St Lukes Hospice Charity Event 2008
21 Pilots and many supporting club members of the Eddystone
Model Flying Club fought the elements on Sunday 3rd August in a bid to raise money for their local St. Lukes Hospice.
Several months ago Committee Member Neil Hunter put a proposal to club members to undertake the tremendous task of having two model aircraft in the sky’s at all times for a non-stop 6 hour fly. Club members immediately agreed to take the challenge on and planning began almost straight away.
But planning 72 ten-minute flying slots for 6hours duration and 21 pilots with adjacent radio channels was only the beginning of the fun. After many hours of juggling the slots, slowly it all started to come together. Pilots and club members rushed away with their sponsor forms eager to try and raise as much money as possible for the St. Lukes hospice that cares for people with cancer.
As the day approached for the grand flying challenge, pilots nervously kept a close eye on the weather forecast. Event organisers also prayed for a dry day but the outlook was not looking favourable.
On the eve of the fly the decision was made to go ahead with the event. One by one pilots and club members began to arrive early and get their equipment set up and ready to go. Jill Thomas the clubs treasurer was responsible for keeping the radio tent running smoothly, doing an outstanding job, ensuring every pilot had their radio transmitters in time for their slot.
The flying pit was packed with over 20 different aircraft including Dave Wallace’s helicopter for emergency standby should one aircraft fail to start or one have to land before their flying time was up.
The first flyers lined up on the field and at 1000hrs the challenge begun. Two planes took off almost simultaneously for the first of 72 flying slots. Just before they were due to land, two more took to the sky’s, keeping two in the air at all times.
Everything was running like clockwork, planes landing and taking off in their correct flying slots, everyone working together as one great big team, and then yes, you guessed it, the heavens opened. Not just a light shower, but heavy rain. Umbrellas went up and people rushed to cover their equipment, but in a bid of defiance, the pilots flew on risking thousands of pounds of electrical equipment and gear to raise the sponsor money for St. Lukes. Carrier bags were used to keep the radio gear as dry as possible and non-flying members rushed to pilots rescue with umbrellas to keep the worst of the rain off. The club sincerely thanks those who risked so much in what were possibly the worse flying conditions ever flown in my the members.
Eventually the rain began to ease and the sky’s started to brighten up. Jennifer Hellier the clubs first ever lady pilot and her son Jason who is also a flyer sparked up the cookers and the burgers and bacon rolls began to roll out of the food tent. Seraj Hunter continued to guide the arriving cars into the car parking area whilst her husband Neil rounded up pilots for the next flying slots. Alan Prout kept the flying line running like clockwork ensuring aircraft took off and landed safely within their flying slots and Dean Brain gave a fabulous display of skill and flying during his slot flying Neil’s 78” Petrol Edge with slow, low rolling circuits.
By 3pm the event had gone completely to plan with not one accident, crash or even a bumpy landing. Then with the end in sight, the rain came again. Only this time it came down in torrents. The organisers had a difficult choice, cancel the event or press on with the end so near as long as it was safe and pilots were willing to fly. But in a proud and honourable moment, pilots stepped forward and agreed to continue flying for St. Lukes. With the umbrellas out again and bags over the radio gear for safety the remaining flying slots continued.
With minutes to go to complete the challenge four planes were up in the sky. Cold and soaking wet, with rain in their faces, the final seconds were counted down.
The challenge was completed. With some final victory rolls, stall turns and loops, one by one the last four planes slowly lined up for landing. Greg Phillips who was flying a rising star trainer for the event turned on his navigation lights for a couple of low passes to please the crowd, and after a twenty minute flight lined up for finals.
As his aircraft gently touched the ground, Nigel Brain one of the clubs instructors and examiners finished with a wonderful inverted circuit followed by a steep clime into the clouds, only to reappear coming out in what could be described as the best inverted flat spin of the day. As he lined up for finals, cheers were heard across the site and the Eddystone Model Flying Club members and pilots had achieved, what, at times we thought was going to be the impossible.
A quick rough total of sponsor money was worked out and it looks like the club, the pilots and the members have raised £1,401-60p for the Hospice, with Ian Dunstan raising nearly £350 alone.
The committee would like to sincerely pass on its gratitude to all those who took part to make the event successful and more so, for battling on in such atrocious conditions, despite everyone feeling cold and completely soaked through in the worst conditions the club has ever flown in.
A final grand total for money raised will be worked out in a couple of weeks when all the sponsor forms are given back and a cheque will be made out for our beneficiary, St. Lukes Hospice in Plymstock towards all their fabulous hard work in supporting patients in their care and treatment of cancer and incurable diseases.