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INTRODUCTION

The Winchester Model Aeroplane Club provides members with the facilities to fly radio controlled aircraft in mid Hampshire. The club is flying orientated with the emphasis on relaxed sport flying. Unfortunately due to the surrounding farmland it is not possible to allow free flight models neither are control line models permitted as they block the safe operation of the radio controlled models.

There are usually only three or four competitive events per year organised well in advance ensuring that restriction to individual flying is minimised. Apart from an AGM there are no regular meetings away from the flying field. A barbeque, perhaps with a swap meet is usually organised once or twice during the year in spring or summer at the flying field.

View of the pits on a fine Sunday Afternoon

THE FLYING FIELD

The flying site is available to club members for flying every day of the year with no time restrictions. It is reached via a mile long farm track accessed via a padlocked gate. Crops are grown around the two acre grass patch and this does restrict the use of bungees for gliders and prohibits the flying of free flight models. Parking of cars is adjacent to the flying area as shown in the photographs, and a permanent caravan means that shelter from cold and rain is always available.

Location of flying site - map

View of the pits on Electric fly in day

TRAINING

The club takes the training of its' novice pilots seriously and several members are nominated to provide this service free of charge. There are examiners within the club to enable flyers to pass the BMFA 'A' and 'B' Certificates. It is a club rule that people do not fly solo until the 'A' certificate is achieved.

MEMBERSHIP

The club usually operates with around 100 members.
Full details of membership are available on the membership page.

Picture of a member with his model
A member with his model.

HISTORY

Winchester Model Aeroplane Club was first formed in 1936, by just a few keen free-flight modellers. This only lasted until 1939, when the outbreak of the Second World War saw the end of the club. Reformed in 1946, mainly by a group of controline flyers the club participated at the first British National Competitions held at Melton Mowbray.

From 1946 to 1956/7 the club were flying free flight (all disciplines including Jetex) on Hockley Down, between the Hockley golf course and the sewerage farm! (The site is now the M3) The club was quite successful in competition at Northern Heights Gala and many other f/f rallies of the time. As one of the young "fetchermites", David Simmonds recalled recently how he frequently had to retrieve models from the said sewerage farm, it took tremendous courage, not so much about what you were treading in or even the awful smell (it wasn't artificially scented in those days) but the tales of huge rats the size of large dogs, or even elephants were mentioned!! The rats were large though!

The club ran coach trips to the various competition venues, it was always great fun with many very junior members (including David Simmonds) well looked after, encouraged and assisted by the seniors, many of whom were not long back from wartime service duties.

Notable members at that time were the Shawyer brothers, Frank ran the local Winchester model shop, Pete Ivory was competition secretary and a power f/f contest expert using "hot" Elfin Diesels (they are still used in SLOP f/f today). Ray Lewis was the treasurer and general administrator, flying sport scale types, he was a local solicitors clerk and well up to the job!

The club used to meet once a month in a church hall in Cannon Street, where during the winter months we ran indoor events with home made microfilm covered models and small balsa chuck gliders.

Jack Morton the scale expert, came to the club some time later, in about 1954/5. He apparently turned up on his first day at the club with an immaculate silver f/f Tiger Moth with Allbon Merlin engine and he set the standard for scale thereafter. The rest as they say is history, as Jack made one of the first real moves to c/l, flying at the lower Stanmore recreation ground then later at "The Park".

In 1955 Members of the club flew from Oram's Arbour. This is located in the centre of Winchester, adjacent to St. Paul's Hospital. Flying continued here for a number of years, but eventually, due to the usual enemy of noise, the club moved to North Walls Park. It was still mainly a control line club, but radio control equipment was becoming known, and began to be used by a few members. At this time members of the club were regularly entering the 'Nationals' and one member won the Scale Trophy. He was later involved with providing and flying models for feature films.

During the sixties the club relocated to the ground of Hursley Cricket Club and, to this day, members of the club still fly there. With the introduction of more sophisticated radio control equipment, the club evolved into a radio control club. Cricket became more popular and the opportunity for flying became more limited. The club was growing as more people took up the hobby, and it became increasingly obvious that a new site was required.

The Pittvale site was secured, the first time a site was rented from a farmer specifically for the use of model flying in the Winchester area. The site was not ideal for powered models but it was all that could be found and afforded at the time.

Site restrictions and a membership which had grown from fourteen in 1960 to over one hundred by the nineteen eighties prompted the start of another search for a site without restrictions. In 1982 negotiations were started with a farmer for a permanent piece of land we could call our own and erect a club house. The site, following preparation and seeding with grass was opened in April 1989 by the General Secretary of the BMFA accompanied by his wife. The two acre square site now complete with club hut and surrounded by two hundred acres of open farmland forms the clubs' main flying field.

Map of flying field location

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