May 2012 Issue

In this month’s bumper Issue:

The Pat Holmes Trophy by Don Lord

Farry’s Painting Workshop by Dave Skertchly

Reminder – Gliding Evening at Ringmer

Strut History by Don Lord

How to buy a Tiger Moth by Tony Palmer

Filton Farewell Fly-In by roving reporter Dave Skertchly

The Pat Holmes Trophy

We have in the strut the Pat Holmes Trophy which is sadly another memorial trophy. The trophy is a model of her Fournier RF4 G-AVWZ.

Pat was a great writer, photographer and artist.  She had been helping Frank Parker to run the PFA especially the magazine. In the late seventies I was coordinator and had been writing the Newsletter.  In those days you were not an editor you wrote the whole thing and it was printed on a Roneo machine in Toon’s office.  This was a pain to me as being dyslexic I cannot write more than a few words without a dictionary.  I managed to get Pat to take on the Newsletter and there then followed a series that were classics and were treasured for years by members.  Each one had a line drawing on the front which were mostly coloured in with crayon by Pat and I think at that time we produced about fifty which were then sent out by post.

A flooded Shoreham with Pat in her Fournier being towed by one of the ground crew “Big John”.

I had a great relationship with Pat as we both worked in the film industry; I was in the camera department and Pat was a film editor of both picture and sound mostly with the BBC.  She edited the BBC film of the Famous Grouse Moth Rally.

Pat’s moment of fame was in winning the Tiger Club’s Dawn to Dusk contest in 1978. Pat had friends in Scotland and would fly up there most years for her annual holiday.  So her idea for a D to D task was to fly from the furthest north to the furthest south points in the UK, this was from Unst in the Shetlands heading north first round Muckle Flugga then south down to Lizzard Point.

To make sure it was possible she did a dummy run and to establish fuel stops, she got permission to land at two MOD airfields (it is the Duke of Edinburgh’s idea after all) and arrange for Mogas of the day to be ready.  From RAF Machrinsh to RAF Vally in Anglesey and across Wales she had a path specially cleared for her by the RAF.  In those days you had to close your flight at Redhill.  Having flown since 04.30 down to Lizzard Point, Pat had to fly to Redhill arriving at 21.05.

Pat was a very accomplished photographer and a great part of the contest is to prepare a log of your flight and a write-up with photographs, so on this she did an outstanding job and for her efforts won, the Duke of Edinburgh Trophy for the best overall flight, the Bonny Trophy for the best flight by a woman, the Icarus Trophy for the best solo flight, the Tiger Club Medallion for the for the greatest distance flown, from the PFA the Bill Woodhams Trophy and from the Strut the Nick de Bruyne Cup!

What most people did not know was that Pat had had major surgery for cancer before the flight and then another operation after the flight.  The last time I saw Pat she was in St Richards hospital and had had two courses of chemotherapy.  She was so distressed that she refused to have more and died at the beginning of 1982.

She was born in 1927 in Arundel and from the beginning was fascinated by the aircraft using Ford aerodrome.  At one of the displays there she won an altitude guessing contest where the prize was a flight with Sir Alan Cobham in a Handley Page W 10.  She was four years old.

Don Lord

Farry’s Painting Workshop

Farry with his BMW engined Avid

Painting is far more of an art than a science and it was great to have the opportunity to be shown how by an expert. What started out as a technical presentation turned into a mini fly in thanks to Ian Charlton who was happy to welcome us to his strip.

Farry with his Sports Cruiser

I had been intending to fly in to more strips, but the CAA get quite sniffy about landing heavy metal on a farm strip. This was to be my first landing at a farm strip, so thanks to Ian and Farry. I contacted Chilsfold approach for radar vectors and was told to look out of my right Dave’s first flight into a farm strip

window, and there it was! Changing to tower I was vectored onto finals, intercepted the ILS and made my approach….well kind of! Actually the most important information was “don’t worry we the power cables have gone!

After a well deserved cuppa we got down to business. The important thing is to be shown by an expert. The demonstrations were held in Farry’s spray shop, starting with health and safety….2 pack paint kills you wear a mask! The variety of materials and options available are considerable, but Farry’s succinct and to the point comments were right to the point. No end of writing and theory can compensate for seeing an expert in action. The way in which the gun was handles and the very fine layers were built up is fascinating.

The superb Welsh Dragon logo was painted by Farry

Farry’s painting demonstration before a fascinated audience

After showing us how to paint aluminium, a super buffet lunch was served in the workshop and then Farry demonstrated filling and painting fabric, including how to avoid the heavy American style finished and get the nice fabric finish we are used to on vintage aeroplanes.

