There is photographic evidence (see photo) that records the existence of a Falkirk and District Model Flying Club in the 1940’s, and it is known that it was one of the founder member clubs of the Scottish Aeromodellers Association when the SAA was formed in 1944. In the ‘50’s and ’60’s Larbert and District Model Flying Club were in existence flying mainly free-flight, control-line and early single channel radio models. They had clubrooms in Stenhousemuir and were given permission to fly on the Tryst playing fields by Falkirk Council. The origins of the present club date from the 1970’s.
On the 4th.. May 1972 seven local modellers met in the Leapark Hotel, Grangemouth, and by the end of the evening had formed Falkirk Radio Flying Club. The club name was changed to Falkirk Model Flying Club some years later. Only one of the original members Alex Spiers is still a member of the club. On that night in ‘72, club rules were drawn up and the membership fees were set at £1.00. The club flew at first in a field behind Bellsdyke Hospital, but lost the site due to construction of the M9 motorway in 1977. We spent a short time at Mungal playing fields in Bainsford and Larbert Road playing fields, Camelon, then in early 1980 we secured the use of a field between Maddiston and California about three miles from Falkirk.
Securing this new site seemed to coincide with a big increase in interest in model flying, and during the years we flew there we saw a substantial increase in our membership. In the early ‘90’s due to complaints about noise from a resident of the nearby village of Wallacestone, and subsequent restrictions to our flying sessions, we began looking for another flying site and in ‘93 were fortunate to get permission to use our present field at Westfield Farm, Airth.
During the late 1970’s radio control model flying was a bit of a novelty to the general public, and during these years members of the club were often involved in flying displays at gala-days and fetes around the district, even travelling as far as Oban and Cambeltown on occasions. Probably the most adventurous event in the club’s history was when we got involved in the ITV “Telethon ‘90” charity programme and flew a model from Kincardine to South Queensferry, raising over £800 in the process.
Early Memories by Alex Spiers
In the early to mid 60’s single channel and galloping ghost radio had appeared on the scene and for some inexplicable reason we all travelled at weekends to Sherrifmoor in the Ochil Hills, in the belief that the models wouldn’t suffer so much damage landing on the heather. The first lesson learnt was that heather was brilliant for stopping the model on landing, it was also very good at removing undercarriages.
Whilst flying at Sherrifmuir in 1968 I bought my first truly proportional set of radio, I built an own design high wing trainer and called it Domine (Scots for headmaster or head teacher) the radio was O.S. Cougar and cost £165.00., this was when my weekly gross pay was £14.10/0p (£14.50p), don’t believe anyone who says that radio equipment is expensive, I could buy a new set every week from my pension and still have some money left.
The first flight of the “Dominie” was on Christmas day 1968 and was unforgettable, I had set the rudder and elevator as I would a single channel model, that is some right rudder and a bit of up elevator. I hand launched the model down the slope and watched in awe as it dropped toward the heather, and, as the airspeed increased it lifted its nose and climbed in an absolute straight line (the trim settings were perfect). The model was a few hundred yards away and still climbing gently when I tried a little bit of right rudder, it was a dream come true, the right wing dropped gently and it started a huge right hand climbing circle. By the time the engine run out of fuel the Dominie was a speck in the sky above, there was no wind, no clouds and no one else there to break the spell, it evidently landed about 20’ away from me, it was pure magic. A new club was formed in Alloa with the use of a field being available in Coalsnaughton and many of the Larbert club members joined . When we had begun to master the art of landing without the model requiring a rebuild we moved back to the Falkirk area and formed a new club flying in a field behind Bellsdyke Hospital with members also coming from Linlithgow and Grangemouth. It would be true to say that the original members of the Falkirk and Larbert clubs spawned 4 clubs and from a small number there is now approximately 120 modellers in the area.
Club History was archived by John Wilson and Alex Spiers