Jess Nicholls and I (Chairman) were at the slope (topically Morgans) over the weekend.
Mr Cooper was visiting (owns Retro-Modeller). Although now living in Boston, Lincs, he did originate from the area, indeed, his Father was one of five Council tenant farmers (White farmhouses visible from the slope) The 5 farmers had communal grazing rights on all of White Sheet Down
One of the Farmers was Rob Morgan, who did originally object to Model fliers but was persuaded to the contrary by Mr. Cooper’s Father in around 1970. Thus model flying got the official go-ahead and also explains to me why the slope is called Morgans even though it is now farmed by Mr Neish. Of course, Spencers bowl is named after the Spencer family who farm below the SW bowl, whilst Cowards bowl is farmed by the Coward family near Mere.
Thanks to Jess.
Memories of White Sheet RFC 1966 -1976
Following my initial visit in 2019 and on my return to flying at White Sheet in 2020 after 30 years absence I was encouraged by the warm welcome I received from the Chairman David Bradfield and members present. It also was apparent that the club was thriving with an active membership and a busy calendar of events.
In conversation I was asked by David if I could write a few words on the history of the club to which I readily agreed and said would get in touch with Keith Thomas the founder of White Sheet RFC.
Well here goes with some happy memories of flying at White Sheet.
Good slope soaring locations like Crooks Peak, Win Green and the White Sheet downs have been the preferred local flying sites for many years and for those modellers who can recall the 1960’s and 70’s will remember the likes of Eric Poole, David Bond, Pete Slater, Brian Cooper, Slim Sear, Pete Fell, Robin and Chris Saunders, Rowland Hackett, Dave Pederick, George Chambers and Alan Brocklehurst from the Westland Aero modellers club based at Yeovil.
However, more importantly the local group of modellers namely Keith Thomas, Bill Gibbs, Derek Stone, Pat Haxell ,Mike Cooper, Ken Herridge, Pat Suter, Harold Lidbitter, Chris Wynn, Chris Williams, Vic Grist, Tony Doman, Chris Morton and Jess Nicholls to name a few were also regular flyers at White Sheet during the 1970’s.
Current and past members who were active the 1970’s will recall the days of 27 MHz Radio, CB Radio and sharing the flying sites with the new sport and potential hazardous hobby of Hang Gliding!
The inherent risks of flying model aircraft using the same airspace as Hang gliders was a great concern to the model flyers which resulted in the formation of the White Sheet RFC in 1975 lead by Keith Thomas who gave the club an identity and created the acclaimed Ghost club logo.
Having established an identity and a working relationship with the National Trust and local farmers the club steadily gained recognition and popularity with modellers in the surrounding area and beyond.
Initially Slope Soaring was the primary activity of the club however there was a need to provide some structure and encouragement to fly safely and members were encouraged to take part in the friendly competitions that had been developed by the Westland club to provide a personal challenge, discipline and achievement for members who wished to advance their flying skills.
The local Red Lion Pub Kilmington was also a welcome retreat from the wet and windy slopes and provided the perfect base for Club meetings and post flying sessions chat with Beer and refreshments on tap.
Social events for members and family were also an important part of the club activities with Bungee flying, Bonfires and BBQs hosted by Brian and Wendy Cooper (Proprietor of the Digi Hangar Model Shop, Yeovil.) at their home near Blandford Forum.
Jess had his own flying patch on his farm where members could either fly motor gliders or aero tow using the J3 Piper Cub built by Cliff and hosted the annual club aero tow and BBQ event.
The annual Christmas Dinner and prize giving at the Butt of Sherry in Mere or the Grange at Oborne was the norm for many years.
As previously mentioned friendly competitions were a regular occurrence on the slope which included Loops and Spot, Pylon racing, Nominated Manoeuvres, Slalom, Somerset Trophy (Loops and spot), Time and spot and latterly the Woodstock Flying Wing challenge.
For those windless summer day’s members and their families retreated to Lower Barn Farm to enjoy some relaxing flat field Thermal and Multi Task flying.
Participating member’s achievements from each of the many varied competitions were accumulated towards the prize of winning the prestigious Keith Thomas “Tallis” trophy presented at the annual club dinner with family and friends.
Building and flying Scale Gliders was also a keen interest to members and the White Sheet club has attracted the skills of some of the best Scale modellers in the UK namely Pat Teakle, Chris Williams, and Cliff Charlesworth who have all been an inspiration to many members.
Initially, the Scale Competitions were limited to club Members however in 1980 the event became an open event and attracted many visitors and I am pleased to say it still continues today under the leadership of the prolific Scale Glider enthusiast Chris Williams.
How many members remember Sean Walbank the very keen and competitive member who being a talented School teacher at Sherborne School had the skill and dedication to produce the famous White Sheet Magazine which was produced solely by him and attracted a worldwide circulation!
