Norwich model aeroplane pilot hopes to rise above competition at European championships

Mike Woodhouse pictured with his rubber powered free flight aircraft.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mike Woodhouse pictured with his rubber powered free flight aircraft. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A 75-year-old model aeroplane pilot from Norwich is hoping to rise above his competition at an international championships next year.

Mike Woodhouse pictured with his rubber powered free flight aircraft.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mike Woodhouse pictured with his rubber powered free flight aircraft. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Michael Woodhouse, who lives in Eaton, is the longest serving member of the Great Britain free flight duration model team.

And he has now been chosen to represent his country at the Free Flight European Championships in Hungary next July.

Mr Woodhouse's passion for model aircraft started when he was a young City of Norwich School pupil.

But it really took off when he started earning money as an accountant.


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The grandfather now makes carbon fibre planes powered by giant rubber bands, and the aim is to make them stay in the air for as long as possible.

Remote controls are forbidden, with electronics on the aircraft, which has a 1.8-metre wing span, steering it in a giant circle.

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A pre-set system within the plane dictates when its rudder should turn.

Mr Woodhouse said: 'It's a great hobby because it gets you out and about. I have to use my brain and my body, and I have a good circle of mates who enjoy it too.

'I'll probably keep going until its my turn to fly through the Elysian Fields in the sky.'

He has been competing internationally since 1967 and in 1990 he was ranked as number three in the world for his particular discipline.

The hobby has taken him all over the world, and he has taken part in competitions in former Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria.

Most of his practice flights are conducted at Tibenham Airfield, which is shared by Norfolk Gliding Club.

Mr Woodhouse said one of the biggest difficulties with the sport was finding suitable space to practice.

'The problem is we need an airfield,' he said. 'We sometimes say our past time is courtesy of Adolf Hitler, because so many of the runways were built during the war.'

In the European championships, competitors have to complete several flights, with the highest combined flight duration winning.

In some rounds, the aircraft have to remain in the sky for up to four minutes.

It can also be a dangerous hobby, as Mr Woodhouse has broken bones while rushing to launch his next plane.

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