“It’s such a perfect day, I’m so glad I spent it with you” Lou Reed, 1972, Transformer Album, produced by David Bowie. I was 15 and impressionable, how old were you? If you answer “older” then you may have attended day one of the Orme Fly-In on the weekend of 12th and 13th October 2019. If however you answered “younger”, then you probably arrived with a camper van, trailer, and a huge array of huge models including a white Antonov. Lou Reed wrote the track for his late wife, Bettye Kronstad when he was addicted to heroin. It was a perfect day for me because I spent it with some of the most pleasant chaps and some chapesses one could hope to meet in one of the most beautiful environments overlooking a fabulous view with perfect wind strength, and booming lift for flying. What’s not to like? You certainly didn’t need any drugs to enhance your enjoyment.
I arrived at about 10.38 (exactly according to my car) and there wasn’t a parking space to be found. It was full of modellers unpacking their latest creations, and some we had seen before. We even had to sneak into an extra car parking area. Phil Cooke had done his briefing before I arrived (sorry Phil), to an audience of probably 50 participants. If you work on the basis of 4 models per person there must have been at least 150 models present. The sky was full (too full at times). I landed when I counted 9 models in the air at once. I didn’t see any mid air collisions but I imagine there must have been some. “The skies were alive to the sound of gliders” – Julie Andrew’s mixed metaphors wasn’t it?
A word to the wise. I am a PSSA review virgin, and my knowledge or aircraft history can be written on the back of a postage stamp. I have got a handy plane spotting book of historic aircraft which I spend most of my life now reading, but my apologies for any faux pas in this missive.
There were so many gliders that I can only mention a selection. Ian Hammerton (a previous winner of the A4 Skyhawk Mass Build competition 3 years ago in September 2016) brought along his Skyhawk together with a Grunman X29 to maiden. The lift in the morning was not a good as the afternoon so he wanted to test the lift before maidening. On launch the Skyhawk headed right for the pits full of models so Ian stuffed it into the rocks below to avoid carnage but the fuselage split in 2. I just know how he felt. No reason for this to happen to a model which had flown fine before. The Orme South West edge eats models due to the compression you get. Safer sometimes to launch from the bottom plateau with cleaner air.
Ian launched with Simon Cocker’s help the Grunman X29 later in the afternoon. It was a scratch build by Ian from a basic out of scale 1986 plan which Ian used a basis, adding scale detail and turned into a very impressive looking model. It had very clever programming as it is a canard. There were “tabs” at the back which acted as mini elevators, the main wing ailerons which doubled as elevators, as well as the front foreplanes. Maybe the C of G which was a guess was slightly out because it rose on launch then quickly dived nose first into the ground. Back to the drawing board. It did, however create a lot of interest. A crowd gathered for the launch from the lower shelf.
Model of the day must be Andy Meade’s MASSIVE white Antonov, which, I think, is still the largest model glider in the world. If not someone will no doubt correct me. It used to belong to Simon Cocker, who displayed it at airshows as part of an aerotow many years ago. It has remained neglected and unused having befallen a serious crash. Andy refurbished it. It is so large that he had to split the fuselage into 3 to get it into his trailer.
There is a video of the launch on the Facebook site. The glider is so big that it needs at least 4 people to carry it to the launch, one of whom was Andy the pilot, who then detached leaving the other 3 to pitch it off the edge. It soared majestically into the blueness. It is so large that you could put a family of cats, budgerigars and hamsters inside quite easily. It would however be prudent to warn your daughter in advance. Don’t try this at home incidentally.
Jez Billington brought along his Island Models Fouga Magister in the colours of the Bangladeshi Air Force. I asked him about the very bright red and green LED’s to wing tip and under belly. They are separately controlled by switches and batteries (even in the tip tanks), which are activated before launch rather than controlled by a receiver channel. They shone very brightly even against a sun filled blue sky. His huge Armstrong Whitley white flying wing also flew but had a mishap whilst he was adjusting the setting of the flaps during flight.
Talking of mishaps, which can and do happen to all of us, Steve Kemp brought along a Spitfire and a Hurricane all the way from North of the Border, both of which crashed, one due to receiver failure midflight (the all black night version, which I think is a Balsacraft Models power conversion). It was a Spectrum unbinding during flight, which rectified itself when reconnected. As usual, both models were beautifully finished, and flew. Thankfully my old Silver and Fluorescent Jet Provost flew safely, in his capable hands.
Harry Twist flew an almost identical Jet Provost from the 2014 Mass Build which used to belong to Matt Jones liveried in the Church Fenton decals. His highly unusual Blohm and Voss 215 got an airing, now with more nose weight than on maiden in September. It soared successfully.
