Model planes take to the skies

Last year’s winners of the F1A world cup Phil Mitchell (AUS), Antony Koerbin (NZ) and Rob Wallace (NZ).

They come from across the globe, winging their way across the plains. They travel to a contest of skill, finesse and engineering, all the way to the flats of the Murrumbidgee.

The Australian Free Flight Championships are on next Monday April 16 until Saturday April 21 at Morundah.

“The Free Flight champs are a pretty big deal,” said Gary Goodwin. “I think we’ve got 30-odd international competitors this year. There’s a Chinese team, and Mongolian team, a US team. It’s the world championships next year, so people are trying to get into their national teams.”

The Free Flight Championships are an international competition of model aircraft gliders. It may sound quaint, but this particular category relies on state-of-the-art engineering and materials in order for the gliders to reach their full potential.

Rather than the old stick and glue affairs, these model planes are made from materials such as carbon fibre and Kelvar.

“They’re not like your remote controlled models. They’re a bit more high tech,” Mr Goodwin said.

Charlie Jones, launching an F1B model) is one of three US flyers who will be visiting Narrandera again this year.

For example, an F1B model (like the one pictured) is powered by 30g of special rubber loops and climb nearly vertically to 120 metres before commencing their glide. The F1A (pictured above) are towed up by the flyer with a 50 metre line. They come off the line at over 100 metres and then glide.

“I think at Narrandera we’ll probably have close to 100 people at the Free Flight Champs. So that brings a fair few people into the town.”

Mr Goodwin is part of the NSW Free Flight Society, which is also involved in the National Model Aircraft Championships that will be held in West Wyalong. What is it about our part of the world that is so appealing to model aircraft enthusiasts?

“It’s the weather, the weather is really good. Normally it’s quite calm and clear. Once you get away from the coast and the mountains the weather is quite stable. April, May and June is the optimum time, that’s why we have these things then. The other reason is that there are wide open spaces without many trees. At Narrandera and Morundah you’ve got the big floodplains.

“Narrandera is one of the best free flight areas in the world. We’ve got five or ten square kilometres of flat, open country. It is such a fantastic flying area. We’ve been going out to Narrandera for 20 years now, and we get a lot of local support.”

Anyone is free to come out and view the proceedings.

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