21 fixed wing planes, 4 drones and a handful of chuck gliders all in the air at the same time from one fairly small runway surrounded by rough moorland. What could possibly go wrong??
Well in fact nothing did. After a call to arms thirty-two pilots and several ground support staff volunteered to participate. The free BBQ and talk of a bottle or two after the event obviously had nothing to do with the high response rate. Not to mention the fame fortune and pride that was sure to follow.
A plan was drawn up with models divided into four groups, powered gliders with long duration, large petrol models with long duration and good visibility at altitude, general sports models (glow and electric) and light foamy type models. Each group would fly at different altitudes with a flight director and his assistant directing operations. Then there were separate autonomous groups of hovering drones and a few balsa chuck gliders.
Two fairly young, fit and sensible ‘fetchermites' were press ganged (sorry volunteered) to clear models from the runway. A BBQ master was installed and a couple of people looking important in high vis. jackets were deployed on the nearby road to warn any horse riders or nervous humans of possible short lived high noise levels and falling debris.
Our recently retired club doctor was at the ready to administer medication to over excited members and the gathered throng of admiring spectators. I might be exaggerating a bit...
A practice session with a high turn out was held a week before the big day and we refined the plan. It soon became obvious that we could get all models into the air in much less than the 10 minutes we had envisaged. We also found taxiing the models off to the side before cutting throttles and engines was a very effective safe and quick way to clear the strip. Fetchermites were only required for models encountering problems.
May 15th, 2022 duly arrived and models were checked, test flown and at the ready. The pre-flight briefing went well with a surprising lack of questions or opinions. No more excuses, takeoffs commenced at 6 minutes to midday and the last model landed at 6 minutes past. A faint mizzle hung in the Yorkshire air but we are tough. The only incident was a dead stick (after midday) suffered by a glow powered Acrowot which landed out with no damage. Blinking was a dangerous occupation as each fixed wing pilot kept their beady eyes glued to their model. Several people with IC engines suffered dead stick paranoia!! It was surprisingly hard to be sure that yours was definitely running with so many engines on the go! The sky seemed very crowded.
The call to a group photo came immediately after the last glider arrived back on terra firma as the smell of freshly BBQ'd burgers drifted over the runway like an invisible magnet, not to mention the popping of a cork or two (not for designated drivers or those intending to fly later of course).
The event most definitely brought us all together in the planning and execution of a safe and satisfying day. In fact it was the first big club get together since the start of the pandemic and we look forward to defending our record in the future against the rest of the world.
Find out more about the North Leeds Model Flying club at https://nlmfc.bmfa.org/