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Gordon Whitehead

Do you remember me?

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Steve Pounder28/08/2019 16:55:29
4 forum posts

I used to fly single channel from Bispham, all of those years ago. Name of Steve.

I was living with mum and dad, you had your own home in Bispham. You moved away and joined the RAF.

I remember your Micro Robot.

You helped me tremendously and I have sometimes wondered how you are getting on. If you remember me

Gordon Whitehead 128/08/2019 21:38:23
344 forum posts
157 photos

Hi Steve

You bet I remember you! Who could forget all the glorious fun we had flying our single channel rudder-only models on that pond-riddled field by the Bispham Tech? Way back around 1970! We were so lucky to have that flying field so close to our homes, especially as it eventually became absorbed into a large housing estate

Was it Barry's model that went awol and flew round the back of the college tower, re-appearing on the opposite side still in a right-hand turn to arrive back at our launch area?

Then there was the time we were both aerobatting our micro-robots and we ended up, quite by accident, in the classic WW1 combat pose of both planes flying directly at each other nose-on. The planes met and each lost one wing panel. However, your model also took off mine's tailplane whereupon my plane went into autorotation in a flat spin with the DC Dart still howling and landed quite softly like a helicopter. Your model's tail was more firmly fixed, stayed on the model, and rather unkindly stabilised it like an arrow flight so that the model arced into the ground in a series of fast consecutive rolls, again with the engine still on full chat as we had no engine throttling.

I wonder if you remember my rudder-only Merlin-powered pusher delta with which I accidentally entered a loop with too little airspeed, the model stopped whilst pointing vertically upwards, and then proceeded to fall backwards torque rolling, well before we'd ever heard of torque rolls.

Then there was Bill with his beautifully crafted scale single-channel models, one a Mercury Aeronca Sedan, another a very complex Armstrong Whitworth FK-3 WW1 bipe which he gave to me. Bill's attention to detail and total mastery of construction and finishing of these and several other scale models had an enormous influence on my future modelling aspirations.

I also remember a Galloping Ghost Topflite Schoolmaster with Elfin 1.49 and Rand actuator, as well as a single-channel Elfin 1.8-powered P E Norman Gloster Gamecock which I brought with me from Leeds where I had built it on the 10th floor of a 14-storey block of flats and which I think ended up in your hands with an OS .15.

These, and many more wonderful memories.

Email is on its way!

Kind regards


TJ Alexander11/09/2019 10:51:44
105 forum posts

Hey, Gordon & Steve, I enjoyed your reminiscing too! Great to meet up with old friends.

Alan Gorham_11/09/2019 11:00:45
1295 forum posts
145 photos

What a fantastic hobby we've got! Some great accounts of flying exploits.

Steve Pounder11/09/2019 21:28:19
4 forum posts

It was not always so much fun, it was sometimes heart breaking. My first model that actually flew ended up in a swamp. I spent hours looking for it and never did find it. There was some very strange large flying insects in that swamp. I was about 17 and loved the hobby. Single channel and a escapement powered by a rubber band.

Many respects to Gordon, he taught me so very much.

Alan Gorham_11/09/2019 21:33:24
1295 forum posts
145 photos

Surely the heartbreaking failures made the successes all the sweeter. They did for me when I was teaching myself to fly and build!

Steve Pounder18/09/2019 21:01:56
4 forum posts

Success with single channel was limited especially when I did not have much money. And yes, when I became proficient the successes were sweet.

Robert Putley 119/09/2019 04:55:22
201 forum posts

I had a School Master powered by an OS Pet R/C. A nice looking model for its day. Flew really well too.

Steve Pounder19/09/2019 16:05:22
4 forum posts

Was the School Master a kit? I seem to remember it. I think that I gave up on kits due to the poor quality of the balsa.

Many years ago I got a Super 60. The young lad, as I was, was moving away and offered it to me for £5. I was astonished at how cheap, he said okay, £7. I bought it. It was the first single channel model I ever had that took off from the ground in a very rough field. It was great to see it just sit there in the sky. I can't remember what happened to it, I suspect it was the inevitable.

