To anyone who travels abroad occasionally it soon becomes apparent that we in this country are suffering from some strange desease which manifests itself in many ways. One way, which has been mentioned before in this column, is the way in which many people flagrantly break, or ignore, rules in the firm belief that such rules are there just for their particular inconvenience. A topical case at this moment is those characters who perform 'U' turns on motorways.
The problem here, of course, is that they just don't understand the reasoning behind such a rule and it would be an easy way out to say that such people should not be allowed on the road. Yet, just how would you go about screening potential drivers for this particular fault when it obviously has very little to do with their intelligence. Anyone who lives, or drives, in the London area will see red traffic lights blatantly ignored every day by people in very expensive motor cars.
There are numerous similar examples, such as one vehicle driving along the centre lane of an otherwise empty motorway; the third lane occupied by a nose to tail queue of traffic with the two inside lanes totally empty; or cars parked on double yellow lines when the whole point is that it is dangerous to park there, etc.
I was recently parked close to a corner in a legal parking area but with double yellow lines starting immediately behind my car and extending around the corner. Another vehicle came up and parked about four feet behind mine and on the double lines. A few moments later the driver asked me if I would mind moving forward since there was someone parked behind him and completely blocking the corner! Apart from the obvious stupidity of all this there was about one hundred yards of clear parking space immediately in front of my car!
What I am driving at (ouch!) here is that you really do not see this sort of thing in other countries - unless the car has a GB plate of course. So just what is it that gives rise to this type of behaviour - and what the hell has this got to do with toy aeroplanes?
Some of you may remember the piece in this column a little while ago about parking cars on aerodromes. A similar situation applies when you unload your models at the flight line having found a reasonable clear space. How long does it take for someone else to come along and park his equipment so close that he ends up kicking your model as he attends to his own? OK, move along a bit, or move to another space, and it soon happens again. I have left several meetings without flying due to this very problem.
Getting back to the original point, there is some sort of national desease which takes the form of acute bloodymindedness (my word processors spell checker nearly threw a fit at that one) and total thoughtlessness.
Perhaps there is a slight glimmer of hope on the horizon though. At a recent helicopter fly-in (sorry chopper lovers) a well-known flyer crashed his model and proceeded to kick both it and his transmitter. By any standards that is definitely not British!
A fellow contributer was approached by several modellers at the recent 'Octoberfest' at Cocklebarrow Farm to enquire why I didn't take the trouble to get my facts right about the Walsall vintage meeting being claimed to be the R/C Vintage Nationals (October issue). They claimed that they had made several requests to the SMAE for the event to be given that title officially.
Well Gentlemen. Such a request would have to be made to the SMAE R/C (Power) Technical Committee via the SAM 35 delegate, Mike Whittard. In fact, it was Mike who complained to that committee about the Walsall clubs use of the 'R/C Vintage Nationals' title!
Perhaps you might like to discuss the matter amongst yourselves, and let me know the results - I'm all agog.
I really must protest at the editors putting words into my mouth (well alright pen - er, word processor) in the aforementioned issue.
It all began when he used a photograph of an early parachutist without adding a caption. This presented me with a golden opportunity (are you reading this ASP?) to dream up a suitably facetious caption and add it to a subsequent column. Obviously this upset him so, when he wanted to use a photo of Dai Francis, he rang me up and asked me to give him a caption over the phone. This I did.
At this point things must have gone to his head and he proceeded to include a picture of RM's vintage columnist, Gordon Council, with a caption to the effect that I thought Gordon was the best vintage writer around. Apart from the obvious danger of bringing down the wrath of Mike Whittard upon my head, I would never, ever, be so stupid as to make any such remark. At my age I know that any writers opinion changes almost as frequently as my own and, while I may agree with him today, I will probably violently disagree with him tomorrow.
Anyway, on the basis that anyone who writes about real model aeroplanes can't be all bad, they are all the best.
Shame on you Alec.
That October issue certainly impressed people. My remarks about the 'Wings and Wheels' meeting at North Weald has prompted a letter from well-known modeller, George Bushell. George says that he considers that the weather was too bad for safe flying and that the meeting should have been cancelled.
This action was, in fact, taken at the Cranfield Expo this year due to strong winds. While he agrees with this decision, George feels that it would have been more acceptable if notices to that effect had been posted at the entrances.
Finally, he asks what are the legal restrictions on flying pulse jets in this country. I do remember reading in Aeromodeller many years ago that the flying of pulse jet powered R/C models was forbidden and that they could only be flown in C/L models. Following the appearance of the Dutch team at the 1978 Woodvale meeting, I had a slightly heated correspondence with Ray Favre - then SMAE chairman - on the subject without ever receiving a satisfactory answer.
For a long time it became almost impossible to fly them in C/L models due to the difficulty of obtaining adequate insurance, but this appears to have been overcome and they are now being flown regularly.
If there is anyone out there with some facts available, do please write. Meantime, I shall continue my inquiries.
That man who writes to me on Oman Sheraton notepaper, Mike White, has written to tell me a little more about the Fokker story which appeared in the February issue ('A superior Fokker'). It appears that the lone survivor was actually his uncle who told him that the aircraft concerned were not Fokkers but Pfalzes. In fact, the actual words which he uttered on arrival back at the aerodrome were, "It was a trap, those Fokkers were Pfalz!"
Finally, the answer to last months trick question:-
Well, of course, you pull it - and not pour custard over it as many people suggested.
The only correct answer came from Dave Tappin.