Flying field to remain closed until further notice (posted 6 January 2021)
It will come as no surprise to you to learn that our flying field (and Ivinghoe Hills for model flying) must remain closed until the Government relaxes its Covid 19 regulations.
The BMFA released the following explanation:
“Whilst outdoor exercise is still allowed, either alone or with one other person, we are now no longer permitted to leave our homes to visit public outdoor places for the purposes of open air recreation. The definition of public outdoor places has also been amended and now no longer includes outdoor sportsgrounds or sports facilities.
Outdoor sportsgrounds or sports facilities (which includes model flying club sites and BMFA Buckminster) have also been added to the list of venues that must close.
Guidance relating to other areas of the UK remains the same as in our update of 22/12/2020 see https://bmfa.org/News/News-Page/ArticleID/2707/COVID-19-Regulations-Update-22-12-2020”
Temporary closure of flying field – 23 December 2020
The Committee has decided that due to the worsening Covid pandemic situation, we should close the Club flying field for now – with the situation to be assessed before 14 January 2021. By then the Government will have reviewed the lockdown situation again, and no doubt there will be more advice from the BMFA on how it affects model flying.
The BMFA’s current advice (circulated to all their members) is that “Clubs should carefully consider what steps they need to take to ensure that no more than two people gather together, or whether it is advisable to have more than two people at the site at any one time.” However, we feel that even if we did work within those parameters the presence of several cars in the car park may well attract unwelcome attention.
Watch this space for when an easing of the situation is possible, and meanwhile keep those transmitter and receiver battery packs cycled and in peak condition.
2020 Annual General Meeting – 19 November 2020
Despite the ‘lockdown’, this event took place – but this year it was an on-line meeting held via Zoom rather than a physical meeting in a real room. That meant no finger buffet or drinks unless you provided your own – but at least we got the business done, and it was good to ‘meet’ other members.
Some 19 individuals logged-in and as all the usual paperwork (Agenda, Minutes of previous meeting, Officers’ Reports, Balance Sheet, etc) had all previously been distributed by email the meeting progressed swiftly.
In essence, nothing much has changed since last year, and nothing much is likely to change next year. Our subscription rates will remain unchanged (as indeed will the BMFA’s), the existing committee will continue as before (with the exception of Dave Lissaman who has decided that he will not be re-joining) and we do not foresee any major spending on ground maintenance equipment.
We are in the process of applying to vary planning permission for the hours of use of the flying field, extending the electric/gliders only days of Mondays and Wednesdays to run from noon to 9pm rather than just the evenings – which hopefully will give us greater choice of ‘good’ flying weather. That means flying will be possible every day (partners permitting).
So a rather turbulent year in terms of both pandemics and weather, but we coped fairly well under the circumstances and look forward to better times.
Flying field closed temporarily
Further to the Government’s latest (5 November 2020) restrictions to avoid the spread of COVID 19, and following the advice of the BMFA, the flying field will be closed until further notice. Time to build new models, repair old ones and maintain your batteries.
Dean Barry RIP
With deep regret we have to announce the passing of Dean Barry just a few days short of his 59th birthday in early August.
Dean never made it to the flying field as often as he would have liked. Being confined to a wheelchair is one thing, having just one arm that ‘worked’, another that could only be used as a weighty clamp and restricted neck movement meant that he was totally reliant on his team of carers – and the weather, of course. All that was the legacy of a horrific motorcycle accident years ago, followed by a succession of related debilitating viruses and illnesses. That he managed to fly electric gliders (and very well too) was as a testament to his determination and no doubt sheer bloody-mindedness. Remember the video of him tackling the climb to Ivinghoe Beacon in mid-winter on his new FWD wheelchair? That took guts. Always wondered how his carers viewed their roles as they dutifully helped assemble his models, fitted LiPos and accompanied him across the field dodging the cow pats…
He fitted in well with all our members who were more than happy to help him in his endeavours and attended Club Nights whenever he could. His lively personality and refusal to complain about the cruel hand that Fate had dealt him endeared him to all. We’ll miss you Dean.
