A brief tribute to Athol Holtham, leading light in Victorian aeromodelling circles during the late nineteen fifties and early sixties.
1. Teamrace victors in a Manion-Munro race of the late nineteen fifties at Albert Park were Athol (left) and his chief mechanic Peter Ellis. Their plane is an early version Kanga developed by the pair, O.S. 29 powered and featuring a built-up, silk covered wing! That enormous cup being examined by Peter is the perpetual trophy donated by Jim Manion and Mac Munro to promote Class 2 teamracing in Victoria.
2. For several years around 1960 Athol led his local model aero club (Sandringham MAC) as its president. Pictured in this group photo are several of the club's prominent members: Athol with his Mark 1 Thunderbird; Secretary Lindsay Edwards at left rear with his own design stunter, a semi-scale Sea Mew; Philip Marks at left front with the broken Ram Rod; Jeff Causey at centre front, Max Stevens behind him, Brian Taylor at right front with his dad's Ram Rod, David Axford at far right, and Dennis Perkin behind him.
3. The best Thunderbird never to win an Australian Nationals was Athol's beautiful orange version of the early nineteen sixties, seen here at the Echuca Nats. It was a Mark 2 T'bird fitted with a Mark 1 style fuselage having the engine thrust line level with the wing, a feature Athol thought important
4. Here's Athol with a Class 2 speed model at a contest day at Albert Park. Athol usually flew speed in conjunction with his friends Tony Farnan and Graham Rice, a group often referred to as the O.S. works team because of their exclusive use of O.S. engines and Tony's business as the O.S. distributor for Australia. Between them they had their share of successes, occasionally winning national events.
5. Much admired winner of several races in 1963 was Athol's Class 2 teamracer he called Galaxie, O.S 29 powered and raced in conjunction with David Kidd and Andrew Kimonides. Something Athol did better than almost anyone else at that time was to produce lovely smooth paint jobs for his models, using nothing more exotic than a soft brush and ordinary Dulux enamel paints.
6. Athol built this Clockwork Orange aerobatic model sometime around 1971. O.S. 35 powered.
7. Webra 40, a model designed by Athol and built in the early nineteen eighties.
8. This wooden Pik16 was Athol's first restoration of a 20 year old full sized sailplane. Athol was a leading member of the soaring club at Euroa, Victoria, before he moved to Sydney.
9. This Cobra15 is a 1970s vintage fibreglass sailplane that Athol built from the shattered wreckage of two crashed planes.
Athol is not actively involved in aeromodelling these days, but is living very happily in Sydney where he spends time with the gliding club operating at the Richmond air force base.
Click on any picture at right to see a larger view.