Russian Bison
The story starts with my falling in love with this aeroplane. The Myasischev Bison was a long-range nuclear bomber and spyplane: the Russian answer to the American B-52. The fact that it was a symbol of nuclear angst passed me by. I just admired the broad sweep of its wings and its sophisticated nacelles and tip pods. That's what an aeroplane should look like! But there was a long way to go before I'd be competent to build and fly one myself.
Dad With Avoncraft Cub
Dad holding my first model glider, an Avoncraft Cub, built from a kit while we lived in Sunderland, around 1983. Bill Monck of the Weardale Model Gliding Association took me under his wing and taught me to fly it.
Max with Avoncraft Cub Fuselage
Wings and tailplane were held on with rubber bands, providing a degree of tolerance to imperfectly executed landings!
Max and Dad with Avoncraft Cub
Dad lending a hand with the Cub. That's Leela in in the blue jump suit. The location is Crawleyside Moor, near Stanhope, Weardale.
Middle Phase 2
In this shot I am applying the plastic film finish to the fuselage of my second model, built from a kit, the "Middle Phase 2", which enjoyed a long and distinguished career on the slopes of Weardale before meeting a grizzly end at a competition in North Yorkshire.
Thermal Soarer
The third stage in my aeromodelling career was a thermal soarer that looked somewhat like this, but with a nattier red and gold colour scheme. (Regretably, I didn't bother much with photographs in those days) Built from a kit, the wings comprised about three million separate pieces of 1.5mm balsa, and the model spanned four metres.
Bison access hatch
Bison access hatch, showing my own-design radio installation, with connector blocks for the wing-mounted servos and a handy battery level meter mounted next to the on/off switch.
Bison in room
Fully assembled, the Bison only just fitted into my bedroom/workshop. I took this shot standing on the bed in the corner of the room. Construction was primarily polystyrene foam and obechi veneer, with balsa, spruce, ply, glassfibre, plastic film, and even some metalwork.
Wing repair
The Bison crashed disasterously due to radio failure on its third flight, but after the repair it was better than ever. This is the blue foam/balsa and ply repair to the leading edge of one wing.
Bison Hero Shot
Five years after I saw Simon Cocker holding his Russian Bison just like this in Radio Modeller magazine, got in touch with him, and persuaded him to make sketches for me, I finally had my dream model.