Electric Flight in Australia

 

Jan David - German team manager

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Peter Pine
PO Box 324
Pottsville Beach NSW 2489
Phone (02) 6676 1437
Fax (02) 6676 2831
E-mail: ppine@northnet.com.au 

 

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Jan David hailed from Hamburg in Northern Germany. He visited the 1995 F3B World Championships (for winch launched gliders) held in Waikerie in 1985. He came at the behest of Peter Blomaart who was there as an FAI judge, specifically to promote electric flight. And promote electric flight he did!

Jan flew a hot electric glider for a demonstration flight at the World Champs flying field. Those of us who saw it could not believe it. We had never seen anything like it! His demonstration prompted several people to give electric gliding a go – including me!

I remember walking back to the club house after the demonstration with one of the glider fliers. He said to me, “That was impressive, but I don’t think I’ll ever change to electric flight.” There was a lot of prejudice against electric flying, and some of it persists today, especially in clubs devoted mainly to internal combustion powered aircraft. But the tide is turning!

After the F3B World Championships, electric enthusiasts organised an International Electric Flight Rally and Seminar (by Peter Blomaart). This rally was conducted at the UMAC field in Western Sydney. Jan David attended the rally and continued his impressive demonstrations. Local enthusiasts were greatly encouraged in their quest for effective electric power, and lapped up the bag full of cobalt motors that Peter Blomaart brought over from Europe for the Ozzie brothers! Electric fever was effectively transmitted by these visitors from overseas.

Within one year of this event, a full Ozzie team travelled to Lommel in Belgium to participate in the First Electric Flight World Championships, organised by Peter Blomaart. The team consisted of Wayne Hadkins, John Adams and myself as pilots, with Peter Cranfield as Team Manager. If it had not been for the enthusiasm evoked by the visit of Peter Blomaart and Jan David, I’m not sure that a team would have presented for this event.

Jan David was there at Lommel as the German team manager. He continued as team manager for many years. He was an effusive, ebullient and ubiquitous member of the international electric flight community. I have a photo of him hamming up a mock flag raising ceremony outside the German team caravan in Lommel one evening, assisted by a host of strange brown bottles. In real life he was a television political commentator, and he had the presence that public figures engender. But he was not beyond offering encouragement to any electric fliers. He welcomed guests to his home in northern Germany, and hosted our whole team for a visit after the first World Champs. His presence is missed, as Jan died quite young. We thank him for his friendship, for the contribution he made to electric flight, and particularly for his contribution to the Australian scene.