From the 1960s ……..

…….. to where we are today

I think it goes without saying the we are very grateful to our land owner for allowing us to use his land as we do, and we must continue to follow our agreed rules.

There have been many changes in our club since it was formed in 1967. We have had a maximum of 38 members registered, but today we have just a handful of dedicated pilots.

Monthly club meetings have been held in Apperknowle, in a room decked out as a aircraft fuselage over a cafe at the top of Fence Hill. At the Lordens Hotel Dinnington (now demolished) the Leeds Arms and the Loyal Trooper at South Anston. Until further notice we will hold our meetings on Zoom and details will be sent to members as necessary.

Members have flown all types of models and we witnessed all the test flying of a successful British engine, The Fisher Redshift in the late 1970s early 1980s to having the 6 times British National Champion F3A aerobatic pilot (2014 to 2019) as a member and regularly practicing at our field.

There is a lot of experience in the club willing to be passed on by club memebrs if anyone wants help or advice.

We should all be grateful to our treasurer Neil Brayshaw who has served the club so well since taking up the post in 1990 from Tony Woodhouse and other committee members Bob Nash and John Morton for their support over many years.

The present Secretary was appointed in 1979 and in 2017 was awarded the SMAE Medal and a Royal Aero Club Bronze Medal for his services to model flying. The secretary also thanks the NASA committee, led by Bob Nash, for their recommendation for a SMAE Fellowship. The award was presented at the BMFA AGM 2021.

From the late 1960s – Where it all started

The first formal meeting of the original group of casual Sunday/Thursday afternoon flyers was held at the Millhouses Hotel, Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. (Thursday afternoon and Sundays were flying days as the shops in Sheffield closed for the half day until new trading laws were passed. In the early days for me it was Radio flying on a Thursday and control line flying on Sundays). Present at that first gathering were: Cyril Slater (voted as Secretary), Alan Gillvrey (voted as Treasurer), Ted Newsum, Edger Myers, Dave Hanson, Ken Appleyard and myself Ashley Hoyland. After the first meeting we met in the Princess Royal Public house on Slinn Street, Crookes. Some years later we met at a pub in Apperknowle and later at the Robin Hood just a few hundred yards away from Millhouses Park.  We gathered each Sunday Morning and Thursday afternoon to fly at Blackamoor, sometimes referred to as Strawberry Lea, close to Fox House, south of Sheffield. As an alternative, we flew off the Ringinglow Road. We used the first lay-by at the top of the hill on the right hand side of the road as our pits.  Cars were few a far between and models were hand launched away from the road but some took off from the road.  Radio Control in those days was home made, single channel, carrier wave, large components with valves which took high voltage, 67.5v HT and 1.5v LT for the receiver, 4.5v bell battery for the actuator, 90v HT and 1.5v LT for the transmitter. All this meant most of the flights were free flight, even if the radio worked the vibration from the engine often made the actuator skip, the winds on the elastic band drive were wound down and the model was free flight again, several were lost and there were many crashes, reliable radio control flight was still a dream, but we persevered.

That continued until Graupner produced the Variphone system, a transmitter in a portable radio case, if you looked carefully at the transmitter case there was evidence of a speaker grill mounting and it was obvious that the case was originally made to house a Grundig Radio.  The transmitter was eight channel, with a receiver plus a two channel modules for each servo which were not proportional as we know today, plug in blocks to the receiver were added with the appropriate actuator up to eight channels, Ted Newsum had this equipment in a White Cloud powered by a Veco 19, at the same time Edger Myers flew a Frog Jackdaw equipped with three channel Metz equipment, they both worked very well but the price took it out of reach for most of us. In those days there wasn’t much difference between the cost of this equipment and a decent second hand car. I didn’t have a car but relied on Cyril Slater for transport until I bought a second hand A35 van in 1965, (Link to Photograph – which also took me and a club member Raymond to Corsica to the aerobatic World Championship in 1967).

With the development of radio equipment commercial sets became more widely available, although at a price, and several home constructed 10 channel reed sets were being successfully used.

We moved to the Dyche Lane flying site at Coal Aston around 1962 where we used the Dormer Drills Sports Ground. Harry the groundsman gave us permission to use the pavilion and he appreciated us being there early on Sunday mornings to light the coke burning stove in the middle of the pavilion. Every flight was watched by all with anticipation and excitement. 

In 1967 The Sheffield Aeronautical Radio Control Society lost our field at Dyche Lane Sheffield due to the Batemoor housing development. Some members kept the name of SARCS operating at a quiet flight field at Castle Dyke, Bents Green, Sheffield. Several of the founder members of the SARCS then started flying at Woodsetts Road, North Anston in the long meadow grass. In around 1971 we started cutting the runways with hand mowers. We had a caravan but that was set on fire, then Cyril Slater turned up with an ex chicken hut which we erected as a club house. There was a lock on the door but a screw driver would get you in. There was no hint of vandalism or theft in those days.

When I took over as Secretary in 1979 from Roy Neil, three new members who were employees of the Midland Bank appreciated their membership of the club so much that they had the hut plaster boarded and the ‘kitchen’ area smartened up. Francis and Molly served soup every Sunday lunch time.

There were three dedicated model shops in Sheffield. Hobbies Limited of Derham Norfolk in St Pauls Parade, Charlie Owen was the manager and I spent many lunch times leaning against the counter and dreaming of owning many of the kits on display. Redgates a department store with a good model department who moved from their temporary war site at the bottom of Ecclesall Road to the top of the Moor, and Shalesmoor run by Mr and Mrs Burrows (the shop took the name of Hobbies Sheffield when the Norfolk company ceased trading). However a new model shop opened in Crookesmoor Road around 1963 by Keith Outram who eventually moved to the left hand side of London Road into a corner shop and later moved across the road to No141 to his large and successful shop managed by his wife Shirley. Club member Keith Webster, seen at the counter was the service ‘agent’. Keith Outram is at the back of the shop and ******* is behind the counter, (Link to photograph).( with thanks to Bob’s archives).

A couple of years later we had the only noise complaint we have ever had, but that was when we had no restrictions on flying times or flying area. On the 12th December 1980 our club house was destroyed by fire. The same members who helped smarten up the old chicken hut said they would donate an old wooden temporary bank building that was in Manchester. I negotiated to get it delivered in sections to the field and we spent £800 (the insurance pay out as the club had little money) on a new floor and roof. Half the building was given to our landowner but what we erected was still 30 feet by 20 feet. We all stopped flying until it was built and finished to a high standard with tiled kitchen and spacious meeting area and ladies toilet. (Link to photographs)

About two years after the new club house was finished, again on the 12th December (1983) it was burnt to the floor and all our equipment was destroyed. With the insurance money we bought the existing shipping container and a lawn mower.

We keep nothing of value in the club house although we can make a hot drink and have a warm in the winter, but we still get attempted break-ins and damage to our runway from inconsiderate motor bike/quadbike riders.

In 2005 we decided to lay a track down to the club house and car park. Until now we had parked in the hedgerow and on many occasions had to push cars back up the lane due to the mud and in the winter when it snowed getting out of the field was very difficult at times. (Link to Photographs)