UK National Championships 2007
August 25,26,27 RAF Barktson Heath

program cover

This year was a huge test for me in several ways. I wanted to see if my health would stand up to all three days of driving to and from Barkston Heath each day, and also to compete in Basic Carrier for the first time at the Nat's.

Well for once I am almost stuck for words. The weather was blustery but manageable for the time I was there, every day, and the sun blessed us all with it's presence most of the time, only beginning to cloud over a little and become cool on the last day. These were rare times indeed.

Unfortunately one of the consequences of flying competitively is not being able to take many pictures. I found long ago that I can either take pictures, or compete, watch, or something else, never successfully both at the same time. But I did manage to grab a little video along the way which might give a flavour of events.

On Saturday I arrived a little earlier than most people and managed to get a practice flight in to restore my confidence in the model and engine, and sort out my entry on the day. There had been too many imponderables to pre-enter. Why the attempt to restore confidence? I had spent two solid hours a couple of days before trying to find out why my SC.40 Mk3 had suddenly decided to throw a fit and not throttle or run properly. After changing, adjusting, and ripping apart every conceivable thing, and getting nowhere, I decided there was no time, and swapped the engine for another older SC.40 Mk1 which had about 25%-30% less power but at least was consistent. Left with a choice between power and reliability in a competition, I will always choose the latter.

A quick flight on the Friday proved that the engine was running OK, but I needed the test flight at the Nat's to finally, convince myself it was doing what it should, so I could concentrate on the flying and especially the landings. So it was on with the show.

self carrierPicture left: myself preparing the Hellcat for my last qualifying flight, assisted by Jan O. 

A video  of one of my qualifying flights can be found at the bottom of this page.

Being early and ready, gave me first slot, and I managed two, not spectacular, but text book flights, even managing an arrested landing on each flight, a goal I had been aiming for since the Bilston comp, when it was obvious that was a major weakness. That was two of my official qualifying flights down, only one more to go. What was really wonderful about all this was being assisted by Jan Odeyn, who was the guy that really got me into carrier in the first place, and has encouraged me ever since. Having him there for my first attempt at carrier at the nationals made things doubly good. I think this is one of those special days I will not forget in a hurry.

This left the rest of the day to wander around and do some severely limited shopping. Some idiot had decided it would be a nice idea a few days before the Nat's to try and break into my car by jamming a screwdriver in to the drivers side lock, buggering up the lock and denting the door. They didn't get in fortunately, but it has left me with a £400 bill to have all the locks and security stuff replaced. Quite what the thick little F**k W*t! was looking for I have no idea as there was absolutely nothing in the car, that would be obvious to anyone looking through the windows, and the car would be immobilised anyway by forcing the lock. End result was not having anything to spend at the trade stands. Mind you apart from Hallam models, and a few bits from a very expensive PS Aero products, there was not much for CL modelling anyway, except for raw materials like wood, fuel, or engines.

I seemed to spend the most of the day watching the pulse jets in the speed circle, and actually managed to get some video of them in action. This in no way captures the effect of being there and experiencing the awesome sound and sight they make. I have always been fascinated by controlline speed models of any type, even though they are way beyond my skills and abilities.

Whilst wandering over to the combat circles to watch a bit of high speed choppery, I was taken completely by surprise by the growl of a Merlin engine behind me. Turning round I was presented with the business end of a Spitfire at a very low level coming strait in my direction. In the resultant panic to get my video camera up and running I forgot to press the record button and missed the lot. But what a sight it was, in a sweeping bank that was close enough to me to observe the panel lines in the wings; It was a privilege just to stand there and let it happen: and also be glad I was not on the receiving end of it in worse times. It was another one of those moments I won't forget in a hurry.

Sunday I was back, and surprisingly feeling not too bad. Sunday is always a busy day at the Nat's as there must be a few thousand people come just for the swap meet. The perimeter track was jammed with parked cars either waiting to get into the swap meet hanger, or just seemed to be abandoned in the way, blocking my forward progress to the entry to the field proper and carrier circles. After gently creeping down the edge of the queue and affecting no one, I was met by a snotty nosed official the glared into the window and speaking in a very accusative manner, uttered those words that he thought would make him seem superior, "I HOPE you have a valid reason for driving down here?" Pointing out that I was trying to get to the carrier circles, exit stage right, I received a, "Humph! Why couldn't you wait in the queue like everyone else," I couldn't be bothered to state that Hell would probably freeze over before I got by the abandoned cars if I did, or explain to the numbskull, that it was a competition I was trying to fly in, I just shrugged and drove by him before I was tempted to kill him in some brutal axe murderer sort of way. This is not the first time over the years that I have come up against crass stupidity and disorganisation at the Nat's, and it isn't a good advertisement.

