The Saga of Joe Barnes' Wakefield (JBW)

- as told by Chris edge

Joe flew very competitively when I started modelling in the mid-seventies, specialising in F1B. In 1984 we gathered at the RAFMAA Championships at Barkston Heath, Lincolnshire. The day was perfect with strong lift from the start and light winds. Flights were flown in rounds during the day and Joe was being helped by his son Dave, a.k.a "Des Bones", who was one of the original users of circle tow in the UK, back when he was still a junior.

Joe Barnes' Wakefield

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For some reason Joe was forgetting to remove the timer start pin from his model. Immediately before the fateful flight he had done this but the model came down. The picture shows the moment of launch and the start of the saga as again Joe forgot to remove the start pin. Needless to say the model went away in lift and failed to DT. A few of us watched the model get higher overhead but as we had to fly ourselves we lost visual contact. Amazingly all during the day the model was still visible above the field in various directions, almost as if it was being held there to tempt us.

At one point the model descended out of the lift and flew into the area of the missile compound. It got so low as to disappear behind some buildings, suggesting maybe 10 feet in altitude, only to reappear a few seconds later gaining height as it did so. The model continued to be seen throughout the day at various times by various people until it was lost, or so we thought.......

I don't know when the next sighting was seen but it probably occurred after a drinking session on an airfield somewhere. The exclamation "Look, its Joe Barnes' Wakefield" was uttered leading to frantic looking by the assembled throng; others too saw the model. Reports then came back that JBW had been seen elsewhere and further afield. On overseas visits the model was seen, then at night, usually just passing the moon. Rumours surfaced that the model had a mid-air with Beagle 2 as the latter approached Mars. It may have been involved in many other unexplained incidents.

More recently there have been reports that JBW has landed but none have been confirmed. Allegedly Mike Fantham was told that "The model flew into my dustbin but it was taken away before I could retrieve it".

It can be no coincidence that JBW flew away just before reports of Project Aurora surfaced in the press. The circular "vapour trails" seen over the North Sea tie up with other sightings of the model in that vicinity. I'm certain that many UFO sightings are in fact JBW.

Joe doesn't fly anymore and has little recollection of that event but a small band of dedicated watchers still see the model from time to time. Err, hang on a sec, look, out there, just below the small fluffy cloud, turning downwind, it is isn't ......?

Verified sightings

To be added.