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    Sydney Lenssen

    An Appreciation for Dick Edmonds

    By Sydney Lenssen, in General News,

    How many RC model glider pilots tried this form of aeromodelling for the first time with a Halton Special (or Apex)? Hundreds, perhaps thousands, certainly I was one of them. For that reason I shall always be an admirer of Dick Edmonds.
    As his EMP advert spells out, this model comes completely ready-made to a very high standard, all that is required is the addition and installation of your two-function R/C unit for rudder and elevator. Ideal for someone who does not have the time for construction. That was me! And off I went with a bungee to a local field, all alone, and taught myself to fly, even caught my first thermal. Far easier than free-flight A2s. What a thrill.

    A long time ago. When the time came for contest flying, I got to know Dick along with many friends and followed the growth of Edmonds Model Products - the Algebra series of 2.5, 3Mk 11 and 4 metre soarers. Dick was always among the leaders and eager to share his experiences.
    Ten years or more later, when Open competitions had given way to F3J contests, and this class had become recognised by the FAI worldwide. To win a place in the British team you had to fly in several if not all the contests in the league, six or more events, widespread across the country, even in Europe. 
    At its peak nearly 100 pilots were involved.
    Around the year 2,000, the league was organised by Team Norf & Sarf, Colin Lucas, Phil Jackson and Bob Dickenson. Colin produced a regular newsletter BMFA F3J NEWS with all the results and I contributed Uncle Sydney’s Gossip Column.
    Early in 2001, Dick also wrote an article: “I was prompted to write this after reading Uncle Sydney’s Gossip column. First I would like to say how much I enjoy Sydney’s contributions to F3J News, he certainly has the ability to sniff out interesting goings on in the soaring world.”
    There’s nothing a writer enjoys more than praise. And if that comes from the maestro Dick Edmonds, nothing gets better!
    Many thanks.
    Sydney Lenssen

    RIP Dick Edmonds 1930-2017

    By Peter, in General News,

    My good friend and mentor Dick Edmonds died last Saturday after a long battle with Parkinsons disease.
    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.


  • Our picks

    • by Sydney Lenssen, July 2018

      Brian Austin has been co-opted by the BARCS Executive Committee as the new President of BARCS. His three year term of office will be confirmed by the membership at the AGM 2019. I am confident that this announcement will be welcomed by all BARCS members. Many, if not all, members know Brian from his long record of achievements and activities in the silent flight field. He is especially known for his friendly cheerful manner, always at hand to help fellow modellers.

      Four years ago, Brian was awarded BARCS’ Eppler Trophy, in my opinion, the association’s the most prestigious award with a long list of distinguished aeromodellers such as Eppler himself.

      Graham James, BARCS President at that time, wrote the following citation: In the early years of BARCS, awarding was often a relatively straightforward decision as new construction methods, materials, wing sections, control methods and launch and landing requirements demanded continuous model development. Today, many of us have moved onto moulded ready builds and the skills of the true modeller are largely being lost.

      One person, Brian Austin, continues to lead the field in home design and build models. Responsible over the years for many familiar Open and 100s designs, his name is now better known in electric circles not only for his planes but also as a driving force behind competition rule progression. Names like Trilogy, Alacrity and more recently the Watts series of electric gliders, of which Watts New is the latest incarnation, will be familiar to us all. For many years, he has also been the responsible for running a very successful series of competitions in Essex.

      Although tempted by shiny plastic models too, he continues to fashion exquisitely beautiful soarers, built to standards that most of us can only
      aspire. They take the latest look and feel of moulded machines, but are built in more traditional ways. Brian pilots competition winning models.
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    • Can F3J survive the treatment meant to save it
      What are the new rules?

      Two weeks ago the RC Soaring Technical Meeting in Lausanne took the bull by the horns and introduced new rules aimed at saving F3J glider contests from sliding off the world and continental championship schedules - the death of what for many soaring pilots is the most popular of silent flight competitions.

      Joe Wurts, the first F3J World Champion in 1998 at Upton-upon Severn, UK. Twenty years later with the latest F3J WC about to take place in Romania, many soarers are fearing that this could be the last.


