Britain's Biggest Model Flying Competitions.


The British 'Nationals'. 24th - 26h August 2002
A Report by Flying Sites Editor Peter Dennis
Show Line CrowdThe 'Nationals', held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, were once again 'The place to be'.

Thousands of people flocked to RAF Barkston Heath, in Lincolnshire, for the annual BMFA Championships. Numbers were definitely up on last year's record-breaking attendance. This was particularly obvious on Sunday, when, over £8000 was taken on the gate before 11 o'clock! This was also reflected in a very busy trade area.

It was also reported from the campsite that numbers were up there too, by over 200 from last year's 2000 tent and caravan units.

But apart from the bargains to be had, people come to the Nat's to watch or compete in the many and varied competitors that take place all over the airfield.

Mick Reeve's Sopwith 1 1/2 StrutterScale
The Scale flight line always proves to be one of the most watched competitions of the weekend. Situated close to the trade show visitors could pop over to see how the 'comp' was proceeding. As always the scale competition was split into three groups, Clubman, F4C and Open. The biggest entry was in the Clubman class. This is for aircraft that have not won at the 'Nats' or a major competition before and is designed to encourage modellers into scale competition. This is done with a more relaxed scoring system with more emphasis on the flying schedule than on the static judging.

Phillip Kent's Fairchild ArgusThe F4C class is run to full FAI rules and this attracts some of the U.K's top scale modellers. The likes of Mike Reeves, Richard Crapp (who have both just returned from the World Championships) Brian Taylor, Martin Fardell and Ian Bryant where all in attendance. The Open class is for models that are outside the F4C rules, usually due to their size and weight.

The F4C competition was a close run thing, with the result only being decided by the very last flights of the weekend. Dave Knott's Hurricane put in a sterling last flight only to nose over on landing, in the very difficult conditions. Last to fly was Ian Bryant with his Puss Moth. Ian put in a competition winning flight, not putting wing or a wheel out of place! And with a perfect landing Ian clinched this year's title.

Pylon ModelsPylon
For the fast and furious the pylon line is where you need to be. Again several classes are run on the pylon flightline. The top class is F3D. Run to FAI rules these .40 sized models run their engines at around the 29,000-rpm mark and race the triangular course at speeds in excess of 200mph. A great spectacle. When all the times had been calculated from the nine heats it was announced that this year's FAI F3D 'Nats' Champion was Geoff Ferguson.

Club 2000 is the class to introduce you to the sport of Pylon racing and again this was a hard fort competition. The Club 2000 comp is divided into groups depending on your previous racing form. In the end the top spot was taken by Paul Edgecombe.

F100 SabreShow Line
One place not to be missed was a visit to the Show Line. Here all kinds of models were demonstrated with great dexterity. From jet turbines to large-scale war birds, from electric models to aerobatic, all could be found here.

Ian Richardson's beautiful F100 Sabre was on show. Featured in many magazines, the Sabre was recently place second and the World Jet Masters in Thailand. Steve Elias flew the model in an extremely realistic way. It could easily have been mistaken for the real thing.

F100 Sabre in FlightThe model when not flying was displayed outside Ian's Permagrit stand. In spite of the amazing metallic finish on the model, produced by special paints from Bob Violet Models, the model was built in a remarkably short time. Ian told me that that the Sabre took him only FIVE weeks to complete. He did add, however, that most of that was taken up with eighteen hour days! Now that's the way to build models!

Free Flight Flying SaucerEvening Free Flight
Saturday evening saw the biggest turnout of the weekend for the impromptu Free Flight Fly-In. This has become a very popular event at the Nationals. Hundreds of flyers and spectators crowd into the central area of the airfield and fly (with varying degrees of success) anything from helicopters to vintage models. As the the evening sky darkens, the buzzing of diesel engines and the cries of 'duck' get ever more frequent! It's all a little like organised chaos as the crowds part like the biblical Red Sea, and a model passes through, in every decreasing circles.

Sunset over the NationalsMany modellers are increasingly decrying this part of the Nationals as extremely dangerous. Several of them have already voiced their opinions on the UK Newsgroups, but for many, it's what the Nationals are all about. A large group of modellers having what appears to be a great deal of fun, and sharing it with like minded people. I must admit you have to keep your witts about you, but there is certainly a lot an R/C Aeromodeller can learn about trimming and flying a model aircraft. I for one would be sad to see this event disappear.

