For the members Bairnsdale model Aero Club Barry had always been there, in fact on his passing he had the longest continuous membership for as far as we can judge, the whole history of the Club.
Barry was a modeller extraordinaire with a particular interest in scale modelling at a competitive level, and over the years achieved significant results. In his earlier years he was a regular contestant both in Victoria where he was one of the inaugural members of the Victorian Scale Association, and the National competition, mixing it with the best of the nations scale modellers.
Where some enthusiasts have a particular interest in a single aspect of the hobby be it flying the model, researching a particular aircraft to model, the drawing up of the plans or the building and finishing, Barry seemed quite at ease and competent in all facets. He had a particular interest in two types over the years those,were the Tiger Moth, none of us would even hazard a guess how many of these he had over the years - one of them featured on
the cover of the National publication Airborne in the late 70's early 80's. The other being the American P47. There were others of course, but the latter 2 were built specifically for the Wagga Wagga military aircraft competition held each year over the Anzac weekend.
Adrianne always accompanied him. Adrianne you need a medal for this support, but without it Barry would not have achieved the results he enjoyed. It couldn't have always been fun sitting in the caravan or motel awaiting his return and listen to the tales of woe or the euphoria as was the case.
He really did enjoy this meeting as it was the opportunity of catching up with many of his
competition peers he had met over the years. He was widely known and respected for his
camaraderie, knowledge and models. He was competitive, but this came with nerves. He
would pour over his call sheet to ensure he knew the manoeuvres and the sequence he
was required to perform them. To an outsider this seemed quite unnecessary, as he was a
constant practicer, of the flight plan. The nerves were always evident during a competition
flight, but like many competitors, he claimed this was a necessary part of competing - no
nerves poor flight. It obviously didn't affect him badly as he was a very regular participant.
He was a willing teacher and was always happy to advise beginner or more experienced
modellers how a particular manoeuvre should be performed and if you were required to act
as a judge, what constituted a mistake and how it should be scored.
Like all modellers he experienced the highs and lows of the hobby. The excitement and
pleasure of a successful maiden flight of a new model and the despair when some reason
a particular favourite crashed either for some obscure reason or what is commonly termed
the 'dumb thumbs'. In the latter case, he was always prepared to say 'it was my fault', an
approach not common to some modellers but when voiced by a acknowledged expert is
very comforting when going through some of our own mishaps. We thank you Barry for
that, the smile, the shrug and absolutely no rancour when things didn't go quite right.
More recently Barry collaborated quite significantly in the development of the design of a
somewhat unique event to promote and enthuse current modellers, and spark a interest to
those who have not yet participated. While Barry was a scale modeller through and
through he did appreciate that not all people are willing to compete and just needed the
opportunity to fly a scale model without the scrutiny of judges. So was born a programme
that will allow three quite separate facets. A concours section, a judged flying section, and
time for non competitors to fly their aircraft for fun.
In recognition of Barry's input to the hobby it has been decided that the judged flying component
of the meeting will be called 'The Barry James Flight Realism Award' -I'm sure he
To you Adrianne and your family we offer our sincere condolences.
We, his fellow club members as well as those who have competed with and against him
will miss him dearly.
Henry Barrymore Steel James - a wonderful man and modeller will be missed by many.