The following are from 1981 - 1984 editions of "High Flyin" the magazine of he Anglia Model Flying Club. The Mugglewumpkins series was written by myself (under a pseudonym) about my aeromodelling enthusiast friends. My best friend at school was part of a keen aeromodelling family. The "Model Wife" appeared in one of the magazines at about the same time. The AMFC flew from a cow pasture at Flambirds Farm, Stow Maries, Essex, UK.
Or: An Outsiders View Of The Aeromodelling Fraternity.
MY BEST FRIEND IS A MUGGLEWUMPKINS
(All names have been changed to avoid being murdered)
My best friend is a Mugglewumpkins and like the rest of her species is almost entirely dependent on a piece of wood with wings and engine. I go to school with Prudence Mugglewumpkins, whose sole interest in life is throwing small elastic band propelled missiles, which she calls ‘Sleek Streaks’ across the hockey pitch.
Her war cry of "Let’s go streaking!" draws a small crowd, who disappear disappointedly on discovering that she isn’t going to race across the field naked.
"Must practise," she mutters, launching another missile into a nearby tree.
"Prudence," ask I, shivering after retrieving a ‘Sleek Streak’ from a 40ft. beeach tree, "Why this obsession with model aeroplanes?"
"Well," she mutters, stumped, "Er.. .did you know Clarence crashed his’ latest model into a cowpat last week? Well, he said it was ‘cos..."
When the weather eventually forces her inside at break-times, she sits at her desk huddled over the latest copy of ‘High Flyin’. Attempts to disturb her end in broken limbs, bruised faces and terminal deafness as ‘High Flyin’ converts into a deadly weapon. ‘Gliders I Have Flown and Loved’ became a Class Cult (we had no choice - she fixed us to seats with wing-fixing bands and read it to us every lunch-time).
"Guess who won the Aerobatics?" she mutters, doodling plans for a lemonade-powered Canard in her biology book.
"Who . . .
The only competition I understand is the ‘Moling Trophy’ where the aim (so Prudence tells me) is to cause as much damage as possible with an out-of-control aeroplane.
I’ve been to visit the Mugglewumpkins family a few times. After being attacked by an extremely savage dog, which had to be forcibly introduced to me, I waded through RCM&E and High Flyin magazines into the main building area (lounge) where I’m often handed half of an aeroplane. Not being a modeller I could only tell which way round it was by the way the model pilot was facing.
"Look at the wings..." Clarence (Pru’s brother) says.
"This is the.. ." adds her father Boris.
"The engine goes..."
"Now, when you..."
I am eventually rescued, by Pru’s mother Hilda; and dragged into a kitchen for a cuppa. The walls are papered with plans, pictures, competition dates, RCM&E centre spreads and a pin-up of Barry Manilow.
There, it is guesswork as to which tins contain food and which contain the remains of Clarence’s latest model.
"No - don’t touch that sauce bottle! It’s Boris’s reserve fuel!"
I’ll just stick to. a nice quiet spot of abseiling.
P.S. Prudence’s real name is...... .OUCH!!!
THE MUGGLEWUMPKINS IN WINTER
The snow is falling fast, there is a hard frost and it is bitterly cold, it is "Perfect flying weather" announces Clarence
"Pack the whisky" sighs Hilda. "They’re going flying." Prudence grabs me by the hair before I can escape.
Sometime later in a desolate field in deepest Essex (or is it Siberia?) Hilda, Prudence and I sit shivering in the car, huddled round the whisky flask while Boris burrows his way out of the car through 18 inches of snow - a new meaning for the Moling Trophy? Prudence thaws out the whisky and we cover ourselves in RCM&E for extra warmth.
I feel like Scott of Antarctica looking out on the bleak wilderness which, so I have been told by (un)reliable sources, is called a flying field. Boris and Clarence judge the position of the square by a lonely bush.
Clarence, resplendent in overcoat, eiderdowns, hot water bottles, balaclava and covered in chilblain cream, melts the ice off the propeller, digs a runway and launches the doomed model into a snowdrift. He blames his whatever-they-call-them-in-aeromodelling-circles, but I think it tried to commit suicide. Boris grabs the shovel and set about exhuming it for salvage. Hilda sends out the mountain rescue dog with a barrel of fuel on its collar. Boris emerges, an icicle hanging from his frost-bitten chin, holding a mangled fuselage aloft, like a battle-axe.
Soon the expanse of white is littered with the corpses of planes which plummet to the ground like winged bricks. The solitary bush, so useful in locating the landing square is demolished by Boris’s attempt at a double something-or-other. (A manoeuvre which involves flying in a wide arc, then flying straight downwards extremely fast, propeller first and hitting the snow at maximum velocity.)
