Monday, 30 December 2013


  Full of turkey and mince pies again- it must be ready for the Wooliebacks.  My first pass since the last round of the southern winter league was given and while with Geoff Boycotts optimistic words keeping me company I headed out.  I’d forgotten how cold Wales can be, luckily the dark Lord arrived and commanded the frost to clear and wind to come on to Mickies- it did!

  I’d love to say that for 10 rounds off very varied conditions I got the poor air every round but I just didn’t fly that well and I’m still setting the Merlin up.  When I did get it right then the Merlin took off and was blistering.  Martin flew his Merlin to show the EM turn ability and impressed thee watching crowd- I’m going to have to find time to get out and practice those turns!

  Whilst I was setting up and playing with the Merlin, Greg, Simon and Martin were giving a master class on Flying mixed air- often with models that put your back out when you launched them!

Martin had his game face on but I think Andy was still upset he didn't get to show off his Christmas mankini!
  It was a great pitty that AJ’s Elita let him down before the race started and our pilot numbers were down by 1- but too then sit and CD pretty much the whole event- someone buy that man a drink!
   An Excellent day all round!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Merlin gets the EM treatment

  Martin's got his Merlin going and true to form he starts off his Maiden with 1.2kg of lead.  It doesn't take long for him to be screaming around the slope.

  Fast and no bad habbits is the feedback again.  I can't wait to see Martin with it on the slopes again.  I'm really excited how fast the Merlin looks!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Happy Christmas

That time of year to post my favourite Father Chistmas pic

See you on the Slopes!

Monday, 9 December 2013

A fun day at the races, some round wins and 2 of the top 3

  The second round of the Southern winter league has to go down as an excellent day out and race.  Starting off in the rain and with a couple of bad decisions by me must have put me dead last by the end of round 2 but watching John Philips win round 1 with his Merlin’s first ever competitive flight was fantastic.  JP was eventually just pipped to the win, followed by John Bennet.  Well done to Tony Livingston on the win.

  With John Bennett among those flying Willows there weren’t many rounds without a Willow racing model up there consistently beating the Pittbulls/freestylers and the like.  It was pretty clear that it was my thumbs and settings that were holding the Merlin back and so some serious tweaking went on and I started to mix things up at the top of the field.  Including some interesting private battles with Martin Drewitt’s Pit bull and Tony’s Freestyler.  I think the discards were the difference that put Martin ahead of me.

  I know that the Willow is pretty vise less on the course but variable and intermediate conditions like those on Sunday were a good test for the Merlin- she passed without a second thought.  JP was flying his hill hugging/grass cutting style with confidence.  My own flying really benefitted from the Merlin’s forgiving nature in the turn and excellent energy retention- there aren’t many models that let you get away with a full yank as you fly past the base.
  With 8 rounds ad bacon butties provided by Joe and Linda you can understand the smiles on the way home!

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Merlin attracts BARCS younger members

  Thanks to Martin for snapping his efforts are the BARCS AGM to promote F3F and show off the Merlin.  It’s fantastic to see F3F being promoted and talked about away from a purely F3F audience.
  It’s also great to see the chance to fondle Martin’s Merlin being taken up by so many people.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A chance to fondle Martin's Merlin

  Martin tells me that he's going to the BARCS AGM on Sunday to help explain F3F, as well as other things.  He'll be taking his Merlin along as an example of an F3F model, this could be one of the few times that Martin will respond possitively to being asked for a fondle!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Finally got to my pictures

With a small field there's not much time for pictures but there's a story of the day.

The Souther Winter league is a wash with Willow racing models.  Over half the field had Willows or Merlins
Simon was putting on a brave face but I think he was missing Martin- A willow cheered him up

Alan tells me he cartwheeled his Artist 3 in order to investigate the build quality of Japanese models- a pitty its made in Korea.

It was an excellent days racing! 


