Archive for the 'Obituaries' Category
Alan Dew (87) passed away on 3 Mar 2013. He had been a stalwart member of the Cirencester club for the best part of 40 years and had been secretary for several of them. Alan had been a machinist during his working years and had been involved/responsible for producing undercarriage/ mechanical components for a number of Steve Hollands “Large Model” projects. He was also a keen supporter of vintage jet aircraft and had been a social member of Delta Jets at Kemble.
The tragic sudden death of Neil Gill, more affectionately known as Gilly to most, has left a big hole in many members of the various flying clubs that he belonged to, as well as the RC boating fraternity. He will also be missed by the Anglian Area of the BMFA as he was the Area Co-ordinator. A man with as much talent as Neil will be very difficult to replace. Neil was the type of person who would excel at everything he did, and his hobbies of model flying and boating were second to none. Whatever disciplines he entered into, he did with enthusiasm until he mastered them. He started model flying with Kiel Kraft Control line models having a DC Sabre up front. When the fuselage broke an engine pod was fitted and an elevator attached, thus turning it into a ‘combat’ model, which was great until he moved onto Dominators and Liquidators, this would have been around 1970. He entered the British National Combat championships and won in the 1970’s. During the 1980’s he started combat flying in Europe, and entered team trials for the British Team. When in the Team, he competed in Pecs in Hungary, then in Sweden. He then qualified for the world championships in Kiev, Ukraine, where he achieved a close 2nd in the final. Neil flew combat in the summer, and then he took part in the Club 20 Winter League, all with some success. In the 1990’s he had a break from flying and took up model power boat racing, where he enjoyed the close competitive racing with a fair amount of success, winning the 3.5cc half hour British Championships in1992. He also took the 7.5cc championship in 1994, and again in 1998. He also went to Slovenia for the Model Powerboat Championships on two occasions. He must have been one of a very few modellers to have represented GB in two different disciplines. During his time modelling he designed the 5th revolution class “A” combat model, plus the Shadow ‘5’ 1/2 A Combat model. He won the SPAD (RC Combat) combat league on four consecutive years from 2004. For the past five years he concentrated on Club 2000 pylon racing, with a second place at the Nationals in 2012. At the last meeting he attended in 2012, he achieved a new British record ‘final time’ of 70.99 seconds, (he even backed off on the last lap) When the “C” certificate was introduced recently, he practised relentlessly and passed with flying colours, one of the first to achieve this rating. His dedication to testing, tweaking and trimming models was relentless, and he was always happy to give his time to help others of any level. He was also an area chief examiner, helping many enthusiastic modellers to achieve a high level of flying ability. He will be sadly missed by his wife Barbara Gill, his family and everyone that knew him.
Stafford Screen, who died on January 2nd, was the most consistently successful international contest model flyer that Britain has ever produced. He started with Mills and Elfin powered free flight models just after the War and was a member of the Blackheath & Halesowen club. Meanwhile he was doing an engineering apprenticeship which launched his professional career as a mechanical and industrial design engineer and gave him the skills that made him a superlative model builder. After National Service in the Royal Air Force and the demands of career and family, Stafford had a break from model flying, but was then playing football and cricket at quite a high level. Later he became technical director of a engineering multi-national and after retirement worked as a design consultant for a Chinese company.
He kept in touch via Aeromodeller magazine and, after a sports injury interrupted his football, he visited the 1974 Nationals at Little Rissington. The sheer excitement and performance of the aircraft in the F1C free flight power fly-off, and the advances compared with the models he knew from the late 1950s, grabbed his imagination and he returned to model flying that year. He joined the Birmingham club, and under the tutelage of Ray Monks, caught up with developments to the extent that he took third place in F1C the following year at the Finningley Nats.
From then on there was no stopping Stafford’s success in probably the most demanding and unforgiving class in model flying, as F1C combines man-and-machine with man-versus-the-elements. He was in 23 consecutive World and European Championships teams from 1977 to 1999 and represented Great Britain a total of 31 times in all. During these year he took three individual silver medals, was on four gold medal winning teams, one silver and two bronze.
