Chocks away for world's biggest model aircraft ... shame �8,000 B-50 bomber can only fly for 8min

With Britain's skies in lockdown over the last week, this was about the only plane that could fly.

There's a good reason for that - it's just an electric model aircraft, albeit the world's biggest.

The Boeing B-50 Superfortress is classified as a light aircraft and is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Built by Tony Nijhuis in his garage the aircraft is a scale version of the US 1950s bomber, has a 20ft wingspan and weighs just over seven stones.

It took Mr Nijhuis, from Hastings, East Sussex, two years to make the radio-controlled plane that he calls the 'jolly green giant' and cost him �8,000.

The 46-year-old model-maker has spent 30 years making model aeroplanes and decided to create an electric version of the 1950s bomber from scratch.

It has 96 batteries that power four electric motors which drive the aircraft to 40mph along a 50m runway before it takes off.

It can then fly for eight minutes in the air before it has to descend so the batteries can be recharged.

Made from balsa wood and plywood, the plane also has workable bomb bay doors and pneumatic landing gear.

It is restricted to 400ft, but after the volcanic ash cloud grounded aircraft, Tony has been making the most of the empty skies.

The plane is 7:1 scale model and has entered the record books after being launched.

The father-of three, who works as a consultant engineer, said: 'This is the heaviest electric model aircraft in the world.

It's a model of the Boeing B-50 bomber that was used from the 1950s to the 1970s. It's all scratch built and has a wingspan of 19ft.

'It weighs just over 100lb and is powered by four, four kilowatt electric motors and each motor has 24 batteries powering it. The propellers have a 2ft diameter.

'I've been working on it on and off for the last two years and made it in a single garage.

'It comes in eight pieces and has to be bolted together.

'The bigger the planes are the easier they are to fly. This has elevator control, rudder control, pneumatically operated under carriage and the bomb bay doors open and could drop real bombs if you wanted.

'However, unlike smaller models, if this crashed it would disintegrate.

'Because of its size it is classed as a light aircraft and had to be tested by the Civil Aviation Authority and requires a certificate to fly it at public shows.

'We can only fly it for eight minutes because the batteries need charging and there is an alarm to let us know when the time is running out.

'But full size electric planes are being developed; the power is there, it's just that it needs to be sustained for longer.'


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