Dick grew up and lived all his life in the High Wycombe area where, during WW2, the furniture manufacturing skills of the region were put to good use making Mosquitoes. The airfield of RAF Halton and Booker were also close by so after the war Dick chose to do his National Service in the RAF where he was trained as a mechanic.
He became involved in various fields of modelling but was best known for his exploits in Team Racing. I first heard Dick's name when as a teenager around 1960 and part of a young group of enthusiastic control line fliers the news came that 'bloody old' Dick Edmonds has won the B class team race World Championships. Old? He must have been about 30 at the time but when you are a teenager anyone over 20 was old.
Dick's approach to team racing was typical of the analytical manner in which he approached model design. Most of the top pilots of the time were using the latest ETA glow engines, very powerful but thirsty. Dick used a Frog 500 and managed to complete the whole race without a pit stop, a case of the tortoise beating the hare. I am sure that some BARCS members have more first hand knowledge than I do about Dick’s exploits at this time and it would be good to hear from them.
Dick started his modelling business Edmonds Model Products in 1980 in partnership with his wife Maureen taking advantage of the then new technology of using veneer covered foam for wings in a glider application. His early designs included the classic Halton Specials and Apex which were also offered ready covered in film so could claim to be the first ARTFs on the market. He then took to manufacturing the very competitive Sean Bannister designed Algebra and continued to expand and develop the range throughout the 80s.
Dick was a great innovator and used his talent to supplement his skill as a highly proficient thermal soaring pilot. I recall him experimenting with WARC breaking (back to front CROW where the flaps came upwards), canard thermal soarers and different wing sections. An interesting one was the use of a Guerney flap which he tried out on only one side of a wing in order to assess the effect. The first launch on a winch had a nasty effect on the bowels and nearly the need for a poly bag!
As he approached retirement in the early 90s the market for foam/veneer models was declining as the early moulded models were being produced. Dick investigated the possibility of producing a mouldie himself but concluded, quite rightly, that if he paid himself a living wage and he could not compete on price with the products from eastern Europe with their very low wage rates. The lease on his High Wycombe premises was due for renewal and this co-incided with moving house to Little Marlow where there was a large hut in the garden from which he could continue to run EMP with little in the way of overheads.
He continued to enjoy competing in thermal soaring competitions but increasing found that he could not be competitive with his home built designs against the ever improving moulded models so decided to retire from competition flying. He continued with his life long membership of the High Wycombe club coaching beginners and flying mainly electric sport and semi scale designs. This activity continued until recently when the increasing hold of Parkinsons made this impossible.
Dick leaves a widow, Maureen, who was not only his partner in life but also of EMP, reminding him that it was a business from which they made a living and not just an enjoyable hobby.
The funeral is at Amersham Crematorium on Thursday 26th October at 1pm.