This week at Mawson: 25 August 2006

Brought to you by CTO Dominic

The Mawson green store became the departure lounge terminal for our individually constructed 'hangar rats' (model aircraft) on Saturday night. Novice constructors and experts alike compared 'hangar rat' designs with many featuring a personalized approach.

Mawson 'hangar rat' aviators and flight crew dressed for the occasion. Station Leader Ivor appeared in test pilot jump suit and Dominic as Biggles, who was flying a 'rat' of German origin. Our first class passenger was Geoff, looking splendid in his coat and long tails. He brought his own colour-coordinated, black and white "Penguin" aircraft.

Renae had built a "Super girly birdie plane" complete with pink and white paint and down feathers. Tony was flying the "Italian Stallion" in red white and green colours.

Will was preparing to fly his highly experimental "Boomberlass" model featuring a battery-powered propeller with clear cover wings built from braising rods. Pedro was putting the final touches to his "Thing plane", Alby had prepared "Flying Fox" and Dr Jim was hopeful with his "Crash and Burn" model.

Mid-flight refreshments where served with a caring individual touch by our two glamorous airline hostesses, Porsche and Chantelle, AKA Tania and Sara. At 'Mawson Airways', the choice of beef , chicken or vegetarian was much better than usual airline fare. After complications with the galley microwave were overcome, everyone enjoyed a meal from environmentally safe, recyclable packaging. Unlike other airlines, there was no problem with the passenger in front reclining their seat tray table back, as leg room was virtually unlimited.

Expeditioners winding up planes

Pre-flight nerves: winding up
Photo: Renae Baker

Mawson model planes on the apron

Mawson kites on the apron
Photo: Renae Baker

Hostesses offer food

Chicken or beef, sir: Hostesses Tania and Sara Photo: Renae Baker

Once the fasten seatbelts light had been extinguished, our 'rat' fliers where free to walk about the green store carefully winding their elastic-powered propellers in preparation for flight.

Ruffy was on duty as air traffic controller with a stopwatch to record official flight times and calculate the airtime of each attempt.

First onto the runway was Will's "Boomberlass" – a 'rat' of impressive design and one that attempted to reinvent theories of flight known since the Wright brothers. "Boomberlass" plane's flight times were startlingly low. The prototype suffered serious structural failure after a corkscrew flight path ended with contact onto the hard ground, the engine still functioning. According to the designer, Will, his airframe structure was calculated to provide lift at air speeds in excess of mach 4, so looks like it might be back to the wind tunnel testing lab for "Boomberlass".

"The Penguin" 'rat' was next, its maiden flight showing promise but becoming lodged in some part of the green store wall and had to be recovered. "Flying fox" was off to a start with a nose-up stall, but gained some good flying times after careful tail section adjustment. "Crash and Burn" actually did nothing of the sort, and although its early flights where somewhat unimpressive, an unofficial record flying time was achieved after formal proceedings had closed.

"Italian Stallion" made several mediocre flights gaining average flight times, but became the focus of attention when its elastic band snapped with enough force to rip the wing brace from fuselage. Thereafter it became an air tractor. The "Super girly birdie plane" made flights that Barbie would have been proud of, its feathers adding interesting flight dynamics, making some impressive swooping turns. However, it hit the wall on a number of occasions but suffered no serious damage. "Thing plane" was showing great promise in its early flight tests, but gained an un-airworthy certificate after it came into contact with the glacier booted foot of "Biggles" in what was assured to be a gentlemanly accident.

The 'rat' entry of Colin "Collinator mk1" was showing flights that had its designer thankful for the amount of time spent in construction. Proper rudder adjustment was making full use of the limited space for flying in the green store. With slow but steady clockwise turns it avoided any serious collision and even made wheels down when landing.

Model plane in pieces on ground

Boomberlass last flight
Photo: Renae Baker

Expeditioner dressed as Biggles

Biggles grounded
Photo: Renae Baker

Expeditioner holding model plane

The penguin 1st classPhoto: Renae Baker

The winner of the evening with a record rat flight time of over ninety seconds was Geoff B's "Bell-end" The designer's initial fears that the glue may not have been dry enough to withstand the flight dynamics proved to be unfounded as his air craft had everyone 'ooh-ing' with amazement and wonder as it climbed and turned gracefully in the green store skies.

Station Leader Ivor awarded the winning pilot his Mawson wings in a ceremony of such formality that it would have made a Rear Admiral weep with pride.

It was then time to put away the 'rats' that had given us great pleasure, some of them however did end up in the correctly assigned bins. We where then left to ponder if this had been the greatest air show on the continent … We suspect that it was, and founding member 'rat' fliers everywhere might do well to take note: At Mawson Airways we always try harder.

Thanks Dominic.

Regards from all at Mawson.

This page was last updated on 28 August 2006.