Team GB

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The Great Gee Bee Saga!
Bob Thompson

A chance remark over a pint in the pub started it all off.  I don’t recall who said it, but the gist was- ‘that Gee Bee Glenn Masters has- wouldn’t it be good to see a few of them flying together?’

Six months later, we had at least 10 of the beasts on the circuit, and 25 on the way..

The Pacific Models ARTF Gee Bee Y series is a Chinese import to the USA and from there to us. Powered, in the main, by Zenoah 38s, they make an excellent sport model.

Flown in a race for the first time at the Langar Fly-in 2007, the adrenaline rush started.  From there, it was the LMA flyin at Devon, the big LMA show at Cosford, LMA Rufforth, and then, the Nats!

To be asked to fly at the BMFA Nationals is an honour, and we gladly accepted.

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Day one!

The Saturday dawned bright and clear, after all the soggy weather we have had recently. A steady breeze, straight down the Barkston Heath runway.
As every discipline of model flying is flown at the Nats, only ten frequencies are available for the show line, at which we were flying. On that first day, we had ten available Gee Bees, but, due to a misunderstanding with frequencies, Ivan Jordan could not fly on the Saturday.

The first slot of the day for us was at 12.35, and 9 Gee Bees and pilots and 9 helpers plus 2 more to place the pylons were set ready.  In order to have the all the frequencies, we had to badger the pilots already flying to hand over the pegs quickly- this was very difficult, especially with some of the jet pilots, who felt they needed to hang on to the pegs to ‘spool down’ turbines.

Finally, all were ready, and our ‘trademark’ takeoff one after the other in line astern looked like a goer.  Alas, not quite according to plan, as two engines were stubbornly refusing to start! However, we just had to go with 7 models, and luckily were just in the first circuit when the two recalcitrant Gee Bees joined their brethren.

All 9 models and engines howling round the racetrack circuit made an impressive scene, everyone in the crowd craning their necks to see the race- and the near misses!
Steve Duffy, trying to elbow a space, (the sky was full of models, and he was one of the latecomers) almost hit the ground trying to avoid Ted Cook.  Everyone, by this time, had throttles pushed to the stop, and were ‘banking and yanking’ in the best tradition of the Thomson Trophy of the thirties. Colin ‘Aviator’ Hammond tried manfully to comment on the race and put models to pilots over the showline tannoy.
I have no idea how many times I was lapped, or how many others were behind me, but I don’t think I won! At the end of the slot we all just collapsed on the grass, after practically throwing the pegs at TX control- some were needed instantly for the next slot!

The second slot of the day, at 5.45, the finale slot, proved a much better start, all models going off into the brilliant blue sky one after the other, just as we wanted.
Everyone seemed to get into the groove straight away, and despite some near misses, still no mid-airs!  Everything was going well (too well?) when Alistairs Gee Bee, howling down the straight, suddenly failsafed and refused to answer to his controls, and flew into the ground hard and fast, sustaining bad damage which may or may not be repairable.
The cause? Still unknown.

End of day one and one model down.

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Day two!

This day dawned sunny and hot, with less of a wind, although this was at 45 degrees to the runway.
Although we had lost Als’ Gee Bee, as the problem with Ivans’ frequency was resolved, we once again had 9 models.
As there was concern with the circumstance of the crash on the last slot on Saturday, we elected to miss the final slot, only flying the 12.35 slot.

This time a neat little idea was put to good use- someone flew a small, crazily fast, electric model on 2.4 ghz to give us time to get all the pegs together.

Everyone in the start-up box, all failsafes checked, all pilots ready to go- the CD gave the order to start engines. This time, all seemed to roar into life instantly,- with the exception of our unofficial leader, Glenn Masters! We all lined up on the runway and waited, but to no avail, the ultra reliable Zenoah 38 refused to start.
Finally, I had to give the order to take off, and we all blasted off in line astern, a little lost without our usual leader!
Four laps later, we heard the Zenoah burst into life, and Glenn was with us.
All nine Gee Bees roared round the Barkston runway, everyone looking as if they flew like that every day, again no one knowing, or caring, who was in the lead. This time the commentary was by Dave Tappin of the Yorkshire Air Spectacular, and his enthusiasm for Gee Bees came over in his commentary. Lap after lap came with everyone vying for position and Gee Bees in bunches and all over the sky.
Came the end and we all landed perfectly- no mean feat by itself- and ended the slot with the appreciation of the massive crowd in our ears. Brilliant!

Everyone who flew was buzzing with the thrill of it all, and the team- now officially called TEAM GB- is itching for the next one.

Mid airs? None yet, although it would be foolish not to expect it.

And the ultra-reliable Zenoah of Glenn Masters? His helper (who shall be nameless) had switched OFF the model… didn’t you Robin? Oops…

Seriously, the whole of TEAM GB would like to thank all those who acted as helpers, some of whom have approached us to obtain Gee Bees for them so they can join us!
Where will it all end? Watch this space!

Addendum:
Since the Nats- and the smaller, but still fun show at Grimesthorpe Castle, there have been TWO mid-air collisions, one at a show at Cosby, Leics, and another at Much Marcle. At least two of these models are repairable, but the main concern being of safety, it is to be noted that both crashes were well away from the public on the ‘hot’ side of the show line.
We have already been asked to fly at Euroflugtag in Germany next year.
Can’t wait for 2008!

Well, its now 2014 and another successful year for the team.

East Kirkby LMA show, Cosford, Winterton Show, Elvington…

A bit from Winterton- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDPtfZwU8PE

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Do you have a Gee Bee and are interested in joining the team? If so, then why not drop Glenn Masters an email HERE to find out more!

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