Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend can mean only one thing – the British Free Flight Nationals! The self indulgent joy of three days of Free Flight contests on an airfield instead of the blasted heath. The “FF Nats” is the biggest free flight jamboree in Europe with a multitude of events to suit all tastes. Three SAA members travelled South this year, David Hambley and Jim Arnott from Dunfemline and Chris Edge from the Borders, David and Jim sidestepping the usual weekend under canvas in favour of the comforts of a lodge room at Woodlands Waters caravan park. It was a problem free journey down until South Yorkshire and then a bit of a stop/start drag for the remainder. On Friday evening, there was full size aircraft activity on the airfield until about 7pm. A stiff breeze thereafter put paid to thoughts of an evening trimming session, so we settled for a relaxing walk along the woody tracks around the fishing lakes followed by a meal and bevy in Woody’s Bar.
What you have just read is the first paragraph of a comprehensive report written by Jim, if you want to continue to read it click here. Alternatively read on for an abridged version.
Saturday was dry, warm but windy and that caused problems. In the BMFA Rubber power event. Jim in his usual inimitable style put in 3 solid maximum flights to secure his place in the 3 man fly off. This was held in the teeth of a gale with extreme turbulence across the whole length of the airfield. All the flyers did extremely well to get their models away safely and Jim securing a very worthy second place. David had one attempt at a BMFA glider flight but had to ditch the model due to the strength of the wind. This resulted in a 24sec flight time so he withdrew from the contest. Chris travelled down to Barkston on the Saturday so did not fly that day.
Sunday again was dry and much less windy, the air was however treacherous. Jim dropped a couple of flights in International F1a glider so did not make his third successive Nationals win in the event. David’s day was poor with each successive round yielding shorter flights than previously. The third one was 0 with the model stacking into the ground due to an overzealous tow, he withdrew, again! Chris on the other hand handled the conditions with exemplary skill resulting in him lining up for a 3 man fly off. By this time the conditions had changed dramatically with the wind gone and buoyant air everywhere. The fly off did not produce a winner before the light was fading so a second fly off was scheduled for the next day.
Monday started dreich which turned to rain in the afternoon. Before the events of the day Chris lined up for the second fly off and produced a magnificent flight under the conditions to secure the top spot.
After this fly off the days events started. Jim maxed out in Classic Rubber and won the fly off in the rain. David’s fortunes improved and got 2 maxes in Classic Glider and an excellent 3rd flight in the conditions to secure third in that event. Jim also flew our recently deceased friend Ron Sabey’s Vintage Odenham glider to good effect overcoming towing problems to secure 3rd place in that event.
Chris quietly went about his business in International F1h glider collecting five maximum flight times putting himself into another fly off. This was a dramatic affair with Chris’s model tumbling to earth due to a malfunction at the start of the towing phase. A quick correction saw the model in the air again with 1 minute to go before the end of the fly off period. By this time the other two contenders were airborne. An excellent launch placed the model in helpful air and the model floated away to secure the top spot again for Chris. As a result of this second win Chris also won glider champion of the British Nationals.
Overall a successful three days for DMAC. and a superb boost in Chris’s preparation for the World Championships in Szentes, Hungary this August.
Report: David Hambley.
Photos: Sue Edge, Cathy Arnot, David Hambley