Another early slot gave me my final qualifying flight, all filmed by Paul my now ex, who came along as my official photographer so to speak. The wind had swung through 90° during the night, which made landing attempts, into wind. Interesting: because at least for me, it proved that it's slightly easier to do it this way, than the normal way, which is approaching from down wind. This last flight left the rest of the day to wander off and socialise.

swap meetPicture left of the swap meet hangar.

The swap meet was in full swing, stalls buried by punters looking for a bargain. What it is difficult to show is the swap meet outside, which is an overflow when all the stalls are taken in the hanger, and is just as big and just as crowded. There didn't seem to be quite as much junk on offer as I had seen in previous years.

There are definitely bargains to be had, as I kept running into various acquaintances with arms full of stuff, going in for a second kill. But for yours truly, purely window shopping until hopefully my pension gets sorted out, or Hell freezes over as previously mentioned.

Later in the day I wandered into the Hangar again, to find if full of young people and adults having the time of their lives flying all manner of indoor flying things, This was briefly interrupted by a fullsize Dakota flying over for a few circuits, Not as heart stopping as the Spits' low level antics, but full of nostalgia none the less, as a bit of living history droned back and forth.

As the tiredness bit home, I left before the Belgian and Dutch guys had an unofficial control line endurance record attempt/comp I believe Jan Odeyn won with 2:15 hours and the Dutch team retired with a somewhat demolished model after some incident with a broken line and a field box. If you think this is a joke, think on this: a litre of fuel weighs 1 Kg, the models were carrying in excess of 4 litres of fuel on take off, and you, try circulating on the spot for that length of time. Please guys, fill me in with the details if I have it wrong?

On Saturday night I was not sure if I would be fit enough to make it back on the Monday as I felt extremely cream crackered, and fell asleep when my head hit the pillow. But Monday dawned sunny and I thought, what the hell, only to find as I tried to set off, that my cars clutch had gone out of adjustment again and I was having difficulty getting the gearbox in to first gear. In a desperate attempt at clutching a straw, I adjusted the only thing visible in the automated jungle of my engine. Luck must have been on my side as it seemed to work.

After that initial set back I arrived to find out a little about class 1 Carrier, apart from the fact that not many people do it, which may leave some openings (thinking about the future). It's a strange class which I haven't quite got my head around yet, except for recognising the need for a suitable scale model, brutal power, and lateral thinking. But for now, I will learn the trade in BCD.

The crowning moment was learning that I had achieved 8th place out of a field of 31 in Basic Carrier Deck. I was very happy to have done better than at Bilston, but this was truly unexpected, making me wonder what would have happened with the original engine which I know is more powerful? Well folks, from now on it's, onwards and upwards. The results can be downloaded from the BMFA site here. (.pdf file)

The the last thing was watching three of the control line teamrace finals, F2C-N, Barton B and F2C, which left me wondering why team race hasn't got young people queueing up to do it; it's fast adrenalin pumping gripping stuff, with a bit more grit than cycle racing or video games, with F2C being more akin to Grand Prix racing than anything else. I videoed the lot, so hopefully you will get some sense of what it is like, although there is no substitute for being there and experiencing the shear speed, noise, and general mayhem that can ensue in the pilot circle as well as the pits at times. The only interruption was a fly past by a Hurricane, which had me torn between videoing the start of the Barton-B or the Hurricane.

And so homeward, with a score, lots of thing to think about, not least that I had managed to survive the whole weekend, and carrying a lot of memories to live off for another year. As always, I can die tomorrow: but not today.

PLEASE NOTE: These thumbnails link to larger images approximately 600 pixels wide.
If you see the word info with a thumbnail, there is more textual information with the image.

Note2: for some reason I can't resolve, the back-link does not work properly in my version of Internet Explorer. There are no problems with Firefox. If you are experiencing problems with IE taking you to the top of the page every time, use the back button on the browser.
Many thanks to Paul Breuring for most of the Pictures and some of the Videos
Control Line Carrier
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Swap Meet
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c icon l   Video    c icon r
As always there is a loss of quality because of the inevitable compromise when trying to reduce files to a sensible size for Internet use, and not swallow up all the storage space I have available on the server. All videos on this site are scaled down to 320x240 pixels, trying to view them full screen will just result in a blurred mess.
These videos will be changed each month due to storage restrictions.

320x240 .wmv

barton B   C/L Zoe Q. Carrier flight  (5.2MB .wmv)