Monday, 11 November 2013

Cuts, crashes and red Wine- Winter racing

  The Start of the Southern Winter league has given me a great excuse to try and attend a few races and test the new Merlin against some other models.  It is also a good excuse to visit John Philips and attempt to sabotage his race with red wine the night before.
  With the Northerly wind biting it was amazing to see so many Willows being flown in the field, one being flown far too well by new boy Matthew Howe.  The look of a Willow racing always makes me think of a dart being steered around the course- A fast dart!
  While Simon (we’re all pleased to see him) Thornton demonstrated Dynamic turns for round after round and won round after round.  There must be something about flying over a naked long man that affects a pilot.  For what appeared to be a relatively easy landing area there were a strange number of bumps bounces and crashes that claimed a good few models.
  My own race suffered from round 1 as the Merlin’s tighter turning (got my excuse ready) had me cutting base B and just as I was telling myself that I have used up my discard I did the same trick in round 3.
  I probably learned more about the Merlin’s set up in the 8 rounds of Sunday that in the preceding 6 week’s flying.  She kept on delivering times that were 3-4 seconds faster than I felt I was flying and when the air did come on, even my thumbs had her really pinging off the turns.  For the last 5 rounds the Merlin got me consistently higher and higher up the field.  Those broad wings had her grooving on the course very smoothly- messed up only by me.
  I’m looking forward to Whitesheet but the chances of practise in the mean time all depend on my DIY and pot washing skills.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

I just can't bend these wings

With another storm coming over this weekend it was definitely time to take the merlin out and see how she copes. Flying fast in a smooth thermal is one thing- and I know the merlin can do that. But self launching in bumpy strong winds, fully ballasted and then managing your energy as you rip up the Sky is another.

You have to love moldies, the last time out the merlin was thermalling but add 3lds of lead and the same model is handling the rough stuff.

Being able to carve a turn is a great help in rough air and the merlin did this as well as it was pinging off the corners earlier in the year.

A good day!

Friday, 18 October 2013

A frustrated Flyer gets relief

  It’s been a long few weeks since those 3 rounds at the Welsh Open and the need to ‘get back on the bike’ was turning into a just let me fly.  Kids/rain/Clubs seem to have bene conspiring lately- so it was time for a flyer from work and an afternoon playing to enjoy the Merlin.
  Light conditions like these might not get me all set for 30mph on the Wrecker but after a while I remembered to start playing with a few settings on the Merlin and feel how she responded.  Very clearly and obviously to relatively small changes is the quick answer.  The feedback from the Merlin is very clear and direct.
  I must have got over 2 hours of air time (the most since Lundy for me) and I hope this was enough time to balance the production Merlin for energy retention in the turn and feel.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Merlins land at T9

  I'm feeling so pleased that the Merlins have now landed at T9 and are looking as good as I hoped they would.
there's also new Willow stock.
  I get a really buz from seeing my models in the hands of other pilots and seeing them in the Winter leagues will be great!- I'd best put a few new build note togther!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Pictures and fun from the Welsh Open

  F3F in the UK is by far and away the most popular/well attended and I would suggest accessible soaring class in the UK today.  The Welsh Open has a long tradition of being one of the center pieces of the British and a highlight of the European soaring calendar.  This is a very weather dependent sport and weekends like the one we have just had will continue to happen.  I’m sure that if the wind had played a little more on Friday then 6 rounds or more could have been achieved on this day alone.

  A look around the pitts of the Welsh Open is as close to an F3F expo that we have in the UK.  Other than the lovely Merlin and Willows on show some of the new crop really caught the eye.  The Crossover has to be one of the nicest looking models available today- 2.7m and a swept back LE just seems to work for UK slopes in particular (does for the willow and Merlin anywayJ)

 It may just have been because of sitting next to Martin’s rash of Freestylers but they are clearly still a dominant model.

  The other dominant model looks to be the knitting circle (?) of needles that were racing.  From the 100 to the new 115 (2.7m again you see) but predominantly the 124 needle was in the in hands of a number of the British pilots.

  3 very variable rounds simply isn’t enough to give anything more than an aesthetic.  Stingers certainly look to have that end sewn up

But for some old fashioned style:

We're still working on happy faces in the fog:

Monday, 23 September 2013

Winter Leagues

  The Welsh clag gave us plenty of time to catch up about winter leagues.  If my memory serves me the plan is:

First Saturday of the month- Northern Winter League HOH

Second Sunday of the month Southern Winter league travelling band waggon

Third Sunday of the month Welsh Winter league BWLCH

Midlands league TBC

More details will be posted on the web site along with details of the Champion of Champions race- I understand that they will be taking the race on and that the trophy we have will be used each year.  It's fantastic that this race will continue, good luck to those organising it.

