It is with regret that I inform members of the passing of our active Life Member Howard Boys (writes SAM 35 President Alex Imrie). He had been unwell since Christmastime and was admitted to hospital only a few days before his death there on 27 March (1984). I was able to attend the funeral service held in Weedon Church and the burial ceremony at Rugby on Wednesday, 4 April.
Howard Boys was born at Flore, Northamptonshire in 1906. He was always air-minded, and considered that this stemmed from his grandfather who flew kites from the garden. Howard was keen on drawing and making things, and remembered sketching early aeroplanes and playing with models of gliders and other flying machines. He aimed to find out about wireless, then in its infancy; and chemistry also appealed - he was especially curious about making gunpowder to produce his own fireworks. In later years his hobby was to encompass these three main subjects when he became involved with rocket propelled model aeroplanes and those controlled by radio.
He left school at 14 to become an engineering apprentice. This type of work was to prove very unstable in his part of the country and over the years he was to suffer much unemployment. As his
knowledge of materials and proficiency with hand tools increased he made steam engines, cameras, wireless sets - and model aeroplanes. He joined the SMAE in the late 1920s with Membership Number 234 and was an enthusiastic Country Member for a time; but after making some Pelly-Fry type small models he took steps to form a club at Northampton, inaugurated in fine style at Sywell aerodrome on 5 June 1932. His first all-balsa duration model was built especially for the flying competition, which he won with a grand flight of 3 mins 12 secs. Needless to say, the club never looked back, and over the years Howard did much to help it along.
Needing transport, and hearing that a three-wheeled car was taxed as a motor cycle and sidecar, Howard set about making his own car.
Powered by a Francis-Barnett motor bike engine, it was of wooden construction covered with aeroplane fabric. The car was a success but was totally crushed by a bus when just a few months old. fortunately Howard was not on board at the time! Very soon it was rebuilt, and it was to last for many years, taking him to model
meetings with complete reliability.
Howard built a Wakefield version of his original all-balsa model for the 1934 International event at Warwick but the model became waterlogged in transit and did not do its stuff. He had also been experimenting with tailless models, and on 8 June 1938 the SMAE recognised a flight of 2:07.75 with his rubber-driven hand launch model as the British HL Tailless Record. In 1939 he made a tailless model with tricycle ulc to Wakefield rules and although he did not place in the Trials, the model made a flight of 1:24.5 - accepted as the British ROG Tailless Record - at the '39 Northern Heights Gala.
Before this, Howard had begun to contribute to the then new Aero Modeller. First was a series on construction for beginners; next a description of his Tailless HL Record model; and then a series on flying scale models. As he was no scale expert at this time he had to set about becoming one! His first flying scale model, the very fine 50" rubber-driven Lysander, was kitted by Super Scale Kits of Rutland; and the articles formed the basis of the book Scale Model Aircraft That Fly (co-written with H.J. Towner) published early in 1940. He designed other scale models for various kit manufacturers in his spare time during the war and also instructed ATC cadets in aeromodelling.
With rockets available after the war, Howard began experiments with tailless power models. He flew his Flaming Ptero at Eaton Bray and competed in the tailless contest sponsored by Handley Page, for
which he made two models called Fire Brigade, but experienced much trouble with his rocket units. The models flew much better at Lyon in France with Swiss rockets. His first model aero engine (a 5cc diesel) was brought back from Lyon and when fitted to a modified Fire Engine some good flights resulted. Yet another record was broken in 1948 when this model (now with a Foursome diesel) collared the British Tailless Power Duration (ROG) title.
By now he was working on radio control. After much trouble with rubber-driven escapements he substituted an electric motor. Soon he was using this with a pulse transmitter, and his Rudder Waggler was said to have been the first proportional model system. In 1950 he started his Radio Control Notes in Aeromodeller, and these ran for eight years. The coming of multi rather eased Howard out since he always maintained that he was a single- or at the most two- channel man! His other book, Transistor Circuits for Radio Controlled Models, was published in August 1961.
His was a busy lot; apart from writing about RlC, he attended most meetings - not always to enter, but always keen to 'chin-wag' and to listen to others. His journeys (on motor cycles made by Howard from modified scrap components of various makes) took him further and further afield until he was being welcomed by modellers in Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and other countries besides.
What endeared him to the Continental modellers was not so much the fact that he had come a long way on a home-made bike (with home-made sleeping-bag and tent) but that despite the extreme luggage limit, Howard always had a model on board to fly with the locals.
He was greatly pleased to have been chosen as a SAM 35 Life Member, and seldom missed a flying meeting. Most of the models he flew in our company were originals; and Howard himself seemed perpetual, as
the old advertisement that said "keeps on going when the rest have stopped!" Howard Boys WAS aeromodelling - we were honoured to have him aboard; and to many of us I am sure, his loss means that the Old Warden meetings can never quite be the same again.