A MAN whose passion for aviation made him a familiar sight flying radio-controlled planes along the riverside in Abingdon has died aged 84.

John Race, also known for his daily run around Abbey Meadow, could often be found on the riverbank, or the cricket pitch, launching his planes and buzzing passersby.

He was always willing to share his hobby, which came from his career in aviation and computer science, with anyone who asked him about it, especially younger Abingdonians in whom he hoped to nurture an interest in flying.

Things did not always go to plan, however, and on at least one occasion a passing motor-cruiser stopped to retrieve an errant – and soggy - aircraft from the river Thames.

Other passions included writing and he was a published poet with pithy takes on mortality, as well as a keen brewer who made a powerful home ale.

His casket was strewn with hops which he was drying at home, ready for the next consignment.

John Philip Adrian Race was born on July 11, 1934 in Burnley, Lancashire to Winifred and Charles Race and was an only child.

His father worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and the family moved around the country a lot when he was growing up.

Mr Race eventually gained a placed at Oxford University and attended between 1952 and 1956, where he studied Classics at Merton College.

It was there he met his future wife, Eva Carabine, who also read Classics at St Hugh’s College and the pair married in 1956.

The couple went on to have three children – Julia, Sophie and Tom.

From Oxford, Mr Race went on to private sector jobs in aviation and computer systems, during a time of innovation in what was an emerging sector.

In the 1970s he moved into teaching at Brunel University, where he passed on his love for computer science.

He remained in academia, including teaching at the Open University, until his retirement in the 1990s.

Mr Race also during this period did a stint as an expert witness in criminal cases due to his specialist knowledge.

His retirement was gradual and his intellectual curiosity did not desert him, with his study affectionately called the‘Boffinarium’ by himself and his family.

Mr Race, along with his wife and three children, moved to Abingdon in 1975.

While the academic loved the town and the local life he was also passionate about global and European issues.

Though originally an Oxford classicist, his love of the ancient was combined with an interest in present and future civilisations.

This led him to co-found with his wife the Abingdon European Society shortly after their arrival and which continued for many years, with the group still holding talks as late as 2013.

Although a self-taught cook, Mr Race frequently created appropriately-themed refreshments at Abingdon European Society events –from blinis to borscht – which were popular with members.

He developed strong friendships in the town, often bringing a sense of fun, with one of the last photographs one of him at the Nags Head, brandishing conkers which he had stringed for him and three friends.

Mr Race passed away on October 8 after having completed his daily run around the Abbey Meadows.

He was buried in Abingdon cemetery, carried there in a private ceremony by his family on October 24.

A commemoration service was held the on the Saturday for family and friends in the Abbey Buildings, with model aeroplanes decorating the walls and the congregation singing one of Mr Race’s favourite songs – Yellow Submarine by The Beatles.