  If you've ever thought about having a go at F3F/watching some blokes getting cold on a hill side whether you think your model is suitable (It probably will be) then the winter leagues are the ideal first introduction- get out and have a go!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Home and drying

  After 3 days on Mickies only rewarded us with 3 rounds of racing that's the Welsh Open completed. Huge congratulations to Pete gunning on his own win. Also to frank on a very smoothly flown 16th with his Willow- really showing off the Willows best characteristics of simply carving the course smoothly and quickly.

  I have to put my hand up and say my merlin wasn't set up properly for racing but I just didn't fly her well enough. Still when the air came through for me in round 3 she was off like a scalded cat.  It's clear that the Merlin has the speed and it's jjust a case of practise and set up from my thumbs to allow the turns to let the Merlin show what it can do.  After flying the Willow almost exclusively for nearly 3 years it's a fun challenge to play with the Merlin.

  A good weekend and thanks to Kevin AJ and Martin for trying just about everything to get the race on.  Round 3 stretching out until 7pm on Friday was a nice ballance to my number 1 starting possition.

  Pictures to come later.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Welsh Open- Water proofs ready!

  Right, water-proofs/sportbrella are packed and aerial screwed into to radio I'm ready for a good weekend in Wales- Oh and a model or 2!

  There's no point in looking at the weather forecast in Wales more than 2 pilots in advance so it's time to have some fun and meet up with my Willow team mates.  I'll post up some picks each evening to show how my blind optimism is lost to the reality of my thumb's lack of ability.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A test at Aggies

  An afternoon off and it was a chance to test fly the production Merlin on Aggies- as well as see the all round good bloke Roger with his Caldera.  It was a chance to show off the Merlin to other model pilots as well as to have a play before next week’s welsh open.

  Aggies is a well used slope by Paragliders and hand gliders.  When I got there today you just couldn’t move for hang gliders but there was a remarkable amount of co-operation and as hang glider pilots seem to spend even more time talking about flying than we do, my chance to launch soon came.

  One model worht a mention was a rather lovely looking Blanik.

  Wow she went well! Thanks to roger for these pics!

only a Merlin maiden can make you this happy!

The Merlin is my current new toy and I still feel like a kid at Christmas flying, driving home still punching the air after a days flying is cool!  It was great to see Roger again.  I might not have raced in 7 months but I can’t wait to see what the Merlin will do against the clock.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

GBSRA is Born

  British Slope racing has gained ‘specialist body’ status within the BMFA!  First of all a Huge thanks has to go to Martin Newnham and others for making this happen.  Slope racing has more of it’s fair share of people sitting on the coat tails of individuals like Martin, despite his strange Cockney ways the amount of effort that Martin has put into driving UK Slope racing forwards has to bee applauded.
  Cutting through the formalities of the BMFA/SFTC and other acronym laden committees what this means for the average racing in the UK (as I understand it) is that although you don’t have to be a member og GBSRA to race if you do choose to become a member you can have a direct say in what happens in the sport.
  I will be signing up as a member of the GBSRA.   If you’re interested in GB slope racing being run by slope racers then check out

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Thats 2 models in commercial production!

  I received my production Merlin yesterday.  That’s 2 Willow Racing models that are being produced for our distributors and should be on a slope near you soon.  I can’t believe I’m building another model just before the Welsh Open again!
  Now I know you’re expecting me to say it’s stunning, going together really well and how pleased with it I am- you’re right!  Extra carbon in the fuselage boom a longer wing joiner (for both the Willow and Merlin now) and what I think is a really nice F3F lay up wing with Carbon only where you need it that’s improved the weight distribution in the wings.
  All these changes- as well as some other minor changes are really hard to take pictures of and show you.  Both the Willow and the Merlin are a result of many small improvements and developments adding up and I believe really delivering 2 excellent models.
  Producing 2 models is not a static process but I’m really proud with the results and What Willow Racing has achieved with our Chinese partner over the last 3 years.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

I'd like to call it practise but....

  Sunshine and a morning on the VR98 slope with the Merlins.  With the Protoype wings joined with a new tail on on my old Willow fuselage I had the excuse of some test flying as well as improving the sett up on the prototype Merlin.  The longer boom of the Willow fuselage really reminded me of how much I enjoy my Willow and it's feel.

