Describing the aeromodelling career of Western Australian, Norm Kirton.

1.  Norm began his aeromodelling career in Britain, where his attraction to teamracing soon became evident.  Here he is pictured in 1972 (centre) at the Woodford Rally where he placed third in the FAI teamrace.



2.  Norm (left) with his long term racing team mate, Alan Wallace.  It was in 1973 that Norm migrated to Australia.  Shortly after his move, Norm wrote this autobiography.





3. Norm is pictured here with an FAI Teamracer unusual in that it is controlled by flaps on its wing rather than by elevators at the tail.  You can read the magazine report accompanying this photo here.






4.  Here's Norm with his nicely finished Dalesman, powered by Eta 29.  It's a fine example of the traditional Wharfedale colour scheme.









5.  In 2008 and 2009 Norm has visited Singaporean aeromodellers several times, participating in their National competitions and encouraging them to fly Vintage A teamracing.  Here he is pictured in a corner of the display room at Singapore Youth Flying Club.





6.  This group photo shows Norm in the back row, surrounded by his Singaporean friends at the 2009 Singapore Nationals.

  Norm's photos

Norm Kirton's Autobiography

I first became interested in model aircraft around 1954 (I know, most of you weren't born then) when I used to visit the shop of Joe Tiplady in Stanley Main Street. This was a very pokey little shop with an angled window, and from memory he sold bicycles and other things as well as model aircraft but they were of no real interest to me at that time. I was fascinated by the models and engines (Kiel Kraft models and ED Bees etc).

I remember first obtaining a Keil Kraft Eaglet rubber model (I think my parents bought it for me) and as this flew quite well, I became interested in engines so much that I obtained an ED Bee thinking it would fit in the Eaglet.

Joe Tiplady sent me to see an established modeller called Jack Muncaster who soon put me right about the model. God, I was fascinated by his models that day. After listening to Jack I purchased a profile Keil Kraft control-liner called the Champ. Jack taught me to fly and I was hooked. My next model was a Skystreak 26 for the Bee.

I joined a model club in Burnhopefield and flew all sorts of control liners there. One day they organized an event called Class "A" team race and one of the modellers asked me to pit for him. He had just built a "Black Chiffon" fitted with an ED Racer. (Such power). That race sucked me in, as the Racer started readily and I think we won.

Soon Jack Muncaster started a model club in the area called Stanley and Districts Model Aircraft Club (SADMAC). Many new model friends were made there including Alan Wallace, Harry Greener, Jack Benfield (now passed away), and Calley Wilkinson.

I remember building a team race kit powered with an Elfin 2.49 and taking it to Woodford but could never get it started for ages. - 1st failure.

Several times we went to Newcastle Town Moor to see competitions being held there and met guys flying these funny nylon covered flying wings called combat models. Les Scurfield was flying a Jupiter power by an Oliver Tiger. Later I met several members of the Novo's at various comps. The Class "B" team of Dugmore/Bell/Roughhead were doing very well in most races. I recall going to a Scottish event (I think at Abbotsinch ) where a Dr Roy Nicholls was practicing with a "B" class Teamracer when his lines caught the hair of a fellow flyer destroying his model and engine all over the runway. In anger he reached up and grabbed the lines of the other model and pulled it out of the air also. He was a real hothead. I believe he was a member of Tynemouth club.

Alan Wallace bought an Oliver Tiger (drool) and asked me to fly for him. That was the start of a long team race team career with him, until I was called up for National Service in the Airforce in October 1959, which is when Alan Laurie took over the handle.

During my 2 years National Service I still built and flew models. In fact I acquired a Yulon 29 there (Oh where is it now?) and built FAI and "B" teamracers plus a few Combat models. There were many models left in the Watton Airforce base model club by people who had build them and then been posted away. I acquired a Mercury Junior Monitor fitted with an Allen Mercury 35. I remember competing in the RAFMAA Championships in FAI, "B", 1/2A and Combat. I place in all events and won the Victor Ludorum trophy for the base. In the final of the FAI T/Race I was hit in the forehead by a landing model (flown by someone called Arthur I think who had flown for Dick Place) whilst I was pitting mine. I remember pushing the model to one side and continuing to start mine. The next thing I knew I was being transported to RAF Halton Infirmary where I had 5 stitches in the forehead.

During my stay at RAF Watton (Norfolk) I met the owner of Norwich model shop who I found out blended the fuels for ED at that time. I bought my first Oliver Tiger from him which I later found out was the very one used by Peter Chinn in the Aeromodeller test. I also met Red Phinn at that time. He was a very competitive flyer in Combat and F/F Power.