Prudence hands round the life-saving flask as a brightly coloured cruciform object with a revolving thingy at one end misses the car and hits a snowdrift, attempts to fly under the snow and turns Boris into a snowman. Clarence digs him out.
Clarence tries to melt some more fuel for his ailing ailerons. Prudence offers the whisky flask out of the window. Clarence refuels his plane with it. In mid-flight the engine starts to cough and splutter and the plane fails to respond to the transmitter. I think it’s drunk.
Boris rediscovers last weeks tail-fin (a crash victim) under the 6 inch permafrost and decides to call it a day. Personally I’d call it a tail-fin. The car refuses to start. Has the petrol frozen? No, Clarence has siphoned it off for other purposes.
PS: Most of you know that the Mugglewumpkins’ real name is .. Ow! Gerroff’ not Mugglewumpkins
Winter has finally almost gone leaving a legacy of dark evenings. Night falls with a resounding crash at 2 p.m., just as the Mugglewumpkins descend, like vultures, on a rather waterlogged field somewhere within a 10 mile radius of my house. Bedecked in wellies (or in Boris’s case plastic bin-liners) and a luminous yellow sou-wester Boris hands me a torch to shine up into the air (anybody out there?) so that he can see where he’s flying or at least locate the wreckage.
Hilda plants some Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Rice on the square to replace the grass. Pru has built herself a sea-plane to suit the weather. The fog descends so she can only fly it in circles round her head. She revolves on the spot until she corkscrews herself into the ground. Boris serves up "Whisky a Ia ice de cow-trough" in natty ex-Gala Day plastic cups.
Clarence has just been discharged from the Greene King brewery where his circulatory system has been linked up to a keg of Abbot Ale. He makes his entrance into Flambirds, trudging waist-deep through mud, pushing a plane-laden estate car. Half an hour later, Boris decides to take the handbrake off and Clarence lands spread-eagled face down in a cowpat (well, it could only improve him). He stands up and intercepts a low-flying seaplane heading rather fast towards Daisy.
Boris opens the car door and leaps out, yelling Geronimo! into 2 foot of mud and icy slush. Pru throws him a life-belt.
Rain begins to water the paddy-field, already at high tide after last summer’s monsoon and over-zealous use of the bush. Hilda and I retreat to the relative dryness of the caravan, now mercifully devoid of Gala-day rubbish but still awaiting a bush-by-the-square substitute.
Boris and Clarence are now pitifully huddled beneath an umbrella which is more hole than brolly. At last Clarence excels at something: water-carrying. Boris’s model makes a try for the Underwater Moling Trophy. Clarence swims to rescue it but ends up clinging for dear life to the floating wreckage while 1-lilda sends for a life-boat. Pru, from her dry position on the roof of a funny orangey-red colour Capri, sends out the Flambirds Air-Sea Rescue Service, her sea-plane, with a precious cargo of Whisky, and Hilda rows the caravan out to the scene of the disaster. Clarence immediately enquires after his Valentine - The Generals (a pub). The packets of Wheat Crunchies come floating out of the sinking caravan and with a sinking heart, Clarence swims off to retrieve them. I have a not-so-sinking feeling that this is the end of today’s flying fiasco.
Clarence swims off towards the sinking sun after his beloved Wheat Crunchies. Mustn’t lose those Wheat Crunchies, staple diet of the Flambirds mob. I say, you lot, when are you going to try flying a packet of Wheat Crunchies?
I’m writing this slowly so that you can keep up with me. If you reach the end before I do, please dictate what I am going to write.
Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the fliers is?
Or perhaps I shouldn’t have said that
The snowshoes and water-skis have gone into storage and out come the ultra-cool photosensitive sunglasses, green eye-shades and trendy cut-off jeans. The ‘six layers of woollies’ look is out and floral shirts are in. Suitably garbed members of the species "Homo aeromodeller" arrive at that Aeromodelling Mecca, Flambirds Farm, to spend an awful lot of their time standing up to their knees in dried mud and debris, staring up into an almost but not quite completely empty sky, trying to spot an errant model now in orbit somewhere over Russia. That aeronautical phenomenon, the infamous Flambirds Triangle, prepares to claim more victims. What happens to these vanished planes - spirited through time? - captured by an alien intelligence? (I wonder what an alien intelligence would make of my elastic-band powered Sleek Streak?) - more likely it is the Mugglewumpkins family up to their usual tricks, the AMFC answer to Gardener’s Question Time’s headaches over how to scare away moles; and for that matter, anything else within a 10-mile radius.
Boris Mugglewumpkins - the one with the dead caterpillar on his upper lip - has polished up his beloved biplane, piloted by an elephant in a blue and white scarf (it supports Ipswich FC - well, someone has to!) and powered by ex-Gala Day Lite Ale, while Clarence prepared for the arduous day ahead by drinking the fuel. The elephant appears to be pink. The mower has gone wrong so Hilda mows the square with a pair of blunt nail scissors.