  Light winds and sunsine on the VR will bring on thermals but when I arrived at 8:30 this wasn't an issue.

  Meeting some local guys was a great chance to relax and see them fly their models.  On what was my last flight a lightening breeze convinced me to push out and find my thermal- unlike on a race day I found it and as I tracked it ontot the slope wow!  The Merlin ripped and I loved it!

  Great thermal, great company, Great model!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Ramblings of a Merlin Flyer

  I decided to make the most of the longer evenings whilst they’re long enough to get out after putting the kids to bed.  My appologies of this isn't too technical but I amm just enjoying my new Model.  My local cliff site is a small focussed slope with some very clearly defined compression.

  After a few flight scaring the sea gulls the Merlin was really ripping the edge and clearly showing me 2 things- she makes spotting lift so easy- the feedback when you go into the compression is positive and precise.  2, And when I got the turns right she doesn’t half ping back!
  I can’t wait to get the Merlin racing on the Wrecker (although I’m sure my thumbs will slow her down).
  Sunday evening and it was time to go in land and see how the set up changes from the coast would affect the Merlin on a chilled out evening.  Those pinging turns were still there when I build the speed up but even ballasted up to 3kg  the Merlin simply climbs away so easily inn lift.
  The ‘Speed’ settings make for very simple inverted flight and some inverted thermal turns and climbing away reminded me of my old cross tail acacia I just trust her!  If the cliffs are good practise for the Wrecker then I think I’ve been in training for the Mynd tooJ

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Merlin Musings

   How a high performance model like the Merlin in flys and feels in the air is very much down to set up and personal taste- as performance is affected by thumbs. 
   After Stick time on Lundy and then more on my local Cliffs and slopes there’s been enough time to start to answer the question of how does the Merlin Fly.  You won’t be surprised to hear that I really like how it flys and feels- as do the other pilots that I’ve been happy to hand the radio to- comments like crisp handling and easy to fly have been made.
  Some of the design choices have been different  from the ‘norm’ with the Merlin.  The Merlin’s low wing incidence has helped give the model a natural pace.  The wing’s broad cord seems to really help when you’re cantering on thermal lift and feed in a little camber- she climbs away very easily. Perhaps those Schuman efficient tips are helping out here too!
  I’m a believer in relatively large ailerons and the Merlin’s ailerons cover over 58% of the wing’s span, large surfaces moving a small amount have really given the Merlin a crisp feel.  On My local 20m cliff this really helps you hit the compression every time and with the Merlin’s quick acceleration that turns into speed immediately.
  I love flying the Merlin in the tight compression of my local slope, she carries ballast really well and this helps even me to come up- hit the turn and get right back into the lift.  Even when you don’t hit a turn right, the tail is more than enough to bring you around but when you do hit them right the Merlin’s broad wing cord has you bouncing off the turns.  It really reminds me of my old Sting in that way.
  The fuselage of the Merlin is a little broader than some of the Euro models available but with the space between the canopy and Le this makes self launching a doddle.  It will also make an Electric conversion very straight forward. 
  A racer or sports model?  I don’t get to race or even fly half as much as I would like to, as well as being up there with the racers the Merlin is just great fun on the slopes.  The parts have an excellent feel to them and have been more than strong enough to with stand my rough handling and landing.
  A few tweaks are being made to my Prototype Merlin but T9 should  have them in by September (I think).

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A couple more pictures

A couple of pictures to help me back at work

Willows look great

Things can go wrong

No one believes a show off

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Just off the boat from Lundy

  Only 4 days on Lundy this year but that was enough to maiden the A1 Mini and get some reasonable air time setting up the Merlin.  I’ll ramble on about the 4 days later but..
  The willow was the most popular model- 7 models out of 12 flyers took a willow.  The A1 stayed up in almost nothing but felt solid and easy to fly.  The Merlin I loved!  It passed the ‘Willow Racing test’ of just been plane easy to fly so well that I was confident enough to pass the transmitter around to fly the one and only Willow currently made.  The look on my face after one flight on Lundy’s shear Southern edge told the story- and Scott coined the phrase ‘The Merlin is to F3F what cake is to a fat lads’ but that was after he'd hit himself with his combat wing!  (can’t think who he ment).
  To Linda and the Cubitts for organising the trip- thank you!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Willow Racing range!

