I must admit, I have always had a fascination with radio-controlled models. I even had a few, for a couple of minutes, until they ended up bent or broken in a tree or similar unforgiving surfaces. I cannot classify myself as an expert at any stretch of the imagination.
With Sunday morning dawning with bright blue skies and low winds, I set off to the Benoni Heliport to see what vintage RC flying was all about.
Ken Mansfield is the chairman of the Old Timers RC Club and he graciously met me close to the flying field to guide me to it.
What struck me about the members at the club is just how friendly they are and the enthusiasm they have for their sport.
The wind had increased significantly and with that said, the flying was cautiously started by John Hancock and his beautifully turned out Double Diamond.
With the wind dying down and picking up throughout the morning, pilots took their opportunities when the weather permitted.
Club Chair Ken Mansfield took his Radio Queen skyward for some fun in the windy skies. Ken was so relaxed battling the windy conditions that he took the time to elaborate on what makes a vintage radio-controlled aircraft so unique. The majority of the aircraft they fly were once designed as free flying aircraft. The discipline of free flight model aircraft involves aircraft that have no need for external radio control. They are inherently stable and should return to level flight even when disturbed by winds or turbulence. With the advent of radio control, these free flight models were converted to allow control by a transmitter. The control of these aircraft is achieved by using a combination of thrust and elevator to climb or to descend and the rudder for directional control. It was fantastic to see how the secondary control effect of the rudder was put to such good use.
The other club members also took to the skies with their multi colored machines.
Bob Stewart brought two aircraft to play with. The one came to some grief in the strong winds, the second his blue and white Slicker, flew beautifully in the challenging conditions.
The younger generation was represented by Tristan Kennedy-Smith and his WOT4 foam airplane. Admittedly not an old-time airplane but the way that Tristan piloted this very maneuverable little plane was something to behold.
Doug Moss also brought two aircraft to play with, the one being a 1937 designed Cloud-Cruiser. He also showed me a copy of the original plans, which was fascinating to see. The second of his aircraft was a Simplex, which he later flew in the gusty conditions.
Alex Jones flew his Debalt Rebel from one of the disused helipads at the facility. It flew beautifully and looks like a scaled down model of a Maule.
Eddie Ward brought his Gentle Lady motor glider along for some action in the windy conditions.
One of the quietest aircraft I captured was Chris Freeman's Flybaby. It is silent as a whisper and handled the challenging conditions very well. Chris also took time while he was flying the model to explain some of the workings of the transmitter to me and the fact that these modernized old timer airplanes had dual rate controls which means that the pilot can choose to use larger or smaller deflections of the rudder and elevator for more or less pronounced effects on the airplane.
During my time spent at the Benoni Heliport, I could not help but notice how well kept the grass area as well as the facilities was. Lawrence Nicolin informed me that he is responsible for the upkeep of the facility. It can be seen that he takes great pride in the work that he has done.
I also captured some images of other models on the flight-line.
My morning spent with Ken Mansfield and the members of this unique model flying club was certainly a demonstration of how a well-oiled club with dedicated members should operate. It was a pleasure meeting Ken and the members of the club and it will certainly not be our last! Thank you for hosting Pilot's Post!