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ABOUT SAS

SAS, ( Soar Ahead Sailplanes, a somewhat obvious play on my name of Alan Head l but one that gives us a nice symmetrical logo).

SAS was formed back in 1980, when we developed a completely new range of models, making our first major show debut at the Sandown Park Model Symposium, the UK’s premier show for decades and successfully run by the Elmbridge Model Club back in 1982. We were one of three display teams forming the official opening ceremony and demonstrated our APACHE model, a fast low wing aerobatic slope soarer, by giving it a piggy back launch from a pattern ship!! Subsequent shows we have dropped gliders from helicopters, bungee launched, catapulted and aerotowed, all with great success and crowd appeal.Initially all our models used rotationally moulded fuselages, guaranteed for a year against breakage, and obeche veneered bluefoam wings. (bluefoam is an extruded form of polystyrene and is much stronger than the styrofoam alternative which is more extensively used as it is much cheaper).

A few years later our fuselage manufacturer went into liquidation, but at least we had recouped the high mould costs. Even 30 years later, I do not think anyone else in the UK has produced a mould for rotationally moulding fuselages.

We then produced a range of slope soarers with ply fuselages, and in order to better demonstrate them at the model shows, put OS 15s up front which gave a most impressive perfomance and our power models really took off.  We actually became the largest outlet for OS 15s in the country despite them not even being on our price list since we always only wanted to sell what we manufactured, a policy that we have always maintained, but many shops did not sell this excellent and quiet little motor. The majority of our show sales were for power models whilst slope soarers dominated our mail orders.

Rotationally moulded fuselages became available again for a few years, but then the American supplier ceased production in favour of becoming a distributor. This was during the early nineties recession which did not seem to hit us very much - our sales were still increasing, but probably not as rapidly as would have been the case. 

As we came out of recession, the imported ready to fly models became popular and hit most of the UK manufacturers, again this did not affect us initially as we aimed at a specialised market that was unaffected, but subsequently supplies of the good quality raw materials, mainly veneer, became harder to obtain. During the early nineties we seriously considered producing high tech gliders, but the costs, particularly for labour, were too prohibitive in this country, there have been some brave attempts but again eastern European and far east labour costs cannot be competed with!!

Changeing circumstances always bring about opportunities and epp became available.

For the fifteen years from 1982 to 1997 (in which year we introduced the U.K's first epp kit), our flying wings probably accounted for more than 90% of flying wing slope soarers sold in the UK and our models certainly dominated the competition scene, so we were ideally placed to enter, expand and dominate this new epp market.  By 2002, we had ceased all 'conventional'  production and concentrated our efforts entirely to epp - hindsight proved we made the right decision. Our jigs and tooling for these models were passed on to 'Lancasters' who have recently changed their trading style to 'Traditional SAS Models'

Our original WILDTHING was the first fully kitted epp model in the UK, 8 months later winning the first National Slope Combat Championships and at the same event, our VIPER won the Elimination Event. A good day for SAS, but then our models outnumbered the total opposition. Despite more manufacturers trying to become competitive, our percentage of the scene seems to be increasing. This ratio has increased over the years and our VENOM is the model to have for serious combat flying (if combat flying can be called serious since everyone has such a good laugh).

Nevertheless, models developed from the original WILDTHING still account for the vast majority of our sales, and probably will continue to do so. 

What does the future hold for SAS?

Our policyfor will continue to be the same:-

1) To improvr and develop the best range of epp slope soarers in the U.K. and to maintain or increase our market lead.

2) To incorporate improvements at the earliest possible opportunity.

3) To only sell models that I and my friends actively fly ourselves, we will never produce a kit designed by anyone else!!

4) To continue to share the pleasure and satisfaction with slope soaring with as many people as possible, customers and others alike.

We are always on the lookout for new materials and processes that we may utilise in our kitting, and for processes and techniques that can improve production, and will appreciate feedback and suggestions from whatever source that will improve our models.

ALAN HEAD

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