Flying conditions relaxed in July 2020
Following the easing of some Lockdown restrictions, we have relaxed conditions at the flying field – the major change being that flying sessions are no longer restricted in time or numbers attending. Instead the process to going flying is as follows:
- Those wishing to fly ask to be put on the ‘WMAC Pilots’ e-mailing list
- The day before you wish to go flying, use this e-mailing address to announce that you are attending and state the approximate time of arrival (Chris Smith sends out a weather forecast to help remind you). This means we have a record of who attends the field on each flying day, you can see which instructors are available, and we can all ensure that a minimum of two people are at the field at any one time.
- Take your own wipes/hand gel for cleaning the gate lock etc.
- Maintain social distancing at all times. In the pit area tables are spread well apart and when flying three paving slabs in the Pilot’s box are provided to help you.
- Enjoy your flying and the (not too close) company of your club mates
Flying again – from 19 May 2020
After a long lay-off, we are back in action again – albeit under rather restricted conditions, which may at first seem rather onerous, but in reality we should quickly adapt to them. Perhaps the most difficult part will be the lack of socialising.
We are dividing each flying afternoon into four periods of 90 minutes each, and will only be permitting two people to fly at any one time. The day before a flying day, those wishing to attend will send out a group email before 6pm, and the rota organiser will then determine who will be flying and at which time ‘slot’: the spreadsheet will be emailed to all interested parties before 9am the following day.
We surveyed our members, and 12 people registered as wanting to fly at this stage – but it will only be possible to accommodate eight each day. Hopefully this will not be a problem, as not everyone will want to fly on each flyable day – but if you have been unlucky, then rest assured you will be prioritised next time.
- At all times respect the rules regarding social distancing, staying at home if you have a cough or are unwell in any way
- Any member who has had the virus, or thinks they might have had it and recovered, or have been exposed to it in any way, have a duty to other members not to attend for the duration of the Government’s advised quarantine period
- In the event of you suffering an injury at the field, your fellow club member may be reluctant to help due to the risk of contamination. Be prepared for self-help and use the ambulance service for assistance. Have a first aid kit with you, and carry emergency contact details in your flight box.
Members are required to bring their own protective gloves and hand hygiene requirements, though supplies are provided in the club shed, together with water and paper towel. Social distancing will be maintained at all times, and all all points of contact such as gates and locks etc must be wiped down with anti-bacterial spray or wipes.
Full details of all safety requirements and a check list of items to be taken to the field has been emailed to all members intending to fly.
Paul Andrews RiP
On 27 March 2020, our Club lost one of its stalwarts: Paul Andrews passed away at the age of just 62 following a long period of illness which he handled with remarkable fortitude and good humour. Over the past four years or so his appearances at the field became less regular as he experienced problems with his legs, back pain and the debilitating effects of first chemotherapy and more recently radio therapy to fight the effects of recurring cancer.
A very competent pilot, his real forte was building model aircraft. To say he was prolific would be an understatement: his output was legendary and his home was filled with models in every room. His love of building meant that he willingly undertook projects for other club members and his ability to put back together crashed models that people would have binned was legendary.
His love of aviation – and his appreciation of its technical aspects – made him a wise council at the flying field, and he was always able to give a (learned) reason on any aspect of flight. At the same time his ‘helpful’ comments shouted from his chair behind the pilot’s box caused many a wry smile!
But above all, Paul will be remembered as being a genuinely ‘nice guy’: always there to help anyone in any way he could. As an example of his fortitude, just a few short months ago while unable to get out to the flying field he completed the rebuild of his old Honda motorcycle, purchased a new helmet and jacket and took to the road again. He wasn’t ready to go – not by a long way. An inspiration to us all.
Brian Austin probably knew Paul better than most, and he added this recollection:
“I have many good memories of my friendship with Paul: the endless cups of coffee we drank while at his home putting the world to right. The numerous models of mine he saved from being scrapped, and of course our standing joke, “yes Paul you can have a copy of the plan, but you have to build two”. One example of his sense of humour comes instantly to mind: sitting on the chairs outside the hut on a sunny day, chatting and watching club members flying, when a certain member who has to remain nameless, made a less than perfect landing. Paul’s instant quote from a well-known film “you can teach monkeys to fly better than that” had us all laughing, including the said pilot. He was always prepared to help or advise anyone at the club on anything model related, he will be much missed by all who knew him.”
