SAM 35 Gala, Old Warden

28 June 2009

old warden

For any foreign readers, Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire UK, is home to the Shuttleworth collection. This collection spans the early pioneering aircraft up to World War II. Some of the early aircraft include the Bleriot type XI which is identical to the one which first crossed the English channel in 1909, and the Bristol Boxkite.

I have always avoided driving to Old Warden, as it's just on the point of being too far to drive and getting extremely tired, but these days I seem to be a little more confident in what I can achieve physically without upsetting my ME. Also having finally managed to get gastric ulcers diagnosed and treated has enabled me to sleep a little better, which helps a great deal.

Those problem aside, Old Warden is strange place to get to depending on which way you approach it, however I arrived more or less on schedule. It's a long time since I last visited, totalling many years when my children were still young. The atmosphere has not changed, the only problem is trying to decide what to rush off and watch first. I was met with the sound of CL engines being started, and the sight of FF models being unleashed in all manner of directions successfully or otherwise, plus a small row of tents selling stuff. Finally spying the carrier deck, I said my hellos and deposited the model, before wandering off and getting sucked into the atmosphere. It's two day event and if I had the stamina, I would be tempted.

It's like being transported back to the early 60's when I first got into modelling, only the models tend to be better built and finished. The totally anarchic way FF models are flown in this carnival atmosphere has to be experienced to be appreciated. After the strait jacket of regulation that surrounds RC flying these days, it's like a welcome breath of fresh air. With everything from scale twin engined rubber powered models through Jetex, electric, and ic engines, not forgetting the gliders, all being launched in a random carefree manner. The only words I can think of are pure joy. Add to that a perfect hot, sunny, and almost windless,day, and you are approaching Free Flight Nirvana.

Back at the CL circles a plethora of lovely vintage team race models, speed and stunt, always gets my pulse pounding a little faster. The sound of an old diesel or glow starting up and brought onto pitch, always lifts me a bit and acts like a magnet. Oh Joy!

Finally getting back to the carrier circle before I started to melt in the heat, I managed to get a bit a practice in. This was not a competition, just a fun fly get together. The engine did it's usual trick of fluffing when the throttle is opened after prolonged slow running. This always seems to happen on hot humid days, and I have never got to the bottom of the problem. However, this time I noticed the engine was not running quite flat out either. Now, screwing the needle in is usually a recipe for disaster (as I know only too well from my F2B days), but I risked life and limb and did a one click shuffle with the main needle. this produced a slight improvement on the next flight; so emboldened, I tried another one. Wonder of wonders it all came on song, and all together, the throttle now behaving itself!

Conclusion: the difference between low and high humidity is two clicks of the needle. That is a very fine change, but could make the difference between success and failure if the weather changes. It also explained why all those years ago I messed up a Gold Trophy fly off, in similar conditions. I was using a Supertigre needle valve which I still like because they have a fine thread and are less sensitive to movement. But this time based on today's experience; I just moved it too far. A vernier adjustment, which any needle with a spring ratchet, in effect is, is very useful in this kind of weather critical situation. It has certainly taught me a lesson.

So after a wonderful day, I bid farewell to Old Warden; then promptly got lost trying to find my way back home! This somewhat delayed my return and used more petrol than I would have liked, but I made it. I'm enthused now to try and get a bit more modelling building done.

Enjoy the pictures and short video; they tell the story far better than I can in words.

PLEASE NOTE: These thumbnails link to larger images approximately 600 pixels wide.
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SAM35 Gala (4.4MB .wmv)