The first Saturday in August is the traditional date for the mass launch worldwide of the Cloud Tramp model aircraft. This simple 20" wing span, rubber powered model was designed by the American aeromodeller Charles Grant in 1954, in an effort to attract both young and old to this very worthwhile hobby. Over the years interest has grown and now models are launched all over the world at exactly 17.00 hrs BST meaning that, for example in Australia and many other distant countries the models are launched in the dark or in sport centres.
On Saturday the 6th of August 2017 at around 4 o'clock dog walkers and picnickers on Epsom Downs were mystified to see groups of people of all ages and sex walking across the Downs. They were generally carrying small 20" span rubber powered balsa model aircraft. The group soon settled in the centre of the Downs and the chat was of rubber motor lengths, balance points and wing incidence settings. Some of the fascinated spectators asked what was going on and were interested to hear this was the annual Mass Launch of a model aircraft called the Cloud Tramp.
The largest group in the UK for a number of years has been the mass launch on Epsom Downs Racecourse which is organised by the Epsom Downs Model Aircraft Club [EDMAC]. This year, after a day which started wet and windy it was thought that pilot numbers would be down, but as the launch time grew near the weather brightened and flyers started to arrive.
Robin Willes, the EDMAC organiser, directed the flyers, many with their families, to the upwind side of the Downs for the mass launch. Roger Marples Vice Chair of EDMAC, was pleased to welcome Liz Frost, Chairman of the Epsom and Walton Downs Conservators Committee who took an active part in the flying, as well as all the flyers, their families and spectators. The objective of the meeting is fun, fun and more fun. It is not a competition which was amply demonstrated by its friendly atmosphere, and as always this light hearted event caused lots of good natured banter between the flyers with suggestions of how far or for how long their models would fly. As the seconds ticked away to the mass launch time, flyers were winding the last few turns on their model's rubber motor, [sometimes too many which led to a quick change of motor as the elastic cried enough and snapped]!!.
Robin lined up all pilots, he gave a sharp blast on his whistle and spot on time the air was full of models all climbing away. With 29 Cloud Tramps launched we had an improvement on last years 26. Some Cloud Tramps spiralled to the ground, some mid-aired, some flew 2-300 yards but some travelled considerably further accompanied by cheers and exhortations to keep flying, with the fliers, their children and grandchildren ["fetchermites"] chasing after them.
After the event we were treated to some excellent flying by modellers who had also brought with them beautifully crafted rubber powered models. This brought to an end a really pleasant afternoon enjoyed by all.
On Saturday the 6th of August at around 4 o'clock dog walkers and picnickers on Epsom Downs were mystified to see groups of people of all ages and sex walking across the Downs. They were generally carrying small 20" span rubber powered balsa model aircraft. The group soon settled in the centre of the Downs and the chat was of rubber motor lengths, balance points and wing incidence settings. Some of the fascinated spectators asked what was going on and were interested to hear this was the annual Mass Launch of a model aircraft called the Cloud Tramp.
The event is held in memory of Charles Grant who was an American and designed the model in 1954 in an effort to get American youth interested in aeromodelling, which hopefully would lead to full size aviation.
The models are launched simultaneously across the world at 17.00 hrs BST, giving this event a true international flavour. This means that in countries on the other side of the world such as New Zealand or Australia the models are launched in the dark, often in sport centres or illuminated car parks.
The Downs meeting was organised by the Epsom Downs Model Aircraft Club [EDMAC]. Luckily for the fliers, which is not always the case, there was wall to wall sunshine with a fair breeze blowing towards the famous Epsom Grandstand.
Fliers came from far and wide to participate in this unique event, now in its 22nd year. The Club was pleased to welcome the current chair of Epsom and Ewell Conservators, Councilor Liz Frost, and the past Chair, Jean Smith, both of whom took an active part in the proceedings. As the minutes ticked away to the start time, Ted Horne a veteran free-flighter, gave the impending launch signal and requested that all the fliers line up in a straight line facing into the wind. As the start signal was given the air was filled with what seemed like hundreds of models [actually 26] all climbing away. As always there was a lot of good-natured banter as the planes climbed into what was now a stiff breeze. Some fliers saw their planes collide with other CT's , some flew for a just a few seconds with others travelling literally to the famous Epsom Grandstand. Whatever the planes progress each flier was enchanted by their particular planes flight and agreed to come again the following year.
Why not build your own Cloud Tramp, its simple and easy to construct, and join your fellow Tramp-ers on the Downs on August 5th 2017 and help us achieve a record breaking attendance.
Report by Tony Tomlin, EDMAC
2013 Cloud Tramp Report
The 2014 Cloud Tramp event took place on the Downs on Saturday 2nd August, with the traditional launch at 17:00BST - the same time as other Cloud Tramp events around the world. (Bear in mind that in New Zealand a few hardy souls are launching their Cloud Tramps in the dark at 6am on a winter morning!)
In warm and relatively calm conditions (compared to some years!) 25 people participated.
