Flights of Fashion : Not 'Toys for Boys' but the Future of Aviation

A demonstration by aeromodellers of indoor radio controlled flight at the Melbourne Fringe Festival Fashion Awards

7pm (for 8pm show) Melbourne Metro Nightclub, 20 Bourke St., Melbourne, 27 Sept, 2001

In a cultural mix of fashion, music and video, indoor radio controlled flight aeromodellers (Martin Lui, Alan Sherwood, Neil Hardiman and Neil Spencer, members of the Australian Electric Flight Association) will demonstrate not only the marvels of microlight materials and control systems but introduce you to the new aviation age of Micro Aerial Vehicles. Autonomous airborne robots some in fact as small as insects.


'Pick the Aeromodeller'
Neil Spencer with three models, two are of the non flying fashion show models variety, the 3rd is Martin Lui's IFO which Martin flew at the opening of the Fringe Fashion Event. L- R : Naomi Curtis-Bickers wearing a design by Ewan Crawford, Neil, Jane Csarics wearing her own design.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Go to Post Show Report  |  More pictures from the night

The history of aeromodelling and the aviation/aerospace industry are intertwined. Aeromodelling in fact predates the evolution of the aviation age. As designers in any medium would recognise, the processes of 'playing around with ideas', developing conceptual models and prototypes is an integral part of the creative design act.

In some instances the 'making of a model' has been mistakenly perceived as the creation of a miniature, scaled down representation of the real thing. A toy. The paradox is that today, 'toy-size' aircraft can be the real thing.

The aspirations and dream of the aviation age, was the development of flying machines which would carry man aloft and to the stars. In many circumstances the development of designs to physically transport humans is neither desirable, practical or a very smart solution. We need to be able to take our senses to these locations not our bodies. Hence the billion dollar R&D programs into tele-presence and autonomous robots.

The aircraft demonstrated in the Fringe Festival will be flying under radio control. In this mode, the pilot is remotely piloting the aircraft and in direct line-of-sight of the aircraft. If the aircraft were to be required to fly beyond a direct line of sight of the pilot other more sophisticated tele-operation and autonomous control systems are employed. e.g. the Aerosonde.

Pilotless Radio Controlled Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Australia come under the juristriction of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) - the same regulatory body governing of operation of full-size aircraft.

Did you know that:

* In 1893 Nikola Tesla demonstrated the feasiblity of radio (wireless) remote controlled vehicles. The first demonstration in New York in 1898 used a model boat and in 1900, a wireless controlled airship , both many years before the first man-carrying powered flight.

* In 1945 a young Marilyn Monroe worked as a technician assembling the Reginald Denny designed Radioplane (an unmanned radio remote controlled target drone) 'Norman Jeane Dougherty' was asked to pose for some publicity photographs with the 'Radioplane' to illustrate the role of women during wartime; the rest is history.

* Micro Aerial Vehicles, airborne robots equipped with video surveillance and monitoring systems capable and designed to fly inside buildings are at the frontier contemporary aerospace research. Palm size and insect size aircraft are destined to become common place in this new aviation era.

* Australia is acknowledged as one of the world-leaders in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. In 1998, the Melbourne designed and built Aerosonde, a three metre span robotic aircraft was the first U.A.V to cross the Atlantic. NB. This aircraft named 'Laima' is now on display in the Museum of Flight in Seattle Washington.

* The Aerosonde was initially designed for the bureau of meteorology in Melbourne, has a duration of 30-50hrs on 7.5 litres of fuel and is programmed to fly autonomously.

* Monash University is to establish a multi-million dollar research and development field testing facility for airborne, terrestrial and aquatic robots at Port Welshpool in Gippsland Victoria. To be known as the Victorian Rural Robotics Facility.

Aerosonde/SAAB is one of the industry partners in this venture. The site will be used as the finally assembly and test field for Aerosonde aircraft and the Southern Australia Launch and Recovery base for their global operations.

* The current indoor electric flight duration record is 4 hrs, 17 mins. 57 secs. Set on 30 June 2001 the 38" span model weighing a mere 114 grams was designed and piloted by Bob Wilder. University of Arlington Texas USA.

* As we approach the celebration of the centenary of flight, Victoria is once again poised to fulfill its role as a pioneer in Australian aviation.

February 1, 1858 : First Balloon Flight in Australia - William Dean took off from the 'Cremorne Gardens' on the northern bank of the Yarra River just east of Punt Road. Dean floats seven miles across Melbourne landing near the Cambridge Arms Hotel in Sydney Road, Brunswick Vic.

March 18, 1910: First powered man-lifting flight - Harry Houdini at Diggers Rest

July 16, 1910: First Australian designed and built powered man-lifting aircraft - The Duigan Bros at Mia Mia

March 1, 1914 : World's oldest operational flight training field - Point Cook.


