Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Back to Balsa

Way Back in 1974, a group of Air Cadets took part in a "chuck glider" competition to see who could fly their model hand launch glider the furthest and longest. The competition was run by Flying Officer Keith Harris, using one of his designs called Icarus and it took place on The Carrs at Warsop, Nottinghamshire. The officers and cadets were on a mission to test out a range of designs to evaluate the flight characteristics as part of the Principles of Flight classes. It was great fun.
The spin off from this is that I kept a copy of all of the plans and designs. Having recently found them I thought it would be a terrific nostalgia trip to make a few and fly them, so when Rosie asked me what I wanted for my birthday - I said Balsa Wood.
On the morning of my birthday, we went to get the wood and cement. This was followed by a grand day out at the Dorothy Clive Gardens, where we had a splendid walk and a good lunch and cuppa. That evening I sat in the garden and made a couple of gliders.
It was a warm and sunny evening and I started with the competition glider number 7 - Icarus.
I trimmed the model with the obligatory 4 drawing pins in the nose, as we had done in 1974 and it flew a treat. I then had a go at another of Keith's designs - glider number 10 - a flying wing called Manxman. This has a shaped fuselage and Lancaster Bomber shaped fins (Bomber Harris!).
When I cut the wings I was left with two Lancaster Bomber fin shaped offcuts. Now I understand the logic of the design! This glider flies well, but it is fast and needs some space in which to fly.
There are about 80 designs to go at. Perhaps I will try one of mine next - Merlin, or maybe I will make Eric Gammie's Cutlass. What a choice.

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