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“And like no other sculpture in the history of art, the dead engine and dead airframe come to life at the touch of a human hand, and join their life with the pilot's own.”

338. Modelling

We had been asked a while ago to be guests of honour (yes, really!) at the British Model Flying Association‘s annual dinner and prize-giving.

It meant that I had to give a talk for my dinner, and Sue would have to give away about 60 prizes for hers.

It had troubled me for a while, since my contribution to aeromodelling is basically nil, though I do have a radio control model I throw around occasionally.

But I decided to talk about Grandad and the Scout and pretend that it was a scale model at 1:1 scale!

In the event, it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion, I didn’t fall over my words or witter on too long (or at least, not much!), and we met all sorts of wonderful people. it transpired that the chairman, Ian Pallister, had been at Southampton University with me, and Sue spent a long time discussing knees with Lady Pauline Alcock, wife of the President, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Alcock.

Everyone was most complimentary about 1264, and after re-presenting me with the FAI Phoenix Award Sir Michael came up with a truly spectacular suggestion for a PR event involving 1264 which would undoubtedly top the Nine o Clock news if it came off. I’d better not say any more, since nothing may come of it, but it’s surely got my appetite whetted…

All photos courtesy the excellent Martin at  Here and Now Photography.


There were about 170 people at the Jurys Inn, Hinckley. 


Sir Michael Alcock re-presented our FAI Phoenix Award, since we couldn’t get to Bali for the FAI Conference!


Sue and I poshed up well…


… and Sue survived handing out more than 60 trophies with a smile for everyone. She made me promise I wouldn’t tell you what he’s whispering in her ear!



337. Christmas is Over

By the Sunday evening we were absolutely knackered, but what a wonderful weekend it had been! In addition to all the new friends we’d made, we’d seen plenty of old ones – Lawrence and Judy, Lesley and Hayden, Stephen and Claire and Claire’s family.

We had been hoping to start dismantling 1264 after the show finished on the Sunday night, but nothing could be done until the display cabinets were removed, and it was going to take most of Friday evening to clear them of there very valuable contents. So – slightly relieved – we’d had a pleasant meal on the Sunday, and arrived at 7:30am on the Monday all ready to go.

The reason for the panic was that I was booked on the 1930 Eurostar to Brussels in the evening, and had to leave the trailer at the Shuttleworth Collection and my car at Ruislip tube station so that I could get the tube into Euston. Overnight I’d realised that getting from Shuttleworth to Ruislip meant going round the M25 in the rush hour, so I looked up trains from Biggleswade, to discover that they went direct to Kings Cross. ideal, and the car journey home on my return wouldn’t be so much longer from Biggleswade than from Ruislip.

This eased the pressure somewhat, but we were still concerned to get going as quickly as possible.

In the event, everything slotted into place astonishingly well, and we were barely held up at all. We were also able to take the fuselage down the ramp this time – altogether safer than the fork lift truck!

We were away by 1230, and everything else went according to plan. Chill gave Sue a lift to Chesterfield, from where she could get the train back to Ludlow where we’d left her car on Friday morning.

Mark left, to deal with another email from the owner of the house claiming that we’d marked her kitchen worktop by cutting stuff up and not using the chopping boards. She didn’t clarify whether this was the cereals or the sliced loaf that was to blame.

If you’re thinking of taking a 5 bedroom house in Baslow through AirBnB, think twice!

I left the trailer at the Shuttleworth. I had hoped perhaps to get her erected and back in no. 1 hangar while I was there, but that wasn’t possible, and I had at least an hour to spare by the time I got to St Pancras. Whew!

336. Christmas Wishes, Day 3

The Sunday event started at 10am again, and when we met Mark, we exchanged our news about the house. He’d sent an email to the owner noting that one room hadn’t been cleaned, and this seemed to have set off last night’s diatribe. She had apparently gone home and written an email response to Mark which occupied no less than 6 pages when printed out. It was a strange, rambling document which accused us of having eaten toast for breakfast among other things. Most of it was entirely irrelevant, and poor Mark, who was having to commute huge distances to and from home each day, had had to deal with all this on top of everything else. He decided not to respond and simply pay the bill and not to make any more trouble.

By this time Buddy had pretty much taken over the show; interest in 1264 was largely subsumed by people wanting to give him a stroke or a cuddle. Buddy took all this in his stride and accepted it as his due.




Rick, Sue, Marian, David and Chill

It was another completely exhausting but rewarding day, and everyone who saw us loved the story of 1264, even if they had no prior interest in WWI aviation.


335. Christmas Wishes, Day 2

The show opened at 10am, so we were able to have a bit of a lie in, and from then on it was full on, with all three of us working solidly explaining 1264’s origin and the connection with Aviator Watches.

One unexpected visitor was John Ball, who is a cousin of WWI Ace Albert Ball (who scored his first victory in a Bristol Scout). We weren’t expecting to see him, and he wasn’t expecting to see us, so it was yet another of those serendipitous encounters with which the story of 1264 is liberally sprinkled.


Around midday, Rick and Marian turned up, together with the latest member of their family, Buddy.

From here on in, Buddy (an 11 week old Jack Russell puppy) stole the show.



Charles Burns even did a silhouette…


Sue got to try some of the VERY expensive jewellery on show. This necklace made from hundreds of perfectly matched diamonds cost £160,000.


Having Rick and Marian there meant we could actually go for an occasional meal and a sit down, but we weren’t finished until gone 7pm, and we headed off to a dog-friendly Devonshire Arms for a delightful meal.

