Often the Indoor Nats falls on a sunny calm day when outdoor flying would be a tempting possibility, away from those unforgiving sports hall walls.
This year the opposite was the case, with strong winds and torrential rain bringing a timely reminder of the benefit of flying indoors in controlled conditions, whatever
our fickle weather can throw at us.
Due to various peanut disasters, which I may document elsewhere, I only took the Shrike this year. I could have taken the Kamikaze again,
but I thought everyone might be getting bored with it now after entering it the last three years. The Shrike had been flying well at the Manchester Velodrome meeting,
so on Saturday evening I thought I'd just do a quick test flight then put it back in the box. As is often the way, the trim seemed to have changed a bit, and it hit the wall
after the turn opened out - the subsequent fall to the floor smashing one of the wheel pants. The next hour was spent repairing and attempting to retrim for Sunday.
By the time we left to go for our now traditional curry, it was looking reasonably well behaved again, with the addition of some extra nose weight and up elevator.
I'm not going to summarise any class rules as they can all be found painstakingly detailed on the BMFA
website here, or have a look at some of my older
Nats reports for a brief summary.
Entry numbers were very similar to last year - in fact I think we had one more competitor than last time. I chatted to a couple of people who were there for the first time, which is always encouraging.
It was good to see some overseas entries - Roel Lucassen and Gert Brendel had
driven over from The Netherlands and Enrique Maltz had flown all the way from Israel with no less than seven carefully packed models.
On Saturday morning Enrique upacked the models to check they all survived the trip OK, and here they are laid out on our dining table.
As you can see by this photo of his Velie Monocoupe kit scale entry, Enrique is a very skilled modeller.
Kit scale was well supported again this year with 11 entries and plenty of new models - not bad as a couple of the more experienced modellers didn't enter
this year to give the others a chance.
Deserved winner of the class was Chris Blanch with his Sablatnig SF4 triplane, built from a Czech kit designed by Loubomir Koutny. Chris
had installed tiny clear plastic wheels under the floats, which allowed the model to ROG very smoothly, and it
cruised gently around the hall in a most realistic fashion. I'm very sorry to say I somehow managed not to get a video of it.
John Churchill came second in class with his very neatly built Keil Kraft Stinson Station Wagon. A nice flyer too as you can see below.
Dan Mellor built this Jodel D.9 Bebe from the Micro X kit, and he was really unlucky not to place higher. The model climbed out beautifully on its first flight,
then straightened up as the power came off and headed straight for the wall. Unfortunately the damage was too great to allow any more flights.
Two Guillows Fairchild F.24's were entered, this one by Peter Fardell was finished in the attractive colours of the U.S Coast Guard. The model flew well to
earn Peter fourth place - see one of the flights below.
Nice electric powered Luton Minor built from the Aerographics kit by John Bowerman. Note the excellent engine detail. Unfortunately John was unable to achieve a qualifying flight.
Andrew Darby entered this Auster AOP 9 built from the Veron Tru-Flite plan. Another fine flyer - see the video below.
There were only seven entries in the Electric/CO2 class this year, mostly models we had seen before,
but the class was closely fought.
Richard Crossley won with his Flying Flea, Derek Knight came second with his familiar Tiger Moth and Divs Masters third with his SE5A.
A video of a fine flight by the Flying Flea is embedded below.
Peter Smart had the only twin entry - this neat Gotha Go244. For the first few flights the springy undercarriage lead to unpredictable
take-offs, and collisions with the walls, but after modifications a good fourth flight was made that stayed within in the confines of the
hall. The video below shows the benefit of having "catchers" patrolling the walls!
Laurence Marks had to trim his new ABC Robin on the day, but got it flying well enough to
register three qualifying flights. Power was from an Atomic Workshop Voodoo 25 motor.
Graham Banham finished fourth in class with his lovely Fairchild FC-1 - The model survived a head on collision with the wall earlier in the day to put in the fine flight you can see below.
The Open Rubber class was well supported, with 15 entrants and several new models in evidence.
It was a Brewster one-two in the class, with Richard Crossley winning with his well proven RAF Bermuda - see video below:
finished second with this nicely finished Buccaneer - the U.S. version of the Bermuda - built from Richard's plan. The model was not behaving
quite as reliably as Graham had hoped, but put in two good scoring flights, one of which you can see below.
Chris Blanch took third place with this Goodyear FG.1D Corsair. Chris improved the trim as the day went on, culminating in the excellent flight shown below.
Here's my Shrike waiting to be judged - I made a scale prop for the occasion, and added the aerial wires and aileron control horns. Thanks to Russ Lister for the photo.
