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With a heavy heart, I heard David Baker died today, 1st January 2009.

I first met David in 1977 at Biggleswade Common, the then Mecca of our embryo Society of Antique Modellers (SAM) Chapter. He was our centre of gravity, prime mover for all SAM activities and the most enthusiastic hobbyist I ever met. He always looked to the bright side, full of ideas, encouraging others to build and fly, yet with an endless ability to create his own masterpieces faster, lighter and truer than all others, and mostly they always flew straight from the building board. Not-with-standing, he also had the highest “loss to build” ratio of any of his contemporaries because he always flew with full fuel tanks and never with a DT. Amazing!

An endless library of magazines, plans and articles, fluttered like confetti from the boot of his car yielding mass encouragement for anyone and everyone who cared to show interest. If a needed subject was not immediately available it was usually dispatched the very next day, generally at nil cost. My long held belief is that all his balsa cutting, copying and mailing came to his disciples, courtesy of our mutual tax collector, the UK Treasury. Why not, we paid our taxes?

Known worldwide, his name was synonymous with Vintage Model Flying in the UK, Europe and as far afield as the Antipodes. Of all his achievements, apart from spawning both SAM35 and SAM1066, he created a lasting legacy of no less than four Mecca’s; Biggleswade Common, Old Warden, Pinkum Field and Middle Wallop. The latter now universally recognized as the true home of Vintage Aeromodelling in the UK. I mean, who else do we know who could create four such powerful and evocative UK memory banks for all who experienced them? Another fantastic accomplishment was his untiring energy in presenting SAM35 to the entire UK world of model making with its jaw-dropping presence at the Model Engineering Exhibitions held at Wembley and Alexandra Palace during the 1980’s and early 90’s. Stunning is an under-statement of what he personally achieved with the help of his friends at those remarkable events.

From the outset, David single handedly launched SAM35 and SAM1066 in the UK and whilst the former flourished with an organising committee, following his many years of outstanding success as the sole driving force of SAM1066 it became difficult for him to sustain the effort due to the loss of his wife and soul mate, Hilda, and a subsequent bout of very poor health. Yet, during that period of personal gloom he encouraged the rebirth of SAM1066 by his staunch friends and colleagues, as the first ever digital chapter of the Society of Antique Modellers, and David (who else), was re-elevated to the figurehead position of founder and honoured president.

There are many of us with saddened hearts this New Years Day, 1st January 2009, a day indelibly marked in our consciousness when we lost one of our best ever friends. He is, was and will remain forever, a revered member of our worldwide society and I count myself fortunate, indeed, to have known him, and in some very small way tried to follow in his giant footprints. Our thoughts are with his daughters Julie and Alison and their families for the heart ache they are feeling, much greater than ours, at the loss of such a dear friend ... R.I.P.

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Ramon Alban


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