Bilston Control Line Competition 2007

10 June 2007

After a long time in the wilderness so to speak, I finally had details of a carrier competition at Bilston situated not far from Wolvehampton, I had just got my car back from being repaired, the weather forecast looked good, and I also live next door to a motorway junction. It's a fairly strait forward route, about an hour's drive along one of the UK's most congested motorways, so within my health capabilities (I can always die the next day). I still managed to somehow take a wrong turn and get lost on the way home though. I was also treated to the ridiculous spectacle of temporary police speed trap notices on a section of the M6 whilst stuck in a traffic jam caused by road works.

My timing was impeccable, arriving around ten O'clock shortly before the carrier deck perched on top of Andy Housden's car, which promptly disgorged a quantity of equipment that made the the whole operation seem like a magicians trick of pulling a never ending number of objects out of a box. The Bilston club had organised vintage stunt and a Weatherman vintage speed comp's as well, but trying to photograph, video, record, and compete in the carrier event, was a bit much for even my omnipresent goddess like state of existence.

For my part I managed to do what I set out to, enter, start, and finish in carrier. It's not important where I finished as I don't expect to do any good in my first attempt at a carrier competition, but it was not last at the end of the day. To my surprise my scores where not that bad, but as I was expecting my landings left a lot to be desired; they were on the deck, sort of? and that is about all that can be said. Had I managed to pull off the feat of snagging the wires and staying on the deck I would have been in contention as the slow and fast speeds were respectable. Practising deck landings is only possible on a deck, something I have not had access to up to now, but will have soon once I can sort out our club carrier. I am told that with our club deck, this takes the total number of carriers in UK up to eight, probably equalling or outnumbering ones in the USA.

If I could get the Hellcat to hold an attitude at slow speed instead of ballooning into wind or developing a horrid Dutch roll if I try, I could use longer lines which would also improve my score. The end result was me flying safely, so even more of a surprise at the scores. Fast, no problem. the SC40 was on song, and when the background starts to blur I know it's putting in a respectable performance.

Zoe Hellcat
Myself and Hellcat
(picture John Marsh)

I also flew the Wildcat, and would like to have flown it again, but lots of talking and everything else ate up the day at an alarming rate, so I had to head for home when the tiredness kicked in, like it or not. If I could somehow graft the the Wildcat's nice handling characteristics onto the Hellcat I would be one very happy bunny.

General impressions: I got a lot of advice and a lot to work on and think about. I am not the only one that likes MDS engines, a few where in use, and all performing well, even with the Mk1 carb's. All the Hellcat designs like mine seem to suffer from the same bad characteristics. Electronic controls are not quite as reliable a mechanical ones (I was told), probably because of the very hostile environment the electronics are subjected to in carrier. Also a surprising (to me) number of carrier models with removable wings.

Most memorable quote of the day, "Carrier looks like simple event; but trying to flying a speed model, a powered kite, and doing precision spot landings on a raised platform, all with the same model, is bloody near impossible."

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Bilston club for organising this very laid back and enjoyable event, it was appreciated.

So for your delectation, a few photographs of the speed and carrier and some snatched moments on video, apologies to the stunt people for not making it to that part of the field.

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Bilston vid clips (3.4MB .wmv)
Bilston No 2

23 September 2007

This was always going to b a unpredictable day because of the weather forecast,. but as things turned out, it was not as unflyable as I had expected. I decided to fly the Hellcat safely, get a score and not push things to the limit.

The day started in a very unpromising way, apart from the wind strength, the old SC.40, so reliable usually, just kept dying for no apparent reason, more of a sudden stop to be a little more exact, at the same place in the circle every time. In the end I replaced a fuel filter that I had taken out of the fuel line and replaced the glowplug, although the existing plug showed no signs of damage, wear or breakage.

That seemed to make all the difference and I felt a lot more confident with the model and the flights thereafter. Only on my last flight in the afternoon did I misjudged the landing and bounced off the end of the deck resulting in a null score.

I also spent some time watching the Weatherman vintage speed event and managed to get a few pictures before my camera batteries went flat. Vintage stunt was a bit thin on the ground, for pretty obvious reasons weather wise, but some brave souls were going through the schedule.

The only disappointment of the day was trying out a gadget for heating up water from the lighter socket in my car. after five minutes the water in the cup was tepid, but the lead to the heating element was beginning to smell like it was about to catch fire and almost too hot to touch. Consequently I served myself a very lukewarm cup of coffee. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Some thicker wire needed I think.

Returning to the carrier circle I was even more surprised than at the Nationals, to find myself in first place after the dust had settled. I had not anticipated winning anything for a long time yet, as I still consider that I am in the learning stages with carrier. Nevertheless, I will enjoy my first prize bottle of wine. In spite of the weather it was an enjoyable day and I will be back next year hopefully. I even managed to make my way back to the M6 with only a couple of wrong turns and the traffic jams never actually stopped rolling this time.

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