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  • David Dyer

    Geoff Dallimer

    Another BARCS Founder Member passes away. David Dyer

    BARCS was originally set up by a group of 12 people namely: G W Dallimer, D Hughes, R A Favre, C Thompson, M P Garnett, N F Robson, N Webb, J R Carter, D Thornburg, J H Shaw, G H Johnson and D J Dyer. They had BARCS numbers in that sequence with Geoff Dallimer being BARCS member 1 and Dave Dyer member 12. Sadly besides Neil Webb and John Shaw being no longer with us, Dave Dyer also passed away earlier this year and a shortened version of an obituary written by Geoff Dallimer is given below.

    David John Dyer – 7th March 1946 to 29th January 2014

    Written by Geoff Dallimer

    David and I had known each other since he first joined the Stevenage Model Flying Club as a junior in his school days, and later as close friends and flying partners, as many of you will be aware.

    David was born in the North London Borough of Wood Green. Later, the family of five moved to the new town of Stevenage around 1954, where he was educated at Thomas Alleyne Grammar School.

    He became an Engineering Apprentice at English Electric Aviation, Stevenage, and continued his further education at North Hertfordshire College, Letchworth, eventually obtaining CEng, and MIEE qualifications.

    Following his marriage to Christine in 1967, they lived in Stevenage until they were able to purchase a bungalow in Blunham, Bedfordshire.  Having completed his apprenticeship, David was offered a post in the Electronics & Control Systems Department of Cranfield University, where he was involved with Analogue and Digital computing, and Electronics design. He continued work in that area when the University became Cranfield Institute of Technology (CIT) supporting research in many subjects.  About that time he designed the Electronic Control System for a rolling road within the Large Cranfield Wind Tunnel, which was subsequently used by Adrian Newey and Formulae One racing car aerodynamics development teams.

    After CIT formed Cranfield Aerospace Ltd, David was appointed Principle Project Engineer leading the Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) work in the UAV Systems Group. He also acted as ‘pilot’ during initial flight trials.  Throughout the subsequent years he was involved with several major UAV projects including MACHAN, XRAE, OBSERVER, and the X-48B and X-48C development programmes.

    At the time of his retirement from work at Cranfield University through ill health in 2010, David was Cranfield Aerospace Limited UAV Programmes Manager.

    David was able to take advantage of both his work experience and that gained from his hobby at the highest level. David’s attention to detail was the key to much of his success. He applied his model flying experience to the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and his electronics and computing knowledge to model building and flying. Some of these are listed below:

    MACHAN was one of the early UAV projects undertaken by David, being designed to take off from a R/C guided trolley, and later from a static launch rail. Amongst several aerial surveillance tasks for which it was designed, Machan was able to carry a BAE line scan Infra Red camera in its nose. The project was also unique in having the first successful wholly digital flight control system designed in the UK.

    Developed in association with RAE Farnborough, the system had many programmable flight patterns that could be set as operational tasks making use of GPS navigation. Test flights, for which he acted as ‘test pilot’, took David on frequent visits to a test range at Pendine beach in South Wales. Later development took place at the Saddle Rock battle training area near Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

    The XRAE UAV development programme further stretched David’s experience. It brought the concept of a neutral stability airframe design that relied entirely on the digital control systems to maintain it in flight.  This neutral stability enables the vehicle to be insensitive to gusts or wind disturbance. The development of the essential control algorithms again took David to test facilities around the UK at Salisbury Plain, Carmarthen bay, and Southend.

    The OBSERVER UAV development programme followed, but I have few details of that programme other than it was a fully autonomous battlefield observation system, designed and developed in collaboration with QinetiQ, combining “gust insensitive technology” and a fully autonomous digital flight control system to deliver an “information at the fingertip” capability.

    CASSIAS is a highly capable fixed wing UAS with excellent payload and range capabilities, available in either IC or electric variants. The system includes a fully autonomous Flight Control System with intuitive touch screen control and is highly adaptable to a range of sensor payloads.

    David and his colleagues in the UAV Systems group used this vehicle to undertake, and successfully completed, a project which was funded the European Community Environmental protection programme. This required the construction and flying of an UAV at altitude over France to measure the variation of solar reflectivity from a variety of farm crops. Then to use the collected data to create a mathematical model of changes that might occur to the atmospheric environment. It was a difficult task made harder by the need to transmit data to and from Cranfield from the remote field in France.

