Colin and I still had the holiday booked for the old RAFMAA date and rather than change it, we decided to head for the hills. But before we get out of order lets return to the start with the RAFMAA Championships at the start of Aug being held at RAF Honington.



The decision was taken that as the usual suspects were unable to attend for the whole RAFMAA event that we would use this opportunity and access suitable concrete surface to prepare for the BMFA Nationals. Paul Blakeborough was able to attend for the entire period, Chris Barker and myself from the Saturday morning whilst Colin Waite was unable to attend at all.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. The day commenced bright but windy so the Team race practise was placed on hold and the annual Barker/Tricker combat duel commenced. Once again Chris was victorious. Three bouts saw his model cut the control lines of my model twice with one uncontrolled fly away. Never park your car downwind of a combat event. Throughout the day many and various stunt models were seen carving their graceful patterns in the sky until the lateness of the hour dictated that we retire to the camp site and put up our tents, shower and attend the awards presentation. As usual much beer was consumed and my hazy recollections seem to remember an appointment at a late hour with a bottle of single malt outside Poppy, the Barkers “lurve bus” camper.

Next day the wind was kinder, therefore, Paul and I commenced fettling both Brit/Goodyear and F2CN team racers. Some problems were revealed - intermittent engine run (pin hole in tank) and a split tank in the second Brit. Chris then brought out a couple of top notch F2C models ( the F1 of the Team Racers) for Paul and I to have a play with. Due to the increasing wind Paul passed on the offer as he didn’t feel comfortable flying a £1000 model belonging to someone else. Hands up those who thought that expensive models were the domain of the Radio Control world. Therefore, Chris flew and I did the hard bit namely pitting the beasts. Most enlightening as the motors are very precise in their requirements coupled with a pressurised refuelling system. I am rather proud that despite the steep learning curve and the greater landing speed that I didn’t miss a single catch. Thus the short weekend ended.


Modelling festivities recommenced with the BMFA Nationals held at RAF Barkston Heath over the summer bank holiday weekend. As usual the very small band of volunteers were on hand Friday evening to erect the necessary safety cages around the Team Race circles. It was a hard slog manhandling all the weights, supports and fence panels, but at least we worked up an appetite and sweated out the lunch time beer.

The race order is that the three rounds of each class is flown over the Saturday and Sunday with the finals being held on the Monday. Paul and I were entered in Brit/Goodyear, F2CN, Barton B and Mini/Goodyear.

This year was a disappointing time for the RAFMAA Teams, Blakeborough/Tricker and Barker/North in that between us, we only managed to reach one final with an eventual second placing for Barker/North in 1/2A team Race. However, we were not alone as most of the teams seem to be experiencing problems of varying sorts. Strange for us as this was the best prepared we had been, but the worst we had performed. A moral there perhaps?

With a truly awful weather forecast for the Monday most of the events were pushed through so as to allow the finals to be completed on the Sunday. On the Monday we had only three finals to run instead of the usual fifteen. The highlight for most of us was that this year we had been joined by two Australian teams who had previously been at the World Cup Event in Poland and had decided to take in the BMFA event on their way home.

The F2C final composed of these two Australian teams and one British team. The result, after a complete master class in Team Racing was Australia first and second with Britain third.

A down side to this National’s event was the fact that by the end of the weekend most of the RAFMAA element were walking wounded, me with stiff knees, Paul with a pulled ligament and Chris with a mystery ailment effecting his joints that resulted in him having to visit his local A&E on Monday evening. Thankfully all now seem to have recovered. For me having attended the BMFA Nationals as a competitor for the past twenty five years this year was disappointing. Every year the campsite numbers increase on the previous year whilst the number of competitors slowly and sadly diminishes.

The BMFA Nationals have over the years been feted as the biggest modelling event in Europe and it appears to me that the onus seems now to be centred upon entertaining the paying public rather that the running of a competitive event. The number of competitors continues to dwindle and I can foresee the time when the only part of the Nationals left will be the Show line and any such connected modelling. Maybe my judgement is clouded and over influenced my by the memories of the Nationals past where an entry level of over one hundred in team Race was normal rather than the twenty or so that we currently experience.