  I couldn't help but take a couple of pictures this evening of all the models that are designed/produced by Willow Racing.  Yes I think it's safe to say that thanks to our partners we're now Willow Racing and producing 3 models!

  It's been a long time now since I decided to make my own model and really thought about what I wanted out of a model.  put very simply it's to use a model's high performance to generate fun- and I'm happy to say that all 3 of the models deliver fun- and lots of it.

  The A1 mini
  Before commpleting the model I put the model on the scales as it arrives- with 3 servos fitted and the airframe came out at just 400grams!  The A1 mini took less than an hour to get ready to fly- most of that was shortening some servo extensions for the wing servos.  Simply put the battery pack and reciever in the nose connect up the servos- each of which were centered and then setup the radio.  Not too shabbie at all.

  There's clearly room in the fuselage for ballast but I'm tempted to keep the model as a summer evening machine that will fit on your parcel shelf!

  Give T9 a call to find out when there lovelies are available!

Another new model!

  Look what arrived at work today!  The first A1-mini out of the mold has landed on my desk.  A couple of really poor shots from my phone before the boss saw but my first impressions are-

 a crisply molded model,

very light weight

Servo insallation is very neat and the model could be flying after 1 night's reciever and battery fitting.

there looks to be room for a fuz mounted ballast tube if the mood takes you

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Merlin flys- a few immediate thoughts

  After goingn together really well tonight gave me a chance to see how my second model went on a dry sunny evening with a light breaze on the slope.  A first flight is always a nervous throw- but the Merlin's new tail help it fly straight from the hand and I was soon beating the hill to try turns and get the ballance of controls right.

  Standing on a hill on your own smiling like a Cheshire cat might get you some stange looks from dog walkers but sometimes it jut can't be beaten!  It could be the new fuselage, new tail or the Merlin's gigaflaps but as a package it all feels to be ballance together.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Merlin!

  Willow F3F is changing from a single model to now producing a range of models.  It’s been a good while coming but the first full prototype Merlin has arrived.  I’ve been testing the wing through the spring and early summer and you won’t be surprised to hear I like it.

  The full prototype model has arrived and given me the chance to see it fully assembled.  A few details are that it’s a 2.75m wing sporting a proprietary Dirk Pflug IM wing section.   The fuselage has a canopy opening and supports a 2 piece tail at the back.
  The quality even with the prototype is excellent, I’ll post some more pictures on the assembly and then my wait for good conditions to fly her.  A very exciting week for me!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Something new

  Sometimes it’s good to remember why we do this and feel like a kid at Christmas.  Right now it feels like those first 2 weeks in December when know Santa is coming but he’s just not here yet.  I’ve been sent a couple of pictures to show the amazing job that’s been done making the air one mini model.

  1.5m of sleek fibreglass will be controlled by 3 servos and these are being fitted right now to make sure it all works.  You can see from the picture that the model will be a 2 piece wing and 2 piece all moving tail- nice strong boom too!
  It’s still early days in development-   The model is being Euro built to a very high standard and quality and that takes a little time but any developments and I’ll let you know!

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Willow makes it into Aufwind!

  I recieved my copy of Modelling's equivelent to soft porn at the weekend- Aufwind- there are words but I just look at the pictures. 

  As a glider magazine I don't think that there is a match for it anywhere in the world.  Seeing the Willow get the thumbs up in this magazine was great and starts to make up for not being able to add tothe Willows flying the the eurotour in Yorkshire.

  Although life may have got in the way of a lot of races this year for me I have been busy and I hope that there'll be some pictures to post soon of Willow Racing's (that's me) new model.  These things always take 5 times longer than you hope but at least some other guys can have fun!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

A sports fly and back to a new toy

Its been a frustrating spring that just about every race has clashed with work or life but I seem to have managed to fit in a lot of sports flying.  A trip out locally to meet up withh John Treble and Phil had John switching his models from self distruct to speed- some excellent flying John!

It would be cruel to mention that phil forgot to fit the elevator on his elipse 2T so SShhhh.

Back home and the Co-pilot has his eye on my new Opus GT, £400 for a model feels like a work of art  and has the toghest glass wing I have seen.  The Opus can give any 2m model a run for it's money on the backside butthis one will be my galeforc cliff flying model.

  I've got a 4 day pass for Lundy this year so the Opus should find it's way onto the island.