RCM&E|August 2020
John Woodfield is establishing quite a reputation for lightweight vintage style gliders, as featured in a recent On Silent Wings column. Here’s his story...
John Woodfield

There are so many different disciplines to model flying, so I always find it fascinating to see a real dedication in one specific field. We all have our place in this great hobby of ours, from the raw beginner just starting out on their foam trainer to the top-level competition pilot with his expensive scale turbine jet.

Over the years I flown all sorts of model aircraft and this recently got me thinking about why I fly the type of planes I do. I guess its greatly influenced or dictated by all sorts of factors such as available free time, budget, level of experience, available flying sites and, arguably, most of important of all, how understanding your better half is!

Lightweight vintage style gliders are predominately all I fly now, so how did this all come about?


Many years ago, I lived on an old WWII RAF air-sea rescue boat, which had been converted to a live-aboard and was moored at an idyllic spot on the River Hamble. Just a stone’s throw away was an old abandoned airfield, which nature had long since taken over. There wasn’t a building for miles around, but the grass was long, and the ground was about as rough and bumpy as it could possibly be. This meant the only planes I could fly there had to be hand-launched power models or designs with big wheels and an ability to land nice and gently. The need for sturdy landing gear and soft-landing characteristics led me to build numerous Old-Timer style models, which could fly slowly and land in a short space.

On several occasions I tried bungee launching gliders, but the line would always end up get tangled in the prickly gorse bushes.

Living where I did also meant that I could fly seaplanes straight from the back of my boat. It even had a large launching platform on the back and I always had the necessary rescue dingy to hand. The brackish water, however, could play havoc with electric motors and radio gear.

I was very much flying the type of models that suited my location and flying site, but I had always had a yearning to fly more slope gliders. My childhood holidays were often spent up in the Lake District flying model gliders, and it was those holidays that had given me my interest in silent flight. But whilst living on the boat my nearest decent hill was 45 miles away. A busy job meant time constraints and it was always easier to have a quick fly at my local site than drive to the slope.


Move forward several years and I’m now retired with all the time I need to dedicate to building and flying models. I’ve also moved to a house in a costal location with a lovely flying slope just a short walk away. It’s no surprise then that I now fly a lot of gliders. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to sell all my old powered aircraft and associated gear. It’s really surprising how many motors, wheels, props, ESCs and batteries you can accumulate over the years!


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August 2020