My judgement was definitely influenced by the attitude of 95% of the current competitors who at the end of activities on Monday disappeared and left the clean up and dismantling to a very small band of people. I felt very embarrassed that most of the people who helped were either overseas visitors or spectators.



Sloping off….
As previously mentioned Colin and I had been left with booked holiday at the end of August for which we had no modelling event to partake in. Driven by this and the fact that our wives and partners had already planned to have a weekend away at the Harrogate craft show then it was imperative we arranged to commit modelling aviation somewhere else in the country. Once again the chosen location was the slopes of Lancashire in and around Parlick with Colin’s house serving as an operating base.

With a Southerly wind which was expected swing to the South West, Parlick loomed large on the horizon with Colin and me setting up on the South facing side of the hill. With the winds forecast to be on the light side we had chosen models appropriate to the conditions. Colin was equipped with a Mini-Milan, Midge, Weasel and Solange with me having the same.

My Mini-Milan had been the subject of a mid life update following the problems encountered on our last outing resulting in a little damage to the airframe. The fuselage had been reconditioned to replace the section that had been torn out with the tail being re-seated and a fetching new colour scheme applied. The official name for the colour is Fondue Fancy and as can be seen from the pictures is a rather pleasant shade of pink (In your opinion Ed) matched with my trade-mark purple undersides. I think that the pink is quite nice, however, the rest of the world seem to disagree. This subject will raise its head again on the Saturday with a full explanation.

The view from the top of Parlick enables you to see right out to and beyond Blackpool and its famous tower. It also allows you to see approaching rain showers and allow you to prepare. With a shower fast approaching, we took the precaution of stacking the models to ensure that rain would not gain access to the interiors and Colin pegged out his medium plastic tarpaulin which we laid under to wait out the rain. Conditions under this tarpaulin were most comforting being dry and warm, however, Colin was slightly miffed to discover
that conversation had become mainly one sided and was accompanied by the sound of gentle snoring. …….


I only mention this because if I don’t then I’m certain that Colin will. Once the somewhat heavy shower had passed, the wind became more Westerly so we trooped around to the Wall site and continued to fly for a few more hours. Several passers by stopped and asked questions mainly centred on the fact that the models were quiet and did not require motors. Colin and I both believe that it can only be to our advantage to engage the passing public as much as possible and I have memories of a day at Oliver’s Castle near Devizes where a couple two young lads spent a good half hour flying our Zagis via a second TX via a buddy box lead.

I often wonder whether or not they went on to take up the hobby/sport. So the day ended with a walk down in most pleasant sunshine before heading off to a “reet good” Lancashire fish and chip supper.

Parlick was again the chosen location, however, the weather Gods had intervened with prolonged showers sweeping through. Always a dangerous situation as the last time we were rained off for the entire day the concept of designing and producing our own quarter scale glider was born. This was of course the Genesis-2 whose story is well covered within this web site.

With Colin’s building programme being fully booked for the immediate future it, therefore, fell to me to dream and select a future project. A particular under represented design is that of the SZD Foka 4 which I consider to be along with the Cobra 17 a beautiful and sleek design. Should a decent three view be obtained then I hope to commence work upon the Fuselage mould sometime this winter, the only undecided factor being that of size, 1/5 or 1/4 scale.

In the run up to the weekend I had suggested to Colin that we undertake an “away day”. The idea being that depending upon the weather we could travel to another location with suitable models eg. Light Westerly’s called for a trip to the Long Mynd with scale models, whereby, strong winds dictated the Great Orme with the lead sleds as the venue.

Early morning and forecast light winds, saw us travelling down to the Long Mynd with scale models loaded into the back of Colin’s car. The original plan was for Paul Blakeborough to join us at the Long Mynd, however, the pulled ligament that he suffered at the Nationals was still causing problems and so he had to cancel.

