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Loch Insh Highland Splash-In » Loch Insh Highland Splash-In History

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History of the Loch Insh Highland Splash-In   Back to the Highland Splash-In page


Duncan and Muriel Cameron have provided this short history of early model waterplane flying at Loch Insh.
Please send any corrections, omissions and further interesting facts to the web editor for inclusion in later versions.
Halcyon Days
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1988 - 5th Highland Splash-In
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The 60th anniversary of Don Bennett's Mercury / Maia record flight.
Frigid Highland winter weather during the 1980s
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Local poster
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Dr Jeremy Shaw's Laser powered Supermarine Stanraer
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Radio Control Model World - November 1984
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Radio Control Model World - November 1984
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Read the article written by Duncan Cameron below.
The Loch Insh Highland Splash-In made its début in 1984, the first club-organised model waterplane event in Scotland. It was the British Waterplane Association who came up with the idea. At the time, Duncan Cameron was member number 10 of the BWA (the first 9 numbers are reserved for full-size waterplane pilots) and had been attending model waterplane events in England. The BWA members wanted to know from Duncan (the sole Scottish member) why there were no model events north of the border, which seemed a reasonable question giving the amount of water we have!
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There was a bit of doubt at first over whether modellers would be prepared to travel so far for an event, so a venue was first sought (unsuccessfully) in the central belt. Next choice by Duncan was Loch Alvie on the Kinrara Estate between Loch Insh and Aviemore. Duncan chose Loch Alvie because of its historical connection with aviation.

Lady Lucy Houston, one time owner of the Kinrara Estate, sponsored the 3rd and final Schneider Trophy race, the result of which we all know. Incidentally, she also sponsored the ground-breaking flights over Mount Everest carried out by RAF personnel in civillian aircraft, the Westland Houston Wallace. However, a disappointment, as the current owner refused permission.

Option two was nearby Loch Insh, specifically Clive Freshwater's Watersports Centre. Good road access and parking, a beach, bar and restaurant and a good range of overnight accommodation. Clive was delighted with the proposition. 1985frozenresto_300

In the early 1980s, he was preparing for winter during the first week of September by removing the boats from the water and so suggested the 2nd weekend in September, a date which has become a permanent calendar fixture. He even suggested holding a model boat regatta in the spring, but this has never come to fruition.

Nobody was sure if the modellers would turn up for the first event, so it was widely advertised by the BWA (as well as by local public advertising in the Spey Valley).
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Because of this public advertising, the BWA took out a special insurance for the event. In fact, around 20 modellers did turn up from far and wide and the 1984 splash-in was a success, as you can read in the article reproduced lower down this page from the November 1984 edition of Radio Control Model World. Elgin Aeromodellers provided the transmitter control and Duncan provided the commentory. Modellers came from all over Britain, including Roy Tassel, founder member of the BWA, from Stogumber in Somerset.

stranraer_300 1985 saw upwards of 60 models at the splash-in and in 1986, with upwards of 80 models arriving for the weekend, it was decided to stop the advertising. The event was in danger of becoming a victim of its own success and was becoming too big for Duncan and Muriel to handle.

At a Large Model Association (LMA) meeting, Duncan met Dr Jeremy Shaw and invited him to Loch Insh for the 1987 splash-in. Jeremy's model Supermarine Stranraer powered by twin Lasers flew majestically and memorably above the waters of Loch Insh. Other notable models that Jeremy has flown at Loch Insh are his Saunders Roe (SARO) Cutty Sark, his Grumman Widgeon and his giant Mallard.

The First Loch Insh Highland Splash-In 1984

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Duncan Cameron wrote an article for Radio Control Model World which appeared in the November 1984 edition. You can read Duncan's article lower down this page.

And the local paper, The Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, reported as follows on 21st September 1984 :


"The Spey Valley Model Club, formed only six weeks ago, got a model launching on Sunday when some of the country's top modellers turned up on their doorstep at Loch Insh.
The occasion was the first sea plane competition to be held in Scotland, which was organised jointly by the British Water Plane Association and the Scottish Aero Modellers' Association.
And such was the success of the event that it could become an annual feature at Loch Insh, attracting hundreds of enthusiasts from throughout Britain."