The 'official' group photo;
Once again Ted Horne kept us all in order, and to time.
Further shots from the day
And finally Robin Willes with a Cloud Tramp that looks like it shrunk in the wash!
2013 - Report by club chairman, David Lambert
On Saturday 3 August at 17.00 hrs the annual Cloud Tramp mass launch was once again held by EDMAC on Epsom Downs.
It was a bright but windy afternoon on the Downs and with Robin Willes running the event this year 31 Cloud Tramps were seen to take to the blue sky promptly at 5pm and some very good flights were recorded.
It was great to note that the number of Cloud Tramps launched in 2013 had increased from last years 22 to 31.
EDMAC was very pleased that Councillor Jean Smith, Chairman of the Conservators and the Consultative Committee, and Sam Beak, the Downs Manager and her young daughter both made time in their busy schedules to come along and join in. Both were provided with a Cloud Tramp model to Launch and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Why not make a note in your diary to join us on the 2 August 2014 for this fun event with one of the easiest to build and fly models ever designed.
Thanks to Peter Norman and Derek Foxwell for the photos.
This years participants were as follows, Robin Willes, Margaret Willes, Susan Moore, Graham Moore, Peggy Moore, Connor Sawyer, Martin Stanbridge, Sarah Stanbridge, Peter Norman, Alex Cameron, Pete Cameron, Fred Brown, David Lambert, Jamie Lambert, Jean Smith, Tony Tomlin, Keith Miller, Tom Thompson, Pauline Holloway, Mike Holloway, Roger Marples, Sam Beak, John Privett, Peter Michel, Adrian Smith, Cedric da la Nougerede, Mary da la Nougerede, Malcolm Jagger, Tony Green, Barbara Green, Derry Eggs.
And a final word for this year's event from Robin 'Orange Vest' Willes, "As far as I can ascertain Epsom's 31 Cloud Tramps was the biggest local launch out of the 142 so far reported."
The 2012 Cloud Tramp took place on Saturday August 4th.
Robin Willes reports, "This year 22 fliers launched at Epsom under the skillful direction of Ted Horne. Tom Thompson's 'plane went almost the full width of the Downs and Margaret (Ooh where's it gone?) Willes' landed near it.
Cloud Tramp world wide mass launch will be on August 3rd next year  so please make a note in your new diary to join us for this fun event with one of the easiest to build and fly models ever designed."
On Saturday 6th August the 2011 EDMAC Cloud Tramp event was held. This year 32 flyers gathered and took part on Epsom Downs. Numbers were slightly down on last year but still a good turn out never the less.
At 17.00 hours the mass launch of 32 Cloud Tramp models took place, a spectacular sight.
Congratulations go to Leon Cameron who recorded the longest flight with a time of 1 Min. 42 secs. He no doubt had serious coaching by both his father and grand father who are seriously keen aero modellers.
Many thanks to Ted Horne for running the event again this year and taking the official photos. Thanks also to Tony Tomlin for supplying additional photos. The event was great fun as always and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
May I also thank the R/C flyers present who stopped flying whilst Cloud Tramp 2011 took place.
Well done everybody.
We've received the following photographs from the 2011 event;
Ted Horne ran the Epsom Downs part of Cloud Tramp in 2010 and 2011. Last year we asked Ted for an explanation of Cloud Tramp for those who might not have encountered it before;
Thank you Ted, for running the day, in both 2010 and 2011, and for the explanation. More information on the event came be seen on the Cloud Tramp website.
Cloud Tramp 2010
EDMAC again hosted Cloud Tramp on the Downs on Saturday August 7th 2010. Initial reports indicate around 37 Cloud Tramps were launched. Video and photos from the day are shown below. I've been promised some more phots which will be added here when I receive them.
Alex Cameron videoed the launch at 5pm - here is his video;
The traditional, official group photo courtesy of Peter Norman - thanks Peter!
Cloud Tramp 2009
Despite the rain the 2009 Cloud Tramp event went ahead on Epsom Downs on Saturday August 1st 2009 with around 40 people participating in the mass launch at 5pm to coincide with other groups around the world. The initial pictures are shown below. More details will be added when available.
Cloud Tramp 2008
Initial pictures from the Cloud Tramp event held on Epsom Downs on Saturday August 2nd 2008 are shown below.
More details will be added when available.
Cloud Tramp 2007
Thirty-four EDMAC members and guests participated in the 2007 running of the annual Cloud Tramp event on Saturday August 4th. The picture above is the official Epsom Downs Cloud Tramp picture, courtesy of Peter Norman.
This year the weather was not entirely favourable, with a moderate, gusty wind from the South, but given the weather we've been having this summer it could have been a great deal worse - at least it didn't rain! The mass launch took place at 17:00 BST to coincide with other events held all around the world. More details of Cloud Tramp can be found on the Cloud Tramp website which will be updated as details come in from around the world.
Participants this year were;
Thanks to the Downs Conservators and the BMFA insurers for making it possible for EDMAC to host this unique event.