I also went to RAF Luffenham (US Airforce base) to compete and there was asked to fly a RatRacer for Pete Wright (well known Speed flyer at that time). He had built a beautiful cigar shaped Rat powered by one of his speed Dooling 29"s. Man did that go!!!. Trouble was that we flew on grass and he had spats on it, which tumbled it over every landing and broke off the tail. He glued it on with balsa cement for the final (no cyano then) and pinned it. During the race the cement let go and the pins allowed that tail to cant over at about 45°. This made the model almost unflyable and I was using full up and down to keep it in the air and just missing the other two models. Was I glad when the engine cut and the tail settled down for a nice landing. We wisely withdrew. I shudder to think what I would have felt if I'd smashed the Dooling.

When I left the Airforce I started to fly with Sid Peart as a Novo member and over the years became quite adept at tuning motors. One Oliver in particular I reverse lapped with diamond lapping paste and was rewarded with a great starting 103mph racer (must have got the taper just right - lucky).

I experimented with many things including 1- A mid engined delta teamracer, 2 - A racer with anhedraled tailplane, no elevators and only flap control ( photo), plus 3 - What must have been the first pressure refueling system in the UK (photo's of the last was published in Model Aircraft magazine - wished I had kept a copy) I am happy to say that Syd and I won FAI T/R at the 1965 Nats, narrowly beating Brian Taylor. He still can't understand that, as he believes that they did most of the overtaking.

Many competitions were held on Team Valley Trading Estate at that time and I test flew the experimental models there. As a matter of fact Jack Muncaster beat me to the building of the Flapped model as I had told him of my plans and shown him the modified teamracer I had test flown. It actually was the model shown in the Novo Newsletter with the elevators glued level and flaps cut out of the wing of 1" x 4" dimensions. The flaps deflected 90° down and about 30° up. The idea was that slight DOWN flap would provide lift and altitude would change without attitude change. The flaps would then be used at full down after landing to provide braking. In the event they flew extremely stable but would nose over if any down flap was used on take off. We put this down to ground effect. Once in the air it was a dream to fly. I flew it much later with John Horton.

I moved to Yorkshire in 1966 with my wife (a Yorkshire girl) and joined Wharfedale where I teamed up with John Horton and had many successes in FAI, Goodyear and "B". The last "B" he built prior to my emigrating was a piped ETA 29 Dalesman.

In 1973 we emigrated to Australia and am now living happily in Perth (Western Australia) On Monday the 11th March I actually started a new job driving coaches for West Australian Government Railways - not bad starting a new career at 63 next month!!!. At least I'll have more time for modeling at last as I have been driving Tour coaches around Australia for the last 4 years which involves 7 day a week commitment.

Emigrating to Australia with the family in January 1973 was quite an adventure and we were among the last of the "10 Pound Poms" arriving in Sydney early one Saturday morning having left London in freezing snow to the "Hot Damp Cloth" atmosphere of NSW. As part of the emigration scheme we were taken to a block of migrant flats in Waterloo along with another family from the south of England who also had two children.

We were met by the MD of the firm that I had transferred to, "Litton Business Systems", where I was to be employed as assistant Service Manager having been Service Manager for the North of England area of the same firm. He asked me if I would be prepared to go to New Zealand on the following Tuesday to assess the three offices of Armstrong & Springhall who were the NZ agent for Litton computers. As they were also agent of the opposition firm, Philips, a couple of salesmen there decided to apply for the agency themselves.

Leaving the family alone in a strange country I therefore visited the offices of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in a whirlwind three days checking the computer stock and spares situation. On return I settled down into my new job, being supplied with a Morris 1500 as a service car (remember them?) and eagerly awaited the arrival of our furniture and effects. I had packed a lot of my model gear into a large wooden crate and so looked forward to that too.

I had given a lot of my gear away and all of my collection of Aeromodeller and Model Aircraft magazines (that was a mistake!), but I did have two "Brand New" ETA .15's which were specially built for me by Ken Bedford just prior to the firm closing down. I had a "Yellow Pine" wing and tail for a class "A" speed model and a Super Tigre 15 too, so that was the first ever model that I built in Australia.

As I had made contact with Jack Finneran before I left England I arranged to meet him at Centennial Park one weekend to meet some of the C/L fliers of the club. They were mostly speed flyers present and I remember only Andy Kerr from that time. Later, when I was able to build a Teamracer and a Goodyear model I was to team up with Chris Noakes who introduced me to such identities as Peter Tilley, Alan Shing, Brian Eather, Hutton Oddy and Julius Reichart.

Some months later I moved into a rented house in Marsfield (near Epping) and therefore joined the club which flew at Kuringai. I concentrated on FAI and "B" teamrace with Chris Noakes as mechanic and we did reasonably well in most races. I recall going out to Orange with Chris for one competition and meeting the legendary Merv Bell at that time. I can't recall much of the event but I do remember Hutton and Julius were there too.

We decided that Sydney was not for us as we had originally applied to go to Perth with Litton and so I started applying with other computer firms. Amazingly I got job offers from Philips and Honeywell and on the same weekend where I was considering to move, I had a call from the GM of Western Australia asking if I still wanted to go to Perth. Arriving in Perth just before Xmas of 1973, we quickly settled into the rented house, which the firm had found for us.

