Monday, 26 September 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers fly at Battle of Britain Airshow 2011

On 17th and 18th September it was the Battle of Britain Airshow at Cotswold Airport. We flew at the spring airshow there and really enjoyed it so were pleased to be invited back as part of the model aircraft flying display.

Richard also took along his Mosquito, Steve took his Bronco and Anson and we were joined by Eddie from the Swindon Club with his Corsair and Spitfire. Chris - our trusty helper and photographer was also there.

Our slot times tend to get moved around at full size shows because of the arrival and departure of aircraft so communication between everyone involved is important.

We were really lucky with the weather on both days because, apart from one big shower that soaked us and the planes on Sunday, the rest of the showers skirted around us. The wind on Sunday wasn't pleasant but it was still possible to fly and by the Saturday it was much calmer.

We found it a real luxury because Costwold Helicopter Centre generously allowed us to use their hangar to put the planes in overnight and we also had somewhere to take them to pieces on Sunday evening which meant we kept dry.

We thought we would lose our slot on Sunday because it poured with rain when we were due to fly. It wouldn't have been safe to fly in rain that was that heavy because of the risk of water getting into the planes' electrics. Fortunately there was some space in the schedule so we managed to fly once the rain had eased off. We don't like letting people down but we also don't want to take unnecessary risks.

A few of the planes couldn't display because of the weather and mechanical issues but we still saw some good displays. The Tiger Moth 9 were spectacular, flying in formation similar to the Red Arrows. The Lancaster and Spitfires were special to watch as always. The Antonov displayed on its own as well as droped the Renegade parachute team - and was a useful shelter for some of us during the downpour. The Red Hawks gave a graceful aerobatic display.

See more pictures from the show on our Facebook page.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers at Much Marcle Model Show 2011

Last weekend was the Herefordshire Model Aero Club/Large Model Association show at Much Marcle and we attended with one of the Baby Breitling Wingwalkers. It's always an enjoyable site to fly at because it's a grass strip with a picturesque backdrop.

We certainly got a lot of exercise during the weekend as we were parked on the end of the flightline so there was a lot of walking up and down the flightline all day to collect and refuel the planes. As well as the Baby Wingwalker we had 3 other aircraft and we had about 3 flights each day with each plane.

The walking was also added to because Sharon was collecting signatures on a 40th birthday card for one of the modellers so ended up walking up and down the trade line and chasing modellers around to get them to sign the card. Still, it's a good way to have a chat with everyone.

The weather was good, though there were some interesting bumpy conditions at some times during the day. The Stearman and wingwalker Baby Sarah performed well so it was a pleasant weekend. Thanks go to SLECfor letting us use their tent as a hangar overnight.

For more pictures of the show visit us on Facebook.

Although it was the last model show of the year, we have still got a few more displays this year - the full size Battle of Britain show at Kemble on 17th and 18th September and the Large Model Association's static show at Gaydon in October.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers at Chedworth Club Barbeque

Last weekend we had a relaxing day at Chedworth at their annual barbeque. It was nice to be able to fly when we wanted to without the constraints of a show programme and to have lovely sunshine and warm weather.

At Cosford we had problems with Richard's engine but during the week we made the same modification that we had to Steve's when he had problems with his engine earlier in the year. It seems to have been successful as Richard had quite a few flights without any engine trouble at all.

One of the club members brought his grandson along for an hour or so and in true modelling tradition spent most of the afternoon there. His grandson was fascinated by the wingwalkers and he has now become the youngest person to operate them in the air (with a few reminders as to which switch operated which limb).

Baby Wingwalker Sarah also had her hair replaited because it had become quite untidy, which is hardly surprising when you think of how much it gets blown around in the air. You can see the forces the wingwalkers are put under if you watch any of the onboard footage.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers at Large Model Association Show at Cosford 2011

We were incredibly lucky with the weather at Cosford this year - which might seem an odd thing to say when you find out that we packed up at 2pm on Sunday because of the rain.  But the weather forecast had been for rain most of the weekend and yet from Saturday at 10am it was rain-free and until 2pm on Sunday it was almost rain-free.  So there was lots of flying for the visitors to see.

Richard's engine lost power during both flights so he elected to land early rather than have to go for a long trek to retrieve the model if he lost the engine completely.  It was frustrating because the previous day he had flown 4 times with no engine trouble at all and nothing had been changed.

(c) Alex Whittaker

As the engine was showing the same characteristics that Steve's showed a few weeks ago, since the show we have made the same modification that his engine had so hope it will now perform well again.

