Note: While this was the "2nd World Speed Championship and 4th Championship of Europe" it was, as far as I know the second international contest with 2.5c.c. speed as an event. The contestants were all from Western Europe. Neither Germany nor any of the ComCon countries participated. This took place only seven years after the end of WW II.
The account is taken from Aeromodeller of September 1952
Volume XVII number 200
FOR -three years in succession this world-famous meeting has been held at the well-known coastal resort of Knokke-sur-Mer so that the announcement that Brussells was the venue for 1952 came as a surprise to us in Britain. The teams were housed at Evére, a military drome lying between Brussels and Melsbroek, where the actual contest site was situated. With Evére being some distance from both, this arrangement had disadvantages compared with Knokke, where the site was in the town square and team members housed in nearby hotels. The contest site was, however, a magnificent achievement on the part of the Belgian enthusiasts who constructed it. The instigator and guiding genius being that well known contest flier George Lippens. It consisted of two circles close to one another, with a control box situated between the two. The actual surface was some form of bituminous material used extensively for aerodrome runways during the war.
Some ten nations were competing with notable newcomers such as Spain, Norway, Denmark and three lads from the U. S. Navy stationed in North Africa.
Saturday morning saw brilliant sunshine and the teams transported to Melsbroek for breakfast followed by practice flying until lunch time. Rumour had it that practice flying actually commenced at Evere at 5.30 a.m., when certain British team members aroused the camp to the soothing note of a Dooling 61 .
Pits, consisting of "line corridors" with tables at one end shaded by gaily coloured continental sunshades, were available for each team. Very soon both pits and tracks were hives of activity, with the tuning, of screaming racing engines, and the ear-splitting racket of Dynajets adding to the normal noises of Belgium's biggest airport.
Lunch time came too soon for those with last minute adjustments, and finally at 2 p.m. one and all were assembled for the Concours D'Elegance.
After the Concours there was a brief but significant lull and we judges retired to the " Monkey Cage " to prepare for the first fights. This erection, so named by virtue of its wire mesh surround, housed no less than 1 "I officials, but it must be pointed out that the organisation was highly efficient in spite of the appearance of " too many cooks ". Messrs. Chapart, Babusiaux and Major Borgniet were timing 5 c.c. and 10 c.c. on the large circle whilst Messrs. Ferber, Asselberg and myself took the 2-5 c.c. and Stunt on the smaller tracks.
First man to register an official flight was Labarde of France who completed an exemplary flight in the inimitable Labarde style. Most of the teams were using mechanical starters but in spite of such aids there were far too many competitors who forfeited an " attempt " through failing to start in the specified three minutes.
Claydon, the first Britisher to fly, failed in this manner, and when Davenport skidded off the dolly to hit the tarmac on the other side of the circle, things did not look too bright for us.
The Spaniards flew one of their many jets which promptly ran amok and finally caught fire. They did, however make several excellent runs and subsequently tool; first two places in this class.
On our stunt circle the other judges and myself had little tinge to spare, for both stunt and 2-5> cc models arrived in a never-ending stream. Being used to judging stunt in this country I was surprised at the In, standard of flying, only the top four or five men being up to our Gold Trophy standard.
Around " tea-time " (how one misses that afternoon "cuppa ") speed and stunt flying were brought to a temporary halt and the team race got underway. The less said about the British entry the better. Claydon's model was used, with Ridgeway and Davenport as mechanics. Neither had been in a team race before and this factor coupled with a tricky motor, the peculiarities of which were only known by Claydon, kept our entry on the ground. It also managed to catch fire at one period which added to the general entertainment.
Fortunately for us the whole team race side of the meeting was something of a fiasco, only the Dutch boys appeared to have any real experience. Models Would certainly have failed to pass British rules, the winning Belgian racer having no cockpit whatsoever ! The Spaniards had a fast and most unusual diesel powered swept wing job which was well flown by Movo, but again was a bad starter and spent most of its time on the ground.
With the recommencement of speed and stunt flying we saw Pete Wright in action for the first time, but Lady Luck seemed to have temporarily deserted our team, for his motor cut prematurely on the attempt. One most impressive youngster in the 2.5 c.c. class was Sorenson of Denmark, whose model almost outpaced him on several flights, when he finished flat on his back.
Sunday morning found the sun beating- down with even greater intensity on perspiring competitors and officials. Such dry heat was obviously not going to lead to any new records being broken, and keeping supplies of carefully concocted fuel "brews" out of the sun, was a further problem for the speed boys.