And Gordon Whitehead, you were my hero. If you are reading this, send me an email.


John H. Rood19/09/2019 17:43:25
271 forum posts
391 photos

SCHOOLMASTER -- that brings back early 1970s memories for me. Yet another friendly design from the prolific Ken Willard. I built mine from the Top Flite kit, my friends and I were teenagers struggling to get a used Min-X "Galloping Ghost" and Rand LR-3 actuator radio system to actually work, get the engine to start, the tail surfaces wiggling to and fro like some sort of mad fool's invention. Meanwhile all the grownups out there at Sepulveda Basin (Van Nuys, Californina) had all kinds of success with their "multis" as we called them. Steerable nose gear, brakes, electric fuel pumps in the pits, the works. Not much R/C aero-success for us kiddos until we were able to buy proper digital proportional radios. Then we got the hang of things... then came girls, college, the usual.

Alan Hilton19/09/2019 17:47:02
128 forum posts

I grew up in Bispham and flew control line on a field near the site you describe in the early 60’s .A teacher from Montgomery called Ken Casswell and several others who’s names can’t remember also flew there . I was away at uni at the time you describe .


John H. Rood19/09/2019 21:39:02
271 forum posts
391 photos

SCHOOLMASTER -- that brings back early 1970s memories for me... Correction: Late 1960s!

Gordon Whitehead 122/09/2019 16:31:42
344 forum posts
157 photos

Hi All, I'm late on parade again blush

Steve, you've got mail angel

More reminiscing follows!

The Schoolmaster was both a Top Flite kit and a plan published in Aeromodeller, now available on Outerzone of course. I built mine from the Aeromodeller plan - I can't remember if I bought the plan or drew it up from the reduced-scale page plan shown in the mag. As I'm a Yorkshire tightwad and proud of it, probably the latter. The Rand GG actuator needed careful setting up of the high and low pulse rates for success. I remember the way that I did it was to re-tune our TV set to a harmonic of the 27Mhz we used at that time, and drove my wife crazy whilst I counted the beeps from the loudspeaker against my wristwatch's sweep second hand. The pulse rates had to be 4 pulses per second at low rate and 12 pps high rate. So I'd probably try to count pulses for 5 seconds or so and drive myself crazy too. The TV screen was meanwhile a mess of zig-zags.

My next GG venture was a Phil Kraft Flea Fli with OS .15 power and dihedral increased to 10 degrees per side. With no ailerons and just rudder, elevator and motor for control, that model was surprisingly successful and would loop and roll quite well.

The Tx was the RCME Unijunction Pulser Tx, and Rx a relayless Macgregor superhet with a home made switcher which was eitehr a Radio Modeller or RCME design.

Thank goodness for modern radio gear. I spent hours and hours back then going through advertisers' lists in electronics magazines sourcing the cheapest components to build my single-channel and GG outfits. Then making the PC boards and soldering it all up. I guess that modern "smart" TVs aren't smart enough to be re-tuned for setting up a GG actuator though.


Andy Palmer22/09/2019 17:35:27
261 forum posts
111 photos

Hi Gordon, my Schoolmaster was also built from the plan, and it would have been in 1965 or 66. I think it used a Cox 049 and it was fitted with RCS single channel radio and an Elmic Conquest escapement. It was a great flyer.


Gordon Whitehead 124/09/2019 13:37:16
344 forum posts
157 photos

Hi Andy, your photo re-awakens happy memories of many hours of fun with uncomplicated models and thanks for posting as I have no pics of my own.

It looks as if you've added a spot of crash-proofing by securing the engine mounting plate in position with the then ubiquitous elastic bands. I'm intrigued by your tailplane, which sports elevators. I remember the Conquest as a simple bang-bang sequential escapement for rudder-only use and in fact preferred it to the compound version which I think was called the Compact. Did your model have a compound escapement, or did you just add an elevator which was ground-adjustable tor trim?


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