Come Summertime, or what passes for it, our stalwart committee members task the inestimable Mr Jervis with holding the annual scale competition at whichever slope happens to suit the prevailing breeze, wind or howling gale. This year we had a washout Saturday, wisely cancelled early, with the Sunday left as default for those pilots willing to brave the Leek Moorland weather vagaries and cast their aerial devices into the sometimes soggy air. With no specific list to follow and purely ‘as observed’ by my rheumy eyes, I set before you the ramblings of an old fart, sent forth to make utterance to the slope populace and gather what morsels of information and any photos I could take in the overcast and sometimes heavy cloud.
Surprised at the turnout on such a threatening day, I began to scratch the underbelly of our gathered brethren and scribble in my soggy notebook. Flying began without a fanfare and at times the ‘5-in-the-air-at-one-time’ limit was tested. The Les Hay ‘478’ Slingsby Swallow’ duo, both little and large, were totally different in the air with the bigger model performing ‘as per’, whilst the little West Wings device was tossed around by both Mr Hay and the blustering breeze.
Jeff Mortimer brought a mixed bag of goodies with – to me – the colourful K-8 ‘Bird Face’ Belgian. Signs of previous fuselage repair were tested in an arrival that rolled the fuselage under the wind and ended its playtime. Ant put up his ghostly white K-18 in solidarity, showing us how to craft air to benefit a sailplane. Dave Maynard’s ‘little’ Emouchet, acquired a while ago, was a solid performer despite occasional aerial lumps disturbing the flight pattern.
Chris Williams RCM&E Free Plan “Flamingo” & Petrel
Two gorgeous models graced the sky, ably piloted by Pete Garsden; the ‘Flamingo’ and Slingsby ‘Petrel’ are works of aerial art and Pete deserved the ‘Best Vintage’ acclaim. Utterly majestic in flight, you could believe these were full-size interlopers come to play o’er the Mermaid hinterland. Not to be outdone, Andy Gough’s Rhonsperber – though a tad second-hand looking up close, was hauled around the sky with aplomb and verve by Mr Cocker, envelope pushing pilot of the parish.
The Earth Swallows a Swallow
Back to the tiddler end of the show saw the West Wigs triplets playing silly-sausage; at just 36 inches and light as a large feather, two channel antics were fun. Harry Twist had added ailerons to the mix and decreased dihedral, making a very nimble plaything that showed its ‘had an interesting life’ writ large across the tissue covering. Unfortunately, one of the Hays duo glanced away from his gambolling glider and when his gaze returned, he flew the wrong model! His Swallow smote the hillside and broke its wing.
Pilatus and Best Modern Glass Ship
Brian Sharp’s wonderfully understated Pilatus B4 simply ‘got on with the job’, no fuss, no fury, just a well-executed flight regime that emulated the original. A ‘tour de force’ of a model that he’s crafted from plan to flight as a scratch build. Incredible. Yorkshire interloper Roger Brown won ‘Best Glass’ with his superbly presented and flow sleek steeds and took the ‘Best of the day’ trophy back across the borders to white rose country.
Others flew, some prevailed, some failed, but despite this and the sometimes awful conditions, it was agreed that Ant had ‘pulled off another good one’. He got a well-earned round of applause from the gathered worthies. Will he do it again next year? We certainly hope so and look forward to it. What joys will emerge from the coming winter’s building sessions in the varied dusty recesses that we call workshops, we shall see!
To view the rest of photographs by Andy Gough and Ant Jervis, click here