Coronavirus: Flying Field and Club Nights CLOSED until further notice
In compliance with the Government’s instructions regarding controlling the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the flying field will be closed until further notice – as will Club Nights at the Chepstow Drive Community Centre. Keep an eye on your emails for news of Club activities.
It’s been a wet and windy start to the year (and finish to the previous year…) so flying opportunities have been few and far between.
However a break in the weather in early February allowed us to make the first mow of the pits and take-off strip, and the field looks all the better for it. At the same time we placed a couple of paving slabs in front of each pit table to prevent the ground becoming too boggy, while we also attached a waste bin to the fence near the entrance gate (on the road side) so that those who decide to picnic on their cans of coke and KFC meals have even less excuse to litter the countryside…
The car park area has been quite substantially cleared by our farmer host, which means we have gained at least another 2-3 parking spaces, maybe more.
In addition we are trying to get some help in reducing the vole problem at the field. To this end we are providing FREE accommodation with a great view of the take-off strip: but you have to be an owl (preferably a hungry one) to qualify… We are sponsoring The Bucks Owl Raptor Group (BORG) to place an owl nesting box in the field, which you can see on the hedgerow directly opposite the Pilot’s box.
See here for more info
2019 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 12 November
This was a well-attended event, with some 60% of the membership attending: a very healthy sign.
Equally healthy were the accounts which showed a small surplus for the year despite quite heavy expenditure on mower and shed maintenance – but the upside of that is we now have two mowers which are in fine fettle (the flying field has never looked so good) and both benefit from solar-powered chargers to keep the batteries in good shape. With that in mind plus the fact that our bank balance is quite healthy, the meeting agreed not to increase fees for next year.
Our Secretary reported that membership had remained stable, and that he was recommending all members to renew their BMFA subscriptions through their website as this would simplify registering with the CAA for the newly-introduced Drone Registration & Educations Scheme (DRES). Meanwhile, Club subscriptions will be via WebCollect as this is working well – though please wait until your payment is requested because we need to update our database.
Following a couple of unfortunate accidents at the flying field in 2019, our Safety Officer emphasised that ALL powered models must be restrained when setting up – those ‘harmless’ looking small electric models can seriously bite and should be treated with great care. Once the battery is connected the throttle hold should be activated until the model is on the runway ready for take-off. Another area where complacency can set in concerns range checks: with 2.4gHz equipment it is important to check the model in all attitudes/directions relevant to the transmitter.
Our Chairman gave a brief rundown on the practical aspects of complying with the DRES registration scheme, emphasising that in reality it will be no big deal: everyone will have to pay an annual £9 fee, while those without a BMFA ‘A’ or ‘B’ Certificate will take to take a simple on-line test – but no action need be taken before renewing your current BMFA subscription which doesn’t expire until 31 December. Final details have not been confirmed as yet, but hopefully these will become known in the very near future, when information will be circulated to all members.
The weather took its toll on flying activity throughout the year, causing the annual BBQ/Fly-In to be cancelled twice – and in fact it was a non-event for 2019. However, the annual dinner once again proved to be an excellent affair with the Buckingham Golf Club proving to be a first rate venue – hopefully more will attend next year. Club nights are now held at the Chepstow Drive Community Hall in Bletchley, and these have proved very popular with up to two dozen members attending on the second Tuesday of each month, with a host of different and informative topics being discussed.
With the introduction of the DRES, it was realised that we should amend our Constitution accordingly, and take-in some other updates. But where actually WAS our Constitution? No sign of it in the cardboard boxes our Secretary had been handed on first taking on that role, and nothing on the old Yahoo website either. Then one of our earliest members (Nick Beard) couldn’t recall us ever having had one, just a set of rules. To rectify this all members had been distributed with a draft document (based on the BMFA’s template) prior to the meeting, and this was duly voted upon/accepted, and is now published on this website (see Members Only section).
