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There was nothing at all miniature about Jack Humphreys. A modeller of great stature in many ways, now sadly departed, he was a tall and gangly bloke and used to build BIG model airplanes. The epitomy of a working man, with his flat hat and braces, he also knew his vintage model planes and engines to a tee. His build quality was fantastic and never seemed to do things by halves. Indeed the model for which he is best known, the "Valkerie", was produced at least twice if not thrice by him, his wife and daughter Diane..

Jack's "Valkerie" near demolished a caravan at the Nationals once, just missing the mobile home by inches for a perfect landing among the parked cars. I'm sure I recall seeing all three models with their enormously complex wings at one meeting and I definitely saw a brace of them, his and Dianes', fly in formation. Now, she was just a slip of a girl when all this was happening, barely into her teens, never-the-less even though she inherited her dad's penchant for large models she surprised every one when she unveiled a 15ft wingspan "Boehle Giant" at an Old Warden Vintage Day, of all places.

Flying Faces No 12 Jack Humphreys

The next surprise was that she fired up the engine and allowed the Giant to trundle off the ground into a perfect circuit over that miniature airfield to land undamaged almost at her feet. I was one of several hundred people who witnessed her model pass overhead at about 20 feet altitude and as the shadow moved across the grass, the effect was not dissimilar to a total eclipse of the sun.

In many ways, that flight typified the Old Warden Vintage Day scene in the early '80's. No flight line, and hardly any Radio Control activity, just many hundreds of people scattered willy-nilly across the field on a flat calm day, all getting on with their own vintage free flight bonanza, only stopping to gawp at something particularly unusual. Believe me, a "Boehle Giant " flown at Old Warden by a teenage girl inspired by her dad, the great Jack Humphries, just about qualified as unusual. One cannot imagine such a thing happening today because of the letigeous fears of organisers and organisations alike. Those days are indeed long-gone but, like Jack Humpreys, not forgotten.

If you can add any more anecdotal material relating Jack and his fleet of large model airplanes, please let me have them for inclusion in these reflections of our great hobby.

Ramon Alban


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