Richard (Dick) Place.
It is on occasions like these that people often take stock of things that have happened in the past, and realise how quickly time, and years have slipped by.
It was with great sadness that I report of the passing of one of the all-time quiet legends from our control line section in April 2020.-that of Richard Place. Always known as “Dick”, to his friends; apart from his legendary team racing partner and friend, Don Haworth - who always referred to him as Richard.
Dick was always an aeromodeller from his very young days as a schoolboy, in the late 1940s, when he first joined the Leeds aeromodelling club whilst still at school. According to Don, that was a short-lived affair because, their group of friends were interested in the fledgling discipline of control line flying.
Leeds was primarily a free flight club with no space for the former, so a breakaway group was formed, known as MIMS (Meanwood Independent Modellers.) Dick was involved with this teenage club until he was called up for National Service, when he went to the RAF. Meanwood only lasted a few years, before the group amalgamated with the now famous control line club Wharfedale.
He had three years in the service, during which he met and teamed up with a young Arthur Burley, to fly team race models with some notable success - Dick always being the pilot. It was whilst there, that he designed two of his elegant racers. The first, was the kitted Bradshaw Model Products, Starshooter 1/2A racer, which later morphed into the 1/2A Countdown, published in this magazine, and the very famous F.A. I. racer- Super Nova.
When he left the RAF and returned to civilian life; it was around 1962, that his final competition team of Place /Haworth were officially formed. With Don’s great engineering skill, and Dicks superb piloting and a variation of the “Super Nova” model, Dick and Don took first place in the World Championships in Hungary during 1964 and repeated the win at the following years 1965 Criterium in Belgium.
Using Don’s modified ETA 15 diesel engine, the pair went on to rack up numerous wins during the “golden period” of control line competitions. Place and Haworth will always be associated with the success of that excellent engine at international level. The iconic picture from the era, was featured on the cover of Aeromodeller, and is reproduced here.
Don recalls how they were the first team to be drawn out of the hat, in the first heat, at that meeting, and were to be juried by another aeromodelling legend- none other than Ron Moulten. He also says that Dick was a little optimistic landing the racer, when it fractured its undercarriage in that first race. Repairs with fibreglass and resin saved the day for the future champions at the world event!!
Dick and Don continued competitive flying until 1970 when Dick moved away south, had two sons, and left control line behind. He did fly a little radio, but not at competition level, and some gliders. I feel very privileged to have known, and been a friend, to the unassuming Yorkshireman who was to be the first “FAI new formula” champion that England had.
Around eight years ago was our last contact, when he visited the British Nationals at Barkston Heath, with a newly constructed “Super Nova” racer, which he had built for the Barton Classic Racing formula. To this day, I am sure that the model never took to the air- a reminder of great days. Always a formidable competitor, but a true gentleman both in and out of the circle.
To his family, go all our condolences and respect for a superb person RIP Richard Place.
My thanks to Veronica and Don Haworth for their memories and comments. Malcolm Ross.