We were back at the Wolverhampton University Sports hall for the 2016 Nationals, a move welcomed by everybody I met, because of the large "pit" area. There
is so much more space round the tables than we had at Nottingham and spectators could wander around looking at the models without feeling they were getting in the way.
It was also nice to stretch wind without blocking the gangway!
This year I had the luxury of bringing along a new model which had already successfully flown indoors, as I'd driven up to Peterborough
three weeks beforehand to get
the Fox Moth trimmed, albeit with many details yet to be added. It didn't take long to get it going on Saturday evening - it just needed
a bit of noseweight to stop a gentle stall and a touch more left rudder.
Thus I passed on the chance to do a trim flight on Sunday morning. The first competition flight on 800 winds was a low level affair, though it managed
the 15 second qualifying time OK. "Right" I thought, "let's not touch anything, but just pile on the turns". So, with 1100 turns, the model took off for about 2 seconds, then taxied madly
round the floor for 50 seconds or so.
Feeling a little gloomy at lunchtime, I was delighted to see that a trimming session had been scheduled. I was convinced that lack of power was not the issue - it just looked
under-elevated, plus the left wing was dropping with the torque of the motor. So I dug some Blu-Tack out of the nose and bent the left aileron down a bit more.
Things looked immediately better, so I dug yet more noseweight out, which resulted in the model climbing away properly. I have no idea why
the model should have got nose-heavy overnight!
Anyway, flights three and four were just about perfect - probably the best indoor scale flights I have ever made. The flight scores were such that I was able to win the
class despite a lack of detailing compared to several other of the rubber entries. As you would expect I was delighted to win -
it was way back in 2004 when I last won this class
with the Curtiss Sparrowhawk. Large and light seems to be the way to go - certainly that's
the route I'll be taking for all future open class models.
Monique Lyons took the videos below of my third and fourth flights (for which I am very grateful!)
I entered the little P.26 in the Peanut class again, and despite breaking off a wing three times after collisions with the wall, I managed an
aggregate time 20 seconds better than last year by the simple expedient of letting the model ROG, and taking the 10 second bonus. I was happy to
finish 6th out of a strong field of 21 entries.
As usual, I'm not going to summarise any class rules as they can all be found painstakingly detailed in the latest BMFA
rule book here
In the open rubber class this year 14 entries were put in for static judging, compared to 12 last year.
Of these, only two failed to get a qualifying flight, which indicates to me that the standard of flying has improved compared to previous
years. Maybe more people just got the chance to get their models trimmed out before the event? There were a lot of new models in the class as well,
which is always good to see - well over half were new to me.
I'd love to see more kit scale entrants have a go at the open rubber class next year to boost the numbers still further - the jump up
to the open classes isn't as big as you think - just make sure you have the documentation covered.
Gerard Brinks was one of the very welcome group of Dutch modellers who came over again for the contest, and he showed that it is perfectly possible to enter both Kit scale
and an open class with the same model and be competitive. His elegant and colourful Douglas Y10-43 built from the Golden Age kit
flew very smoothly and finished 6th in Open Rubber. A lump of clay on the right wingtip, as seen here, can be a useful way of holding up the
left wing of a model as it is turning left. Thanks To Monique Lyons for the video below and all the embedded YouTube videos in this report.
Gerard's son Marwin Brinks also entered both kit scale and open rubber with the same model - in this case a very neat Howard DGA-6 "Mr Mulligan" and finished a
creditable 9th in the open class.
Always a treat to see a new model from Richard Crossley, and he had this suberbly finished Lockheed Vega for open rubber this year.
Great attention to detail on the airframe, with all the complicated little fairings included. The outstanding finish was obtained using
airbrushed Tamiya acrylic paints. Model finished second in class.
Peter Smart brought along a new Re8 - a machine with bags of charactor (and lots of rigging). Peter's flight scores got better with each round and he ended up
third in class. See the fourth flight below.
It was great to welcome Robert Pajas to the event again with another collection of exquisite models. This is his Fokker Universal immaculately
finished in the colours of Standard Airlines. Model finished 8th in class - I can only think that the relatively low static
mark was due to a documentation problem.
Tim Horne brought this ambitious twin rubber F-82 Twin Mustang which was proving tricky to get to fly in the confines of the hall. Tim
persisted though, and his fourth flight was his best - always very satisfying. Note broken spinner caused by a collision with the wall.
Multi engined models entered in the open classes get a 10% flight bonus, so are certainly worth considering.
Yet another new model was this Howard Pete racer by Chris Strachan. Chris always trims his racers to fly very smoothly and positively,
just like they should, and this little beauty was no exception.
Chris Blanch brought along this Fleet Canuck which was designed to ROG using wheels placed discretely under the floats. The model was
not behaving as well as it should, but Chris managed a qualifier with his third flight.
There were 9 entries in the Electric/CO2 class, the same as last year, of which six made qualifying flights. Top two were the same
as last year - Richard Crossley winning with his Fine flying Tri-Pacer, and Graham Banham taking time off from his organising and judging
duties to finish second with his Cessna C.34. Both models are electric powered using Voodoo motors from Atomic Workshop.
Derek Knight had this new and superbly detailed D.H.82 Tiger Moth with him. Top scored in static, but flying scores were let down by the
model's slightly steep approach and nose-over when landing. With some adjustments to the controller settings, certainly a potential winner next year.
Just look at that cockpit detail! This does show how you can go to town on this area with an electric model, as
you don't have to leave space for the rubber motor.
Robert Pajas's models are always finished to an extremely high standard, and this Aero A-23 is no exception.
Unfortunately Robert failed to get a qualifying flight with the model.