Upon arriving at Pole Cottage car park, the Westerly site on top of the Long Mynd, several modellers were already in the process of assembling their models so we quickly put together what models we thought would be initially suitable. Me with a ¼ scale SHK and 1/5 scale Pilatus B4, Colin with a similar Pilatus. Colin’s Pilatus is a well seasoned veteran having featured many times on these pages; mine, on the other hand, was recently completed and awaiting test flying.

You may notice that once again the pink colour scheme has been employed. By way of explanation this is the model that started the trend. It is well known that our glider cockpits are usually adorned with the members of the Winnie the Pooh gang and friends hence the NNAWGC bit. In the case of the Pilatus I had an unemployed Pink Panther who ended up in the cockpit. Following a chance remark from my eldest grand daughter a suitable colour scheme and registration was applied.

The paint was obtained through Amazon at a very low price for a four can pack, for which only a couple of cans was required for the Pilatus hence the pink Mini-Milan. Colin however, does not share my enthusiasm thinking that it is a bit gay and is a phase that I will hopefully grow out of. You can’t deny that the visibility is very effective, but Colin still seems to think I should be shot at dawn…...

First Colin tested the conditions with his Pilatus with me following with the SHK. The lift was good so after a brief passing shower the Pink Panther took to the air. After only a few clicks of corrective trim it was soon engaged in aerobatics for which the full size is certified and cleared for. This really is a nice model to fly and Colin and I both feel that this model offers a fantastic first Scale model glider if you are interested.

Once lunch was out of the way Colin went to his car and returned with his Genesis. Following a short interlude to fettle an effective replacement wing retainer the Genesis was prepared for launch.

Readers of this site may remember that the launch of this model, in common with other flying wings can sometimes be a bit fraught. Once we had explained to the assembled onlookers that the latex glove I had put on my right hand was only to assist with the grip of a large fuselage by a small hand, and not for any other sinister purpose I set off to test our latest theory of solving the errant launch problem. This involved me walking a short distance down the face of the hill so as launch into lifting air rather than a head wind from the top. Result a perfect launch that pushed serenely out over the valley. Launch problem analysed and solved.

Colin by his own admission, which I thoroughly back is that whilst the Genesis is a very good flyer its format does not lend itself to allow the pilot to completely relax. Notwithstanding this, Colin pushed the flight envelope mainly in the region of faster speed and mild aerobatics. I did mention at the time, that the envelope seemed a little extreme to which, Colin’s response was a shrug of the shoulders and a grin.

The Genesis seemed to excel with a higher speed and appeared to be very much better for it. An uneventful landing followed. For my part, I continued with the Pilatus and the SHK as the lateness of the hour suggested that it would be unwise for me to bring out my Genesis. We really must attempt to get both of these models in the air at the same time. Owing to the long drive back we packed up about 1600hrs (we were however the last fliers remaining) and returned back to Colin’s house some 2½ hours away. It is of note that during both the drive down and return I resisted the temptation to sleep, thereby confounding all the rumours of “Neil the Sloth”……….. Engage smug mode.

With the wind back on Parlick’s Westerly slope, we returned to the Wall site. Due to me having to commence an early start home we travelled light to the top with a selection of Midges Weasels and Speedo models between us. The wind was actually constantly swinging between South and North West which affected the lift somewhat. Never the lest, all models were flown with no breakages thereby ending what was for us a most enjoyable long weekend.

Upon our return we were faced with the problem of repacking my car so as to contain not only the models but a very nice Scott hybrid bicycle which Colin had very generously donated to me. The plan being me to eventually obtain a state of fitness that didn’t require Colin’s thumb hovering over the speed dial button to the ambulance service every time that we ascent Parlick.

Colin was committed to visiting relatives over the following weekend, the silver lining in the cloud being that the location was in easy reach of either Crook’s Peak or Westbury White Horse. Those of long memory may recall that ascending Crook’s Peak is no walk in the park but that’s a story for another day.


Neil T

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