MAAA Wingspan

12 WING SPAN NOVEMBER heritage story: FLYING HIGH PILOT IAIN MCLEAY DISCUSSES HIS ENTHUSIASM FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT DURING AND AFTER A CAREER FLYING FULL SIZED PLANES AS A COMMERCIAL PILOT FOR QANTAS Often as aeromodellers, we are trying to emulate the experience of piloting a full sized aircraft for real. But for Iain Mcleay, having been a commercial pilot for Qantas for several decades, he has already experienced the unique feeling of flying an aircraft of this grand scale. This didn’t deter him from continuing the hobby of aeromodelling following his retirement. “My earliest recollection of childhood was of my father and the smell of acetone as he tried to start up a little model airplane,” said Iain. “Then, around the age of ten I had a little control line model with an ED 2cc and I taught myself to fly along the front lawn- much to my neighbours’ disgust.” Iain continued practicing control line until he commenced university but found that his time was so consumed learning to fly that he dropped out to study for a commercial pilot’s license instead. “When I turned 21 I had the opportunity to go to England to a navigation school to finish off my flying qualifications,” he said. “Then I commenced a job with Qantas- first as a second officer on Super Constellations, then after a couple of years I progressed to the 707.” During this period Iain met Charles Peak, who he says was one of the very first radio control model aircraft flyers in Sydney at the time. “He got me back into model aircraft, flying radio control and from there a number of us formed a club called Sydney Radio Control Society,” he said. This was toward the end of the 1970s when large-scale models began making an appearance, enticing Iain’s passion for scale modelling. “The first big one I built was a Fokker D.VIII in 1982 for a large pageant organised at Paradise Gardens in Sydney with David Boddington as a judge,” Iain said. “I built a nine-inch wingspan model for the event which contained one of the first big engines at around 30cc. It was very successful and that was the start of my large heavy model building.” Then in 1985 another event, (this time held in Victoria) motivated Iain to build a 115-inch wingspan Typhoon with a 90cc engine- one of the first of the very large scale WW2 fighters, which he said was his first major model. “Meanwhile I was working with Qantas. I initially began flying in the late 1960s. My first job was captain on a DC-3, flying around Fuji and Tonga. I later obtained command on the 707 for three years, then flew the 747 for twelve years as captain.”