Like many of us, my model building career spans all the way back to my childhood. My first ever Airfix kit was for a Hawker Sea Fury, I can still remember it now, even though at the time I must have been only seven or eight.
My interest in radio control aviation took a little longer to develop. Football took precedence at school, (living on Merseyside what else could?) But after graduating from Manchester, with a degree in graphic design with a specialisation in television in 1980, I unfortunately found myself without a job - for nearly two years!
So, living back with my parents, I found myself wandering the streets of Ellemere Port signing on every week. And every week I seemed to always gravitate towards Bob Fletcher's Alpha Models and the Aladdin's cave of R/C goodies and friendly advice, not to mention a good cup of tea. The modelling flame was rekindled.
For many weeks I saved what little I could and made the decision just what I wanted to buy. All I could afford was a two-channel glider - The Veron Impala! The radio gear was the then new 27mhz two channel Futaba L (FP-T2L) series. But where to fly? As always the advice was to find a club and get someone to teach you. Bob Fletcher told me about the Clwyd Soaring Association. At that time they were flying from the beautiful north Wales site over looking the Vale of Clwyd near Moel Famau. "There's a chap there that will help you" Bob said, "his name is Ray Jones."
So up I went and met the 'larger than life' Ray. He checked out the model and gave me few tips. I also managed to get up to the slope on weekdays and after a couple of mishaps managed to get the hang of it quite quickly. So on reflection I think I was semi-self taught. On weekends other Clwyd members gave advice, Robbie Bridston and Graham Cox in particular.
It was at this time that the burgeoning PSS (Power Scale Soaring) movement was gaining popularity at Moel Famau. Being young and just starting in the hobby, I thought I would like to do that! So with no money in my pocket, I thought I would design my own! This was going to be only my second model! And I was going to design and build it from scratch! Looking back I don't know what I was thinking about!
I read up on design, wing areas, aerofoil sections, calculating the C of G, and researched a type to build. The model, I decided, would be a Messerschmitt Bf110. It had never been done at the time, as a slope soarer! So six months later on a cold January day in 1982 Graham Cox launched the Bf110 into the air - Ray Jones at the controls. "Beautiful" he said, "amazing" he said "what an achievement." From then on interest grew within the club. Ray always said that my Bf110 kicked off the PSS movement at Clwyd, especially as some members were keen to have a go after seeing a full size DC 3 flying down the Vale below them.
Alan Hulme, who was a Clwyd member, was particularly interested, and it wasn't long before he built a huge RAF Nimrod. The rest is history, Alan set up and still runs the PSSA and events now are run all over the world.
It was about this time that Sailplanes International from south Wales gave the Clwyd Soaring Association a talk at one of their club nights. And at this same time, I was offered a job as a Film Editor for ITV - by coincedence in south Wales! Work at last! Money!
I exchanged phone numbers with one of Sailplanes International's employees - Paul Fielding. When I arrived in Cardiff to start work, Paul picked me up from the station and took me straight to the local pub. It was here on my first night in Cardiff that I met Peter Rundle. Pete is now one of the shining lights of the South Wales Soarers and a top F3F slope pylon racer.
Pete and I soon hit it off and we were soon slope flying every weekend. We eventually decided to give 'power' flying a go and went to visit the South Wales Radio Control Society at Llandow near Cowbridge. I ended up moving into power flying and Pete, went back to sloping. What a great hobby this is, a hobby that helps you meet new friends wherever you go. I have lot to thank it for.
Since 1983 I have been a member of the SWRCS and have held a number of posts on the Committee, including Chairman for several years. In the intervening years I have flown a vast number of models from the Wot 4's and Acrowots to pylon racers and scale models and more recently, electric. One of my first achievements, back in the early 1980's was to gain both my 'A' and 'B' Certificates, soon after the scheme was introduced.
Once again I have been lucky in meeting a high calibre of model flyers though my own club. In particular Paul Board. Paul is a regular on the F3D Pylon Racing curcuit. Not only has he won the British Nationals and the Pylon Championships regulary, but Paul has been a regular representive for th UK at many F3D World Pylon Championships from as far afield as the USA and Australia.
So with over twenty years in modelling, a wealth of friends to call upon and at the same time experience gained by working in newsrooms, with journalists and in commercial broadcast media, I felt I could offer a useful service by setting up Flying Sites. I had produced a number of commercial websites before designing Flying Sites and I felt that the opportunities to produce a web site for R/C aeromodelling offering news, information and resources and help to newcomers, was just something that should be done.
That brings me right up to date. I still have the 'day job' and Flying Sites takes up most of my evenings and weekends, much to the consternation of my wife and daughter. But when the opportunity arises I'll be out there flying and looking for interesting stories and information to put on the pages of Flying Sites - The R/C Aero Portal.