"Time for a little drinky" says Hilda opening the whisky bottle. A radio-controlled plane with a beaker attached to one wing suddenly appears on the scene giving Hilda a quick haircut with the prop. Is it a UFO? No, it’s only Boris’s variation on water -carrying. To Boris’s disgust the cow-trough yields no ice.
That centre of activity, the caravan, has been tastefully re-decorated with empty Wheat Crunchy packets thanks to Clarence who has even named his new toy "The Wheat Crunchy" in everlasting devotion to that snack among snacks. Daisy tries to eat it, with Boris’s aerial for afters. Pru’s new speciality manoeuvre is the "Crash Landing", involving complete separation of wing, wheels and prop, resulting in Clarence wringing her neck ‘cos it wasn’t her model anyway. "Wasn’t" is the right word.
Clarence is nearly beheaded by a low-flying Sleek Streak (my level of aero-engineering) and Boris sets off in search of the results of a mid-air collision with "The Wheat Crunchy", which happened whilst Clarence was wringing Pru’s neck and Boris was watching someone land "not-on-the-square". Clarence starts to sulk so Pru tries out his other model, "Apocalypse-on-Wings". Clarence wrests the controls from her and in doing so, the plane hits Hilda who is "guarding" the whiskey, and me who is writing my autobiography, before "Apocalypse-on-Wings" comes gracefully to rest in pieces, in something Daisy Moo-Cow jettisoned, redecorating Boris in the process.
Boris returns from the nether regions of the field with a relatively flyable lump of balsa wood (I can’t see why he doesn’t train Woofalot Dog to fetch his mole-hunting muck-ups) which gets buzzed by a seagull. A radio-controlled packet of Wheat Crunchies enters Clarence’s airspace so he neutralizes them before the seagull can get to them. Hilda re-opens the whisky bottle and Boris appears for a re-fill, having left the plane on autopilot. The plane hasn’t actually got an autopilot, but it doesn’t matter now, as Boris hasn’t actually got any plane left to have an autopilot. Out come the dustbin liners which double up as Boris’s wellies.
Clarence puts "Apocalypse-on-Wings" into a dive, takes a swig of "not-proper-beer" (lager to the uninitiated), thinks "What the hell" and lets the plane get on with it. What’s that funny thing sticking out of Ernest Pifflewhite’s car-roof? Looks like the tail end of a plane to me. Funny, it is the tail end of a plane. I wonder how that got there? Clarence finishes his drink and looks in a direction which could, with some imagination, be called "up", (first making sure he is out of range of the seagull) and asks "Right, where’s the plane" and "Why is Ernest Pifflewhite looking at me like that?"
Pru borrows Ernest’s model and makes a creditable attempt at landing it. What a pity it didn’t come off. The wings come off though as Pru discovers. Clarence goes in search of yet another can of not-proper-beer - he’s going to need it - and Boris heads for the Bell’s Bottle while Pru heads for Boris’s wallet, I head for shelter ‘cos someone looks angry - guess who it is! Clarence is hit on the head by a knicker-elastic powered Sleek Streak (goes further than an elastic band), aimed by a slightly irate Ernest Pifflewhite and bearing the message "Outside the ‘Green Pig at 10.30 or else", Who’s Else? Clarence asks if the ‘Green Pig’ sells Ridleys and if the bush is vacant. Ernest Pifflewhite is by this time hopping mad - watch where you’re hopping, Ernest - and Hilda tactfully suggests its time to return to the hangar. Just as things were beginning to look interesting
THE MUGGLEWUMPKINS AT GALA DAY
First light (a John Player Special) and Clarence and Boris are already fiddling with the generator, erecting the tent and swilling innumerable cans of lager. The lager reaches the parts other beers cannot reach and the toilet tent is erected in double quick time. Meanwhile, Hilda, Pru and I are busy beating the wasps off the food and drink while Ernest Pifflewhite tests a flour bomb on Clarence. Bunting is strung across the field, to the cows it makes a pleasant change from eating car aerials. The dew lifts and the grass ‘stirs gently as Hilda throws out the washing-up water which douses, the barbecue. Pru is busy decorating a Sleek Streak for the concourse but during its maiden flight it lands in the barbecue.
Boris gets out his new plane, a "Wayfarer" called "Put it a-wayfarer while" by the rest of us.
"Oh put it away for a while" Says Clarence.
Hilda sells the sleek streaks to the early arrivals: "Free for children, 50p for adults".
"I’ll have four adults please," says Pru.
The gliders have test flights to see who can go nearest the bungalow without crashing on it, Pru burns herself on a sausage which is recycled as charcoal as was her sleek streak. Someone needs a timekeeper and guess who gets roped in.
