Ward Gnome G-AXEI and Elf G-MMUL

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These two home builds strung up in the hanger at Breighton. Did they do much flying before being grounded, and where from. Information appreciated. Are there any flying photos, other than in the hanger at Breighton!
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Profile picture for user Chipmunk Carol

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G-AXEI lived from 25 April 1969 to 30 May 1984. G-MMUL b.16 Oct 1984 d. 12 April 1989. I've no idea about hours.
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Good Afternoon, As it features in a book I wrote o "Douglas Light Aero Engines from Kingswood to Cathcart" I collected a large amount of detail on the Gnome and also am aware of Movie Footage of the Elf in flight. I attach some pics of the Gnome in its early years including the second owner(to builder Mick Ward) Ray Fixter taking off. I made the picture scale model of the Gnome/Ray for his son Chris.More later. I did a three-view drawing of the Gnome for my book. Engineman
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Profile picture for user Engineman

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If I may comment on G--ANPK Facebook references.The designer/builder of the Gnome,Mick Ward of North Scarle Lincs,has been deceased for decades.His son is alive but not forthcoming on his father's work. Ray Fixter is also dead,but his proud son Chris is very keen to preserve his Dad's memory, and ability to get the Gnome out of ground effect. Chris hs trie to buy the machine from Nigel Ponsford but was rebuffed. The "tak-off shot " was at East Kirkby, as was the flight tests on the Elf,done by a serving RAF pilot ! Engineman
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I hadn't hitherto associated Engineman with Brian Thorby. Thank you, sir, for writing an excellent book, a copy of which is sitting on my desk at present! Now what about the Fixter Pixie?
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Thank you for your kind words on my Book avion ancien ! You will find Ward Gnome brief specifications and a three-view drawing on pages 174 and 175 , but I have much more detail on both airframe and the 1915 600cc motorcycle engine that powered it. It is incredible that even the very skinny Ray Fixter was able to coax the machine off the ground given that the engine,even in if it was in perfect order as new, would not have produced more than 12bhp (rated at 4hp by its cubic capacity on RAC method ). The propeller was also hand carved by Mick Ward who was a woodworker by trade and a consummate aeromodeller. More will-power I would say, than horsepower. The later Ward Elf Biplane had a Citroen air cooled boxer engine,but that at least was contemporary with the airframe and had a lot more power.Let me know what else you would like to know.. The later still Fixter Pixie was built in Spalding Lincs to the design of Ray Fixter and probably completed, but not flown.A photo exists of the tricycle undercarriage fuselage abandoned in a barn.If anyone wants a copy of the book ,I have the last remaining copies from the distributors which I can sell for half price. engineman (Brian Thorby)
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Is the 1915 Douglas side valve engine still fitted to G-AXEI at Breighton? Wikipedia says that it may have been replaced by a Wankel unit.
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The 1915 sv Douglas twin is still in place on the Gnome,as far as I know. It has not been taken down since I climbed a triple extension ladder to read the engine number and thus date the motor.It had been previously been described in publication as 1923,but this was a guess by George Clover who fettled the engine bought from two local boys for £1.50. The Elf had a Wankel unit fitted by Ward after the original Citroen fit,but it was flown with the Citroen. I will try to relocate the Elf footage. Brian
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Being a postman in Spalding Lincs enables me to talk to quite a few people on my delivery, by coincidence i was talking to one of them about aircraft and he told me about someone he knew who built a tiny aircraft in Spalding which the builder thought was going to sell in large amounts as it was so small and cheap, it was trying to cash in on the then new Austin Mini craze that was sweeping the country. The chap was invited along to see the plane but he had never heard of it since! I couldn`t think of what plane he might be talking about, now i know! Any more information or pictures of the Pixie?............Martin
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Hi Martin (kartman), I will dig out the only known picture of the Pixie ,as found in the barn. It must have been the prototype Pixie that your Spalding man referred to and Ray was the "entrepreneur" whose commercial schemes came to nought. Brian
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Voila,I found the Pixie PIC in my archive.If I come across the background text I will post it.
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Thanks for that, i will print it off and show it to the chap on Monday, he knows where it was built and he mentioned a name of someone who was putting money in, it wasn`t Ray. I will find out more. Does the aircraft still exist, i will have to check my back copies of Wrecks & Relics.............Martin