Another maiden came in the form of Andy Meade’s Stuka which he purchased as a well flown IC power model full of years of oil and gunk. He removed the engine and replaced it with a box full of lead to create balance. He retained the undercarriage which produced a most realistic look and was attached with magnets, to knock off on landing. What happened I don’t know, but some easily repairable damage occured. It is large and made a most imposing presence in the air. I even offered to do a whistle sound effect on diving into the ground but my offer was surprisingly spurned.
The Mass Build Saber F86 Sales Tent and Shop must get a mention. New Version 16 plans to replace the slightly out of scale version 15 were handed to those who had so requested in a sealed plastic bag! There was a part completed fuselage to examine, product, Martin Gay, and Gordon Studley to answer any questions, and a complete Silver Beta Version flew most impressively in the 25 to 30mph South Westerley. It has real presence and momentum. I am looking forward to starting mine in 2 weeks time. Gordon shunned my attempts to take a snap, and did not provide me with a beautiful blonde sales promotion girl in his place, so imagination is the reader’s alternative?
I also spoke to ???, who had travelled from Wigan to fly his Beach Bonanza Hobby King electric conversion (priced at £78 when I last looked). It zipped around at high speed, its V Tail making landing suited to heather slopes. He showed me his cunning adjustable nose weight which consisted of 2 huge alloy bolts with nuts which could be wound back and forwards to suit. This was his first visit to PSSA, his usual haunt being Ulverston and Seaplanes – he was mentioned in the recent RCM&E article.
There will no doubt be some mention of this day in Simon Cocker’s RCM&E article. He brought along his white U2 which flew over our heads at lightening speed from back to front of slope, as did his huge Canberra, which everyone seemed to have a fiddle at the sticks in his usual most generous style. I was told that it was in the air for two and a half hours! The Canberra in camoflauge livery was originally built by Matt Jones from foam and veneer cores. It flies superbly and has real presence in the air.
Whilst studiously clutching a red solicitor’s note book, I managed to fly my Hurricane, Canberra, which landed at my feet (and hit another’s ankle – sorry) more than once (wasn’t going to mention it but Phil said I had to?), Tornado, and A4 Skyhawk. What a great day.
The lift started off as reasonable in the morning but became booming and amazing in the afternoon. I put it down to the air being damp after days of rain, and cold, because I measured the speed when I arrived at 25 to 30mph, more than enough for elevator conditions. In the afternoon the temperature rose and the land heated up, but the wind speed remained the same. You could have flown your collapsible chair, but not whilst seated in it?
I have run out of space, but should mention the massive Mustang of Matt Jones, who also flew his beta test Hurricane right up to not only his feet but also the very enthusiastic lady from the North East who told me she was thinking of taking up the hobby so fascinated was she. She had stood in the landing area and kept apologising for being in the way. She was rewarded by Matt’s spot landing. She was one of many interested spectators, who ogled at the massive pits collection of scale models.
There were a collection of Hurricanes from Phil Cooke and Bob Jennings (winner of best finished at the 2018 awards), as well as many of the Mass Build A4 Skyhawks (Chris Barlow), John Hey, and the all gold version which had travelled from South Wales to join us.
Both A380’s of Tim Mackie and Steve Kemp got an airing. Tim promised another formation session, but whether this ever happened due to the crowded skis, I don’t know.
Tom Cooke brought not only his matching pair of silver and yellow Jet Provosts and Canberra, which both flew successfully, but also a fabulous lemon drizzle cake, credit for which must go to Margaret, his wife, who delights us with her domestic science professorial skills at every event. Just the thing after a hard day’s soaring when your dogs are barking (sore feet for those who aren’t from up North).
After one of the best days I can remember we retired to the Cottage Loaf for a well deserved meal and a pint. We discussed the ongoing 1.5 metre Jet Provost build – for which see my blog, as well as the forthcoming Sabre Mass Build for 2020.
The forecast for Sunday was as bad as Saturday was good with rain and variable light winds all day, to such an extent that Phil posted a cancellation of the formal PSS day on Facebook, so it really was a weekend of one half. Saturday was, however, so good that everyone went home satisfied. The locals went up for the last 2 hours of flying on Saturday when the wind picked up and the rain cleared.
So, to conclude, thanks must go to Phil Cooke for once again organising a fabulous event. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, reserving the date, marketing via social media, and the website, setting out warning flags, doing a briefing, as well as organising Mass Builds, and other events. The massive attendance is a testament to his success. Thank you Phil.
If Lou Reed was still alive, I am sure he would have been too wasted to have twiddled the sticks. If only he had composed his lyrics in memory of the Mass Build Sabre project instead of his wife he could have mentioned the joys of scale. He talks of “Sangria in the Park, feeding animals in the zoo, and perhaps a movie too”. Not even a mention of rivets, oil streaks, and weathering using silver Solarfilm. No concept of the joys of PSS soaring. If he had spent more time cutting out balsa instead of writing doleful lyrics, his life could have been a happier one.
For more images, see our gallery here. You can also see a selection of Facebook images and videos on the PSS Page
See you all next year, and happy winter building…….