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3 March 2016

8 Mon. Very mild becoming rather warm: some moderate sun in afternoon. To Normans to buy steel wire, balsa cement and 1/16 x 1/16 rubber. Made tensioner & freewheel for model. Made up a motor of 26 strands and the model is ready to test. Aunt Liza to tea. Ciss will be at home and Dad will stay this week. Gwennie brought a treat card for Ciss. Showed the model to Chas.

Note - the motor of 26 strands refers to ribbons of elastic, bound together at the ends, which stretched the length of the model inside the doped, tissue-paper-covered, balsa wood fuselage. It was wound from the front by attaching a hand drill. The propeller of the model would then be held with one hand as the model was held aloft with the other arm, a slight run or movement of the arms would aid the launch as you let go of prop and model. A take-off from the ground would be far too wasteful of the elastic's energy.
As I recall, a simple device, the tensioner, meant that when the band was nearly undone it would stop the now loose bands revolving and flailing around inside the fuselage. A slight adjustment to the rudder, before launch, ensured the model flew in a wide circle, else you'd be chasing for miles across Wimbledon Common to retrieve it. "How did you know where it was going to land?" a suitably impressed child onlooker once asked me when Uncle Fred took me to the Common. It was knowing about the circling... and guesswork! I do sometimes wonder what Fred would think of drones... or the fact that many years later this writer learnt to fly and gained his Private Pilot's Licence. Fred, Ciss, their brother Albert and his wife Lily never flew - nor were they alive by the time I became interested in flying for real. - Tony French.

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