There was a bumper entry in kit scale this year - up from 20 last year to no less than 30 this time, and every single model got
at least one qualifying flight. The standard of flying in kit scale really was outstanding this year. Due to the large number
of entrants in all classes,
there was pressure all through the day to keep on time, despite an early 9.00 am start for the competion. You had to keep a careful eye on the
boards and be wound or charged and ready to go when your name got to the top. It all worked out fine in the end though, and the threat to
cut the number of flights in some classes was not found necessary. We finished at 6.00 pm, bang on schedule. One idea I've heard
since the event, which
I think is a good one, would be to issue a running order on a sheet of paper to each competitor, so you then know
exactly when you are up for a flight without having to check on the board (which only shows the next three competitors).
Winner this year was Monque Lyons with this Fokker D.VII built from the Herr Engineering kit. It is a great flyer as you can see below.
Mike Langford took second place with this very pretty Stinson Reliant, from the old pre-war Comet design. The attractive
scheme was achieved using an ink-jet printer to colour the tissue. You may spot a few wrinkles and irregularities behind
the cowling - this is because Mike had to fix a concertinaed nose after an earlier collision. Fortunately this didn't have
any adverse effect on the flying performance - in fact I think it flew better after the crash.
Rob Smith was one of only four entrants, including the two mentioned above, to get a flight score of over 100 points.
The Thomas Designs Piper Vagabond is a proven performer indoors, and with its light weight and large wing area it just floated around the hall.
Ralph Sparrow finished 5th in class with this very smart Auster Arrow - apparently covered in Mylar rather than tissue. Model was a lovely slow flyer.
Great choice of subject by Simon Rogers, who entered this Besson MB11 from the Mike Midkiff desgned Ozark Model Aviation kit.
The model was extremely well finished and deservedly
got the highest static mark of the day - finished 12th place overall. Simon got a hand-launched flight in the bag before he tried using
the launching dolly, seen in the video below. This just made the qualifying time, but as Simon realised afterwards, a
bit more rubber was really needed to get the model to a better height.
Andrew Darby had the rare chance to build and enter a model from a kit he designed himself! In this case, the Vintage Model Company Cessna 140.
These always seem to fly well - just about the perfect first scale model for a beginner I reckon.
Andrew's neatly finished example flew very nicely and got to a decent altitude as it cruised round.
One of the prettiest kit scale models I thought was this Velie Monocoupe from the old Flyline kit, built by Bryan Lea.
The Keil Kraft Beech Bonanza seems quite an ambitious subject for indoor scale, but
Chris Strachan had his example flying purposefully around the hall after a smooth take-off from that tricycle undercarriage.
Peter Fardell chose the Aerographics Blackburn Monoplane as his kit scale entry this year and he had made a really nice job of it. Love the pilot!
Trimming was proving a bit tricky on the Saturday evening, but Peter had it flying fine on Sunday.
It was good to see such variety in the Kit Scale class this year - a reminder that you don't have to buid a high winged cabin model
to be competitive.
Peanut scale was again strongly supported, with 21 entries, 19 of which posted flights. Last year we only had 13.
Mike Hadland won again with his familiar Bucker Jungmann and
Nick Peppiat finished one place higher than last year, in second place, with his pretty Blackburn Bluebird.
Kevin Wallace took time out from running the SAMS Models stand to enter this Bowers Fly-Baby - 3rd in static and 9th in flying was good enough for 3rd place.
A new foam peanut from John Valiant was this beautifully finished Fairey Firefly in Dutch markings. Best flight was 37 seconds.
Dave Crompton really likes Volksplanes - here is his new peanut scale example, nicely finished in an attractive Swiss scheme.
The Savoia Marchetti SM 87 is an ambitious subject for peanut, but a very attractive one, beautifully modelled by Robert Pajas.
Chris Chapman finished fourth in class with his all sheet balsa Hawker Fury. Note the subtle representation of the wing ribs.
A best flight of 65 seconds was most impressive.
Ralph Sparrow entered this pretty Bristol Scout Type D - placed 6th in static and put in a best flight of 33 seconds.
Good to see a few more Pistachio entries this year - 10 this time, with 8 recording flights. Winner was Gary Flack
with a foam Westland Wyvern. Here it is shown with Gary's larger peanut scale version.
Wout Moerman was runner up with this delightful Koolhoven FK 46. Best flight time was an impressive 41 seconds.
Scale glider was yet another class with a bigger entry this year - 12 models made flights this year. People are still experimenting with
the best way to get their creations airborne - anything goes, including just chucking the model off the balcony.
The event was judged on flying only, though some sort of scale judging could be brought in at future events.
The secret of success is definitely to build as lightly as you can, to minimise flying speed and give
the longest possible time in the air. Peter Smart showed how to do it with his new Slingsby T.1 Falcon featuring single-covered
flying surfaces and undoped tissue - weight was around 6 grams. The model is winched gently into the air then after release
picks up a gentle curved descent. The trick is to release the model at the correct place in the hall to keep it away from the walls.
Andy Sephton finished in second place with another winch-launced glider (a Slingsby Prefect), and Brian Lever came third with a very light foam glider launched using a towline
(he didn't have to run very fast!)
Robert Pajas went in a different direction and produced this fully covered, painted and detailed Piper TG-8 training glider. If there
had been a scale judging element to the event, Robert would have finished much higher up the leaderboard.
So, to sum up, one of the best indoor Nats I can remember, with a bumper crop of entries, a high standard of flying, plenty of spectators and loads of new models to see.
A special mention should go to Graham Banham and John Minchell, who deserve thanks for steering proceedings so well at their first attempt
and squeezing everything into the day.