The Strathy got it right !!

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This article from Radio Control Model World was written by Duncan Cameron and appeared in the November 1984 edition.

The text in the only scanned copy of the article is rather fuzzy and so has been re-typed here to make it easier for you to read.


The Loch Insh Watersport Centre in the Spey Valley of the Scottish Highlands was the waterplane enthusiasts' dream for two days during September. Encouraged by the promise of the Area's most famous product, known to the locals as "The Water of Life", over 25 models came to the calm Loch for two days.

Elgin Club transmitter control had to work hard as Londoner Ken Marsh got off to his usual smooth display starting a rush for pegs, at one point 17 models lined the shore.

12 year old Brian Weaver (Alloa) didn't allow his Dad's large scale Sopwith Baby steal his thunder. Len's well known, three times Scot.Nats. winner, in its real element at last, drew applause with perfect flights.

Colin, an invader from Leisure Lakes, (Southport) pushed the leading-edges of his Wot 4 under the veneer a wee bit with a vertical "landing" under full power but it was flying later with turbulated airfoils.

The recovery boat "Biddy", a fine clinker built salmon boat, was in demand as varying types milled and wheeled around each other.

A Middle-stik converted itself to a Dipstik, a Rumpler Taube (Balsa U.S.A. kit) did high speed 90° turns at take-off point when the ventral air-rudder (with a couple of notches of right trim) dipped into the water at rotation. A Mighty Barnstormer sedately avoiding an equally sedate Puppeteer in the air.
Magnattilas in British and German markings dog fighting, even a helicopter whirring out with training (?) floats to kiss the water. It was magical. The knowledgeable gathered round the Lake Buccaneer of Stephen Semple (Renfrew) expecting the usual teething troubles with a new model. After a quick taxi trial for water tightness he headed the little Pilot kit into the light breeze, it hopped onto the step and left a narrowing ripple on the water as it shot into the sky. We should have known that this experienced flyer would have "sussed-out" all the angles, he normally flies a Ju.52 trimotor complete with corrugated litho-plate skin. Wonder if he is planning floats for that?

Ken from Dunns of Perth had a Buccaneer too, but must have had another angle when he chose Grampian Police livery ... only thing missing was the blue flashing lamp.

A vintage Ben Buckle Buccaneer got off the water after some fine tuning and a little nitro in the fuel.

Sunday brought a different wave pattern which encouraged Dennis Martin to bring out his stable of thoroughbreds, a Supermaring S.6, a Jiant Jabberwock and a venerable "Antic" for Mrs Martin to fly. Dennis, from Stone in Staffordshire, is well know as the force behind the Aqua-Nats and in spite of a two year lay-off from actual flying gave a very impressive display with the Schneider Racer at low level ending with a victory roll.

A little F/F "Seal" Flying Boat, converted to radio, was borrowed by a Committee Member of the S.A.A. and top aerobatic specialist, another convert?

The "Happy Haggis" award went to the two Kens, who picked the same spot at the same time to make perfect landings, Perth Ken under London Ken on top. The Piggy Back pair bobbing on the water drew ribald comments from the shore as the two pilots waded out discussing custody of the offspring of this Anglo-Scot union.

A quick Fly-off for the prizes was a formality, the flyers had already enjoyed the best fun-fly in a long time. Unanimous decision by pilots and officials gave the well-earned bottle of 12 year old Glen Moray Malt Whisky donated by the Distillers for "Most Meritorious Performance" to recovery boat owner and driver Farquhar MacBain.

Results? Well everybody got a half bottle of whisky, non-drinkers got something suitable. The English got Scottish propaganda and more whisky that night! All said they would be back next year.

Roy Tassell, President of B.W.A. approved, by his beatific expression, S.A.A. officials nodded wisely, so if you're a connoiseur of the nicer things in life come to Spey Valley .... and we will add just a little water.

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