A couple of correspondents have rushed to my rescue on the subject of pulse jets and their legality - as we all knew that they would - with two sets of information.
Dan McDiarmid, of Stranraer, states that the flying of free flight pulse jet powered models was totally banned in 1948/9 after a fatal accident at Pendine Sands. As far as he is aware this ban is still in force. He does not state whether this was enforced by the government or the SMAE.
Obviously, the ban would be taken to include R/C flying at that date, since it would not be considered to be any more reliable than free flight. This may well be where my own remembrance of a ban originated as my own modelling was in process of shifting from free flight to control line at around that time.
J.Spain, of Dundee, wrote to point out that until about 1975 the SMAE Rule Book stated that, "The use of reaction motors (other than Jetex type) in model aircraft is forbidden except with special permission from the SMAE Council." (Page 5, SMAE GENERAL REGULATIONS. Item 2.3 Motive power, 2.3.3 REACTION MOTORS.)
So, it would appear that there may be a law of the land which prohibits free flight pulse jet models and which could be construed to include R/C and that there is a disused SMAE rule banning all forms of reaction engine powered models, other than Jetex.
Regular readers should be aware that the first event that featured pulse jet powered R/C models in this country was the 1978 World Championships for Scale and Control-line Models at Woodvale and that this was organised by the SMAE. While it does seem that they had the right to give themselves permission, they may have opened a floodgate.
Thank you Gentlemen.
Some correspondence with John Greenfield has led to an agreement that it would be a good idea to state in print just what is the reason behind that CAA requirement that models over 5Kg in weight should be fitted with a failsafe.
There seems to be a misconception in some peoples minds that the purpose is to save the model or to lessen its impact with a third party. In fact, the whole point is to prevent the model from flying off into the airlanes and causing an accident involving some full size aircraft with real people on board. It is worth remembering that the exemption does include a height limit.
The implications of this are quite clear. The purpose of the failsafe is to bring the model down as quickly as possible. It follows, from the wording of the exemption certificate that the model must come down within the minimum distances laid down in the exemption. This, in plain English, means that the model must crash as quickly as possible.
Any attempt to bring the model down gently would almost certainly mean it would land outside the distances laid down. It would seem to me that merely stopping the engine would not be sufficient to guarantee this.
If the following seems to be a little laboured it's because I am trying desperately to write something suitable for the above title. You see, I saw this heading in an article in a computer magazine which said 'These things are centre testers'. Well, I can't let a good idea like that one go can I?
Have you noticed a sudden reduction in the number of magazines on your local newsagents shelves lately. I am finding it increasingly difficult to find magazines that I have been buying for years. This is not entirely a new problem. There is one very well-known and highly respected American science fiction magazine which can now only be obtained in this country by direct subscription due to the largest newsagent chain in the land falling out with the importer.
I am told that most magazine sellers are finding the current habit of sticking some totally useless gift onto the cover to be a real pain. It seems that this means that much fewer copies can be accommodated in the average van load and upon the shelves.
The 'free' gift which really gets my goat (vintage phrase!) is the centre 'giveaway' plan which means that you cannot easily flip through the magazine. This would be bad enough if the plan were actually useful, but just how many people actually build from them I wonder. Personally, I would much prefer a few extra pages - particularly if it meant that my contribution was printed a little more regularly (not you Alec - sit down!).
How about the latest masterstroke though? A free plan which allows you to build another model from an existing plan. Well now, that looks interesting, but what if you have lost or thrown away the previous plan. A hasty search reveals that this may be exactly what has happened until it finally dawns after a few wasted hours that the plan is in fact in the plans service and has to be bought! What financial genius dreamed that one up?
Incidentally, not only do computer magazines tend to have highly involved puns in their copy, they also pay better rates than model magazines. Hmmmm!
I see that the new RM helicopter column claims that non of the existing literature tells the whole story. Well, Dave, it is not exactly commercially viable to tell intending participants that rotary flight is just about the most expensive thing there is next to heroin addiction.
It must be admitted that this is not really a very good comparison. They can both have a pretty devastating effect on your life though.
Perhaps the new column is itself already tending to follow the trend of not telling all. After all, taking four pages to tell you to tighten your prop nut must be something of a record.
Regardless of just when you may be reading this, it is being written in the first couple of days of the new year, so this might be a good time to take stock of the world.
It must be admitted that the world certainly seems to have its fair share of troubles right now. However, perhaps we should count our blessings a little. Think how much better things are now than they were, say 150 years or so ago. In those far off dark days it could take as long as two days for a letter to travel the length of the country. Long journeys had to use the newfangled railways and could be held up for some time while repairs to the track were completed.
Things were made much worse then by a drastic shortage of hospitals, policemen, nurses, etc. Yes progress is a wonderful thing. Be thankful that you are living in the twentieth century, where everyone knows their place.
There appears to be a good chance that the new working title for the SMAE will be the British Model Flying Association. So, we shall all have to learn to say 'Bumfor' instead of 'Smay'. Far be it from me to comment!