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The last entry i can find in W&R is the 13th Edition published in 1992, it was at Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, `fuselage only in poor state`, the next edition published two years later states not noted for some time and it had been moved to the lost section................ Be a shame if it had been broken up having survived that long....
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Thanks for the info and photos of the Gnome Engineman. Interesting shot of the dodgy take off at Wigsley, I expect it was a bit twitchy. On ABPICs there is a photo of it at Old Warden in 1969, I wouldn't have thought it had flown there. The Fixter Pixie G-AXNY according to GINFO was registered to a John Van Geest of White House Chambers, Spalding on 16-9-69 until perminantly withdrawn from use on 7-12-83. Perhaps this was your Spalding man Kartman. I wonder if the photo Engineman was taken at Fenland, only a guess but with the Auster in the background, and to me it looks a little like Fenland.
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The Banana Man (Van Geest) was the sponsor of Ray.I 'm sure you are right Elmdon Boy about Fenland location.Chis Fixter attempted to find the barn/Pixie at that location a year or so ago but not a trace now.
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Engineman, I've just looked up G-AXNY on the ABPIC site and they have the same photo of of the Pixie as you posted. It says the location is at Hill farm airfield at Nayland in Essex in 1975. It says it flew only the once. ABPIC info can sometimes be wrong, but who knows.
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Re Fixter Pixie G-AXNY,I will get Chris Fixter back on the hunt.He went to a location near Crowland but no trace some years back.I will advise him of your Nayland thread.Tony Harris has lived on the Farm all his life so something may emerge. Back to Ward Gnome G-AXEI ,here's a "Flight"page from May 1969 showing Ray Fixter just airborne.. Re Ward Elf G-MMUL here's a pic of it climbing out at East Kirkby and one of it static at Coningsby in 1985
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Talking about Spalding: I remember being at their Flower Parade, probably late1950s, and seeing a proud owner dragging his tiny new home-built along with the various floats (I don't mean it was a seaplane - the "floats" were decorated with local tulips). I recall he was simply lifting the tail and pulling the aeroplane backwards. I have a photo somewhere but I can't find it. I think it could have been Mr Ward and his Gnome, but I note that he only started work on it in the 1960s. Is my memory playing tricks or was it an early version?
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Mick Ward, The designer/builder of the Gnome built it during 1966 and its maiden flight was 4th Augut 1967 Regarding last known location of Fixter Pixie G-AXNY,reported by the photographer as Nayland Essex,this has been followed up on site and the airfield's owner Tont Harris denied all residence rumours for this machine,supported by period log books.The building in which it is pictured is not of a construction at Nayland anyway .. It is likely that is is pictured at Postland(Crowland) in 1985,but was also reported at Chatteris,Cambs in 1992,but has disappeared by 1993. I now have photos of the aircraft under construction in Spalding.It was powered by a VW conversion, and made flight at first attempt (only recorded flight) and landed in a nearby field. The plot thickens.
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Yesterday, prompted by this thread and a recent encounter in a care home in Newark (more on that later) I looked at the aircraft file in the Newark Air Museum (NAM) archive for the Ward Gnome BAPC 330 that is displayed in Hangar 1 (photo attached). The material in the file does not add a great deal to the points already raised in this thread, although it does contain a couple of photographs of G-AXEI from the Nev Franklin Collection, that appear to have been marked up for possible use in Control Column. Some of the correspondence does however add another name into the frame regarding flights out of ex RAF Wigsley, one Pete Anderson. As a child living in Newark I knew him as a friend of my aunt and uncle and also as the owner of a favourite toy shop in Newark. On a Sunday in the 1960s we used to go and watch him flying radio controlled planes at Wigsley; then when I joined NAM in the 1970s Pete was a regular participant at their fly-ins with an Auster that he owned. In two separate communications in the Gnome file at NAM, Pete Anderson is noted as having flown the Gnome at Wigsley in the 1960s. Also, in one of these communications reference was made the entry of the Ward Gnome into the Guinness Book of World Records, whilst being flown by Pete Anderson. It is my understanding that Pete Anderson has passed away, but just after Christmas, whilst visiting my uncle in a care home in Newark I did speak with his widow who was also in the home for some respite care and who had been speaking to my uncle about their visits to Wigsley, old time dancing and attending each other’s weddings! I will endeavour to do some more research but I felt that it was perhaps worthwhile sharing this new name in these Ward Gnome discussions.
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