After that we headed back to the house, and were puzzled to see all the lights on. As we came in the door, we were met by a couple of women, one of whom conducted a verbal assault on us for twenty minutes to half an hour, questioning our identity and our right to be there, accusing us of some unspecified sharp practice, and making herself thoroughly unpleasant. She never introduced herself, but in among the invective was the fact that we’d accused her of leaving one room uncleaned, from which we drew the conclusion that she was the cleaner or the owner. It was complicated by the fact that Mark, who had booked the room, had had to go back home to York again, but eventually we got her out of the house and were able to go to bed.

Sue found that although they’d cleaned the bins in our room, the sheets were still the same, with stains on them from the previous occupant, so we switched to the other double bed. This was fine until the middle of the night, when the bed started to collapse!

334. Christmas Wishes come true

It’s been an amazing weekend in the company of Sellors jewellers. We set off in good time on Friday morning and found the AirBnB house in Baslow that was to be our home for the weekend. It was half of a semi set at right angles to the road, and with no drive, requiring us to street park some distance away.

We dropped our things and headed back to Chatsworth to see how things were looking, and the transformation was total. The lighting was installed, the cabinets were all in place and full of bling. 1264 was in very unfamiliar surroundings but completely dominated the marquee, and was carrying off her new role with total aplomb and the odd drip of castor oil.




Mark Ryder, the Aviator watch agent (r), looks very happy with the way in which 1264 has stolen the limelight.


And we were very happy to be all togged up, though you might not think it from my face…




There was a 1942 Dodge army truck squeezed in there too.


There were plenty of other attractions there, including pirates with live parrots…


… jewellery worn for the premiere of the Spiderman film…

… and Charles Burns, aka The Roving Artist, who makes the most amazingly lifelike silhouettes using only black paper and a pair of very fine scissors.


And Sonia Ibrahim who plays Mel Maguire in Coronation Street was there supporting the NSPCC.

The VIP event started at 4:30 and we were on our feet for most of the afternoon until gone 11pm, so it was getting on for midnight before we got to bed.

Mark had to go home to York, but we were joined by his colleague Tiago who took his place for just one night. It was a bit of a disappointment to find that our room hadn’t been cleaned and the sheets and bins contained evidence of the previous occupants, and that Chill’s bathtap didn’t work.



333. Christmas Wishes

Sue and I set off early in order to get to Chatsworth House by 1030 with the trailer in tow. Having chosen the shortest, as opposed to the fastest route, almost all the 3hrs 15min were spent on B roads, and very pleasant it was. On the whole; we passed right under this balloon on an early morning jaunt in the still air.2017-11-08 Chatsworth Balloon.jpg

The marquee for the Sellors event, called Christmas Wishes, is gigantic, and erected right next to the house.

2017-11-08 Chatsworth Marquee.jpg


As we arrived, we were greeted by Chill, who had set off the night before in order to be there in time, bless him, and Mark Ryder the UK agent for Aviator watches.

We weighed up a number of ways to get 1264 into the marquee on the upper level, and then went for a couple of cups of tea until mark said they were ready for us.

Even so, fitting the Scout in there required considerable ingenuity, a fork lift truck and lots of scaffold planks.

Once inside and with Mark’s invaluable help we got the wings on, after which she had yet another perilous journey up a couple of improvised ramps to her spot in the limelight.

2017-11-08 Chatsworth Ramps.jpg

Once there, however, she commanded attention from all over the marquee!

2017-11-08 Chatsworth Final position.jpg

we’re all set now for the start of the event – a private VIP showing on Friday evening, followed by the Saturday and Sunday. Free admission over the weekend, so do come along





332. Gone flying…

Yesterday we got 1264 back in the air. I’d spotted the possibility of a calm day on the forecast a few days before, and as the days rolled by, the forecast seemed pretty constant. So I set off early to drive to Old warden, and got there just as other WWI machines were being rolled out for a photograph to celebrate the centenary of the RAF.2017-11-02 Shuttleworth RAF Centenary pic.jpg

I’d suggested that Jean-Michel Munn, Chief engineer of the Shuttleowrth Collection and pilot of the Sopwith Snipe BE2E and Albatros DVa, might like to try his hand at the Scout. We fuelled up and topped up the oil, and headed over to the hold at the northern end of the field.

My first flight established that there were some unexpected low clouds hiding in the hazy conditions, so we had a bite to eat to let them clear, and then J_M had a go.

He was most impressed, and we each had another go subsequently to make sure we weren’t mistaken!

I’d been wanting to check the rate of climb at higher speeds, having achieved 650fpm at around 45kt, This time I tried 60kt, and the climb rate was 500fpm, which is pretty much as you’d expect.

We also tried to eliminate a fairly strong tendency she’s developed this year of wanting to fly left wing low. We progressively adjusted the flying wires and nearly got it right by the end of the day. It would have been nice to do a little more, but the light was starting to fade, and I was keen to derig 1264 and trailer her home ready for next week’s trip to Chatsworth House.

Back in the hangar, one of the young engineers, Josh, was very keen to see if he could fit into the cockpit, and, as you can see, he did!

2017-11-02 Josh.jpg

We’ll be at Chatsworth over the weekend of 11-12 November for the Sellors Christmas Wishes event. If you’d like to come, you can register here, and you’ll be able to buy all sorts of jewellery there, including special edition Bristol Scout watches made by Aviator Watches.