Indoor Free Flight

The following is a resume of a presentation given by Rodney O’Neill to the Ulster Aviation Society.

Printed by kind permission of the Ulster Aviation Society

Our speaker at the April meeting was an engineer who has taken part in air tests on the Shorts Belfast, worked as a BBC maintenance technician at the Lisnagarvey Transmitter and toured many exotic parts of the world, providing technical back-up and educational support for the former Shorts Missile Division.  But Rodney O’Neill didn’t come to talk about any of that, interesting as it would have been; he came to tell us about Indoor Duration Model Aircraft.

Lisburn 05

He is one of four people from Northern Ireland who take part in this pastime, one of the others being his partner, Dorothy, who was also present.  Both have to build their models from scratch as there is no ready source for the finished article.  They have to be built to very precise standards and, even more importantly, they have to be very light in weight. This means, for example, applying glue down the side of a very fine piece of wire, having already thinned it with acetone so that just enough runs into the joint to bond it, while the excess evaporates!  It means weighing thin sheets of balsa wood to find the lightest, then cutting that on a tiny band saw into ten strips a few millimetres square, subjecting each to a stiffness test, to find, not infrequently, that none is stiff enough for the motor stick and having to repeat the process until a suitable one is found.  So that we could understand all of this, he gave us a quick run through Young’s Modulus!  The wing frames are thinner than a matchstick and the ribs thinner again.  Then the whole wing is covered with the thinnest transparent mylar film imaginable.  Power source?  Believe it or not, elastic bands, again not just any old elastic bands but the rubber bands that are used in the windings of golf balls.  Again, Rodney set out the formula for obtaining the best bands for longest duration. He even produced graphs showing turns against torque, the aim being to wind the band just enough to give the most even discharge of power.  He even attaches them with little home-made rubber O-rings, as these provide another few turns which can add three or four seconds to the duration of a flight.  The propeller blades (variable pitch mechanisms are commercially available) are also hand-made and his wooden jig was passed round.  All of this results in the flimsiest models you will ever set eyes on but the rub is that they weigh in at a few grams, with the lightest being less than half, yes, half a gram.  This is hard to get one’s head around but is brought home by the fact that adding the elastic band to the lightest one more than doubles its weight!  So powered, they can remain airborne for up to nearly 0 minutes.  I’m sure everyone present who examined the models on display were very impressed by the craftsmanship and ingenuity that is so obviously present in them.


Rodney and Dorothy have competed in the open international competitions in Valencia, Belgrade and Moscow (Idaho, USA) where they put in some very creditable performances. Coincidentally, Dorothy was British national champion in 008 and Rodney in 007 and 008.  Rodney’s presentation was fascinating, given with an enthusiasm that was contagious.  I think the current batch of aeronautical engineers present were quite taken at how something could be so lightly built and yet stay aloft.  I have watched the models fly and find it very relaxing to see the propeller slowly turn as the model leisurely circles a few feet overhead, a bit like watching a butterfly flutter around the garden.



SATURDAY       11 JUNE 2016                11.00 AM    







 A decision on whether it is flyable will be taken on Thursday night as usual.

For the first time for many years, the Ulster Championships was run on the intended date in June, and it was flown in excellent weather. There was so little wind that the windsock was seen to turn 180 degrees in a matter of seconds! It was dull at first, and a slight skiff of rain at the start of the second round, but it was nearly all dry and finished in very pleasant sunshine.

Peter Bradshaw sent the notice of the event off to BMFA News, but then booked a Holiday over the date! The rest of the usual suspects were here, and it was good to see everyone after a long winter. A start was made at 11.10, and with the numbers slightly down, it was possible to fly three rounds of F2B before a break for Lunch, around 2 O’clock. Classic was then run off over two rounds, leaving the event tidied up early and allowing time for some catching up on recent developments.

The Judging was shared between Mitchell Shaw for F2B, and Chris Gilbert for Classic, so our thanks to both of them, and to Ken Smeltzer, who tabulated and printed out the results commendably quickly.

In deference to the CLAPA ruling that Classic models are not permitted Electric power, Ivan flew his Shark with a 4 stroke, prompting questions from the uninitiated “What’s in that?”. Stu and Ivan flew Electric F2B models to good effect.

Mitchell as Judge was impressed by the general improvement in flying, noting that most maneuvers were good shapes, so practice must be paying off. There was a tie for 3rd place in F2B, so close was the scoring.

Kevin had his new electric model from Barry Robinson, with traditional Northwind colour scheme. It needed some adjustments and was not flown, but should give him a very competitive model when it is sorted.

As CD, I must again thank everyone for coming from long distances, and it was good to see that we had an excellent day for flying and everyone had the best chance to perform. The general standard of flying was reflected in the excellent timekeeping, the event staying below the traditional 10 minutes per flight throughout the day. The always makes it easier to manage things, and everyone is to congratulated on the excellence of their presentation and starting.

Maurice Doyle

Results                       Ulster Championships                    

      Judge Mitchell Shaw        
       Round 1 2 3            
F2B         Best 2          
Maurice Doyle 986.0 1046.0 1067.5 2113.5 1        
Stoo Holland     E 949.5 988.0 1042.0 2030.0 2        
Kevin Barry 940.5 947.5 982.5 1930.0 3        
Ivan Bolton          E 913.0 985.5 944.5 1930.0 3        
Chris Gilbert 895.0 869.0 927.5 1822.5 5        
      Judge Chris Gilbert        
Classic       Best          
Maurice Doyle 1042.0 941.0   1042.0 1        
Stoo Holland 992.0 940.0   992.0 2        
Ivan Bolton 833.0 838.5   838.5 3        
Kevin Barry 230.0 578.5   578.5 4        



NDMRS 2016

Once again we will be hosting a stand at the North Down Model Railway Exhibition at Bangor Grammar School on 16th and 17th April 2016.

