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Society of Model Aircraft Engineers

National Competitions – May 1947

Held at Gravesend Airport (this is assumed as Gravesend station was the disembarkation point of those coming by train). The aerodrome is up on a ridge, open to the sky & the wind. The views are  across the Thames estuary in one direction, & towards wooded hills in the other.  

The competitions on the first day were the Pilcher Cup, the Woman’s Challenge Cup, & the M.E. no.2.  

Woman’s Cup :-

After 2 flights, Margaret Galbreath of the Blackheath Model Flying Club, had an aggregate of about 200 secs which put her in the lead, flying her ‘Russian Rabbit’. She retained the lead until the very end of the day, when Mrs. Buckeridge turned up & did a second flight of 2½ mins, which made her first.  

Margaret Galbreath also went in for the M.E. 2 with her Russian Rabbit, but the prop & wing tip launch in the strong breeze was too much for her, & she crashed on the second attempt & chewed up the front of the fuselage. So she was out of that.  

The organisation was very good. There was an audible loud speaker system, which is a help, & ten take off points in a row, with two time keepers at each. Each competition had a number, & when it was called he went to one of the take off points & made a flight. They were very strict on the rules, & everything ran very smoothly & quickly.  

When the comps had finished for that day many went went back home, but others stayed behind. Quite a number of other people were camping including Howard Boys. They watched some rocket planes, & talked to him a bit. He has two tiny little flying wings, which go very well, & a rather large one. The large one he was flying after dark, & it was most spectacular, with streams of red sparks gushing out behind it. Some people there were not so early to bed. Some were sitting round camp fires, & some were even flying diesels in the dark up till nearly midnight. They started flying again at about 5.30 next morning.  

The competitions on the 2nd day were the Thurston Cup, the Sir John Shelley, & the Weston.  

Ron Galbreath had a model fitted with a lightweight camera he constructed. The following photo was taken from it.

One of the aerial photos. The black blob is the tissue on the end of the tow line which hadn’t got out of the way in time. Visible is the runway with lots of people on it.



Margaret Galbreath’s Russian Rabbit going up in the Woman’s cup. She came 2nd – her prize a bottle of Atkinson’s eau de Cologne.

A rocket model of Howard Boys.

As told by Margaret Galbreath.