Volunteer technicians building a half-size replica of a Blériot monoplane in 2014 to mark the centenary of the first aircraft to land in the Woodley area in 1914. The wheels are from a Silver Cross pram.
In early 2013, when the Blériot replica was finally completed, it was lifted into place on a specially manufactured display stand.
The Blériot propeller was fashioned by Chris from a mahogany-like piece of tropical hardwood.
Sometime in the summer of 2015, a model Spitfire kit was donated to the museum. It was of wooden construction and the volunteers assembled it in our workshop. It was decided to acquire and fit a motor to drive the propeller and to make the control surfaces active. This would include making the undercarriage retractable in an authentic way. The volunteers were faced with quite a challenge, not least was the fact that the kit seemed to be only 85% complete.
The model Spitfire in position in the museum
The volunteers were faced with quite a challenge, not least was the fact that kit seemed to be only 85% complete. It was decided that using a normal remote control for a flying model wasn’t appropriate so a scaled-down mock-up of a Spitfire cockpit. It really was quite an undertaking to translate the movements of a control in the model to operate the converted transmitting controller was really not simple.
The remote on the left had to be converted so it could be operated by the cockpit on the right
The controls made to look as authentic as possible but of a larger scale to the ‘cockpit’ to make them robust and easier to operate. The controls in the ‘cockpit’ operate the throttle, undercarriage, flaps, ailerons, rudder and elevators.
The display was set up and commissioned in the museum in early September 2017 and soon proved to be very popular. Anybody visiting the museum can operate the Spitfire and learn from the information boards how the controls affect the orientation of an aeroplane. Volunteers are always on hand to help with this display.
The Mini Delta simulator was designed and built by the museums’ volunteers for children to ‘pilot’. The Delta features authentic moving control surfaces. The rudder is controlled by the pedals, assuming the child has long enough legs. The control column operates the elevons and makes the aircraft pitch and roll.
Keith fixing the Delta simulator
‘Elevons’ is a contraction of the words elevators and ailerons and they have to do the jobs of both. On the Mini Delta they work with realism, in other words they work together when pitching, and opposite when rolling.
The Skyvan model, December 2017
The Skyvan model was donated some years ago by John Soper, a volunteer who is sadly no longer with us. John was a keen aero modeller and this piece had to be reassembled as far as the construction had already gone. The Skyvan is made mostly of balsa wood and would have been completed as a radio controlled flying model.
Graham resolving an electrical problem
In 2017, after the Spitfire model had been completed, the Skyvan was resurrected as a project. A small team of volunteers began working to complete the model for display in the museum. It includes a model Land Rover as its cargo.
How the Skyvan may appear when finished but nothing has yet been decided on the livery. This is the livery of the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force but it might appear in the colours of a civilian airline.
This is the Land Rover model that will form part of the Skyvan display. The Skyvan cargo doors will be able to be opened and the Land Rover can be operated to drive down the ramp. The vehicle can then be retrieved, ramp rise back up and the cargo doors closed.
This article will be updated as the project progresses.
Many thanks to the Museum of Berkshire Aviation for help, support and guidance on this and other articles. For the latest information, opening days, times and the location of the museum, visit the homepage of the website by clicking on the button below:
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