MAAA Wingspan

12 WING SPAN NOVEMBER heritage story: MAL PRING - 70 YEARS STRONG IN THE SPORT WE SPEAK TO THE AEROMODELLER ABOUT AN ASTONISHING SEVEN DECADES IN THE SPORT AND SOME OF HIS EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS ALONG THE WAY Mal Pring has been a loyal MAAA member for almost as long as the organisation itself. The former Technology Studies school teacher from South Australia, joined the Loxton Model Flying club (which is now called Riverland MAC) as a junior back in 1949 at just nine years of age and subsequently went on to fly hand-launched gliders, F/F power, jetex, control line and almost every other facet of aeromodelling along the way. “I was always interested in aeroplanes. Somebody mentioned that there was a model club in the town so I joined up, being assigned the number VH 743 by the MAAA”, he says. “I flew small hand-launch gliders back in those days. However, I eventually went onto free flight glider and power models, and control line.” In 1956, just seven years after debuting as an aeromodelling pilot, Mal competed at the South Australian Champions, (his first competition in control line class A team racing) and placed an impressive third. “I could have won, but for a silly change to the model the night between the heats and the final. The contest was won by Bill Fitch, with a preproduction 2.5cc Sabre ball raced diesel, that was later renamed Taipan,” says Mal. Great acclaim would eventually arrive in 1968, with the Strathalbyn Nationals, where Mal won a A2 sailplane and placed third in A1 sailplane in free flight, setting an Australian (and world) record time in 1/2A Team race using a preproduction Taipan 1.5cc BB diesel. He had lowered the previous record by approximately two minutes over ten miles. It would be a record that would last 20 years. And Mal continued to soar. A couple of decades on from this achievement, (in which time he won the Whyalla Open 100-lap pylon race twice and significantly helped pioneer electric flight in South Australia) he became the first Australian to achieve level five in the League of Silent Flight achievement program. This top level required three contest wins with more than 20 competitors over six contests, an eight-hour flight on a slope, with a two-hour duration flight on flat land and a 10km out and return flight without landing- all with a glider. It was an incredible feat to accomplish. But Mal seemed to be just getting started. In 1997, he exceeded 100 mph with a radio controlled electric- ducted fan model - the first time such a model had achieved such speeds in South Australia. “It was at Monarto at an event called Jet Action 97. I used my own designed fan unit with a brushed motor and Nickel Cadmium batteries,” he continues. Since this extraordinary accomplishment, Mal has flown many ducted fan models that have been predominately from his own designs. Indeed, Mal says that although he gave up winch-launched gliders a few years ago, due in part to the rigours of retrieving winch lines all day, he still competes in electric gliding events and continues to build most of his models from scratch. “Years ago if I didn’t place myself in the top 10 percent I was really mad at myself. These days if I place last, it doesn’t worry me one little bit because I’ve been there and done that,” admits Mal. “I remember when I was a little junior and coming up through the ranks beating all the big boys. Now I see all the young ones coming up and knocking me off. But it doesn’t worry me at all because it’s part of the fun.”