Bethwaite set many world records over the 1950-56 period using
"Wright" radio control equipment. In 1958 he moved to Sydney,
where the lack of suitable flying spaces led him to the field of
sailboats, where he has made many significant contributions. In
2000, he was awarded the Award of Australia for Experiment and
Francis Dewar Bethwaite, DFC, OAM
Born 26th May 1920, Wanganui, NZ.
1931 - '36 Wanganui
1936 - '39 Read aeronautical engineering.
Built and sailed racing dinghies
Designed, built and flew model
aircraft. Member IGMAA
Learned to fly
1940 Joined RNZAF
1940 - 42 Flying training
1942 - 43 Test pilot
1943 - 45
Three tours operations. Squadron Leader, DFC
1946 - 1959 TEAL
(Air New Zealand), Captain.
1959 - 1968 Director, Flight
Operations, CSIRO's Cloud Seeding Experiments.
1968 - Founded
Starboard Products P/L, Sydney (now called Bethwaite Design).
Recreational and Personal.
1946 app Established the North Shore Model Aeroplane Club. Key
members-Don Wilson, Kevin Williams, Brian Foster.
1946 - 1958 Council member NZMAA, various positions. Key people
- Walter Read, President; Les Mayn, Sec; Freddie Macdonald, Patron
and general encourager.
1948 Represented New Zealand in person, at the 1948 Wakefield
competition at Cranfield, UK.
1951 - 1953 Models proxied at World Championships for Nordic A2
(1951,53) and Wakefield (1952,53)
1950 - 1956 "Long Project". Using radical own-design models and
techniques and Les Wright designed Radio equipment, culminating in
World Endurance Records:
07 Jan 53 R/C Glider 1 hr 09 min
May 54 R/C Glider 2 hr 00 min
30 Jan 55 R/C Power 3 hr 02 min
17 Apr 55 R/C Glider 3 hr 28 min
02 Apr 56 R/C Glider
7 hr 37 min
1956 - 58 Developed reliable radio control model flying boats.
End '58 Moved to Sydney. No room for free-flight or R/C models,
so reverted to high performance sailboats, which are simply model
aircraft that float.
2000 Awarded Order of Australia for experiment and design.
Frank enjoyed the technical challenges of model aircraft and
appreciates the very close association between model aircraft and
sailboats. All that happened because space constraints in Sydney
precluded further work with model aircraft, so he turned back to
sailboats, and studied their properties with the same care. Many
of the key elements - detail drag reduction, achieving laminar
flow in critical areas, the small-scale structure of wind, the
different wind patterns - all had their origins in his model work.
For this reason he regards his work with model aircraft and his
work with light sailboats as a continuum of the same area of
study, primarily low speed aerodynamic properties of thin flexible
aerofoils in unsteady flow. In both areas diligent research yields
significant results. His younger son, who now runs his company,
"Bethwaite Design", has inherited this conviction from him.