Who’s Who

John Bowerman – Honorary President

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John was a mainstay of this Club since its formation, and over the years served on the Committee in virtually every capacity – often holding two posts at once!

He is also very much a modeller of the ‘old school’, in that not only does he build his models from scratch, he also designs them. He even taught himself CAD skills to aid him in drawing-up his plans.

A very capable pilot (BMFA examiner, ‘B’ Certificate holder) a few years ago he  switched entirely from internal combustion to electric power – and the success he gets from them can make even the most diehard engine fan think again. But time marches on, and now John’s passion is anything small – and preferably scale.

His indoor masterpieces are just that – masterpieces, proven by the fact that in National competitions he is placing at the top of the results in building and scale accuracy. It’s just making the little blighters fly better that is taxing his brain! These free flight models are a delight – but only for the very skilled, which is an area where JB certainly qualifies.

Sadly, John who has now retired, has moved out of the area, but still retains contact with our Club, and will always be a very welcome visitor.

Peter Richardson – Chairman

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A club member now for around 25 years, during which time he has served on the committee and been newsletter editor (and printer/envelope stuffer/postman).

His modelling ‘career’ began at the age of 14 – much more than half a century ago. Consequently it has involved many aspects of control line, free flight and indoor modelling – together with the early days of radio control. Although ‘control’ is a contravention of the Trades Description Act, when it involved home-made Ivy/AM single channel equipment – complete with valves and ground-based transmitter – through to multi-channel Raven reed gear. Dreadful times. Forget those features you read about ‘vintage R/C’ – those days were stressful beyond belief. Only the introduction of proportional R/C and the then huge investment in Kraft equipment saved his sanity. Succeeding the legendary Ron Moulton as editor of AeroModeller (at the age of 21) gave him a 10-year insight into the hobby at all levels, while in later life there was 18 months of editing Aviation Modeller International, which he prefers to gloss over.

While in the mid noughties he became a rather irregular figure at the flying field due to work and conflicting hobbies, since full-time retirement in April ’14 he is to be very frequently seen at the field (ask his wife…) – and has not only forsaken ARTFs but refuses to recognise anything made from foam, preferring to build from plans or from scratch. Moving with the times, he has even embraced electric power and can be found at Ivinghoe Beacon when the wind is in the right direction.

Chris Smith – Vice Chairman/Field maintenance

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If ever there was a prize for determination, it would surely go to Chris. While he is still currently wearing his ‘L’ plates, he is an object lesson in how-to-do-it the right way. His preparation is immaculate; he listens to advice, learns all he can about the hobby and is very thorough in his approach. He has also suffered more than his fair share of bad luck on the flying field – but bounces back every time. Perhaps it is sheer bloody-mindedness!

As a member he has always more than pulled his weight, believing (correctly!) that you get out of a club what you put into it. If there’s a job to be done, Chris will be there – and when Graham Hemes eventually resigned from his ground care and mole-control activities, the mantle (or rather sledgehammer) was picked up by Chris.

Much of Chris’ work is unseen, but midweek will often find him sorting out the shed, filling in all the gaps in the take-off strip, and waging war on the moles. At times you almost feel sorry for them. Well, maybe not: they have acres and acres to enjoy, we just want a flat take-off strip. It’s basically war, but Chris will not be beaten. Which is great news for the rest of us.

Ian Heath – Secretary

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A graduate of the Club’s training scheme, Ian has been fulfilling the important role of secretary since an unguarded moment at the ’07 Annual General Meeting when he offered his services, and as other committee members have discovered, such positions are very hard to shed once accepted! While most commonly seen flying electric models, he has been known to sully his hands with glow fuel, though he pretends that this is a slur on his character. A long term modeller, he is happy to (neatly) scratch-build, as well as succumbing to the delights of those ready-to-fly masterpieces from the far east.

Ian is also a frequent mid-week flier, happy to answer the call of the email from fellow retirees/work-shy/self-employed and those ‘working from home’.

 

Nick Beard – Treasurer

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Known as ‘Little Nick’ to distinguish him from one of our founder members ‘Big Nick’ (Evans), Nick made the tragic mistake of getting both his sons to be equally enthusiastic, and now is regularly out-flown (and out-grown) firstly by Liam and then Elliot too.

Previously a prolific model builder of the old-school, Nick has now largely embraced ARTFs (while still keeping his hand in with the ‘real stuff), but his main activity seems to be giving a good home to all those ‘bargains’ on E-bay: when he comes to the field it is usually with a car load of very different model types, mainly electric powered. He is also heavily into steam power – but that’s on the (model) railway tracks.

Nick has been a Club member from the very early days, helps out with the training programme and an enthusiastic supporter of Club events, especially when a BBQ is involved: his wife’s fiery jerk chicken has set many tears rolling!

 

 

Paul Appleyard – Safety Officer

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Paul was first introduced to R/C flying back in ’92 by his brother-in-law – along with now fellow Wicken club member Geoff Taylor – though he had some control-line aeroplanes a few years before that.

He started with a Precedent Hifly glider but soon sawed the nose off to bolt-on an old DC Sabre diesel engine….  He also tried a ‘proper’ powered plane but didn’t get on with it, but a friend introduced him to slope soaring and he was soon hooked, spending all his spare time at Ivinghoe Beacon flying gliders. Another friend there introduced him to aero-towing.

As with so many others, work and other things got in the way and he gave up model flying around 1998. Paul had joined the Civil Aviation Authority (National Air Traffic Services – now called just NATS) as an apprentice air traffic control engineer in 1977 and worked with them until early 2015 when he took early retirement. Since then his return to flying has been comprehensive (he is a VERY regular mid-week flyer), with a veritable air force. Firstly these tended to be electric powered ‘foamies’, then these were followed by ‘a few’ ic powered ARTFs, and more recently he has moved on to building from plans. He is also a very active in promoting slope soaring within the Club, and has had success in introducing several others to this very different discipline.