Things then went downhill a bit! We had a good nosy around the aeroplanes and engines.

Nosying around the aeroplanes

Farry demonstrated his Avid and Sport Cruiser and even got Adrian to join him for a flight in the Avid. 

Farry and Adrian in the Avid

Farry Demonstrating the Sport Cruiser

Dave Skertchly

Reminder – Gliding Evening at Ringmer

Tuesday 22nd May 2012 5.45pm to dusk

As the Parham gliding evening had to be cancelled (they can’t do winch launches at the moment) Tony has booked for an evening of gliding with East Sussex Gliding Club at Ringmer on Tuesday 22nd May 2012.  Flying begins at approximately 5.45pm and finishes at dusk.  The price for a group is only £22 per person and must be paid by Cash or Cheque on the evening.  If time permits (depending on the weather and size of the group) there may be opportunities for additional lessons, for which the price is reduced still further to £10.

We had a brilliant evening there last year.  If you haven’t been in a glider, the experience is surprising; on the take-off, acceleration is as fast as an F1 car!

If you’d like to come along, and if your wife etc. wants to participate, then let Tony know.

Aero-Expo Germany April 2012

The Four merry aviators (Strut members Farry, Paul Reilly, myself and John Massey) met up on the Friday morning and went to Stansted Airport for a ride in a Ryanair cattle truck. Having said that it was on time both ways and very cheap so no real complaints but I did have a headache after both flights.   We arrived in Germany and found our huge Chevvy, a rebadged roller skate, we just fitted in but not with much space to spare. We then drove down to Friedrichshafen, found a car park and had walk around the town centre, a drink and snack and then the fun began. We got back in the car on and fired up our GPS to find that our driver had booked us a great value hotel but it was about three hours drive away, it was pi***** down with rain and the prospect of sleeping in a sardine can did not do a lot for me. He tells us that if it has to be cancelled it must be before 6.00pm and the time is 5.55pm so out with my phone and we ring London and cancel and he gets another choice nearer us, we take the address and hang up. We then drive to 2 hotels shown on the GPS they had beds but were expensive but our driver finds that he has an internet connection and finds a better place and after checking with the GPS that it is where it is, we go after booking on line. Bad news as they were two double beds, but good news is they were en-suite and good value.

Up next day and down to the exhibition were I find I personally get in for nothing as I am an EAA member. We found lots of interesting stands but not many new engines; I was hoping the Italian Scaled Hurricane might be there but no, it was not. After the show we drove up to our Hotel near to Memmingen Airport, booked in and went for a stroll around and took some pictures.  Because we had to leave early for the airport the Hotel gave us a packed lunch type breakfast outside our rooms which we ate and took some rolls with us (well I did!) ooh and Farry and I had separate beds (joy) but the others had to slum it and Paul was not a happy bunny as he reckoned he had snorers from John and our room.

Tony Palmer

Strut History

I asked Don for the ‘script’ of his introduction to the film presentation at the April Strut Night.  I don’t know if there is any other writing on the history of the strut but this is a valuable record.  I’m planning on putting an edited version on the Strut website and any additional detail is very welcome. Ed.

Early rallies in the sixties were mostly one day events organised by a combination of groups lead by the Royal Aero Club with the PFA, Vintage Group, Gliding, Parachuting, The Air League, Formula One Air Racing, Aerobatics all joining in.  The PFA realised that they were doing all the work, ie; fencing, catering, marshalling etc so decided to take over and have their own rally in 1966; the first “Flying For Fun” fly in at Sywell with over 100 aircraft attending.

At this time in the sixties there was no way of PFA members meeting-up except at rallies or fly-ins, there was not a PFA office you could talk to, so they started a system of PFA reps in areas who you could phone for information. The rep for the south/east was David Falkner Bryant known as DFB.  In 1969 he was contacted by Roy Watling Greenwood who needed an inspector for his Turbulent project.  DFB knew Ken Fripp at Lasham so he came to Uckfield to see the Turbulent.  DFB was also great friends with Ken Browne who owned a Turbulent so asked him along.  After the inspection DFB, Ken and Roy went to the pub for a drink and a chat where they agreed to keep in touch and meet up again.  This was arranged in the Haywards Heath Hotel where they had a Saturday evening meal with their wives.  This was not very good for talking aircraft and aviation so another meeting was arranged in the King & Queen pub in Brighton.