    X-48B was the highlight of David’s work career, and that for which he was most proud, was a major project in collaboration with the Boeing Aerospace Research and Development Corporation, USA.  The X-48B UAV project aimed to build and fly a sub-scale model of a larger full scale military aircraft project.  The replica vehicle was required to be truly accurate within <1mm and to reflect the flight and control characteristics of the full size prototype.

    The Cranfield Aerospace UAV Systems Group had a significant responsibility for the Flight Control System and Vehicle integration. Apart from his contribution to the technical design, David was very heavily involved in the project management between the Cranfield Aerospace and UK contractors, and those of Boeing on the West coast of the USA.  Flight trials were at the NASA Dryden Mohave Desert Flight test area adjacent to Edwards Air force Base in Arizona. Over 90 test flights were made there, and all of the project objectives were successfully achieved.

    So much of his time and effort went into this last work programme, both at Cranfield and working from home, that David, sadly, had little time for his model aviation activities. Apart from flying a variety of R/C models with the Stevenage Club, as with most teenagers, David had other interests. One of these was music, for which he built Amplifiers and Speakers for a Hi Fi system. He played guitar as a member of a four man pop group known as ‘Fernado and the Hideaways’. The group was road managed by his father and they performed at a number of local and distant venues.  Unfortunately, they didn't quite make it to ‘Top of the Pops’, but David sometimes entertained us at competition campsites with a little guitar strumming.

    David and I first began to take an interest in competitive R/C soaring in 1968, when the concept of R/C soaring first appeared in the magazines in an article written by Nick Neve and Chris Foss. We both converted free flight A/2 class models to R/C, but found it difficult controlling the model with a transmitter, when running holding the towline to launch the model! The free flight method of launch was soon changed to that pilot with model and a helper to tow the model!

    Nick Neve recalls:

    ‘As the CD of the first inaugural thermal soaring contest at Golden Cross on 18th August, 1968, I recall David and Geoff coming down to observe and learn, and then the following year came with models they had designed and built and flew with success’.

    In the subsequent years we flew together at many soaring events throughout the country, each of us achieving considerable success.  At York, Harrogate, Hull, Lincoln, Oxford, Dover, Eastbourne, Halton, Bracknell, Reading, Newbury, Swindon, to name but a few.  In addition, many happy hours were spent at both Henlow and Wheathampstead, developing the models and practising before contests. David was often accompanied by wife Christine with the lunch box and tea.

    David gained so many friends throughout the country, and later many more overseas friends after international soaring events in France, Belgium, Germany, Doylestown,USA, (where he achieved second place in the first ‘Air Olympics’), and Australia.  His friends will all remember his cheerful and inquisitive personality, and his dedication to getting everything right.

    FAI F3b Class soaring became David’s main interest and this lead to the development of many new  building techniques to construct the models. David was able to commission CNC profiled wing templates, a metal tailplane mould was machined, and we jointly built a precision wing cutting machine together with wing and fuselage moulds.  Carbon fibre moulded sheets were diamond cut into wing spars before being vacuum moulded into the wing structure. David designed and constructed a 433Mhz UHF variometer Tx & Rx to assist thermal detection, but the system was banned!

    Always well placed in F3b League events, David was team reserve pilot at the 2nd F3b World Championships at Amay, Belgium in 1979. He was a member of the British F3b team in the 1981 World Championships in Sacramento, USA, placing 14th, despite breaking an arm in a winch accident. He was a team helper and reserve pilot again in the 1983 F3b World Championships at York, having just failed to qualify for the team.

    The highlight of David’s modelling activities came in 1985 when he qualified for the UK F3b team to Australia. After six days of competition, David and his two fellow members of the UK team won the World Championship Team award, with David  achieving 6th place in the individual championship.

    David acted as Contest Organiser, and assisted in contest organisation at many events too, including both  National Championships and F3B league events. These included the National Championships at Folly Farm near Tewkesbury; RAF Fairford in Wiltshire; and RAF Strubby, Lincolnshire.

    As a change from competition soaring, there was a beautiful Scale Waco biplane constructed by David; his ‘Tri-Tri’ Open class soarer was published in the magazines; and he was joint contributor to a book titled ‘Radio Control Soaring’ published by RM magazine. David was a person who was fully committed to both work and hobby, and especially to his family of wife Christine and daughter Serena. Nothing gave him more pleasure, or was more life changing, as no doubt others have found, than the arrival of their daughter Serena in 1989. Naturally his interests became broader and there was little time for model flying.

    David took so much pleasure from all that he did, and enjoyed so much enjoyment and satisfaction in return. It is hard to believe he is no longer with us, but he will certainly always be in our thoughts.

    Well done David, now rest in peace.


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