Most new members are introduced to Paul at a very early stage as he probably undertakes more training than any other instructor – especially as he is no doubt our most regular participant at the field.

Other hobbies include photography and his motorcycles: we could almost form a biking sub-section these days!

 

Geoff Taylor – committee member

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A die-hard ‘electric’ man, Geoff is not only very well versed in his chosen power system (feel free to pick his brains) but also not afraid to experiment with own-designed models: he has the happy knack of making bits of polystyrene sheeting loosely thrown together to flying indecently well! Check out his Concord as proof of that. A regular midweek flyer when he is not away exploring other parts of the UK with his caravan.

Russ Chapman – committee member

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One of the founding members of this Club, and our resident BMFA appointed ‘B’ Certificate Examiner, Russ has unfortunately not been a regular visitor in recent years due to mobility problems (and extensive foreign holidays – he hates the cold!).

However, now at last fitted with a replacement hip he is rapidly getting back up to speed, and is determined to be at the field a lot more in the future. His preference is for electric flight, though he does still have ic engines in his fleet – and that includes several diesels. He is willing to help out with instructing duties, and is available midweek.

Brian Mather – committee member

He may have spent many years in South Africa, but there’s no mistaking Brian’s homeland – he’s not lost any of his Scottish accent! He actually returned to the UK when his wife became seriously ill, and then when she sadly died he moved from Edinburgh to Milton Keynes to be nearer his daughter.

Brian is a long time modeller, and prolific builder: indeed when in South Africa at one time he was building three Ugly Stik models a week for the local model shop owner, who would guarantee his customers that with one of these models he would guarantee that they would go solo after two months. Mind you, that’s not quite so hard when the climate is rather more conducive to model flying…

While Brian clearly has all the necessary building skills and more, his R/C flying lags a little behind, and he is still working towards his ‘A’. He has also proved to be a very willing worker for the Club, and whenever a call for help is put out, he is always one of the first to respond. A welcome addition to the committee.

Roger Salter – committee member

Like many of our newer members, Roger was a late-comer to model flying – but he has jumped in with both feet, and has progressed from ready-to-fly models to building his own, and tackling both electric and ic power. Having retired from gainful employment in mid-2018, he is now a frequent mid-week flyer, and gaining lots of experience of the transmitter sticks to achieve his ‘A’ certificate in the near future.

An experienced diver (he is a qualified instructor with his local club), Roger has an equally professional approach to his new hobby and will be a real asset to the Club in his position as being a newly-elected committee member.

John Dickison – Training scheme

Having spent four years as Chairman (a role which he fulfilled superbly) John finally managed to escape by offering to take on the mantle of Chief Instructor.

In practical terms, John IS the training scheme. A ‘very frequent flier’ – ask his wife – he is always on hand to assist newcomers and the fact that we have few novices and lots of ‘A’ Certified pilots now is due largely to his enthusiasm and patience. If you want to learn to fly, use the Yahoo email system to see if John will be around to help out (at weekends only). If he is not available, we also have other pilots who are willing to help out, now easily identified by an appropriate armband

John is also the informal Chief Test Pilot: if you have a new model that you are a little nervous about taking on its maiden, then ask John for assistance: he’s never been known to refuse flying someone else’s model! His very methodical and systematic approach to all things mean that he will trim the model out and assess its capability before you take the plunge yourself. It’s like an insurance policy really!

Having entered the hobby in those glorious pre-ARTF days, John is not adverse to a spot of ‘real modelling’, where his high skill level is very evident. He can also be seen enjoying the quieter side of life with electric-powered gliders, as well as the more familiar i.c. powered aerobatic fare. And if he’s not at the flying field, then he has probably escaped to Ivinghoe Beacon to indulge in a spot of slope soaring. Versatile, our John.

 

Martin Underhill 

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Martin was an avid balsa basher as a teenager, flying free flight (DT fuse-assisted recovery) gliders and a brief R/C flurry with escapement-based rudder only control. Then life, children, a career, building an AC Cobra and restoring a 1948 MG intervened. Eventually the lure of flight called once more, and a second phase started.

He learned his skills on the sticks with the WMAC training scheme (thanks John D and all), and now mixes foamies, ARTFs and balsa-bashed models with either electric or IC power in a rush to catch up with those lost years.

Until a couple of years ago Martin was a very active member (indeed serving on our committee as Safety Officer) but sadly work commitments tend to get in the way more than he would like, curtailing his activities somewhat. Roll on retirement!

Jim Waddington

Jim’s first foray into aero-modelling was as a teenager when he built a Keil Kraft Ajax rubber model. He then progressed to control line with an ED 2.46 up front, which he still has. Joining the Royal Air Force, he rested from modelling for three years, then with a friend built a Black Chiffon team racer just for fun. A couple of years spent in Aden again with no modelling, but when back in UK he got into radio with MacGregor single channel Rx & Tx built from a kit.

Another couple of years were spent in Singapore for which he purchased a Remcon reed set (just like the one in the window of Al’s Hobbies). This was a failure as the heat and humidity affected the reeds and they were always going off tune. He then purchased one of the original Skyleader sets with sticks (yes sticks, not switches!) which had to be sold on returning to UK for a house deposit….

Jim also got into free-flight flying A1 and A2 gliders, and managed to win Open Glider at the RAFMAA Championships one year.

More recently he joined Chichester club and also the Meon Valley Soaring Association flying from Butser Hill in Hampshire. Since joining Wicken MAC, Jim is now trying to get sufficient stick time to pass his ‘A’ certificate – something that never existed in his earlier days.