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Gliders and Rockets

Here's a recollection of early days at Wymondham, based upon a photograph that I couldn't find.

I knew that I had taken a photograph of Mr Skoyles and his fiance [Miss Theresa Goodman; ex-Thetford Special Grammar - Ed.], and I have recently found the picture in a box that I recovered from my old Sprowston home not long ago. As best as I can remember he was a Housemaster, maybe in hut 25 in my first year (1954-5).  He was the one who first organised the Modelling Club, as far as I know.

Now before you go off wondering what type of modelling, I will hasten to add that it was primarily devoted to balsa models, aircraft in particular, although boats and other objects came and went in phases. One of my first models was of the Lockheed lightning; a twin engine, twin boom fighter bomber. In those days there were very good balsa model kits to be purchased for a few shillings. The best place to get them was in a small shop in Norwich near a craft museum somewhere back of Jarrolds; I believe the shop went over to fishing gear in later years.

Mr Skoyles built a fantastic sailplane that had some kind of Scandinavian sounding name ... Sunnavind, or something like "sun and wind."  What was interesting about it was the body, which had the usual square cross-section, but was oriented at 45 degrees to the plane of the wings. It was launched with a winch that one cranked very rapidly. Here's the photo ... rather fuzzy.

Mr Skoyles didn't stay very long at WC. I think he left and opened a shop somewhere "up north" ... like in North Walsham!  It doesn't seem to be a very common name, and I have noted a student or two with such a name who was at WC in more recent years.  In later times "rocket" powered cars were a fad. They were sent along the covered way in the vicinity of 25 and 26.   I think we rapidly determined that they needed to be guided, and so we sent them along a fine string "track."  Those Jetex toys were a lot of fun. 

Later I had a pulsejet built, like the Doodlebug (V1) ... and that was quite literally a scream; to a good approximation they act like a powered organ pipe ... and since my jet was only about 24 inches long rather than ~10 feet, it was pitched considerably higher than the buzz bomb of WW2!

Still later (~1958), I tried a prop powered boat (below).

Jetex motors

I was just reading Dennis Herrell's piece under the "Modelling Club" section. How well I remember those days when Dennis brought out his latest Jetex model and ran it down the covered way.  As you can imagine there was always a good crowd of enthusiastic boys gathered round.  The model shop Dennis referred to was down Bridewell Alley in Norwich. I once bought a Keil Kraft Cadet from there (or rather, my Father bought it for me!). This was a balsa wood and tissue paper glider which, when trimmed properly, flew quite well provided the weather was calm.

Alan Sidell

Thanks for the memory.  Recently I was browsing the web for references to Meccano (BTW check it out at Wikipedia) and then I started looking at model pulse jets. From there I went and found that the sailplane that I remember Skoyles had made was "Sunnavind" - strange how that name stuck in my mind.

Dennis Herrell

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Control Line Planes

There were several guys at WC who were into model aircraft around 1958-61; particularly Control Line.  The cheapest combination was the Keil Kraft Phantom Mite, coupled with an ED Bee 1cc diesel (about 50 shillings for the latter - 2.50), but I can remember there being a couple of stunt machines as well - not much more than flying wings.  The usual venue was down the Park on the 'jungle pitch' behind the pavilion.  I can smell the fuel and hear the shrill whine of those engines now! 

Keil Kraft Phantom and the ED Bee

Being poor, I was deeply envious and used to watch for hours hoping some kind soul would let me have a go (they didn't).  Radio Control was out of everyone's reach.  The cheapest outfit I think was an ED set that used a one-valve ('hard valve') receiver and was bang-bang (on/off) control.

Herb Atkins

These two photos came from Chris Smith (South/Gloucester 1956-63):

Click thumbnail photos to enlarge
Click to enlarge An immaculate control-line plane 'Cupid' ready to go.  Note the guide for the 2 control wires on the port wing, the fuel filler point on the top of the fuselage and the air-cooled engine protruding from behind the propeller (with carburettor adjustment just behind).
Click to enlarge 'Contact!' Chris Smith, NK (holding the plane), Roger Borgonini, John Case and NK.  The engines were started by flicking the prop with two fingers and they could get very sore if the engine was obstinate.  Taken in the late 1950s.

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Wymondham College Remembered