Model planes an up­lift­ing hobby

Bay News - - Front Page -

Fans of model aero­planes which reg­u­larly take to the skies in Tau­ranga are of­ten per­ceived as a niche group of peo­ple.

But mem­bers of the Tau­ranga Model Air­craft Club are a di­verse bunch from all walks of life, club sec­re­tary Dave Mar­riott said.

Mar­riott said the club has 50 ac­tive­mem­bers, an­other 25 as­so­ciate mem­bers and about the same num­ber of en­thu­si­asts who tag along with mem­bers from time to time.

Mem­bers range in age from 11 to their late 80s, he said.

“We have mem­bers who are ex-air force pi­lots and for­mer com­mer­cial pi­lots, in­clud­ing one who used to fly 747s and an­other who flew com­mer­cial planes in the Philip­pines.

“Our mem­ber­ship in­cludes school chil­dren, trades­peo­ple and pro­fes­sion­als, which in­cludes an anaes­thetist. We also re­cently had a den­tist join the club,” Dave says.

The club, which formed in 1946, is one of the old­est clubs in Tau­ranga, he said.

The club’s fly­ing site is at TECTAll Ter­rain Park on Pyes Pa Rd, with a 35-year lease from Western Bay of Plenty Dis­trict Coun­cil to use it.

Mar­riott said the park site, which in­cludes two run­ways, of­fers the ideal fly­ing lo­ca­tion to land the most de­mand­ing mod­els.

“We cater for most types of model air­craft, in­clud­ing gasand elec­tric-pow­ered planes, glid­ers, and he­li­copters,” he said.

The club has spent $200,000 adding build­ings and de­vel­op­ing the site thanks to char­i­ta­ble grants and mem­bers’ own fund­ing ef­forts, Mar­riott said.

Mem­bers fly their craft any day of the week when the weather is suit­able, and lo­cal coun­cil and Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity rules ap­plied.

De­sign­ing, build­ing and fly­ing model air­craft was an “ad­dic­tive” hobby that any­one could en­joy no mat­ter their age or gen­der, Mar­riott said.

“Somemem­bers spend years and years build­ing a su­perb replica of vin­tage model air­craft but get some­one else to fly it, others only fly these air­craft and some do both,” he said.

Mar­riott said it was an “elec­tric” feel­ing watch­ing one of these model craft take to the skies, but the most im­por­tant thing was learn­ing to land it safely.

“There is noth­ing worse than watch­ing your pride and joy crash on land­ing, leav­ing a pile of de­bris spread all over the runway,” he said.

Mar­riott said the hobby was as ex­pen­sive as en­thu­si­asts wanted it to be— some air­craft cost as much as $5000, but for $100 you could buy a train­ing model and a trans­mit­ter.

The club is hold­ing its an­nual fundrais­ing auc­tion hosted by Clas­sic Fly­ers Mu­seum on June 17, which at­tracts hun­dreds of en­thu­si­asts from around the North Is­land.

■ Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing the club is wel­come to at­tend. Phone DaveMar­riott on 021 909 407 or email tau­rang­amod­ for more in­for­ma­tion.


Tau­ranga Model Air­craft Club sec­re­tary Dave Mar­riott with his home-built methanol-pow­ered plane, named Gaspode.

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