Two Committee members asked to stand down, but were thanked for the contribution they had made to the Club’s smooth running. Geoff Taylor had found that his caravanning commitments meant that he could not make the flying field as often as he liked, while Treasurer Nick Beard thought that after 19 years in that position, that not unreasonably he was allowed a break!
Fortunately, volunteers for both positions were found: Dave Lissaman has taken over from Geoff as ‘committee member without portfolio’ while Martin Rattigan accepted the role of Treasurer. Otherwise the Committee remains as before – albeit yet another year older…
GREAT TURNOUT FOR NEW CLUB NIGHT VENUE
Some 20 members attended the first meeting held at the Chepstow Community Centre – that’s more than half the membership!
Much of the attraction was to view the items being sold by former member Lee Stoffer, and most of these found new homes and will no doubt be seen at the flying field in due course. A couple of other members brought items for sale too, while Tony King demonstrated the start-up sequence on his jet – though not to the ‘burn’ stage…
Please note that the May 2019 Club Night will be at the same venue, BUT FOR ONE MONTH ONLY THIS WILL BE A WEDNESDAY – that is 15 May.
IMPORTANT: NEW VENUE FOR CLUB NIGHTS
From the 9 April 2019 meeting we have a new venue:
Chepstow Community Centre, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 5NG
This is a nice modern hall with a large main room plus a second smaller room and a kitchen. Tables and chairs are provided, as are cups and saucers and a kettle. We will bring tea and coffee.
If you want something more refreshing, then bring your own – or you can buy drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) from the convenience store next door (open until 10.30pm). There is ample car parking available.
The venue is very easy to find and quite central (it is West of Bletchley, off the main Bletchley-Buckingham road at the Tatternhoe roundabout – just past the Windmill Hill golf club if you are travelling from MK).
The advantages of this venue are many:
- Plenty of space to bring models
- No distracting background music/noise
- Possibility of having guest speakers if attendances permit
- Opportunity to have bring ‘n’ buy sales
- Facility to bring video/monitor for talks
- Those not interested in the talk being given can still chat in adjacent room
The only downside of course is that it costs money to hire – so we will be looking for donations of around £2 per head each night to cover our costs.
Club Nights will remain as before as being the second Tuesday of each month, from 8.00 to 10.30pm. The only exception is the May meeting, where a previous booking means we will hold our event on WEDNESDAY 15 May.
While unfavourable weather has meant that flying sessions have been rather few and far this year, there has still been a fair bit of action by committee members at the flying field.
Both mowers have been serviced, and both are to shortly have new drive belts fitted. By the end of March, the strip had been mowed and rolled twice, old mole runs had been filled-in with top soil and re-seeded – while in some places we have experimented with strips of turf. It needs some rain for the benefits to show through.
In addition the shed is now looking smarter with lino laid on the floor – but we will need to replace some of the exterior ply shortly as it is beginning to de-laminate in places.
New Club Night feature
At the recent AGM, there was a suggestion from the floor that Club Nights could be made more entertaining if there was a ‘workshop theme’, rather than just a general chat session. So, for the very next Club Night (11 December) we held a meeting entitled ‘Get to Grips with your Transmitter’.
The fact that attendance trebled showed that the demand was there! Topics covered included a demonstration of exponential, why throttle hold is essential for electric flyers, setting dual rates – and a host of questions were answered by many of the more experienced members.
Stand by more more themed Club Nights – and keep the second Tuesday of each month free to attend them at The Two Brewers, Thornborough, from 8pm.
2018 Annual General Meeting – 13 November
A good turn-out for an AGM is a sign of a healthy Club – and with 24 attending plus apologies from a further six unable to make it, then the prospects are good for the future!
The Chairman reported that membership showed a slight increase, and that field attendances has been good despite weather that was often too wet or too windy: Fridays now regularly attract a dozen members. A great deal of effort (and money) has been expended on the take-off strip, ranging from filling-in the huge number of cracks in the ground and exposed old mole runs caused by the dry summer, through to cementing plastic tubes into the ground to secure the electric fence’s corner posts, making for quicker and easier field set-up.
The new email communication system introduced to replace the unreliable Yahoo system has proved reliable and fast – and it’s free!
