LOUIS GATT - MEMBER
I’ve been into flying Model Aircraft some 65 years. My first models were free flight or rubber powered models kitted by Keil Kraft and Frog which at the time were leading producers of model airplane kits. The models were constructed out of balsa wood strips, covered with tissue paper and painted with dope. Dope was a very light cellulose base paint which shrank on drying up thus adding strength to the tissue and the airframe.
In the late 50’s I ventured into control line model flying and into single channel radio control aircraft. At that time most of my flying activities were carried out at Mriehel. There was a big expanse of rural land which was known as the RA. I don’t know from where it got this name, but this place was very active indeed with model aircraft flying. We used to meet up sometimes in groups as big as ten flyers. Control line model engines screeching their hearts out on the field – without any muffler! The ‘RA’ area was later developed into the Mriehel Industrial Estate.
At that time, the one and only Model Club was the Sliema Model Club. This was founded in the early 50’s (if not earlier) by the late Mr. Axisa, J. Anastasi, G. Curmi, and a few others who I can’t remember. These were the pioneers of RC Model Aircraft in the Maltese Islands. Subsequently this club grew into a National model club by the name of Malta Model Aircraft Association and this is where I joined the Committee as a Hon Treasurer. Eventually, the name was again changed to Malta Model Aircraft Flying Association.
The first multi digital proportional radio control equipment started reaching our shores in the mid sixties. The first equipment were heavy, very expensive and quite unreliable by today’s standards. The equipment was quite prone to interference since transmission was on the 27 Mhz AM band. This band was shared with ‘walkie talkies’ and other communication and digital data traffic. My first RC set in this category was a Graupner five channel set bought from a shop run by Mr. J.B. Vella in Sliema. It’s price was more than that of a brand new Ford Escort car bought from Ford’s car showroom! Though this equipment was primitive by today’s standards, it was a very definite improvement on the single channel set. The introduction of this ‘new’ technology paved the way for today’s high quality and reliable equipment.
Once again, my first multi radio control model was a Keil Kraft kit. It was the Super Sixty Advanced. Originally this kit was designed for single channel radio control but I converted it to ‘multi’ by adding an elevator and beefing up the wing spars to take the extra Gs. So now the Super Sixty was flying Rudder, Elevator and Throttle. A couple of months later, this same model had another upgrade by getting ailerons. It was powered by the legendary OS .40 Glow and provided me with hours on end of fun flying.
During the years, I build several models from plans, kits and my own designs. Aerobatic models were my first preference. I used to build models designed by aerobatic champions like Wolfgang Matt, Hanno Pretner, Michael Birch and others. Plans of their models were available for sale through R.C.M & E or Model Maker magazine.
In early 1970, foam wings were introduced. They offered stiff competition to the built up wing as they were stronger and could be built up in a shorter time. The finished wing turned up a bit heavier than it’s built up counterpart. Eventually I was cutting foam wings for myself and for my friends too. I must have cut dozens of wings for different models ranging from aerobatic, scale, racing and high aspect ratio glider wings.
I was a very keen and avid builder. For some years, I was building from scratch up to test flight several models annually! I also gave a helping hand to other flyers who could not build their models themselves. My son Josef liked model aircraft from a very young age too. He was very good at building too. At the age of seven he used to do tiny replicas of the models I was building from discarded scrap balsa! This was amazing. He got the bug all right and he’s still at it right now. But he’s not doing my replicas anymore now J
I consider model aircraft flying as a hobby, sport and educator. It’s a hobby because it’s done for enjoyment and recreation in spare time. It’s a sport because there’s a competitive and physical element in flying. It’s an educator since the flyer passes through a process of learning and acquisition of knowledge related to flight. It is indeed a very fulfilling all-rounder.
I served on the Committee for some 35 years plus, during which I was appointed Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, President and Editor of Newsbeat for many long years and presently PRO. Newsbeat was the forerunner of the current Newsletter. Together with the late Mr. George Curmi, I once attended a crucial meeting with top Government officials to promote our Association and hobby. This was a very positive (PRO) meeting through which our Association reaped great benefits. Air Malta was still a dream in the Government’s mind at that time. For many years I hosted Committee Meetings at home as we had no club house at that time and we needed somewhere to conduct our meetings.
I cherish my service to the M.M.A.F.A. and always worked hard to make our Association stronger and safer to the benefit of all members.
MARTIN MIFSUD - TREASURER
Since I was a young boy I was fascinated by aviation in general and back in the school days myself and Josef Gatt (we were class mates) used to build free flight models from plans taken from the magazine RCM&E. My first model was a Graupner Dandy glider with a pod on top powered by a OS 10. I have been a member of the MMAFA for thirty one years now and served as a committee member before. My preferred models are scale Jet powered models but also am keen on vintage scale and civil ones too. My son Daniel who has inherited this hobby is my carrot that keeps me going on in the beautiful hobby. I have been president of the MMAFA between 2014 and 2021 of which I am so proud; to have been able to steer the association and tried to obtain the best possible achievements the association deserves.