1944 Flying from Moel Fammau

It was at this stage, Denny and I joined the Wallasey Model Club, which had just been formed and met every Sunday in Harrison Drive park, where we would fly the models from the top of the low hills in the park to see who could achieve the longest flight, 2-3minutes was the norm, 5 minutes was brilliant. It was during our membership of this club that the Chairman of our club arranged a competition with Bob Goslin, who was Chairman of the Liverpool Model Club, to be flown on Moel Fammau, this was in 1944 and was to be my first try at Slope Soaring, be it with out radio.

As I did not have a model rugged enough to suit this type of flying, I set too to produce one. I found just what I was looking for in the S.A.M.E year book. Seventy Two inch wing span, polyhedral wing, slab sided fuselage and the smallest wood in it was 1/4ins square. All I had to do was scale it up (this was my 1st attempt at this procedure) and get cracking with the building board. Finding the wood was a bit of a challenge, which I managed to over come. At this time I was serving my apprentice ship in Cammel Lairds shipbuilding yard, repairing bomb damage ships, the life rafts where made of Balsa wood and the damaged ones were dumped on the scrap heap, need I say more, out with the circular saw and a bit of sand paper, I had most of what I needed. The rest I manage to find in the model shops.

After 2 weeks of burning the mid night oil the Vigilante was completed and ready to fly, at least I hoped so. The only testing I was able to do was a gentle hand launch on a local field and every thing seemed O.K, so I packed it up ready for the journey Moel Fammau. As we had to travel on public buses the models had to be transported in light weight boxes which could be stowed under the stairs on the double decker buses. The trip consisted of a bus from Moreton, where I lived, to Birkenhead, we then boarded a bus for Ruthin. This bus dropped us at the bottom of the road which leads up to the car park at the top of the pass (the corner used to be marked by an old hand driven petrol pump), a long walk when you are carrying a large model box and a days supply of food and drink, plus your rain coat etc:. Having arrived at the point we were to fly from, the Vigilante was duly rigged, this created a bit of a stir as it was a large model for its day,     at least it was in our area.

Having watched a number of models perform I decided to have a test flight. (I should have known better, you will see why as the tale unfolds) Away she went as straight as an arrow, out into the valley, without gaining too much height. As a precaution against a fly away, I had set the rudder up with the de-thermaliser system to turn the model back to the hill, sure enough it kicked in after about 5 minutes and around it came in a nice gentle turn, back towards the hill. The rudder was now locked in the turn position, so back out it went, just clearing the face of the hill, continuing the wide turn. All the members of the Wallasey Club where jumping with joy as my flight was by far the best flight of the day, unfortunately I had failed to inform the time keeper I was launching, so it did not count in the comp:, the chairman went ballistic.( just like another one I know) To continue with the models performance, on the second turn, it did not clear the hillside, catching the wing tip, it spun in smashing the Tailplane, the end of my flying for that day. I did return to Moel Fammau on a number of occasions with the Vigilante without any further mishaps.

The following year, I flew a ¼ scale model of the Celestial Horseman from the slope, again, no radio. Unfortunately it met its demise, ploughing into the side of the hill. It was impossible to land a large model on the slope with out some form of control, (I did build this model again, many years later, equipped with radio and it flew very well with the able assistance of Ray Jones) so I called it a day as far slope soaring was concerned and directed my enthusiasm towards other areas of modem aircraft.