Modeller aims high for world champs

Model glider flyer Brian Baines. EMN-141011-133600001
Model glider flyer Brian Baines. EMN-141011-133600001

A model aircraft flyer has been selected to compete for Britain against 40 other nations in the 2015 World Free Flight Championships in Mongolia.

Brian Baines, 76, has been involved in the sport since 1965 and on being selected he said: “It is unbelievable as I am a bit over the hill at 76, I was at my best in my 30s.”

Free-flight model flying is the sport’s oldest discipline and the uncontrolled high-performance aircraft soar slowly and silently in thermal up-currents of air. The models are designed from the start to excel in flight duration, something that appeals to Brian as it is the time on the stopwatch that counts, not the opinion of any judge.

The championships will be during July and August and Brian will spend around £4,000 in travel fees because of the huge distances involved in a country relatively unknown for model aircraft flying.

Brian said: “Years ago I flew against the Cubans and they were very similar - very state sponsored. In Russia, their best modellers go on to work for aircraft companies like Tupolev. In the USA, some model flyers have Nobel prizes for engineering. We are private individuals. If I get in the first 10 I shall be over the moon.

“I am not as mobile as the younger guys and the launch is like Olympic hammer throwing.”

Brian’s gliders are towed into the air on a 50 metre line. He then runs to accelerate the glider and release it to soar away for the timed flight. The gliders, which fly at little more than walking pace, have a wingspan of over two metres but weigh less than a pound. During the launch Brian’s model will be pulling about 11G, many times more than any manned aircraft could withstand. The sport has become extremely advanced, using carbon fibre and Kevlar plus telemetry beamed back to Brian’s phone.