"Walk this way" says Clarence, "They can’t nick you for it"
"Cor, yes please - too risky" echoes a voice.
At least it isn’t raining - or is it? No, it’s only Clarence emptying some lager on my head. Beer is good for hair and any improvement is welcome. Aagh wasps!
"Duck!" yells Hilda.
"Canard" Pru corrects her as she is hit by a low-flying flour-bombing one.
Has anyone told Ernest Piffiewhite that "canard’ is French for ‘duck’ or is that why his is floating in the cow trough?
The wasps form into a squadron and start attacking Clarence’s lunch so he fixes flypaper to the wings and chases them. A new comp - the most wasps caught in 2 mins wins? Hilda borrows Boris’s latest creation and fans the barbecue to life with the prop. Slicing bread with it at the same time. Clarence demonstrates the flour-bombing but mistakes Boris for a target. Boris, tastefully redecorated in flour and Andrex and looking like the ghost of BiggIes, throws one at Clarence who aims beer at Boris who chucks water over Clarence who sets hard in a coating of flour and water paste. While Clarence breaks out of his piecrust, Boris attempts some Pylon Racing, making a 3 mile circuit around some power pylons and blacking out most of Stow Maries in the process.
And finally - news of Pru’s latest hobby - streaking. She often streaks at home, getting stuck in the privet hedge or in her neighbours gardens. I also take part but our neighbours own several lurchers who object to me streaking into their shrubbery. My longest streak was 25 seconds which surprised my family but normally Pru and I have to be content with a streak of 15 seconds. Favourite haunts of us really dedicated streakers are Public Gardens and quiet residential areas, but of course anyone can streak anywhere if they’re careful enough. No, Pru and I are not the Erica Roes of Chelmsford, merely getting in some practice for our favourite streak of the year - the Flambirds Gala Day sleek streak competition.
‘Any resemblance to living people by the characters in this article is purely intentional, Reference to libel used by author are: Justification of statement and reports privilege … Inmate 327 of H.M. Prison Headcase Wing, Chelmsford.
A MODEL WIFE
Wife types are tabulated below but it is understood that I hesitate to say how many or which wives fall into each category (after all, why meet trouble halfway). Married members may care to start a little domestic-discussion by showing to their wives the foregoing categories (they will swear that they meet a higher classification than you would agree!!)
Any aeromodeller who is still single will find this guide beneficial, but be warned, as most prospective wives are in Class 5, before marriage, but rapidly slide backwards. So here we go.
Immediately recognisable by the constant reiteration of "It beats me how a grown man can spend so much time and money on toy aeroplanes". She complains about the smell of glue and dope. When a friend drops in, refuses to make coffee or tea. Would sooner buy a new hat or shoes than let him buy a kit or engine!
Passive, may think like the Class 1, but does not express it. She does not mind the glue, but objects to smell of dope. Will make coffee or tea when someone calls, providing she is not doing anything else, like watching T.V. Would sooner go out to dinner than buy a new hat, but figures that her husband could have worse interests.
Figures that the old man must do something, at least he is around the house - or put another way, she knows where he is and the fresh air is good for him. She thinks he would get as much fresh air in the garden but does not say so. She will make coffee as soon as friends drop in. She will give him a kit or engine for his birthday or Christmas - on the joint bank account.
She likes the hobby as well as her husband. She admires his models and watches him fly - well sometimes. Will even help him save his pocket money for the new kit or engine and gloats with him when it arrives. Makes coffee, even when his friends do not come - plus calls him while it is still hot!
She thinks her husband is marvellous, she saves money from the housekeeping to buy him that kit he has always talked about. She takes the coffee out to the workshop freshly made making sure that the glue has set on the wing joint first. On good days she takes the car with models charged up and meets him from work and drives him to the flying field. Carries flight box out to square and retrieves the model on landing - and she never gets dust on those beautiful white wings!!
Keen modeller, would like to offer well maintained Class 3 wife, with growing tendencies to Class 2-1. Exchange for a part shares (either 1/3 - ‘/2) of Class 5. Depending on the latter's condition. Will throw in a "Groundeleader 6 channel outfit on 27MHZ!!
ROYAL MODEL AIRFORCE
The MoD is considering recommendations from High Flyin' members advising on a new stealth surveillance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) project. The proposed UAV comprises a balsa airframe with solarfilm skin to maximise radar and visual stealth properties and will be powered by a 1.5 cc finger-started diesel engine with fuel stored in a McEwans beer can. The sensor/comms unit comprises a third generation video mobile phone with the call-sign "Hello Moto." Operational costs will be minimised by issuing only small quantities of Virgin top-up vouchers to users to prevent profligacy. The project will get off the ground as soon as the MoD can figure out how to unlock the phone from its current network.