As I sat in the judges' box and surveyed the scene I could not help but reflect how truly continental it all looked. The pits in the far corner with their brightly coloured awnings seemed for all the world like a scene on the boulevards, disturbed, not only by the angry noises of models but by the steady throb of Belgium's largest airport. I noticed a jet, a stunt model, and a Boeing Stratocruiser all within my line of vision at one period. And what a wonderful mixing ground the pits had become by this time. Technicalities were discussed in sign language, accessories were borrowed and exchanged, all 111 that spirit of good will and fellowship that aeromodellers never fail to promote.
When Pete 'Wright set a cracking pace for the day with a 5 c.c. flight of 186.528 km.p.h. British hopes began to rise. Later on he bettered this figure with 193.548 km.p.h. Then Pete Ridgeway, who suffered a little through nervousness on his first stunt flight, went swiftly and smoothly through the book, to record 632 points out of a possible 650. This gave him a comfortable lead over his only serious rival Janssens of Belgium, who flew very well indeed.
Pete Wright then brought out his E.D. 2.46 c.c. Gloplug model which suffered from incorrect motor setting on its first flight. Pete seemed to wait ages before putting his wrist in the yoke on the second, and I for one did not expect the model to complete the necessary 14 laps. However, it did, but with precious little flying time to spare. A speed of 158.590 was announced, which raised a terrific ovation from the crowd and which subsequently proved to be the fastest time in this class.
Now the white-coated French team appeared, headed by the renowned and rotund Dr. Millet who performs such delicate operations on McCoy 60's and Dooling 29's. "Le Docteur Volante" gave a wonderful and fairly literal performance, with both feet leaving the ground as he swept round in pursuit of his 5 c.c model. His speed was 198.395 which put him top in this class, relegating Wright to second place.
With a first in the Concours, a first in the 2.5 c.c. speed, a first in the stunt and a second in the 5 c.c. speed, it was now fairly essential for Davenport as the only possessor of a 10 c.c. job, to make a good placing in this class, if we were to be in the running for the Championship of Europe. Three attempts are permitted for each flight and a fight is recorded once the contestant has placed his wrist in the pylon yoke. Davenport had used all but the last attempt at his last flight, so that the rest of us were not particularly sanguine of the result. The model safely left the dolly and we waited for the motor to cut as it had done on previous fights, but No! It went on. Then it faltered, and so did our hopes. Davenport all but took his wrist out of the yoke. He finally made it with a speed of 225 km.p.h. and the motor cutting before the end of the last lap. Even then the issue was in the balance as the judges were not all in agreement as to whether he had lifted his wrist, which would have nullified the fight. Fortunately they decided the figures were to stand and Great Britain had another second place.
Top man in the 10 c.c. class was that very cheery Italian Battistella who flies a workmanlike Dooling 61 model which also gained him a World record.
Again flying stopped in the middle of the afternoon for the team race. With Belgium, Holland, Spain and the U.S. Navy fighting it out in the final. At least
I think it was the final for I never did finally sort out the so-called heats.
In any event most of this contest was conducted on the ground. The time taken to start motors was appalling, as the winner's time denotes, and I was sadly disappointed in the whole affair.
At 5 p. m. the heat became even more oppressive and black clouds indicated an approaching thunderstorm. Rain fell for a short while and brought just the right sort of humid atmosphere for racing motors. Claydon took advantage of it and got in a good 5 c.c. flight having previously placed fourth in the 2.5 c.c. class.
By the time the rain had gone the meeting had drawn to its conclusion. Alec Houlberg, Col. Fates and myself retired to the administrative buildings where M. Roussel and his hardworking compatriots were plugging away at the final results.
Our patient wait outside the "office" finally bore fruit as we were handed a sheet announcing that Great Britain had once again won the European Championship.
All credit to the British team who each gained a vital place in the respective classes to make this victory possible. All credit to the British Motors such as the E.D. 2.46 and the Eifflaender diesels, flown by such men as Wright and Ridgeway. Particularly Pete Wright who I know the other team members will not mind me singling out. This is Pete's second year in Belgium, where his consistent flying has done much to contribute to British success.
Finally a vote of thanks to the "Federation de la Petite Aviation Belge" for their splendid hospitality, and a tribute to their first class organisation.
An interesting footnote heard at the splendid dinner we enjoyed at the Belgium Aero Club, was the fact that the control line "arena" at Melsbroek has been appropriately named "Place de Lippens" as a tribute to the initiative and inspiration of the man so largely responsible for its creation.