some members of the Model Aircraft Society round
about 1963. Can anyone help with
names? Jim Cruise (design guru) is third
from the left, next but one is Dave Carman then
Ken Fleming. Geoff Johnson is looking down
in the middle then a couple of people I really
should remember before David Twamley at the back,
David Bagley, Bug Mitchell peering through, ???
was exceptionally enthusiastic, Ken Wildsmith
(who notably had a Triumph Tiger Cub before
getting the first Honda 175 in the country) then
someone else whose name sadly escapes me. Good to
see the headmaster's house and water tower in the
background. [David Bagley]
writing because I ( yes me !) actually founded
the model aircraft society featured , so I am the
founder member . I guess that makes me a member !
Can't remember , but I think I was in the third
form, because I was thrown out of a geography
class for dismantling a diesel engine at the back
, while Australia was going on at the front . I
think third form because after that I needed
glasses and so sat at the front! It was me.
Please tell me when.
My father, and his friends, had served in WWII in
the RAF, and wouldn't talk about aircraft, which
of course made me more interested in them. I
started off with gliders and then made
control-line aircraft , because I had got my
hands on a couple of old glow-plug engines, (
hence the dismissal from geography , which I did
well in, incidentally ,having learned to make it
up as you go along ). My father relented because
the control-line Spitfire flew well, and more
importantly , did not crash. And so I got a
decent engine , one Christmas. A 5cc Enya !!, and
I still have the scar on my flicking finger to
prove it !
Such was the enthusiasm generated by this and
another Enya engine , that I got interested in
aerobatics , and combat control-line, though I
always loved the form and function of the scale
models.I made all my models from plans , not kits
, and there were techniques where you could
convert a plan accurately into an aircraft, in
fact , much more easily and cheaply, than buying
I became fascinated by what I now see to be
realizable form and function .I got a few of my
mates interested, and tried to interest one of
the teachers . Everyone , it seemed, wanted to
knock off at four. But the sports fields were
unused in general, after this time, and if there
is a real hardship for a budding Reginald
Mitchell ( NOT! ), the problem was somewhere to
fly them .
Whereas during WWII, people were quite happy to
see Spitfires flying over , a few years later ,
they couldn't stand the noise of an Enya , on the
only land available , which at that time belonged
to Huyton Secondary modern School. Bill Major was
(DFC) was the headmaster of the school, and
allowed us to use the land to fly these aircraft.
The land was unused for any other purpose at that
time. It was wasteland. But people complained
about the engine noise , particularly on a
Saturday when the Football was on the new TV.
Bill Major the headmaster, had had a complaint,
and said , as far as he was concerned, it's a lot
healthier flying model aircraft, than watching
football. But somebody , one day , came out , and
broke the wing of of one of my aircraft. This was
I founded the model aircraft society so that we
could fly our aircraft and inventions with
agreement from everyone ,on the School playing
fields. There was much opposition to this idea
from teaching staff ( apart from two who got the
idea through, and I thank them). I put a notice
on the board, asking if there was any interest,
and at what level, and there was some. A lot more
than I expected . So, with some fear,I did a
little lecture after school about the various
kinds of model aircraft. Free flying/controlled
and scale was my speciality at the time. I
remember borrowing from Mr Thompson , a couple of
spring balances from the physics lab. to show the
different designs, and kinds of model aircraft,
to show the compromises between power weight and
lift, and differences in design. I was very
surprised how many people turned up ( after
school ) , I was expecting about six, but there
were thirty or more.
Better modelers than me, and , well, it took off!
It actually became a very good club, in my time.
People gathered out of school hours to fly these
creations, after countless hours of preparation,
with at least the dedication of any sportsman, on
the same sportsfields. Actually may of us were
sportsmen, which was what in the end won the
argument for us.
I was delighted when I came down from University
College Durham, after my Physics degree , to
visit the old site of the School, and,to my
amazement and delight the model aircraft society
was there, and up-and-running ! I actually was
invited to fly one on control-line,and I have to
say it was a lot faster, than any I had built. I
was worried I might crash it, but it flew
beautifully . Much better than mine.
I have no lasting interest in model aircraft per
se., but I am pleased that other young people
from Prescot have a passion for the realisation
of intellectual invention. Don't knock it !
Not for us alone.