24 May 2014

On Location: East Kirkby – Large Model Association Show

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is the home of the Avro Lancaster Just Jane, which has featured on my blog before.  I am a big fan of ‘living history’, and have always liked historic aircraft, so it wasn’t a big step to my becoming a supporter of Just Jane.  The LAHC is well worth visiting at any time, but I also keep an eye out for the regular events that take place there.  This trip was to visit while the Large Model Association show was on, so I packed up ‘Tonks’ the tiny campervan and headed northeast.

I discovered that ‘large’ is designated by weight, not size, but some of the models were massive.  There were at least two that were apparently half scale!  That is a pretty serious bit of kit to be flying, and it’s unsurprising that large model aircraft come under the scrutiny of the Civil Aviation Authority.  These are not the kind of toys you mess about with in your garden but serious machines which can do real damage if things go wrong.  Models weighing more than 20kg must be inspected on behalf of the CAA before they can fly.  The inspection process includes the build as well as flight-testing, and all must be approved before permission is granted to fly in public.  Oh, and the build can take a long time.  

The DC3 seen here took around 18 months to complete.

It was a real privilege to see so many large models on display, and of such a variety.  It was also useful to be there early and see some of them while they were still in the hanger where I could get closer to them.  
There were WWII bomber replicas, fittingly considering the location, but also powered gliders (brilliant display flying!), biplanes – including the very lovely Dragon Rapide, fast jets (brilliant display number 2!) and airliners.Sadly the latter didn’t fly on the day, but it looked impressive even on the ground!

In many respects, once the aircraft were in the air and therefore with no points of reference for size, you could hardly tell they were models!  The pilots are extremely skilled, and display their models to their best.  I was interested to discover that, especially with the ‘warbird’ models, the flying itself is scaled appropriately, as well as the aircraft.  This means that models of aircraft which would not have been especially speedy at full size do not whizz about unrealistically in their scaled down forms.

On the Monday the wind was strong and gusty, creating a few interesting landings including one aircraft ending up upside down, and some pilots therefore decided to keep their aircraft on the ground.  There was a still lot of flying though, and all in all it was a very interesting and entertaining day with some beautiful models on display and some very complex flying.

The LMA is a long-standing association with over 800 members.  They have a number of events during the year and more information can be found on their website: www.largemodelassociation.com

The icing on the cake for me though, was the extra special treat of seeing (and hearing) the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster ‘City of Lincoln’ overfly ‘Just Jane’.  Wonderful.

The real deal - Just Jane and City of Lincoln

The next event I hope to attend at East Kirkby is Props and Pistons.  Better pack the ear plugs…

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