Snowball, six o’clock high! (credit: Kevin Newton, see ‘Winter’ below for details.)

In The Air

The French have a word for it.

Terence C. Gannon
The New RC Soaring Digest
6 min readDec 2, 2022

I have long admired the French language, especially when it’s overheard while savouring an espresso on the Champs-Élysées on an April day. In particular, I love the way the streamlining is built in — the removal of extraneous letters seemingly solely to make it easier to speak it ‘trippingly on the tongue’. How the clunky (and wholly incorrect) le histoire jusque alors, for example, is naturally transformed into the practically melodic (and correct, I believe) l’histoire jusqu’ici. The story so far.

I also love the fact there are words in French, perhaps capturing a certain Gallic nuance, that simply do not exist in the like-a-beat-up-Jeep, utilitarian English. My favourites of all, surprisingly, are the words neuf — as in brand new, right off the factory floor — and the word nouvelle as in ‘new to me’: mon nouveau planeur, par exemple. In my mother tongue, it’s always necessary to add the explanatory ‘new to me’ when explaining to my wife the presence of a chunky, chalky red Fox foamy occupying my work bench for the first time. While l’Alpenbrise neuf remains securely tucked away in the rooftop Thule box for the time being, of course.

The French handling of the concept of ‘new’ is a better one without a doubt.

As the editor of this humble journal I’m always on the hunt for the neuf — something brand new — to present to you, the reader. It’s a relentless and merciless assignment. Its reward — if I’m lucky — is something you have never seen before and makes you want to say ‘I never thought I’d live to see the day…’ And there’s plenty of cool stuff out there, at least some of which you’ll find in the aptly named Cool New Stuff section which, in turn, you’ll find in the Launch Zone of this issue.

Then again, there is also room for nouvelle in the New RCSD. I was involved in a conversation a while back about the novelty of a sound, scientific explanation for dynamic soaring — or possibly the lack thereof. As with all things these days Google, the consummate conversation ender, was used to settle the matter at least to some degree. It came as a shock — perhaps it shouldn’t — that an authoritative work on the subject by a pre-eminent scholar was to be found right here in the back numbers of the RC Soaring Digest! Therefore, High-Speed Dynamic Soaring by Dr. Philip L. Richardson leads off our Features section. It’s an updated version, though, produced with recent assistance from the author. So while it’s definitely nouvelle, having appeared on these pages over a decade ago, some additions have transformed it into (almost) neuf, I think. And the science it describes, of course, is timeless.

So far as the rest of this issue is concerned I’m exaggerating just a little, but not too much, to say it’s too voluminous to comprehensively summarise here. Suffice to say, and setting aside all modesty aside for a moment, it’s a truly stunning table-breaker which we at the New RCSD hope you thoroughly enjoy as much as all of us did bringing it all to you.

It’s Winter — Go Outside and Play!

While I realise the concept of ‘winter’ needs hemispherical context, when I look outside and wonder where the grass went and when the pathways will need clearing next, it’s clearly winter up here at the home office. It was serendipity, however, that we stumbled on a number of wintry pictures recently and thence, spontaneously, this has become ‘the winter issue’. With apologies, of course to all those lucky enough to live in places where spring is about to slide into summer and the gliding season gets properly underway.

But for those of us who do live where snow first makes an initially welcome appearance — which becomes steadily less welcome as the winter grinds on and on — I hope you take some inspiration from our friend Kevin Newton’s delightful picture that keys up this In The Air. The picture was taken at Bwlch, in Wales during “Christmas 2004…[t]he Mustang pilot is Shane Biddlecome and the ground-to-air snowball menace is Mike Young.” Kevin rightly lamented the fact that the “CAM (Combat Air Models) [have] long been out of business. Damn they were good though!” And I agree. Both about the CAM line and also, that there are lots of great flying opportunities, snow or not. Just remember to bundle up and don’t forget the wraparound, garishly large mirrored Oakleys on your way out the door.

Now I think about it, perhaps there is an opportunity for someone out there to produce a redux of the CAM line and transform it from nouvelle to neuf once again. I’m pretty sure Kevin would buy one. And I would. How about anyone else? Here are a few more examples to whet your entrepreneurial appetite.

Some beautiful, classic examples of the much-missed CAM line of power scale slope soarers. (credit: Kevin Newton)

Another Year Come and Gone

As I said at this time last year being the “hopelessly lapsed son of English descendants of Irish Catholics”, Christmas is what my family celebrates in December. That said, I also understand that is not everybody’s way of doing things including doing nothing at all. All traditions of this time of year are equally significant and equally worthy of our respect. However, for old time sake and out of respect for my late parents — this time of year really makes me think of them and really miss them — I would like to personally wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.

Of course, by the time we meet again, 2023 will already be underway and in this day and age, who knows what that will bring. More than ever, it makes it well worth saying that on behalf of the New RCSD, I simply want to wish for you the very best of health, happiness and prosperity in 2023. And, of course…

Fair winds and blue skies!


  • Elf from Vladimir’s Model. — “a new generation of hand-launched planes with 1m wingspan. The amazingly small size of the model gives the pilot access to places he never dared to fly before — car parks, beaches…”

Cover photo: We first spotted the exquisite cover photo for this month well over a year ago — but some missed messages at our end meant something else took its place for that particular December issue. You can imagine our delight when we were recently able to re-connect with the photographer Pierre Gumy, who permitted it use now and for which we are truly thankful.

The almost sculptural picture was taken at Oberiberg in the Swiss Alps in December of 2017. The aircraft is an Elf from Vladimir’s Model of Ukraine (see Resources). According to Pierre, it’s a modest 100cm span, weighs just 100g and he says “it’s a fantastic little plane to fly anywhere in very little wind. It’s very relaxing to fly and one of my favourites.” Thanks again, Pierre, for the opportunity to feature your beautiful photo.

You are welcome to download the December 2022 cover in a resolution suitable for computer monitor wallpaper. (2560x1440).

Disclaimer: While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest, the publishers are not legally responsible for errors in its contents or for any loss arising from such errors, including loss resulting from the negligence of our staff. Reliance placed upon the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest is solely at the readers’ own risk.

Here’s the first article in the December, 2022 issue. Or go to the table of contents for all the other great articles. A PDF version of this edition of In The Air, or the entire issue, is available upon request.