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Sunday, 21 February 2010 12:15

Flair Tiger Moth by Colin Bassham

I didn't get into model flying until 1993, when I joined the Wortley club and started a long hard road of learning to fly. There were no ready to fly planes those days so I built from kits at the back of my garage. My first large kit was a T240 with a 28cc petrol engine. I even had to apply to the CAA for an exemption certificate. This was 1995 and I had joined the RAMS club flying off concrete runways at Acaster near York. I also join the LMA and went to Withernsea meeting where Ian Turney-White took my T240 up for its first flight. He let me land it on the second flight, and I bust the prop, but I was pleased to have got it down in one piece.

In 1996 I went to a scale teach in at Church Fenton and saw Harry Harlands 1/4 scale Tiger Moth (Duncan Hutson Kit). I was very impressed. At this time saw another 1/4 scale Moth at a Church Fenton meeting by a well respected modeller from the York Club ..
.. now I knew I had to have one. Not long after FLAIR brought out their 1/4 scale moth kit and there were reviews in all the magazines at the time, all good comments. So when Leeds Model Shop got the very first kit in I bought it for £182.00 even though I had nowhere to build such a large model. I wrote in my flight log (diary) "think the pigeons are going to get pushed out so I can use the loft as a workshop to build the Tiger Moth". A year later that's what I did, I now had a 12ft x 8ft workshop with a bench in the middle and started building the moth over the next 3 years. I picked a colour scheme that would be easy to do from one of my books. Using the codes I contacted the CAA and found the current owner of the full size. He was an airline pilot and was very helpful, sending me some great photos to work from. I later sent him some of my photos of the finished model. One reason for choosing this plane was the unpainted metal cowl which looks great. I had seen Maurice Thomson's "beaten cowl" on his Blackburn B2 and it was beautiful, so I got some tips from him on how to do it. For its first few flights I used the fibreglass cowl which came with the kit, but as soon as I dared I fitted my own metal cowl which for me transformed the model. I was in "Pandas" club so its maiden flight on 21 st July 2001 was at Pontefract Racecourse, it went well, I just had to take some lead out of the front to stop it tipping up.
On its 5th flight a wheel dropped off! And the same day (6th flight) the rudder servo packed up in the air, got it down using aileron. Next time out (7th flight) there was a strong wind and with holding in plenty of up for take off it leapt into the air too soon. Not enough air speed. I was frantically applying aileron to no effect and was losing it, then the penny dropped and I used rudder which soon had it back on track. Luckily I was on my own that day; I could have been thrown out for flying over the Pitts. In 2002 I flew it at "Don Valley" fly in and got some good comments on the cowl.
I had put photos on the FLAIR club website and a company flying real Tiger Moths got in touch to see if they could borrow it for an exhibition in London. was pleased to let them use it and the guy drove up from London to get it. I got offered chance to fly with them and a bottle of whisky (see photo).
In 2007 I joined NLMFC having not flown the Tiger for 3 years. I was looking forward to using it on their great runways. On 3rd June I was looping the Tiger when I noticed I was holding in right aileron jut to fly level so I brought it in to land and as it faced me I could see one wing had given way. Again lady luck was smiling on me I could have easily lost it and would not have known why. For a few years I was a member of the full size Moth club and went every year to Woburn Abbey fly in and as a member I got to go up in the full size which was a real treat, I even got to fly it. What a wonderful aeroplane!.
I can recommend this kit wholeheartedly but it now costs f342.00