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Les Wright (1903-1993)

Les Wright was a New Zealand pioneer in the development of reliable and affordable radio control equipment in the 1950's and 1960s. The reliability, ruggedness and availability of his equipment introduced many to the wonders of radio control and played a large part in achieving the world record successes for Frank Bethwaite and Ian Barber in the 1950s.

Leslie Henry Wright was born in England in 1903 and emigrated to New Zealand via Australia. He became the Technical Manager of H.M.V. and, in 1940, was the first to Radio Control models successfully in New Zealand. During the war he developed a full-sized Radio Control launch to tow gunnery targets.

After the war he developed components and plans for his own Radio Control equipment which was initially produced and supplied on an informal basis but in 1953 his system was marketed under the HMV label and became an immediate success both in New Zealand and overseas.

The reliability, ruggedness and availability of this equipment introduced many to the wonders of Radio Control and played a large part in achieving Word Record successes for Frank Bethwaite and Ian Barber in the 1950s. In 1957, the equipment was marketed under the Wright label by Wright Radio Control, Ltd. and the initial all-valve design was followed in 1959 with valve/transistor hybrid receiver then in 1960-62 with all transistor miniature equipment.
Les did not often fly competitively but in 1951 he won the Nationals Radio Control event at Masterton. He served as Secretary, President and Patron of the Wellington Model Aero Club.

In 1951/2 he successful lobbied for allocation of the first frequencies for radio control in New Zealand, and for no examination for amateur radio applicants for licences to use these frequencies for model flying.

In 1955 he received the Macdonald Memorial Award for outstanding achievements in the sphere of radio controlled model flying and in 1962 was awarded Life Membership of the NZMAA.