The Lleyn MAC PSSA Fly-In - 8th/9th August 2015


Mynydd Cilan provides the stage for our annual pilgrimage to the Lleyn Peninsula.

Andy Meade & Phil Cooke report - All photos by the author.


Members pose with their models for a group shot on Sunday afternoon at Cim Farm.

It was a glorious August morning as we assembled for 10am in Llanbedrog on the Saturday.  Clear blue skies with a light SW wind which was forecast to grow in strength to a flyable 18mph by early afternoon.  Having stocked up on rations at Londis, and with a map and grid reference for the slope posted onto the public phone box for any latecomers, we made our way in convoy through Abersoch and out towards the coast, the Cim Farm SW site being chosen on Mynydd Cilan.


A few of our members had camped locally the night before and were already onsite.  Lightweight sports models were airborne and flying nicely as the rest of us arrived and parked up in the field just behind the slope and landing zone at this picturesque flying site.  Attendance was good, and with a few newcomers not having flown at the Lleyn before we held a short pilots briefing in the car park to explain the run of the day, the few safety rules we employ and the things to watch for at this particular site.  From that point on flying was achieved off the peg all day until gone 7pm – my thanks go to the Lleyn MAC committee members for helping us gain agreement with the landowner to extend the gate access until dusk.


As forecast, the wind slowly increased in strength throughout the day – by 1pm the lightest of PSS models were being flown just fine and by 3pm the winds were 20mph+ meaning only the very heaviest of PSS models remained unassembled in peoples cars.  Despite the increased wind strength the lift seemed slightly ‘off song’ for the majority of the first day, with the direction of the wind swinging very slightly further west than true SW.  Regardless a huge amount of PSS flying was enjoyed by all, in good light and sunny skies, and a number of new models were in action.

Bob Jennings with his new Supermarine Spitfire Mk24


Bob Jennings test flew his new Supermarine Spitfire Mk.24 (top left) built from the Alan Hulme plans and finished in a very attractive weathered silver scheme.  The model flew well following a slight adjustment to the balance point and looked stunning in the blue skies out over the sea.


Originally built by James Morrison, Andy Meade test flew his newly acquired Boeing B-52 (bottom left) finished in an early NASA experimental silver and yellow scheme.  Built from the well proven Simon Cocker plans, this 108” span machine set off true from the launch and Andy soon got it trimmed and balanced on the controls – it flew very well indeed – Andy clearly delighted with his recent investment.


Later in the day a gentle mid-air with a Jet Provost led to both engine pods on the port side being removed (they are designed to knock off on landing) and the resultant asymmetric drag scenario gave Andy a little more to think about on the sticks but he was up for the job and thankfully both B-52 and JP were brought safely back to the landing zone.  After the two airframes were checked over for damage, they both continued to fly all weekend without a hitch.


Andy Meade's B-52 over the Lleyn


There was a new Airbus A380 on site – converted to PSS by Dave Gilder from the Hobby King EDF kit and finished very neatly in FedEx cargo colours (below left and right).  As part of the slope modification Dave had elected to block off the 4 engine nacelles with light ply discs – during the successful maiden flight these proved a little draggy, and it was agreed that, in this instance, the model may benefit from having the 4 nacelles open enabling the air to flow freely through them.  Dave agreed to make the modifications back at home, and for the remainder of the day the A380 was flown without the engines attached.  Even though the aircraft looked a little strange without her four RR Trent 900's fitted, the lack of the draggy pods enabled a series of smooth flights in the now ideal conditions.

Dave Gilder with his new Airbus A380


FedEx A380 on another parcel run!

We have seen a growing number of PSS aircraft built from correx on the slope this year, with the South Wales based fliers being the main protagonists.  Steve Houghton's Impala, and Harry Twist's Sea Fury (both O/Ds) were launched out over the cliffs and were excelling in the lift, proving very aerobatic and capable aircraft.  The correx models certainly confirmed their place - they are quick and cheap to build using mainly a hot glue gun for bonding panels together, with a spar made from heavy duty DIY-store pine.  We are aware of more of these sturdy aircraft coming through from eager designer/builders, and we look forward to seeing more correx offerings at a PSS meet soon!  Keep your eyes peeled too for a 'Low Cost Correx' section on the PSSA webpages - coming soon!


As mentioned in previous event reports this year, 2014 saw the 40th Anniversary of the Panavia Tornado entering service, a milestone that a few PSS modellers have chosen to honour in balsa, ply, and glassfibre.  Since his last outing, Steve McLaren has produced some fine looking wing stores for his GR1 variant that really brings the bulk of this airframe to life in the air (below left).  Phil Cooke and Pete Garsden (below right)also campaigned their versions in the lift, with some obligatory formation flying taking place.  Steve commented on how he thought his Tonka actually flew a little better with the wing stores attached - this particular PSS version must know that she was mission ready!

Steve McLarens Tornado with wing stores!


