UK F3A Team Member

Kevin Caton

When our Team Manager asked me to update my profile for the GBRCAA Team site, I was surprised to find that nearly 6 years have passed since I wrote the last one – so here goes…

 

About me:

I’m from North-West England but my career has meant a few moves around the country – I lived for many years in Suffolk and for the last five years I have been based near Stockton-on-Tees. I work for EDF Energy as a safety and regulation manager leading a small team at each of four of our company’s nuclear power stations. I’m married with two grown up daughters.

 

My flying history:

 I have a fairly standard background in flying – my Dad was a keen aeromodeller (from the days when it was aeromodelling - as opposed to model flying). I progressed through free flight and control line onto radio control at the age of 11, which was a few years ago! My interest in aerobatic flying grew through seeing competition reports in the modeling magazines and eventually a few of our club members entered a local inter-club competition in Cumbria. A well-known pilot of the day showed us all how it should be done with a Vertigo (which was quite an old design even then) and Dad and I were hooked.

 

Over the next few years we progressed onto bigger and better designs, although full-size planes were out of the question for a few years, driven by the need to fit 4 or 5 planes in the back of an Austin Maxi. For those readers younger than 45 the designs in the late 70s were about 1.5m span and an Austin Maxi was slightly bigger than a current Ford Fiesta!

 

With a bigger car and models Dad and I entered our first competitions in the then recently formed GBRCAA in early 1980. In spite of snow and high winds (the weather wasn’t any better then) I won my first ever GBRCAA competition – mainly due to having practised in all weather conditions over the previous winter. A few further successes that year got me promoted to FAI (then called Masters) and I ended the competition season by winning the best junior trophy at the very first GBRCAA championships.

 

Later that year I went to university and with it being the days before the internet, Facebook etc., I used my free time to keep flying – still in all wind directions and weather conditions, which I still believe to be the best strategy to improve your flying.

 

I started my working life, got married and children came along, all in the space of a few years, so competition flying was curtailed for a while, but I kept going, simply because it was something I enjoyed greatly.

 

By the mid 1990s I was still competing and creeping up the rankings, eventually qualifying for the team in 1995 for the World Championship in Japan. A few more years of success followed – I was national champion twice, held three GBRCAA committee posts and competed in several more World and European Championships.  Since the late 1990s I have competed every year in what are now the F3A World Cup events, firstly in Romilly in France and recently in Grandrieu in Belgium.

 

On reflection I’ve been around the aerobatic scene in the UK for 32 years and I suppose it shows that persistence pays! I still enjoy it as much as ever, from practice flying to competitions at home and abroad. F3A has taken me to 14 countries in 4 continents so far. I have friends from nearly all those places, as well as many at home. No matter what your level of flying, you will make those same friendships through our common passion of precision aerobatics.

 

For this year’s European Championship I will be flying two Jupiters, designed by Japanese team member Hajime Hatta. These are currently available as an ARTF through Lorenz Models in Germany. The Jupiters are powered by the Hacker Q80 motor and I use a Futaba 18MZ radio.

 

When you are on the flight line, it’s only you holding the transmitter, but like any competitive activity, the preparation required to get there is down to many people, so my thanks to you all.

 

Kevin Caton

March 2012

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