      From next year pilots can use electric winches - either/or hand held winches - for launching their models. The models must have a maximum surface area of 150 dm2 and a minimum loading of at least 20 gm/dm2. There will be no dropped round in fly-offs, and no reflights for mid-air collisions after 60 seconds into the slot.

      CIAM, the world ruling body for this class is hoping that its new rules will halt the massive fall in numbers of F3J pilots wishing to compete, sixty per cent over the past five years and still falling, and restore its popularity.

      But among many F3J pilots, the bull is still shaking its horns. There has been an extraordinary shock reaction: hundreds of pilots from all over the world have reacted on social media, protesting, angry and forecasting the end of this class. Many pilots are concerned, ranging from previous finalists and champions to your typical enthusiast who enjoys travelling across country and continental boundaries to participate in their friendly sport. Only a few can see the logic and reasoning and are prepared to wait and see how the changes work in practice. More than a few want CIAM to think again!

      • 12 replies
    • Rule changes to halt terminal decline
      Uncle Sydney’ Gossip column returns

      FAI’s Aeromodelling Commission meets next month, 27/28 April 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland. For F3J pilots the main topic on the agenda is how to halt the decline in silent flight contests. What does CIAM want to change?  What chance for these changes to save terminal decline?

      Winches to be allowed.

      If this proposal goes through the “launch of the model aircraft will be by hand held towline or winch.” Ever since 1998 when the first F3J world championships were held at Upton on Severn, pressure has been on CIAM to bring in winch launching. At numerous team managers’ meetings held by Jury President Bartovsky during World and European championships, arguments for and against have raged. Many countries do not have enough people to give one or two man tows, so they run their qualifying comps to local rules using electric winches. I guess more than half of countries do this. When they turn up at FAI championships, their pulleys and hand winches are brought out. In the UK perhaps we had one or two practice sessions at home before leaving.

      Certainly there is a difference between a regulation F3B winch and a two man tows. The best pilots still gain the most height either way. The big difference is what you need to carry on your travels, especially by airline. Winches and batteries are bulky and heavy. So far all votes have been to stick with hand towing.

      In CIAM agendas, any rule amendment is followed by its reasoning. 

      The winch proposal stems from Slovakia and they say: “The majority of pilots are older persons who are no longer physically capable of towing models. ( Uncle’s note: I have not seen anyone on crutches yet!) .....

      • 32 replies
    • by Sydney Lenssen, BARCS President and Gary Binnie, BARCS Chairman

      We and the BARCS executive committee wish all members, and indeed everyone who enjoys model flying and thermal soaring, a very happy Christmas, and also a very special year ahead in 2018. May all your achievements, higher scores and hopes be realised.

      Year 2017 has been a mixed year, probably for everybody. The biggest triumph by far has been the successful opening of BMFA’s National Flying Centre at Buckminster. BARCS can be very proud that it was the first group of aeromodellers to utilise the facilities on offer by organising a successful Radioglide 2017 at the end of May. 

      There is still a long way to go until BMFA realises all its ambitious plans for the NFC. Very sensibly, they are taking a careful financial route. Many members will not have even seen the site so far. Don’t hesitate. Many other members are in the band of volunteers, regularly making the Centre bigger and better. Offer to help if you can!

      One of the prime movers to establish the National Flying Centre is Chris Moynihan as chairman of the BMFA and also a member of the BARCS executive committee. Many years ago, it was Chris who tackled the difficult job of persuading BARCS to grow closer to the BMFA. He then went on to become chairman of the BMFA with his dedicated drive and skill at bringing together proponents and opponents. Very sadly, due to health problems, Chris has stepped down from both the BMFA chairman role and the BARCS committee. We shall all miss his wise counselling. 

      All the very best - and plenty of thermals - for 2018!

      Sydney Lenssen, BARCS President
      • 0 replies
    • Interglide F5J 2017 Report and Results
      This year’s Interglide over the weekend 24-25 June run by BARCS saw a necessary change from F3J to the electric launch format of F5J which proved to be very popular.

      Cracking flying site. Forty-seven pilots booked in. Prizes acquired, particular thanks going to UK KST agents, Flightech and C & M Rapid (Model Glasses) Ltd. for their generosity. The previous week saw fantastic weather. So what could possibly go wrong at Interglide 2017. Well, being the UK in June it’s no surprise, the weather changed for the week. Full report in the link above
      • 0 replies

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