To conclude, I would like to thank Keith and Rowland for their memories and contribution and hope members present and past members have enjoyed these vintage ramblings of the early years at White Sheet. However, if you feel there are any inaccuracies or omissions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
BMFA COVID LEGISLATION & RC Flying 06/01/2021
England — TIER 4
The legislation relating to COVID-19 restrictions in place from January 6th has been published.
All areas of England have now been placed in to Tier 4.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 have also been amended.
Whilst outdoor exercise is still allowed, either alone or with one other person, we are now no longer permitted to leave our homes to visit public outdoor places for the purposes of open air recreation. The definition of public outdoor places has also been amended and now no longer includes outdoor sportsgrounds or sports facilities.
Outdoor sportsgrounds or sports facilities (which includes model flying club sites and BMFA Buckminster) have also been added to the list of venues that must close.
Guidance relating to other areas of the UK remains the same as in our update of 22/12/2020 seehttps://bmfa.org/News/News-Page/ArticleID/2707/COVID-19-Regulations-Update-22-12-2020
BMFA insurance remains in place when flying lawfully and the personal accident cover is in place should you do something untoward to yourself in the workshop. The day to day work protecting model flying and assisting members and clubs is ongoing and the BMFA office remains manned and open during the lockdown period.
British Model Flying Association
The Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers Limited T/A
From the BMFA …..
The Government have released updated guidance that comes into effect from 2nd December when local restriction tiers will replace the current National restrictions in England.
Based on this guidance, and subject to Parliamentary confirmation, Model Flying Clubs in all Tiers can re-open; however, you are expected to operate in a Covid secure way. See https://clubsupport.bmfa.uk/6-steps-to-covid-secure
The rule of 6 also applies in all Tiers and you should not organise gatherings of more than 6 people. However, should more than 6 people independently attend a flying site this does not appear to be a breach of the regulations provided that they do not mingle.
Members should avoid travelling in to and out of Tier 3 (Very High Alert) areas.
White Sheet Down is currently in Tier 2. All Tiers will be reviewed on 16th December apparently
Revised Level 3 Flying Restrictions from 14/9/2020 until further notice
Your Committee have reviewed updated BMFA advice and advise the following for members and visiting fliers. This is in addition to the advice already supplied about ensuring your fitness to go to the Down and fly.
It’s a game of two halves, everyday flying and competitions/events
We cannot provide a person at the slope at all times to ensure compliance with social distancing with the result that the default number of people from different households allowed to fly at any one time is 6. In order for this to happen it is important that you email name, date, time in and time out to our track and trace email database at:
We will keep an eye on it and if it is looking busy we will try and let you know.
This data will be kept for 21 days for NHS use if there is an outbreak. It is also important that you also email the above address if you develop symptoms after visiting the Down so that we can inform NHS.
Some members (actually, just Midweek Mike and me) have volunteered to be covid policemen at the time they are at the slope, so it may be possible to run two groups of 6 providing track and trace data and social distancing happens.
Given that social distancing is required at all times, we suggest a flight-line max of 4 people as this should ensure clarity of communication between fliers over the 6 metres
Competitions and Events:
We will do a number of things before hosting an event:
1/ Risk assessment
2/ BMFA questionnaire
3/ Provide a volunteer covid policeman/woman for the duration
4/ Make use of the email@example.com provide registration and track and trace address.
Once again, we will opt for a flight line max of 4 people and ask that any covid positivity post event is reported to the above email.
Please do use the WSRFC WhatsApp group to let other fliers know of your intended visit.
Please do look and follow the advice given by BMFA on their interweb, our advice, and of course the national orgainisations (Government/NHS/PHE)
Finally, as with any prospective flight, if in doubt – Don’t
6 Person Group – Changes to Regulations
Whilst we await further clarification from governing bodies, BMFA etc, it appears that we will have to adapt to a 6 person maximum Group on the slope from 14th September.
The obvious questions arise, including, is that many groups of six or just one? How does this affect F3F/Open Slopes etc? Only time and work will clarify these points.
The good news is that it is extremely rare for there to be six of us together at any one time, but for now please follow the various (if conflicting) guidance which has bought us back to where we were immediately after lockdown, i.e. the slope is open but keep to 6 person maximum and wait to set up until someone leaves if there are 6 there already.
We can use the White Sheet WhatsApp group to inform others if we intend to visit the slope. This will give everybody a heads-up. If you are not already on it, text me with your name on 07711 824484 and I will add you to the group. We also have a Facebook group that could do the same thing White Sheet RFC.
Our covid advice is on our interweb and is in addition to the latest social distancing and cleanliness advice elsewhere.
A return to the skies
Under Level 3, White Sheet is open for members to return to airborne operations.
Please keep in mind and adhere to all government rules relating to the coronavirus, social distancing and use of PPE etc
Further to this, WSRFC recommends a flightline maximum of 4 people at two meters apart to ensure continual communication amongst those flying.
Stay safe, stay well and enjoy flying again.