Alan Cardash & Boomerang

World First?
If you have ever wondered whether to join the ranks of the turbine pilots but thought the models to be too fast then think again. The Boomerang, designed by Alan Cardash, is an ideal training aircraft. The twin boomed model can fly from almost walking speed, right up to a very fast cruise that would keep the most ardent jet jockey happy. The Boomerang was demonstrated by Ali Mashinchy (Al of Al's Hobbies). No soon had he taken off than he had rolled inverted and was climbing out. This has got to be the most docile aircraft for turbine beginners I've seen, yet it can produce the full range of speed and aerobatics for the most accomplished of pilots.Al's Hobbies Extra 300

On Sunday afternoon, almost unannounced, Al completely turned off the engine and glided the Boomerang for over one minute, before relighting the turbine and returning to terra firma. There were some disbelieving comments but just to prove it was no fluke, Al repeated the demonstration twice on Monday. Both Al and Alan believe this is the first time that this demonstration has taken place successfully anywhere in the world. A first for the Nationals!

Also worthy of note on the Show line was a fantastic demonstration with a Starfighter. Boy that model flew fast. Ali Mashinchy also demonstrated his 40% Extra 300. A great display that had you wondering how he kept the model in the air at such low speeds. No doubt helped by the massive 32x10 carbon prop bolted to the front end.

Very Low Pass of the B17Another great demo was that of the three B17's. Also present was Tony Nijhuis with his electric Lancaster. Not the small one featured as a plan pack in RCM&E but his latest soon to be featured large-scale version. The Lanc flew well all weekend but was suffering from battery problems by Monday lunchtime.

Trade Show
Visitors were also treated to a larger trade show, with an increase of over 30% compared to last year. So there was no excuse not to find that special deal that we all look for. I managed to get a great deal from Al's Hobbies for a Futaba FF6 transmitter. It was defiantly Restraining A Mustangcheaper than in the mags or anywhere else on the field for that matter.

Mike Levy on Pete Tindal's Aeroplanes stand introduced me to the benefits of Profilm. He told me that they are now in the fortunate position to be able to supply Profilm and Protrim in the UK. The film originates from German under the name of Oracover. Profilm is highly temperature resistant and will withstand up to 250 degrees C and will not hole whilst ironing.

It will resist direct solar heat without slackening, wrinkling or sagging. The film stretch under tension and when using stretching techniques to cover compound curves will stretch up to 40% enabling the covering of almost any shape. The film can be ironed at low temperature, even directly on to Styrofoam and can be painted. And what's more the film will not stick to its self if the two surfaces happen to touch. And the range of exotic clours and chequered patterns are quite amazing.

Swap Meet
Swap Meet
As mentioned earlier, Sunday was probable the busiest day of the weekend. This is in some part due to the very popular Swap Meet. Held in the main hangar near the campsite, thousands gathered to try and find a bargain. In fact the Swap Meet was so popular this year that many stand were set up outside, on the grass next to the hangar. It was push and shove for a couple of hours, but this event has now become one of the main reasons modellers come to the 'Nats'. And those 'trading' did very well. Some I heard, made over £400!

It was also nice to meet some of the people who have helped out on Flying Sites. In particular John Cinderey from Cumbria. John runs his own website ( which is always full of useful information. But over the 'Nats' weekend John was helping out on Al's Hobbies, putting his wealth of knowledge to use on the 'electrics' end of the stand.

John and Eric Henderson, with rest of the team, were keeping one and all informed about the BMFA. John and Eric visit most of the shows every year promoting the BMFA. Well done to all at the BMFA for once again putting on such a great show.


Clubman Scale  
1st. Tim Ruck Typhoon
2nd. Phillip Kent Fairchild Argus
3rd. Jeff Hartnoll Vought Kingfisher
4th. John Thomas DH Tiger Moth

Results - F4C Scale
1st. Ian Bryant DH Puss Moth
2nd. Dave Knott Hurricane
3rd. Mike Reeves Sopwith 1 Strutter
4th. Brian Taylor Curtis P40

Results - Open Scale
1st. Steve Brett Sea Vixen
2nd. Peter Anderson Hampden
3rd. Mick Reeves Sopwith 1 Strutter
4th. John Cassel HP 42

F3D Pylon Club 2000
1st. Geoff Ferguson 1st. Paul Edgecombe
2nd. Phil Greeno 2nd. John Games
3rd. Alan Laurie 3rd. Alan Rathbone
4th. Paul Board 4th. Graham Clarke

Photographs & Text By
Flying Sites Editor
Peter Dennis