In association with Bangor Electric Flying Club we will be displaying a range of model flying at various times during the Exhibition.

We will also be hosting a static stand in association with the Northern Ireland Association of Aeromodellers.

Come along and pay us a visit to possibly relive your younger life as a  flying modeller

Web Site Woes

The site administrator suffered a denial of service attack this essentially deleted the site.

I am happy to say that after a lot of extremely hard work we are now back and will be updating the site regularly.

Happy days and Happy flying:)

Windy Weather, time to fix the Web

Gents, I’ve been updating the website, as far as I can tell, at the moment we are at pre-crash stage. In staying with the times, I also used the default wordpress theme. I did include an option to change the looks/colors, feel free to experiment! As always, if you want me to add things that you need, just shout.

I did find a handful of unused pictures in the media library, If you can find a good place for them?  There are a few articles that could use a picture to jazz it up a bit.

This theme should also work for all you mobile-phone people, after all, it’s been designed for it!

Btw: did you see the new NI-Forum?

Have fun,

Webmaster,  16 Feb 2014

John Hamilton Award






In recognition of John Hamilton’s contribution to the Home International and to the Club, on 27 November 2013 the Club held a presentation Dinner at which John was awarded an engraved decanter with the inscription “Awarded to John Hamilton for the Home International and for many years of service to the Club. 2013”. It is hoped that he will enjoy many glasses from it.


This was a well deserved recognition of many acts on behalf of the Members and many others who have enjoyed representing their Country at International level, and a long career in Modelling, particularly F2B Control Line Aerobatics.


His name first appears in Nitro, the Club Newsletter, in Dec 1970, at Sydenham with John Seacombe, then in Feb 1971, his first article, and in Jun/Jul 1971, his Mini Thunderbird Plan. In the Club, he was Secretary, Nitro Editor, F/F Sec, Treasurer, Display Organiser and Chairman, a total of 21 years of service to the Club in the past 41 years.




John, in tandem with Bill Draper, was the motive force which started this event, which has given pleasure and focus to so many fliers. It has seen Teams from England, Scotland and Wales and Ireland fly, with many appreciating the chance to represent their Country at this level. It has been a unique event and has an atmosphere all of its own. It was first flown 1986 in Blanchflower Park, reached 25 Years in 2010 in England, and is still going strong in 2013. Its longevity is a testament to the quality of the idea, its execution, and the strength of its appeal.


John’ Contest Record includes: Winner of the Irish Nationals (13 times consecutively), the Ulster Championships, the NI Area Control Line Cup, the British Nationals Vintage and Classic and 3rd in F2B, the Scottish Nationals, the CLAPA Championships, and representing Ireland at the European and World Championships on numerous occasions. He has been Team Leader and top scorer of the Irish Team in the Home International, highest placed individual on occasion, and on the winning Irish Team three times.


Maurice Doyle Chairman


If you would like to download the original file:Here it is


Vandelism at Tommy Paton Site Cabin

Our new sign
Our new sign

IMG_0682 IMG_0695 IMG_0696After the joy of getting our site cabin installed at our site at Tommy Paton Park we decided to fully advertise the club and erected a sign in an appropriate place on the cabin.

The sign was well riveted to the cabin however less than 24 hours had passed before the first attack was instigated but this failed with just minor damage to a corner of the sign.  We vainly hoped this was just a random event and additional rivets were added to hopefully give the sign added security.

The vandals however were not to be deterred and obviously returned armed with tools.

The sign was erected on Monday 29th April and by Saturday 4th May it had been forcibly ripped off the cabin, broken into 2 pieces and thrown on the ground.

Just makes you wonder what is between the ears of the mindless morons who obviously delight in such activities.

There is one word that comes to mind beginning with “B” but not to be printed here.

Should we report this to the Police – whats the point it will just be recorded as a statistic and no action will be taken.

Ulster Control Line Champs 2013

Once again we will be hosting this event at our flying site at Tommy Paton park on Saturday 15th June.

Come along and see some spectcular Control Line stunt flying and if you are a member of the BMFA and an experienced control line flyer why not enter.

NDMRS 2013

North Down Model Railway Show

Once again we will be hosting a stand at this show over the weekend of 27th/28th April.

This years venue will be the new Bangor Leisure Centre.

Come along, pay us a visit, say Hi, have a chat and pick our brains on your Model Flying queries.

Thanks to all who manned the Stand at the NDMRS Exhibition last Saturday/Sunday, and of course set it up on Friday night and took it down on Sunday. Rodney, Peter and Eric were the mainstays.
North Down Model Club supported us with members to man the Stand and some very nice models, so thank you to them as well.
The Stand was a success, and the new venue at the Aurora Centre was a nice clean big hall. It appeared to have plenty of Railway layouts, and the attendance was probably boosted by the new venue, which is worth a visit.
The Area, i. e. Bob McIvor, Bill Scott, Rodney and others, have assembled the necessary hardware to provide a laptop, projector and Simulator, which was a major attraction and enjoyed by many, including fliers as well as visitors. Having something active throughout the Exhibition is a big attraction.
The BMFA Stand was also set up and had a prominent location. We sold a few Darts and Butterflies and Rodney flew his indoor models, now recognised in the Exhibition Programme as something to look out for.