As drones become more commonplace (Australia Post is considering making deliveries this way, for example), it’s easy to forget that model aircraft flying enthusiasts have been controlling their planes in a similar way for decades.
Members of the Clarence Valley Radio Flyers started remotely controlling their aircraft in 1982 – these days the club goes by the name of Grafton Model Aircraft Club (GMAC) – and this weekend the club is holding its Australian Model Flying Day in support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The club’s PR and Events officer, Daryl Woolfe, says that model aircraft flying is a “fantastic hobby, sport or past time”.
“It is a little known fact that the Australian Government finally recognised model flying as a sport in the last few years, even though Australia had been sending pilots to world championship meetings since the early 1960s.” he says
“Australia has many world champions across the many facets of aero modelling and many of these people go unheralded, even in the hobby specific publications.”
The club can trace its beginnings back to circa 1948 when control line models were flown at Fisher Park. These machines were fuelled by diesel and later by methanol.
These days, about half of model aircraft are powered by high capacity battery packs and modern electric motors and are controlled by state of the art computer-based radio control units.
The GMAC currently has around 40 members, who live as far south as Coffs Harbour, Copmanhurst to the west and Lismore to the north.
“There is no age or gender limit to flying; GMAC has several juniors in the ranks and the club is ready to welcome any female members who wish to have a go,” says Daryl.
So this weekend is a good place to start for those interested in doing a bit of remote flying.
“We have a club-owned trainer plane that anyone who wishes to have a try at flying can use,” says Daryl.
“There is no need to worry about crashing the model, as the training plane is set up to fly using a ‘buddy box’ set up.
“The buddy box system is two transmitters, one in the hands of the new pilot, called a secondary controller and the other one, the primary controller, is in the hands of the instructing pilot.”
As part of the weekend, GMAC is holding a static display at Grafton Shopping World on Saturday October 22, before holding the flying display part on Sunday at the club’s flying field, Tancreds Lane, Clarenza.
The day is free and flying will take place from 8am to 2pm, weather permitting.
“Unfortunately, the flying of model aircraft is often challenged by bad weather,” says Daryl. “Rain and strong wind will usually put paid to any flying activities.”
GMAC is an affiliated with the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia, the governing body of model aero sports in Australia, which is recognised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
For further information and contact details check out the club’s web site: www.graftonmac.com