(c) Neil Hutchinson

Despite the engine problems there were some great photos of the models.  Thanks to Neil Hutchinson and Alex Whittaker for these great close ups. You can see more of their photos of the Baby Wingalkers on our Facebook page and more of their photos of hundreds of different aircraft at their own sites.

Steve's Bronco has been a useful addition to the show models this year.  He likes flying it but it's also useful on the flightline.  At a couple of shows it's been a welcome sunshade but this weekend it was useful as a tent.  We put the tarpaulin over it, put the other models underneath and could actually dismantle the Stearmans in the dry - though it was a bit cramped.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Baby Wingwalkers at Woodspring Wings 2011

The Baby Breitling Wingwalkers flew at Woodspring Wings Model Show at the beginning of July.  It marked a year since our first public display at the same show last year.

Woodspring is always an enjoyable place to fly at. The site gives a great background to fly against and the crowd can get a good view of the models. Although there is a tarmac runway there's also a lot of grass to use as well.

This year is was incredibly hot on both days but the DA150 engines in the Stearmans performed well.

We were really pleased to be awarded a trophy for the best biplanes.

(Photos courtesy of Chris Bowler)

David from Icebox was there again and we made a rig for one of his cameras so he could have some onboard footage.  We didn't have the usual camera mount we use so made one out of a spare propeller.  It's not as steady as our usual mount so tends to cause camera shake when the plane throttles up.  But it's nice to see the whole routine from the ground and onboard.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Baby Wingwalkers at Wings and Wheels 25th Anniversary

This weekend we flew at the 25th anniversary of Wings and Wheels model show.  Both Steve and Richard have flown a variety of their planes there over the years.

Saturday wasn't a comfortable day for flying.  The drizzle we drove through on our way to North Weald airfield had just about stopped when we arrived to set up but there was a strong crosswind blowing towards us.   The Stearmans are difficult to land at the best of times (a feature shared with the full size) even more difficult to control on the ground in a crosswind.

We decided to fly only one plane for 2 reasons.  Firstly, we have another show next week and no time for any repairs so at least if anything happened to the plane we flew this week we would still have one for next week.  Secondly, when you are flying in gusty conditions the models get knocked around a lot by the wind so even if you aim to fly a straight line you can get blown off course.  This means the formation looks untidy so the display actually looks better with just one plane.

Sunday was a completely different story.  It was hot before the show even started.  The wind had shifted nearly 180 degrees and was now blowing on our backs.  But the wind strength was much lower and so ground control was much easier.

As we liked the 5 minute routine that we flew last weekend we decided to stick to that and add 2 new manouevres towards the end to fill an 8 minute slot.  The first we call a "William Tell" where Richard flies a loop and Steve flies through the middle of the loop.  The second is an "opposition bump" where the pilots fly towards each other and do a "Breitling bump" in the middle of the display area.  

Flying shot (c) SKM Airscape Photography       See more flying shots

We're off to Woospring Wings next weekend - always an enjoyable show with a compact flying area so the crowd get to see the models well.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Baby Wingwalkers fly at Cotswold Airshow

Last weekend was our first public display this year.  The Cotswold Airshow is a 2 day full size airshow in Gloucestershire but they also have a few slots for model planes. 

This year the models all had a local theme.  A model Hunter to fit in with the anniversary of the planes that have a long connection with the airfield; a model Hercules and the Baby Wingwalkers which are both modelled on aircraft that are based nearby.

We also put a video camera on one of the planes during Sunday's flight so you can see what Cotswold Airport (still known to regulars as Kemble) looks like from the air and some of Baby Danni's manoeuvres during the flight.

The weather on Saturday was wet and windy but we were lucky and did still get two flights.  The others weren't as lucky because the morning model slot was cut short to let the Dutch Hunters land so the Hercules couldn't fly and our additional slot at lunchtime was brought to a rapid end by torrential rain so the Hercules lost its flight again.  We were lucky as we flew first and the rain held off but poor Geoff flew the Hunter in horrible rain.

Fortunately it was still windy which dried our clothes out so we didn't have to spend the rest of the day squelching round.  We were hoping to have a picture in the Sunday Times as their photographer spent a long time setting up a shot with us - but it never made it to print.

Sunday was much better weather and photographer Chris - who is also a highly skilled rigger/ derigger and plane pusher - took some gorgeous photos of the planes sunlit against the dark clouds.  See more of our photos.

So, another successful weekend and good to see the variety of aircraft there.  You can see some great photos of the full size on the Cotswold Airshow Facebook page and in this forum.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

First flight for the Baby Wingwalkers in their 2011 livery

A few weeks ago Richard flew one of the Baby Wingwalkers at Rendcomb at a Help for Heroes event.

