The Great Orme PSSA Fly-In - 16th & 17th April 2016

Changing winds, cycle races and clear blue skies!

A report from a well attended Llandudno Fly for Fun - words and photos by Phil Cooke & Matt Jones.

Orme group shot - April 2016

Group photo taken on the North West 'Cafe' slope - Saturday lunchtime

Our 30th Anniversary season has commenced with 2 days of PSS flying in glorious weather on the Great Orme, Llandudno over the weekend of 16th & 17th April.  Following an early start I arrived at the Tank Track car park for 08:15 to find Andy & Shona Meade already on site.  After a welcoming brew we walked the relatively short distance with a rigged model each to the less familiar North facing slope, just beyond the Lighthouse building. 


The Orme's old Lighthouse building

The view from the launch point at the Northerly slope.

We flew our Jet Provost and Hawk models there for 20 minutes or so, the lift was plentiful and smooth, only the landing zone was less than ideal – in that you had to walk some way back from the slope to find an area large enough to land a scale model without the risk of ‘rock rash’.  Having proven the conditions and slope were suited for PSS we wandered back to the car park as folk had already started to arrive and rig.  With a number of new members in attendance, we held a short pilots brief and upon registration we issued each pilot with a PSSA 30th Anniversary pin badge and car sticker, before walking back to the North slope to commence the flying event proper.  

Highlight of the morning session for me was Matt Jones with his Hawker Hurricane Mk.II, who was brave enough to test fly this new O/D model from a slope that could be less than forgiving should there be any issues.  Drawn accurately to 1/9th scale this 53" span prototype looked stunning in its wrap around silver scheme.  The first flight proved the CofG to be too far aft.  Matt did very well indeed to steer the model back in from the sea and safely down into some soft grass between all the rocks just below the launch point!  Some lead was added upfront and a second flight was commenced, but still the balance point was rear of the required mark. 


Hurricane by Matt Jones

Matt Jones with his O/D Hurricane prototype

Hurricane in action!

Hawker Hurricane in action!


A final adjustment got everything harmonised just right and Matt enjoyed flying this superb scale model for the rest of the weekend, passing the transmitter at times to other modellers who all agreed this will be a superb, refined model when complete.  Matt intends to publish the plans and produce a laser cut woodpack for the next PSSA mass build, so if you like the look of this model you will soon have the opportunity to build your own!

Saturday morning saw a number of other WW2 fighters in action.  Bob Jennings flew his gorgeous Spitfire Mk.24 built from the Alan Hulme plans.  Dave Roberts flew his Hurricane, Steve Howarth patrolled the coast with his Me-109 and David Fettes flew his Vought Corsair - each ably converted from electric power ARTF kits.  Cold war jets were in the mix too - Tom Cooke test flew his new EPP Avro Vulcan, built from the ever popular Mark Kettle kit and Tim Mackey joined him with his similar model for some close formation V-bomber flying.


Bob Jennings' Spitfire Mk.24

Bob and Pete ready the Spitfire Mk.24

Ron Cooper with his Westland Whirlwind

Westland Whirlwind fighter by Ron Cooper


There was a brace of new Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers on site - built by Andy Meade and Martin Gay both models were from the Andy Conway PSS plan and finished superbly in Ukrainian airforce colours.  Martin’s machine had been sprayed up in a very complex and most convincing 'digital' camouflage scheme which must have taken some serious masking to achieve.  Neither model was flown this weekend, the pilots electing to save their test flying for a better day lift wise, and perhaps from a more forgiving slope - but the models looked superb together through the view-finder.

At lunch the wind dropped off in strength and moved around to the North West, just as per the forecast, so we elected to 'up-stumps' and chase the lift along the coast.  The lower ledge by the 'Rest and Be Thankful' cafe was favoured over the top slope as it enables the pilots to be closer to the lift band – much better for smaller models – and we flew here for the remainder of the day. 

  A group photo was orchestrated during the period of light lift, but soon after the windspeed increased again and from 3pm onwards we were blessed  with ideal PSS conditions for the remainder of the afternoon - I recorded 25mph on the windmeter.  As so often happens at the Orme, the lift got better and better as the day drew to a close.  Steve McLaren and I took advantage of this and enjoyed a lengthy late afternoon flight with our Panavia Tornados. 

Those that could stayed on until 7:30pm where we were flying in glorious lift and the 'golden hour' light which is so superb for the cameras!

JP and the moon!