The main problem with doing a realistic indoor flight with the Shrike is that the model seems very reluctant to leave the ground,
so you have to really wind it up to get the impetus to lift off. As soon as it leaves the ground, it climbs too steeply, and you get
a gentle series of stalls after the climb out. If you back off the winds it just drives around the floor. Anyway, I did get
two reasonable qualifying flights in before lunch, which took any pressure off for the afternoon session.
The story of the final flight is probably worth recounting, as it turned out to be quite entertaining. Flight three had turned out
to be a taxi round the hall, so for the final one I put on 100 more turns. The Shrike got off smartly and climbed quite high, stalling
a bit till it recovered, and was coming in for a reasonable (though rather steep) landing in front of the competitors tables when one
of the press photographers standing on the floor (who I won't embarrass by naming!) didn't get his camera out of the way in time and the model hit him before ending up
upside down on the floor. No damage, thank goodness, and the judges let me have the flight again.
The same number of winds resulted in
a similar flight but the circle seemed to open out a bit as it headed for the netting in front of the tables. It looked as if it
wouldn't make the turn, so I rushed over to intercept it, at which point I realised that it might after all just avoid the posts and
land. The model was now heading straight for me and decending fast. What I should have done (it's easy with hindsight) is run towards
the middle of the hall. What I actually did was throw myself to the floor in the hope the model would pass over me. It didn't.
It landed on top of me. For some reason everybody watching thought this was very funny. Fortunately my second flight earlier in the day
proved good enough for 4th place.
Peter Smart had large new rubber model for the competition, this 40 inch span Fokker F.VII. Trimming such a large model to fly within the confines
of a sports hall is no mean feat, and it looked impressive in the air. Peter tweaked the trim throughout the day, and finished with the
excellent flight shown below.
Peter Fardell enjoyed himself so much last year flying in the kit scale class on his first visit to the Nats, that this time he came
with a new self designed model for the open rubber class as well - this Auster Agricola. Peter was rewarded with three qualifying flights and 9th place in class - a
very creditable performance.
Tim Milner built this very well finished Miles Magister - the chrome cowling being particularly impressive. Unfortunately the model just failed to
make the 15 second qualifying time.
The top two places in a well supported Peanut class were the same as last year, with Mike Hadland's Bucker Jungmann in first place and Richard Crossley's
Ju 87 Stuka in second.
Kevin Wallace entered this well detailed Bowers Fly Baby in both the open rubber and peanut classes. The model placed well in both, finishing 5th in the open class and
3rd in peanut.
Another model entered in both the peanut and open rubber was Ian Pallister's attractive 1912 Depperdussin. The model failed to get
a qualifying flight in open rubber, despite achieving 24 seconds on one of its peanut flights. I can only think this was due to the model going
out of trim, or perhaps it was the ROG requirement?
Roel Lucassen brought his old Gee Bee X along - made many years ago he says. It may not be as pristine as it used to be, but it flew well - best time 50 seconds.
It also survived at least one collision with the wall as you can see below.
Proof that Blackburn built at least one attractive inter war aircraft - Nick Peppiatt's nicely finished Bluebird finished 4th in the peanut class
Chris Blanch entered this ambitious peanut scale Yokosuka E6YA, a type I'd never come across before.
The model achieved ROG using a wheeled dolly and achieved a best time of 35 seconds.
John Valiant always seems to tun up at the Nats with a new Yak peanut, and this time it was a Yak 9D - one of my favourites. I think
it must be memories of building the ancient Airfix 1/72 kit when I was a kid. Lovely finish as usual on the foam airframe - John uses acrylic paints.
Best flight time was 40 seconds.
Peter Boys chose a very attractive scheme for his peanut Waco SRE - made a change from the usual yellow.
Below is a video of Chris Chapman's fine flying Hawker Fury, an interesting model in that it is constructed entirely from sheet balsa, then expertly airbrushed.
There were 11 entries in pistachio this year and the first two places were taken by new entrants with Nick Peppiatt finishing third
with his familiar Lippisch Storch (best flight an amazing 63 seconds!)
Enrique Maltz finished first with his Santos Dumont 14 bis. This is a really delicate model, and I was
terrified of breaking someting while holding the model for Enrique to wind. Best flight was a very impressive 46 seconds.
Gary Flack must have been glad he entered the class, finishing second with this neat foam Focke Wulf Fw 190D. Best fight was 33 seconds
Another pistachio foamie was this well finished P-51 Mustang from Ian Pallister
David Prior went the traditional stick and tissue route for his new pistachio Grumman Wildcat, which showed promise.
Note that David chose to put an undercarriage on his model, something not often done on pistachio WW2 fighter models.