Our first visitor was Peter Somers who turned up on the doorstep on the first week. I had been writing to Peter, who was the editor of the AWA magazine, Windsock and had been put in touch with him whilst in England by a well-known F/F modeler n UK whose name, unfortunately, escapes me. I teamed up with Peter for Goodyear with a Ginny powered by one of the ETA's, which I had just completed. We also flew some FAI on the grass at the Causeway, which was the Mercurians club field at that time. Peter also taught Aeromodelling at the Claremont Air Training Corps along with Dave Moinard and, of course, they dragged me along to help every Friday night.

Following several successes with Peter, I then teamed up with Dave Campbell as Peter had too many other commitments. Dave became my pilot and I switched to the mechanic of the team.

At that time I acquired a Rossi .15 via my mate, John Horton in England. I built another Goodyear model for the Rossi making both the wing and fuselage hollow using 1/16 sheet over a vertical and horizontal crutch in the case of the fuselage. The Rossi proved to be fantastically fast and was unbeatable at that time.

Dave took time out to build his house and so I talked Theo Merrifield into waving the handle. Theo found the Rossi a little too fast and so Garry Turna took on the pilot's duties. At that time I purchased a new BG15 which was a copy of the Paul Bugl .15, highly successful in F2C at that time. It was serial number 038 and I sold this to Ivor F at the Mundijong Nationals. This has since disappeared from his collection so if anyone knows of its whereabouts I would like to know. (Ivor would also like to know where it went) I then purchased a couple of Nelson .15's (the early model with the small comp screw). One of these was sent to Tim Gillot in the US by Garry, as he knew Tim well. This was very fast and a great starter. Several successes resulted from this. As Garry and Peter Easdown were getting into Pylon at that stage I forsook C/L and joined them. Several years went by with this side of the hobby until I met Hans Bertina who had been a keen teamrace flier in the '60's. He was keen to get back into F2C and so asked me to help him get started. At that time the CS .15 was popular and we started with that progressing quickly to a Vorobiev. Hans was a good friend of the, sadly departed, Dave Clarkson in UK and so we started buying his moulded fuselages and built several models around them. I piloted for Hans for many years and even went with him to the British Nationals in 1995, staying overnight near Dave Clarkson's place and seeing his workshop and kit and engine collection.

We were quite competitive by then but the wind was extremely strong that year causing me to trip the shutoff on most takeoffs as the model zoomed into wind. We had a chance to make the semi finals and were against the Metkemeyer brothers. Due to strong winds the CD moved the pitting segments into half normal distance and as I landed fast over the pitting Bert, Hans caught the model, did a quick stop but it cut on takoff. The cause was that the needle had turned closed as he caught it rolling up his gloved hand. Ah well no point in continuing, as we would lose too much time.

We had taken a Pluto to compete in Vintage "A" and surprised everybody with its speed and laps (my original Oliver). We nearly stuffed up as they fly on tarmac AND only have a 60 second warmup. We started the first race cold and it took a while to get up to speed. Despite this we made the finals. Flying in the finals was less than good and the eventual winner whipped for all he was worth. We had to be content with 3rd. Exactly 30 years previous I had won Davies "A" as FAI was called then, so that was something to remember.

A few years after that I realized that F2C was getting beyond my capabilities as I had extremely high blood pressure (180/112 for 4 years) I therefore withdrew from piloting fast models. Over the next few years I teamed up with Charlie Stone flying Vintage "A" and we had many successes. We still continue to this day although Charlie's health has been poor of late. We still fly Vintage "A" and "B" plus I am flying F2F (pitting now) with Bob Fry. I built an F2F based on Goran Olsson's F2C model and called it GORANASAURUS.!!! He liked that.

I have been visiting Singapore over the past 8 years and have become very friendly with Richard Ong who flies F2C. He has taken me out to the Singapore Youth Flying club on several occasions. This is a terrific venue, purpose built and financed by their government to teach young Singaporeans both full-size and model flying. What a fantastic opportunity. They have a Bitumen circle and a grassed area. I have just been over to their 2009 National Championships in May/June and I have built TWO Dimpled Dumpling Vintage "A" models for them to keep. Richard has bought 3 x R250's which I also took over with the first model at Xmas 2008. I am determined to get them into this class. I even made a video of the building of the second model.

Currently (2009) I have just finished an experimental Electric C/L model with a stunt section and LIGHT profile fuselage. Yet to see how it flies but now I have tracked down the source of units which will control the Speed Controller I think it should be good. These units can be set for Flight time (up to 6.5 mins), Power ( up to 100%) and delay time which allows you to get out to the handle before starting the motor. If all goes well I will be tempted to build a Nobler sized model for a bigger motor. I am also in the process of building the ARES by Bill Werwage. What a lovely model but so intricate to build that wing.

I think I'll be flying until I cark it. As I am always wont to say "Old control-liners never die - they just go out of circulation"



Developed July 2009 by David Kidd.  Your Webmaster is Ron Chernich.