The following brief summary has been taken from a presentation to club members by Ron Nichols (founding member and former President), August 2013.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park was designated as a public recreation area in 1953. The recreation area of some 1000 acres, was envisaged as being “an immense playground with facilities of every nature catering for the welfare and enjoyment of the population of New Zealand.”
For a full history of the origins of the park download the Resource Statement at the foot of the page – see http://www.gwrc.govt.nz/History-4/.
Kapiti Aeromodellers’ Club Inc and its predecessor club, Paraparaumu Associated Modellers Club Inc (PAM Inc ) have operated from Queen Elizabeth Park since 1986.
Paraparaumu Associated Modeller’s Club
PAM Inc was established in 1970. This embraced all forms of modelling including rail (live steam), boats, and RC aircraft. The different divisions had their own management structures and ran their own finances. Limits were placed on the numbers of flying members, presumably over concerns over frequency control. More than 50% of the membership of PAM Inc were aero modellers.
Model planes were initially flown from a farm site at Reikorangi. The paddock was grazed with sheep and there were sheep droppings all over the place, but the sheep kept the grass down so the grass rarely needed mowing. The site was also an emergency glider landing strip for gliders that could not make it back to Paraparaumu and on more than one occasion gliders came in there requiring the modellers to get out of the way. It then required a full sized plane to come in and tow the glider out.
When the farm was sold the club was required to find a new site and was fortunate to be able to secure the site at Queen Elizabeth Park. In 1986, with the support of the Mayor of Petone, a “Consent to Occupy” was granted by the Queen Elizabeth Park Board for PAM Inc to use that section of the park to fly model aeroplanes. The new site had been, in wartime years, a tank target range, and some of the early members recall work parties of 25 members, supported by a tractor and rotary hoe, picking up old shell casings, while levelling the land to form the current airstrip.
An old workers hut that was used as a clubhouse at Reikorangi was moved onto the new site, but the Council Parks Officer did not approve and instructed that it be removed forthwith. The club sought permission to build a clubhouse on the site and after drawings and plans were shown to the Council, permission was given. A new clubhouse was then built on the site and that is the clubhouse that is in use today.
In the early 90’s there were several challenges to the club’s occupancy of the site. In 1992 the Regional Council advised the club of an intention to relocate the strip “to preserve the tranquillity of the beach” – but fortunately nothing eventuated. In 1993, the Council again advised of a proposal to relocate our activities, to make way for proposed golf courses and motel. Five options for new flying sites were considered, both within and outside the park. Again nothing eventuated.
When the club was first formed, flying was on weekends only. The general arrangement was for the strip to be mowed on Saturday (a laborious process which involved collecting and returning a mower from a park owned tractor shed) and with much of the flying being on Sunday. A small group would meet mid week, generally on a Thursday, and this led to the Silver Fox Squadron being established in 1991. This is a group of largely retired members who fly mid week and hold a monthly barbecue, wet or fine!
Discord in PAM Inc
Discord developed within PAM Inc in the 90’s when a group of local members within the aircraft division feared that members who lived south of Pukerua Bay might want to move the aircraft division closer to Wellington. They were so obsessed with this that they called a Special General Meeting. As a majority of the aircraft division were not local they were not invited to the meeting which was attended by 17 members of the train division and only 3 from the aircraft division.
A resolution was passed at this meeting that all members who lived south of Pukerua Bay or north of Otaki would be made “Country Members” with no voting rights, however they would still have to contribute part of their subs to the main body of PAM Inc. The intention was to obstruct the perceived threat that the aircraft division would be moved closer to Wellington. While the aircraft division had accumulated substantial financial reserves the main body of PAM Inc was in deficit.
Formation of Kapiti Aeromodellers’ Club
This unpopular move made the situation untenable for the majority of the aircraft division and resulted in legal action being taken by a group of aircraft division members, at their own expense. Eventually the aircraft division split, with six members remaining with PAM Inc. and choosing to fly at a site in Otaki. The remaining majority elected to form a new club and thus Kapiti Aeromodellers Club was formed in 1995. The assets were split on a pro rata basis. The new club retained the flying site at Queen Elizabeth Park plus the mower and clubhouse which form the basis for the club’s asset base. In March 1995 the Kapiti Aeromodellers Club was formally registered as an Incorporated Society.
The new Club held its first rally, at which members from other clubs were invited, on 1st August 1995. Rallies are now held annually, generally in March. These attract considerable interest not only from other clubs, but also from members of the public.
The Club’s activities were recognised by Civil Aviation in 1995, with the granting of a “D620” – This meant that the model flying field is shown on all aeronautical charts as a recognised hazard zone. Height restrictions for model flying, were set at 500 feet North of the Whareroa stream and 650 feet South of the stream.
Over the years the flying activities at the park have changed. Early RC flyers generally flew in a circle around where they were standing. Many became proficient in flying in one direction and encountered difficulty when flying at interclub rallies, where they were required to fly left or right hand circuits, with the pilot maintaining a fixed orientation. Today, models include gliders, electric powered glider/soarers, light electric foam models, through to helicopters, aerobatic, large scale, gas turbine and other forms. Recently the club has adopted practices to manage “FPV” (first person view) and “UAV” (unmanned aerial vehicle = “drone”) models. Accordingly the club maintains a close contact with Park authorities and Civil Aviation to address risks as new technologies emerge. Occasionally one of the old timers will put a control line model, or vintage free flight model through its paces.
The Club facilities have been developed by successive committees, supported by many willing helpers. Additions include a modern diesel ride on mower, lawn roller, an extension to the runway, and installation of pit safety fences, mower shed, and a dial-up weather station. Club membership has grown from 39 founding members to in excess of 100 members today.
The Club owes its current favourable relationship with Park authorities, its financial strength, its premium facilities, and its existence, to a small group of founding members, who put their time, sweat, and hard cash into creating one of the best model flying facilities in the lower North Island.
Kapiti Aeromodeller’s Club will hold its 21st anniversary on January 17th 2016.
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Foundation members at 28/2/95 (* indicates still hold current membership)
|Denis Stone – President||Dennis Marsh – Club Captain *|
|Colin Driscoll – Vice president||John Wall – general committee|
|Alan Dick – Secretary||Robert Freeman – general committee|
|Beryl Hoult – Treasurer||Neil McClellan – general committee *|
|George Brickell||Brian Hoult *||Phil Patterson *|
|Sid Connell||John Kaye||Bernie Robertson|
|Gerard Cotterill||Robert Keegan *||Vic Rowland|
|Mike Cudby||Gary Kemp||Colin Taylor *|
|Trevor Daniel||Bob Kench||Mike Tucker *|
|Graham Eglington *||Geoff Livingston||Neil Upton|
|Terry Gardiner||Paul McMillan||Robert Upton *|
|Jim Hamill *||Murray Milsom *||Richard Williams|
|Jack Harris||Ross Monk *||Dimitri and Peter Zotov|
|Roger Holdaway||Ron Nichols *||Bob Pollock|
|Ian McMillan *|