Also appearing on the night will be leading Taiwanese DJs and composers, Jimi Chen, DJ Ty and video artist Vince Chung, as part of their groundbreaking tour with the Toy Satellite Collective

Toy Satellite, headed up by Andrew Garton in collaboration with Kim Bounds and John Power (2LOOPs), creates a simultaneous sonic and visual performance, a situationist derive of Melbourne's lane ways and Taipei's cultural diaspora with an original soundtrack by Andrew Garton and Taiwanese DJ/composer, Jimi Chen. There will also be a special guest appearance by Taiwanese video artist, Vince Chung.

The performance is derived from 'Undercurrents', a collaborative work between the Toy Satellite (Melbourne) and Eyedrink (Taipei) Collectives. Visit for more details


Post Show Report

rochelle_carmichael_150.jpg The AEFA was contacted by Rochelle Carmichael (Artistic Director) (at left) via the VMAA to participate in the Fringe Fashion Event.

We were invited to provide a brief Indoor Flight Demonstration. The AEFA accepted the challenge, Martin lui, Alan Sherwood, Neil Spencer and myself contributing to the evenings entertainment.

Fringe Fashion "is no ordinary Fashion event, it is an innovative, audacious show with an array of artistic attire". it was held at the Melbourne Metro Nightclub on 26 Sept.

Martin and I began the evenings show with the opening act, My Facetmobile was first up towing a banner with the words FRINGE FASHION AWARDS, Snoopy sitting at the controls with a long red scarf flapping in the breeze. The lack of air-space was a considerable challenge, a large projector screen was suspended overhead in the middle of the airspace.

Flying was restricted to the stage and catwalk area. Special lighting effects, smoke haze and overhead obstacles for lighting fixtures added to the challenge. The MC (Master of Ceremonies) was notionaly to arrive by aircraft following the model aircraft landing on stage. My Facetmobile towing the large banner can maneuver well, however even with tight turns the wing tip was within a metre or less of the various theatre paraphernalia. Eventually The Facetmobile clipped the specially erected audience safety net tearing off a fin but I still managed to recover and land safely on stage. Rochelle said "that really got the audience going".

Martin Lui took over with his multi-reflective colour spangled IFO (gift wrap material), complete with high intensity LEDs, flashing bicycle LEDs and trailing short decorative party streamers. To a back drop of "original sound and visuals - clouds and sky on the large screen', Martin's skill was sensational, the audience thrilled to the spectacle of an object actually flying from a theatre stage, something magicians have attempted for centuries but only achieved by use of illusion. Martin turned, twisted and looped the IFO to the musical accompaniment before executing a neat on stage touchdown to applause from the audience.


Alan Sherwood with his amazingly agile Blimp made a majestic appearance over the catwalk during the show while the models were strutting their "loquacious wearable art". As Alan circled the Blimp overhead, I could just imagine small cameras on-board the Blimp filming the events below and projecting the image onto the large screen as might be done at an outdoor spectacle with a full size Blimp.

Alan can maneuver the Blimp in 3D, and perform loops, tumble, rolling and reverse maneuvers which have not even be named yet, thanks to multidirectional control of three independent prop thrusters,elevator and rudder control.

On the night the greater than expected heat from approximately two thousand spectators gave the Blimp excess buoyancy and wind drift, this limited Alan's flight time considerably. However the full potential of the Blimp was best displayed at the dress rehearsal where Alan gave an impressive 3D flight to supplement the catwalk models. The spotlights, strobes, smoke and lasers added to the effect.

The evening news had a short segment showing our model aircraft in action. A video is also available of the entire show.

The organizers expressed their appreciation as follows.

Dear Neil and crew,

Well there you go. have I turned you off show business forever? I hope you enjoyed yourself and really want to thank you for all your time and effort over the last few months. It was pleasure to work with you and was a great pleasure to see it all work so well - yes even with the thrills and spills. the small and well handled crash really got the audience going - I think they loved it. (A Big thanks to the electric flight association.)

SO once again thanks - your all stars. Good Luck and don't be strangers.

Rochelle (Rochelle Carmichael)



More pictures from the night


Martin Lui barely coping with the excitement of the night
The things one has to do to promote aeromodelling ! L- R : Naomi Curtis-Bickers wearing a design by Ewan Crawford, Martin, Jane Csarics wearing her own design.

Click image to see an enlarged view


Nuvit Divaroren with Neil Hardiman
And to think Neil had always thought a 'Pink Lady' was a drink!

Click image to see an enlarged view


Alan Sherwood with Jacqueline Roberts, his technical assistant for the night
Well, that's his story and he's sticking to it

Click image to see an enlarged view


Give one a technical assistant and EVERYone wants a technical assistant !
Neil Hardiman with Jacqueline Roberts

Click image to see an enlarged view

Top | Aeromodellers Home


© Copyright 1999-2005 CTIE - All Rights Reserved - Caution
Created and maintained by
Updated January 1, 2005