Tornado prototype by Peter Garsden

With the wind still not quite square onto the slope, the lift wasn't as great as it could have been, yet we flew on with the skies being bright and clear.  Alas, a day's flying must come to an end, and by 7pm most people had disassembled their aircraft and prepared themselves for the evening meal planned at the Ship Inn at Llanbedrog.


After a great day on the Saturday then, Sunday held great hopes of more of the same clear skies and smooth lift - alas, at breakfast the slopes at Anne's Farm were fogged up with visibility down to 200 yards with just a very little breeze.   The light breeze was more-or-less SW, and Cim Farm was again selected - but the clag persisted throughout our commute, until we rounded the final cross-country corner towards the slope - clear skies and....wind!   Yes, through the vagaries of the Lleyn Peninsula, what felt like a write-off at one side, was instantly flyable at the other.  Models were quickly rigged, then carried to the slopeside ready to get the feel of what awaited us. Steve Houghton was quick off the mark with a launch, and his correx Impala found it's groove instantly in lift that proved a bit more reliable and smoother then the day before!


Not to be outdone, Andy Meade rigged his new correx MiG-3 (built by Phil May) for it's maiden.  Feeling brave, Andy tossed it off the gentle upper slopes himself, but could be seen instantly battling a fairly rearward CofG, as the plucky little MiG porpoised its way out into the bigger lift.  After a short while the aircraft was tamed, and the pilot appeared happier on the sticks even though the roll rate was low and the pitch rate was scary, a couple more flights ensued in between airframe tweaks.


The Avro Vulcan is well represented these days at our PSSA meets - not only with traditionally built balsa and ply versions, but the popular EPP types from the Mark Kettle stable (ever increasing in numbers!) are nearly always aloft.  At one point on the Sunday, there were four examples from pilots Mark Kettle (pictured right), Tim Mackey, Pete Garsden and John Hey all airborne at the same time, producing some lovely close formation flying.  Andy Meade's B-52 joined in the fun, and we were treated to some intercontinental cold war formations over North Wales.


Dave Gilder's Aermacchi MB-339 (below right) has been a regular visitor to the slopes, but unfortunately the conditions were never felt to be suitable for a maiden flight, until today.  The first launch was perhaps a bit far back from the slope edge and Dave forced a safe landing short of the fence.


The second launch was performed much closer to the lift band and aviation was committed.  Alas, the nose didn't pick up as expected, the model either nose heavy or out of trim on the tailplane, or perhaps a combination of the two.  The '339 was landed out below in an unfavourable location resulting in sufficient fuselage mount damage to put this nicely finished aircraft out of action for the rest of the year unfortunately.  We hope to see it ready again at the Orme early next year Dave?


Another EPP Vulcan is prepared for launch!


Dave Gilder's MB339 is launched by Bob Jennings


Andy Meade had rigged his 1/6th scale A-10 Tankbuster primarily for the group photo shot (which unfortunately was timed just as some light rain built up and blew through the slope), but being egged-on by his co-conspirators, felt confident enough to try a launch.  The wind was recorded at a steady 30mph on the ridge, which doesn't sound a lot for a 37lb aircraft, but the A-10 does have a huge wing area at this scale.  Four brave souls hoisted her aloft (with a grunt) at a more favourable area of the slope which was free from fences, and with a nod through his goggles, Andy initiated the launch.  The "Hog" got away well from the launch, but never achieved flying speed and just ran out of steam before reaching the lift band proper, and she pancaked onto the top of the ridge.  Damage was fairly limited, looking a lot worse than it really was, but spirits were unbroken.  Andy has already repaired the Hog and included some airframe and balance point tweaks - she sits ready for a big slope with big winds again.


Tom Cooke made the most of the conditions once the rain had cleared through, and put in numerous flights with his Jet Provost and Hawk - conditions well suited to these type of models.  Having held the JP meet only last year there are still a lot of these models complete and flying well of course, Bob Jennings, Phil Cooke and John Hey provided entertainment with their examples with follow-the-leader and synchronized aerobatics over the beach, keeping passers-by enthralled despite them being dampened by the odd shower.


Steve Mclaren's little Folland Gnat (built from the Alan Hulme plan) had it's successful maiden at the Orme earlier in the year, but Steve is still fine tuning the balance point with his more scale-like wing planform.  Within a couple of flights Steve had it really well dialled-in, flashing through some superb aerobatics, her fluorescent colour scheme showing up fantastically when the clouds were overhead.  Well done Steve, an inspiring build this one!


As the afternoon progressed more and more pilots de-rigged ready for the long dive home, with everyone having enjoyed some long flights with a vast array of aircraft.  More photos from this event can be seen HERE and post event forum comments with photos and videos can be viewed HERE.  Another year, and another successful Lleyn Peninsula PSSA event drew to a close.  As always, we are ever grateful for the use of the Lleyn MAC's slopes for the weekend and we extend our thanks to the club and those committee members who help ensure it all runs smoothly.


Having added a new event to the calendar for September it is only a short wait now until our next meet  - a first for the PSSA at the Bwlch, near Treorchy, in South Wales on 19th and 20th.  More details on the PSSA Events Page.  We hope to see you there!