There have been a few changes on the planes and in the wingwalkers' outfits for 2011 and this was the first display for the new colour scheme.
We flew at the start of the event and it was very bumpy because there was a rainstorm coming in behind us.  Part way through the routine we looked at the big black cloud getting closer and closer and advised Richard to land - just in time as the heavens opened shortly afterwards.

After about 20 minutes or so the weather cleared up and the full size planes had great weather as the wind had dropped.  We were jealous!  Let's hope the rest of the flights this year have better weather.

If you want to see more photos of the new colour scheme and wingwalker outfits visit Baby Wingwalkers on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of and copyright of Chris Bowler

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Updating the model Stearmans and wingwalkers for 2011

Breitling have made a few changes to the full size planes' design and the wingwalkers' costumes for 2011. We had a chance earlier this week to visit Rendcomb to take some photos for reference and saw the full size team practising their routine.

Now it's down to Richard to reflect the changes in the models. He's already added the numbers on the nose of each plane and started cutting out the new costumes.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Spraying the Baby Breitling Stearmans

It's been quiet on this blog but not quiet in the workshop. 

The orange paint arrived at the end of February and Richard has been spraying everything orange since then. 

There is a lot to spray - 2 biplane fuselages, 2 tailpanes and 8 wing sections, plus the spats and cowls.
The first stage is to paint all the surfaces white.  Then vinyl masks are applied to protect the areas that will remain white.
These wing panels have the masks applied. 

Richard had to make sure that he used the right type of vinyl for the masks because not all vinyl sticks well. 
This is one of the fuselages after its orange coat.
It takes longer to do the masking than to do the painting.  It took nearly a day to mask 2 pairs of bottom wings.
Once the orange coat has been applied, new masking is put on so the grey can be applied to the leading edges and also the outline of the lettering.
For more pictures of the spraying visit our Facebook page where Richard is uploading pictures throughout the process.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Baby Breitling Wingwalkers fly together again

Last week the team got together again to fly the Stearmans in formation for the first time in 6 months. It was a chilly day but good to see them both in the air again.

Each pilot did a quick solo flight first without the wingwalker rig because that reduces the risk of damage if an emergency landing is needed. Then we put the rigs and wingwalkers on the planes and took off into the routine.

It took a while to get used to the routine again.  Richard had flown a solo routine in a couple of displays towards the end of last year which is slightly different to the formation routine so he needed to get used to the old manouevres.  He also noticed that he made a lot more speed adjustments to keep in formation.  He flies the second plane which needs more power to keep in formation with the lead plane on turns.

Sharon had to remember where all the switches on the transmitter are that operate the wingwalkers' legs and arms.

We got through 2 tanks of fuel but then the sun started going down so it was time to call it a day.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Pay attention to what you're doing

When the pilots first started flying the Baby Breitlings they were distracted by the model wing walker moving around. It may sound odd, but when you fly model planes it's unusual for anything to move on the plane without you, the pilot, controlling it. After a few flights you get used to it though and can concentrate on presenting the plane to the crowd.
 Sharon on the other hand found it odd to be holding a transmitter but not to be flying the plane.  She also flies models and on the first few flights she found she was instinctively watching the plane and trying to fly that rather than operate the wingwalkers.

The wingwalkers are operated using the same transmitter you would use to fly a plane.  The sticks and switches move the arms, legs and head and a dial controls the rig rotation.  Whilst it's easy to actually operate the controls, it is tricky to remember which stick controls which movement.  Each arm and leg moves independently, the arms move up and down together and the head also moves. 

The most important time to get everything right is when you operate the rig.  The wingwalkers' legs and arms need to be in the right position when you roate the rig otherwise they get caught in the rigging wires and snap them.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The engines in the 30% Stearmans

The engine is a very important tool for us during the display. Because we are constantly flying lower and slower, so the crowd can get a better view of the planes and wingwalkers, there is little room for error if the engine should stop.
When we first flew the Baby Breitling Stearmans they were fitted with the great sounding Moki 250 radial engines. These engines give a lot of power from quite low throttle settings and have a fantastic sound. Even Sharon who isn't really into engines loved the sound of them.  Unfortunately though, whilst using these engines we had a number of engine cuts which led to a few interesting landings.

Several types of fuel mixes and types were tried before we gave in and fitted Desert Aircraft 150 engines. Since the fitment of these we haven't missed a display or even had any uncomfortable moments with them. The DAs don't sound or look as good but they keep going, allowing us to concentrate on flying a good display.