Phil Cooke's JP against the moon on Saturday evening


On Saturday night we grouped on mass in the pub at Llandudno Junction for a hearty meal and a few well earned beers.  The social element to our Fly-Ins continues to grow in stature and it's always good to natter with fellow flyers in surroundings more comfortable than the slope where we would normally meet.  However, the night was not without incident!  Trouble ensued when Peter Garsden's ice-cream waffle dessert was consumed by another flyer whilst Peter was at the bar!  I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this unfortunate occurrence.

The meeting time on Sunday had to be delayed by 90 minutes as we'd been ‘gazumped’ by an organised cycle race on the Orme which saw Marine Drive closed and access to the car park made impossible before 11am.  The prevailing NW wind was relatively calm from the outset which saw us pit again at the cafe slope from the off.  Soon after arrival the wind did increase in strength and PSS flying was achievable from just after midday onwards.


John Hey with his new MB-339

John Hey with his Dragon models Aermacchi MB-339

John Hey had joined us and had brought with him his latest masterpiece in the form of an Aermacchi MB-339, immaculately finished in its flamboyant red and white prototype house colours.   Although recently built by John, the parts were from one of the original Dragon Models production kits, today of course manufactured by John Pearson at Island Models.  Fitting then that we had also been joined by Matt Jones, son of the late Ray Jones who designed the Dragon Models PSS Aermacchi.   Matt had travelled with his mum Anne, and a collection of models originally built by Ray including another MB-339 and the superb V-tailed Fouga Magister.   

Our second event on the Orme in June this year will pay tribute to Ray Jones who did so much for the development of PSS in the UK, with a combined event planned for both PSSA and Clwyd Soaring Association members on Sunday June 12th.

Simon Cocker flew his impressive NASA Lockheed TR1, the largest PSS model flown this weekend which required some skill and care when landing back into the relatively small field we were operating in.  Despite the A-4 mass build now underway for 2016, new Jet Provosts still continue to find their way to the slope with Chris Barlow and Walter Wright both successfully test flying their renditions of the type this weekend.  Chris' model was finished in a striking black and yellow privately owned scheme which looked great in the air and Walter's model was the lightest JP I've handled to date - both models flew very well indeed.

Pilots had been asked to vote on the Sunday for their take on best flown models in the Piston and Jet category and the model of the weekend regardless of whether it had taken to the sky or not.  At 4pm, with all the voting slips counted, we grouped back in the car park and announced the winners who each received a selection of Avro Vulcan branded real ales.  The winners were;




Best Flown Piston

Matt Jones

Hawker Hurricane Mk.II

Best Flown Jet

Steve McLaren

Panavia Tornado GR1

Model of the Event

John Hey

Aermacchi MB-339

Matt Jones - Best Flown Piston

John Hey - Model of the Event

Steve McLaren - Best Flown Jet

John Hey was awarded the Ron Collins Memorial Trophy for his new Aermacchi - a superbly finished model, we look forward to seeing this airborne for the camera soon.

Flying continued after the prize giving as once again the conditions seemed to improve on the NW slope.  Slowly folk began to pack up and leave, many with long journeys ahead - but for those remaining there was one final Great Orme treat left in store!  Around 6pm the lift went really 'mushy' on the NW slope and we realised the direction had swung round further to the West.  Andy Meade, Matt Jones, John Hey and I took a model each back up to the Tank Track car park and amazingly when we got to the edge of the most favoured SW slope it was bang on and blowing nicely!

  Flying in ample, smooth lift out over the bay, we enjoyed the last hours sunlight with our Hawks, Jet Provosts and Hurricane models - a special moment for us having been forced all weekend to fly from slightly lesser slopes dictated by the weather.  We flew on until the temperature and light levels dropped, and we all left thoroughly satisfied after an excellent weekends flying!

There's a whole host of photos and videos available to view from this event linked on the RCM&E model flying forum HERE.  Photos by Matt Jones can be viewed HERE, Andy and Shonas photos are HERE and my photos can be seen HERE.

Andy Meade's BAe Hawk

Andy Meade's Hawk on the South West face!


So our 2016 30th Anniversary season is underway and off to a good start... Our next planned event is at The Bwlch, Bridgend, South Wales on May 21st / 22nd  – I hope to see you there for more of the same.  Due to the location, dictated by the winds, we were unable to run the Target Bomb Drop event at the Orme this time round, so we are hoping to run the first round of the bomb drop comp from the Bwlch in May!