His obsession with detail and superb workmanship showed on his models and paid off in performance. His Silhouette design was made Model of the Year by the US National Free Flight Society and, thanks to his friendship with top Ukrainian flyer Evgeny Verbitski, in the 1990s he introduced to the West the Soviet technology of laminating high-tensile dural foil onto balsa to cure the problem of wing flutter that had previously limited F1C performance.
For several decades he worked ceaselessly on building up good relations with the landowners and farmers surrounding free-flight sites, in particular Barkston Heath. He was honoured with a Fellowship in 1994.
On a personal note, Stafford and I were flying colleagues for 37 years; as an F1A glider flyer I needed a reliable timekeeper for major events in the UK and so did he, flying F1C, so we teamed up to help each other. I had the pleasure of managing Championship teams all over the world with Stafford as a member and he was always utterly reliable and an asset to the other flyers. He will be very much missed by his many friends on every continent and I will particularly feel his loss. Stafford Screen is survived by his wife Pam, two daughters, four grandchildren and his brother Bruce.
Martin Dilly, FSMAE
I first met ”Big Al” shortly after I joined Basingstoke Model Aircraft Club (BMAC) around 1973 or 74. I had built a Monterey 100 inch soarer (Radio Modeller Plan). Al had agreed to teach me to fly on Basingstoke new common. I remember that first short trimming flight well. I gave the model a reasonable throw down the slope on the common, it flew very well and landed at the bottom. I retrieved the plane and returned to where Al standing was with the Transmitter. “Now reverse the elevator” he said. Yes he had flown the Monterey perfectly down the slope reversing the elevator stick direction to compensate for my error. Over the years I have taught a fair number to budding new pilots to fly, the first thing I do to this day before that first launch is to check the elevator for correct direction of movement, something’s you never forget
At the BMAC AGM that first year Al who was Club Chairman was re-appointed. However, there were no volunteers for the Secretary’s job (sounds familiar). Al simply looked across at me and said I helped you to learn to fly, so its your turn to help me, you’re now the new Club Secretary.
I’m sure many of you will know that prior to flying radio controlled gliders, Al was a free flight champion having a number of “A2” designs published including the Wishbone, published in the May 1964 edition of Aeromodeller. With the advent of proportional radio control systems Al turned to RC gliders, becoming one of early founders and promoters of the British Association of Radio Control Soarers.
I believe his first model was a 2 meter model from a well known German company. He entered and flew in his first competition (BARCS Southern Area), without any prior tuition or practice and yes he won.
Al was at that time employed as a representative by a large company of shop fitters. He would often be up early in the morning and drive to Birmingham for a 9am meeting, thus enabling him to be back in Basingstoke by early afternoon. He would then be out as usual on Basingstoke common with his plane and bungee practising in all weathers.
Al was probably best known for his large blue coloured rudder/elevator competition soarer called “Blue Beast”. BMAC used to hold a static competition in April each year to see who could produce the best looking model in each category. Well Al brought along this big blue coloured machine for the glider category, when it was assembled somebody remarked “that’s a big beast”. Hence the name of “Blue Beast” came about.
Al formed his own competition team to fly in the BARCS league. This comprised Ken Glynn, Norman Elliot (who passed away this August),even persuading Norman to move from Mitcham to Basingstoke to be in the team, Peter Lee (also deceased), myself and later on Adrian Lee to fly against Chris Foss, Ricky Shaw and many others in the BARCS league. At times Al would fly in the Midlands league, taking his wife as timer/spotter leaving his son Paul to stay with me and my family for the weekend.
Al eventually moved up north, I assume with his job and he eventually settled in the Bolton area. By then my job was taking me to South Asia for long periods of time so I lost touch with him. I did however manage to make contact with Al in September this year as I was at the time writing an article for the Thames Valley Silent Flyers (TVSF) magazine about Norman Elliot who flew in free flight competition with Al many years previously.
Declining health over the last ten years meant that Al was unable to fly as much as he would have wished, and he died in mid-December, 2012. He leaves a legacy which means that he will not be forgotten.
