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Saturday, August 11th heralded the start of the 2001 Hastings Model Airshow, organised by the Hastings & District Model Flying Club, the event being held over the weekend. I have attended this event for a few years now. Having used to be a member before moving out of the area, I like to attend the event as it gives me a chance to renew old acquaintances, and see a good model show. You will see from my report on last year's event on the Glue-It web site that I felt that last year's event was the best I had attended that year. Would this year's be the same?
Unlike last year when I spent the entire weekend at the show I could only make the Saturday this year. However, the day dawned bright and sunny, if slightly breezy, as I drove down to Hastings. I arrived to see that a number of people had already arrived, some had actually come down the previous day and camped overnight. The facilities for this are not bad as the event is held at the local recreation ground, which sports changing facilities and showers for when football and cricket are normally played at the weekend.
My first intention was to have a look round the trade stands at the show. I emerged on traders row between the beer tent and the club's bring and buy tent. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked in on the bring and buy, to see one or two bargains that really interested me. I ended up walking away with a Balsacraft Focke Wulf 190 kit at a bargain price. I have to admit to being surprised at the prices on kits, models and bits here. At some shows you see unrealistic prices being asked for items interspersed with those that are bargains and those that are junk. This was not the case, as the items for sale were all quite reasonable. There were other items I fancied buying but I might find it hard convincing my wife of the necessity for bringing loads of models and kits home to a hangar already crammed full!
So what of the other stands? Well there was Al's Models, Sussex Model Centre, Balsa Cabin, Ace Flying Kits, Two O Two Models, Model Power Supplies, Hunter Systems, Pete Tindalls Airplanes, Stuart Mackay Models, Streamline Sales, Somoso, and Soar Ahead Sailplanes to give an idea of the number of traders in attendance. I was pleased with the variety as it enabled me to get all the items I had on my shopping list at reasonable prices, as well as a few extras!
The flight line was being run with it's usual efficiency, safety being paramount. The variety of models was wide with sports, and scale models, i.c. and electric powered being well represented. Les Eagle bought his Large Scale Stearman along, which unfortunately suffered considerable damage when coming to land in the breezy conditions. The front half of the fuselage and wing joining areas appearing to have suffered from damage. Ali Jnr flew his gas turbine powered F15 in his usual show stopping style which he made to look easy despite the conditions. Colin Strauss had come down with the electric powered Boeing B29 Superfortress, this handled the conditions well. There was also the ubiquitous toffee bomber, which the children loved, and the Ripmax Team were present to give displays of some of their range of models.
It was also nice to see some of the Hastings members flying in their own slot. Commentary for the show as usual was being supplied courtesy of Hastings club member Colin "Aviator" Hammond, a name and voice familiar at many model shows around the country, and who has done much to publicise the club.
One must not forget that there are other hobbies represented at the show. Model boating is organised by the Eastbourne Model Boat Club with sailing going on throughout the day on their portable boating pool. The models varied from conventional scale and non-scale models, to novelty types such as pirates in a rowing boat.
Model cars were represented by a static display by the Hastings Model Stockcar Club at the show. The club race 1/8th scale i.c. powered cars on their purpose built track located at the end of the field where aircraft at the show were flying from. It was for this reason that the club was not running cars at the track. It was also a sign of the mutual co-operation that exists between the two hobbies that although the club had a competition scheduled for Sunday. They had arranged to have a practice session at the track after the end of flying at the show, and that the competition would similarly take place Sunday evening at the end of the show. Speaking to club chairman Stan Demeza at the show, he indicated that the club membership was growing once again despite the difficulty in getting cars and spares for the class of racing that they undertake, which is not unique to their club. This is in part due to the withdrawal from manufacture of the well known Mardave Stockcar kit. However, the club has plans for manufacturing parts and possibly kits in the not too distant future. This could also be of benefit to other clubs.
I left the show at the end of the day tired, but satisfied. The flying was good, safe, from a good venue with adequate facilities, and providing a good vantage point for the spectators. The model flying club have worked hard to provide a good show, and are well motivated to. After all they are looking at raising money to buy their own flying field, which is no easy feat. Any club considering a similar action would be wise to look at what the Hastings club is doing and talk to them. All of the effort will pay off in the long term and they will be right to feel happy with themselves. The date for the show is at the peak holiday season, but is well attended, and they are lucky in that unlike a number of shows earlier in the year, they have not been affected by the Foot and Mouth restrictions that caused a number of shows to be cancelled. I look forward to next year's show.