Our training scheme continues to be of service to members, and we can just about keep up with demand. Social events included a very successful Fly-In/BBQ which enjoyed excellent weather and attendance, plus our annual dinner held at the Buckingham Golf Club. Thanks were offered to Steve Holfield for his services in supplying glow fuel to the Club at substantially reduced rates.
We continue to be represented at the BMFA Area Committee meetings, and also attended the BMFA’s workshop for the new GO Membership scheme, which the Secretary confirmed members will be encouraged to support. However, though those who prefer to rejoin via the Club in the conventional way may do so.
The Treasurer reported that we remain in a good financial position despite having continual expenses in relation to field maintenance, but all equipment is currently in good order and with no major expenses anticipated, so recommended that our subscription levels remained unchanged.
As for the meeting itself, it was agreed that we would again hold a BBQ/Fly-in around June (date to be confirmed) and that the Annual Dinner will be held on Saturday 9 March 2019 at a cost of approx.£25 per head.
To help increase attendance at Club Nights, it was suggested that we hold workshops on technical matters regarding model and transmitter set-ups.
When it came to electing Committee Members for 2019, the existing officers were returned en bloc with the exception of two resignations (Tim Drysdale who has moved to Edinburgh, and Jim Waddington who has insufficient spare time: both were thanked heartily for the contribution they have made to Wicken MAC).
Their positions will be taken over by Roger Salter and Brian Mather who were welcomed to the Committee.
2018 – A SLOW START
Prolonged periods of wet and windy weather has meant that the New Year has seen very little flying at the field – but that does NOT mean that nothing has been happening! Indeed various members of your committee and some other willing helpers have made a number of visits to the field.
Towards the end of last year we discovered a problem with the new high power electric fence: it was drawing more current than the battery and charging system could provide. Consequently, we have installed a new battery, added a second solar panel and also replaced the charging system with a new, more sophisticated unit. Now all is well on that front.
Whilst looking at the electric fence supply we decided to remove the old charging points provided for those wanting to charge LiPos at the field. In practice, very few ever used this facility – but when they did, the load placed on the fence battery was too great. Now if you must charge batteries at the field you should bring a mains type charger and use the generator – see below.
The generator – stored in the mower container – now has an external feed to the Shed, to which it can be connected by an extension lead. The mains socket in the Shed has been rewired. Place the generator outside the Shed, hook up the extension lead and you can be in business. The generator is a 2-stroke, so only use petrol from the RED cans in the container.
Our victory against the moles was relatively short-lived – and besides, they have been joined by voles! We are currently actively hunting the moles: if you see upside down flower pots on the strip/pit area, they are there to cover over the traps. Please do not disturb unless entail – and replace after flying.
Winter storms caused some damage to the model benches, but these have been repaired. The strip itself has remained in better condition than perhaps expected considering all the rain we have experienced – only the last 20 feet or so have been waterlogged. However, many of the old mole runs have become very apparent, so we have filled-in as many of these as possible and re-seeded the areas affected. Please keep off the growing grass! The strip was rolled during the last week of March 2018, and this was very beneficial. We will be rolling the strip far more often in future to help keep it flat and to discourage moles.
Finally, if you tend to park your model in the trees near the car park – good news! We have made the ladder much more readily accessible, and have also invested in an Aeroloop Model Retriever: basically a giant fishing pole with a strong nylon loop on the end, which gives you a near 30 foot reach even before you get the ladder out!
Let’s hope you never need it, but if you do we have the technology, and it is kept in the Shed.
2017 AGM: 14 November
The meeting opened with an upbeat report from the Chairman, relating that membership is showing a slow but steady increase, that the flying site has benefited from a significant investment in terms of both time and money that has seen an area of the strip levelled and the whole protected by a new electric fence system, while the all-important shed is in a good state of repair – and all field maintenance equipment is in a good mechanical state.
Social events included several Fly ‘n’ Fry events, a Fun Fly with BBQ and a formal dinner held at the Buckingham Golf Club, while theTraining Scheme continues to operate successfully, with one member (Tim) gaining his BMFA ‘A’ Certificate, with a couple more likely to receive their ‘wings’ shortly.