Thames Valley Silent Flyers
Tom Smith, who has died aged 85, led a team of aeronautical engineers at the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) which, in the 1960s, produced full plans for a British Space Shuttle, long before Enterprise, Columbia or Challenger were even a gleam in an American designer’s eye.
The idea of the Multi-Unit Space Transport And Recovery Device, or MUSTARD as it was known, arose out of an Air Ministry contract for BAC to study “hypersonic” speed (five times the speed of sound and above). A team was formed under Smith’s leadership at BAC’s Warton airbase, near Preston, Lancashire.
“We started by looking at things which were Concorde-ish in nature,” Smith recalled, “and went on from there to high speed aircraft which would travel at Mach 12 [12 times the speed of sound]… We gradually realised that we could go from air-breathers, which would stay in the earth’s atmosphere, into space.”
The design work for MUSTARD was completed in 1964 and 1965, and the following year, in a lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society, Lord Caldecote, BAC’s deputy managing director and chairman of its guided weapons branch, described a fully recoverable multi-stage aerospace vehicle which could put Western Europe into the space age within 10 to 15 years.
The design was a three-stage reusable aircraft, consisting of three similar modules in the form of crewed, delta-winged vehicles which could be stacked together and launched as a single unit. Two of the units would act as boosters to launch the third into orbit, feeding any excess fuel to the unit which was to become the spacecraft, before separating and returning to earth as normal aircraft. After placing a payload weighing as much as 5,000lb into orbit, the third unit would return to earth in a similar fashion.
MUSTARD was regarded as a suitable project for joint development by European aerospace companies, with a cost estimated to be around “20 to 30 times cheaper” than that of the expendable rocket launch systems of the time. Unfortunately, as with so many other British inventions, the government of the day decided not to proceed. About three years after MUSTARD was cancelled, the Americans became interested in a reusable aircraft.
In a later interview Smith said that he felt MUSTARD’s problem was that it was “so far ahead of its time” and there had been no political will to push it forward. “There is nothing worse than being right at the wrong time,” he reflected.
Thomas William Smith was born at Grimsby on March 27 1927, the son of a sheet-metal worker who worked for a trawler repair company. As a boy he enjoyed fishing and making model aeroplanes. From Wintringham Grammar School in Grimsby, he won a scholarship to read Aeronautical Engineering at Queen Mary College, London University.
After graduation in 1948 he joined Gloster Aviation in Gloucestershire and the following year moved to English Electric (later subsumed into BAC and subsequently British Aerospace), a former tram manufacturer based near Preston which had turned to making aircraft during the war.
There he was one of a team of four, under Freddy Page, working on the early development of the Canberra bomber. He was subsequently heavily involved in the development of the Lightning fighter aircraft and he took a flight in one of the two-seater trainers to become one of the few people who, at that time, had flown faster than the speed of sound. He was also among the leaders of the team which developed the TSR-2, the Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft project which was cancelled by the Labour government in 1965.
After the MUSTARD project, Smith was involved with the development of the Jaguar and Tornado, and in his last years – with what by then was British Aerospace – he led a team of some 40 engineers researching various technologies in the defence and aircraft field. Much of his work remains classified.
Outside his work, Smith developed his hobby of aero-modelling, winning the national championships in the class of free-flight powered models on three occasions. On one occasion, having just failed to qualify to represent Britain in the world championships, he was asked to stand in for the Japanese team, who could not afford to make the journey. This gave rise to his only injury arising from his hobby, when he nearly lost a finger while starting the Japanese engine by flicking the propeller. He also played table tennis competitively until the age of 50.
After retiring in 1990, Smith moved to Tetford in Lincolnshire. In 1948 he had married Winifred McCormick, the daughter of a Grimsby trawler skipper, with whom he had a daughter and four sons. In 1995 Winifred suffered a severe stroke which left her in a near vegetative state in a nursing home. Over the five years before she died in 2000, he lived in an annexe at the house of his son, Anthony, near Brigg, during which time he met and befriended Jean McIntyre Cox. They married in 2000, some months after Winifred’s death, and moved to East Keal, a village near Spilsby on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds .
Jean died in 2009 and he is survived by his five children.
Tom Smith, born March 27 1927, died October 3 2012
This obituary appears by courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.