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.
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!
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.