The Treasurer’s report encouragingly stated that we are still in a sound financial position despite the year’s exceptional expenditure – so there is no need for an increase in subscriptions.
Only change to the Committee was that Martin Underhill stood down due to work commitments (Paul Appleyard will take on his role as Safety Officer), with Tim Drysdale being welcomed on board.
Ian Heath asked the meeting if he should investigate the practicality of setting up a weather station at the field, which would enable members to check the exact conditions at the strip before venturing out – and this was approved unanimously.
ANNUAL FUN FLY AND BBQ
Maybe we did clash with Father’s Day and the Weston Show, but you can’t criticise us for choosing a day with glorious sunshine and little wind!
The BBQ was as popular as ever with Nick’s Jerk Chicken maintaining its fiery reputation and enhanced by the provision of many cakes by three members’ wives (thanks Christine Appleyard, Liz Heath and Christine Chapman). Indeed, there were so many we dismally failed to clear the lot, though not from the lack of effort by certain members…
As for the competitions, the Fast and Slow event attracted some 11 entries, the eventual winner being Dave Clark, who despite still being on ‘L-plates’ won by a safe margin with his foamie electric glider that went REALLY slow when needed, and fairly quick when it mattered! After the food and with all that heat, enthusiasm for more events rather evaporated.
Congratulations too for Tim Drysdale for gaining his ‘A’ certificate in double quick time: all those hours on the slope in his New Zealand homeland meant he only had to master the use of throttle plus take-offs and landings.
A great day: thanks to all those who attended, whether as organisers, participants or spectators – you all contributed to a very enjoyable day.
MORE STRIP LEVELLING
During May we took delivery of bulk bags of both top soil and sand, and subsequently have continued our previous work in levelling the dip in our take-off strip. The wet weather and the application of seed has meant that this has already blended in with the rest of the grass. Its looking good!
Since the November 2016 AGM we have had ‘instructor’ arm bands printed so that trainee pilots can readily identify who is available to help teach them how to fly – and have updated the ‘Training’ tab of this website to include photographs of the guilty parties! Apologies to Tony King for not including his mug shot – he has evaded the camera so far…
In addition, on the same page you will find some useful advice regarding Spektrum transmitters, while the Review tab includes comments and advice relating to the HobbyKing Bix3 motorised glider which is proving very popular as a ‘first model’. The ‘Who’s Who’ tab has also been updated to include a few more profiles – with more to follow. – and many new photos are now included.
2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
With 20 attendees and apologies received from six other members, this was a well attended AGM.
The Chairman’s report noted that it had been a successful year for the Club, with streamlined administration thanks to the adoption of the WebCollect system allowing on-line membership and the switch to a Santander on-line bank account. Membership has increased with the biggest growth being in retirees – which means good mid-week attendances. Mowing equipment is in good shape and we have acquired numerous assets during the year, ranging from pit tables through to a trailer for use with the Westwood trailer and the purchase of a toilet tent for use at future BBQ events.
On an equally positive note, the Treasurer noted that our closing balance showed a useful increase over the previous year, while the meeting voted to increase the adult annual subscription to £85.
With regards training, it was decided to identify instructors with suitable armbands and to have training progress records for each trainee kept in the shed. Chief instructor will again be John Dickison, with additional help provided by Ian Bagshaw, Paul Appleyard, Russ Chapman, Paul Andrews and Tony King.
Levelling of the strip with sand and top soil has already started, and this will be continued in the Spring.
Date for the annual BBQ and Fun Fly will be 21 May 2016 – with ‘fall back’ dates in case of inclement weather being nominated as 18 June and 9 July.
A proposal to introduce formal Drone Training to aid newcomers to the hobby and to raise an income for the Club was defeated.
The Committee for 2017 will comprise:
- Chairman: Peter Richardson
- Vice Chairman/Field Maintenance Officer: Chris Smith
- Secretary: Ian Heath
- Treasure: Nick Beard
- Safety Officer: Martin Underwood
- General members: Russ Chapman, Geoff Taylor and Jim Waddington