By now a few more enthusiasts were included (I think about 10) so this was the first Strut Night in July 1969.  By the end of 1970 there were about a dozen struts around the country.  This had a great bearing on the rallies as tasks could be taken on by struts.  The Southern Strut as we were known headed up the rally team as DFB was PFA rally organiser.  We organised ATC (mostly non radio then) the catering, Fish & Chips, Sausage & Chips, Chicken & Chips being the menu and Bacon Butties in the morning.

By 1979 we were too big for Sywell and moved to Leicester then in 1982 to Cranfeild.  In 1984 there were over one thousand aircraft movements.

The video covered a year in the PFA, starting at the rally in 1989 and finishing with the rally in 1990.  It was originally titled “Farewell to Cranfield” but was changed when were given a few more years at Cranfield.  1989 was the last of the good rallies with the Battle of Britain Flight arriving Saturday, landing and staying overnight so it became “The Golden Year”.

Don Lord

How to buy a Tiger Moth

Richard asked me to write an article about buying my Tiger Moth, so here it is:-

RCAF Tiger Moth 5084 and CT-CTK

I was looking through Barnstormers and saw the plane for sale in the USA and with the change in the rules here in the UK it seemed that it ticked most boxes:-

  1. I was looking for a project to take me into retirement and this seemed a project which was not too daunting.  The fuselage was together, it had most of the bits, 3 out of 4 wings were built but not covered.  I have 3 engines in different states.
  2. The UK rules meant I can do all or most of the rebuild myself.
  3. With the rule change the completed value will hopefully rise.
  4. It is a warbird, made 1941 and can be used in its wartime colour scheme using military numbers.
  5. Spares are still generally available and those that cannot be got can be made under the LAA.
  6. It is practical to use from a grass strip.
  7. I feel like I am helping to keep some history for future generations.

After a few emails it looked good and then I spent some time on the phone talking to the seller, Jon.   We found we had a lot in common and struck up a friendship.  So I started getting shipping prices together and learning about importing planes in containers, what you must do, can’t do etc. Eventually it gelled together and I had a plan that worked (I hoped!!).

 The plan as it happened:-

  1. Thursday morning fly to New York; rent a people carrier to use as a van and drive up to the Jon’s house in Essex, Connecticut and get there in time to have a quick look and then dinner, chat and then to bed.
  2. The next day the first thing after breakfast was to look at the problem and decide on required materials to buy.  Two of Jon’s buddies came across to help pack all the smaller pieces into boxes and Jon went off to buy strapping, foam, bubble wrap, parcel tape etc.
  3. The container had been dropped off the day before still on its trailer and that meant everything had to be lifted about 4’6” to get it in.
  4. The first day we wheeled/winched the fuselage up a ramp made of scaffold boards on aluminium ladders.
  5. I then constructed special brackets that picked the attachment eyes top and bottom with home-made ‘u’ bolts to hold the wings against the side of the container.
  6. The wings were loaded and then it was the heavy bits i.e. engines.
  7. We finished loading the plane on the Sunday lunchtime and went up to Cabalas, a very large hunting and outdoor shop for a bit of shopping.
  8. Monday morning at 9.00 the truck arrives (Portuguese driver) and off it goes!
  9. After that I spent a couple of hour’s sightseeing around the local town (Essex).
  10. Lunch back with Jon, said my goodbyes and then back to the Airport.
  11. Then with lots of emails about different bits of paper etc. it turned up at Southampton a few weeks later.
  12. Then it was more paperwork and haggling with the Tax people and it ended up with no duty and 5% VAT.
  13. I rented a 7.5t truck and Farry drove my Landrover with his car trailer down to the docks where the plane was decanted from its container and taken home.

 Being loaded in the USA

At Southampton

Essex town centre on a Monday Morning

5084 in its new home

Tony Palmer

Filton Farewell Fly-In

G-ATIS well and truly “Got” by the spotters on arrival.

BAe Systems arranged a free fly in commemorate the closing of Bristol Filton airfield. This is one closure I can understand; the airfield is huge and ugly. Perhaps a small corner of it could have been allocated to a small GA airfield, but no-one seems to think of lobbying the council for that at the time. BAe had arranged a free landing, bacon sarnies, cake and banana trifle yumee so Paul and I could not refuse the offer!

Paul and I flew in from Shoreham in G-ATIS and met up with Richard Griffiths.  Also present were a number of friends who are generally unmentionable such as the BASH Group and the Grumpy Gang.

After lots of photos for the local paper we flew back to Shoreham after a grand day out.

Line up for the local press.

Paul Cave came along for the trip.      

The aeroplanes were well packed onto the GA apron.

Richard Griffiths in front of the Brabazon Hangars where his Dad worked on Concorde.

“Dodgy” Dave Skertchly