MDFC History

Club History

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In the early days around 1956, the club flew only control line combat. We flew on Berry Hill Park and at this time, Mansfield had a strong control line combat team. We joined the MAMAC League which included clubs from Birmingham, Nottingham and Derby, Newark, Huddersfield and Sutton in Ashfield plus some others I can’t remember. The clubs flew in comps against each other both away and at home. The Mansfield team won the league three years in succession so retaining the cup for good.

Our first club meetings were held in an empty room above a bookies shop at the bottom of Toothill Lane. This belonged to one of the member’s father so we had no rent to pay. We held weekly meetings and as a project, decided to build a four lane slot car race track. The membership grew so we obtained larger premises behind the Crown Hotel on Stockwell Gate and an even larger race track was built. The club now had a large slot car racing membership and when the weather improved, the few of us interested in aircraft left the car lads to run it themselves. Shortly after that, the room was broken into and wrecked. That was the end of the slot car racing.

At about this time, single channel radio control become available. Most of it was home built. The RX was a single valve hill powered by an H/T 45 volt 1.5volt L/T plus a battery to power the rudder. All of these batteries were dry. None re chargeable, also the TX was powered by a 136 volt H/T battery.

Around this time there were about six members using radio control. We mostly met up on Ling Forest opposite the Sherwood Golf Club. It was hand launch and land on a rough cart track if lucky. In these days we would spend most of the time tuning the radio and the rest chasing after the model that had gone out of range and into the forest.

Back in the early 60s some of us would go to Wigsley Airfield near Lincoln. It was a long drive, especially if when you arrived you found your TX was still on the bench in the workshop. But it still had its main runway to take off and land on. As somewhere nearer to home and with still only about six of us, we started to fly off the rugby field at Berryhill using the rugby posts for limbo flying. At first, everything was fine until a model flown by Richard Welch’s father John hit a house between the two bedrooms windows then fell through the roof of the conservatory below. On another occasion I lost control of a model. It flew into the back garden of a nearby house, hit a clothes prop and snapped it in half with the wing with the engine still going full chat. It proceeded to chop the heads off most of his bedding plants.

Ps. I got my plane back after I bought him a new prop.

The final nail in the coffin came when a member, Trevor Hughes, who built all his own models, radio and engines, flew his large Smog Hog model into the roof of a bungalow smashing half a dozen tiles and making a hole through the roof. The owners were not very pleased plus that night it poured with rain. We all agreed it was time to move. All this was before the days of good modern radio.

We were told we could have the use of a field along a rough lane at Skegby. I don’t think the locals liked us a great deal. Over to one side of the field was a house whose owner would sit in the garden with an air rifle and shoot at any plane that came his way. Models often came back with pellet holes in them.

We decided to move from this site after one Sunday afternoon when a party of local house holders came marching along the lane intent on moving us on so it was pack up quick and go.

From Skegby we moved to a field on Coxmoor. By now our membership had grown to at least a dozen. But problems started to rear their head when we were told the paging system at Harlow Wood hospital was interfering with 27Mhz radio and also, complaints came from the local golf club. The noise from our engines was putting the players off their stroke, plus the nearby farmer told us engine noise was causing his cattle to stampede. He said the noise from the engines sounded like gadflies and gadflies sting cattle. So it was look for another site suitable for flying aircraft from.

At this time I was treasurer and at a meeting the club membership fee was set at 2/- (two shillings) in old money per week, to be collected at the flying field. This proved hopeless. When asked for their subs it was “sorry, no change” or “I’ve come without any money” and “I’ll have to pay you next week”. Next week never came and half the members never did pay their subs.

After endless searches, the farmer whose field we now use gave us permission to use one of his fields. This was OK to a point but models had to be hand launched. We were then given a more permeant site to fly from, this only lasted a few years, occupants living in houses nearby complained about the noise. A new site was found near to where we fly now but this time, the owners of Peafield Farm complained about the noise. The farmer then allowed us to move onto the site we now use.

It takes all sorts to have a successful club and over the years, we have had most: - There’s the member who set fire to his model on the field, another who decided to jump on his plane. I think the best one was a member who having made a rough landing, picked his TX up by the aerial then threw it over the hedge. He didn’t do much flying after that.

The club membership was increasing at a fair rate, but the problem was in those days, we used 27Mhz. this was split into 6 channels, red, orange and blue, yellow, green and brown. After one or two near misses in the air, it was decided at a club meeting to give two channels to aerobatics, two for sports flying. The blue channel was out as this clashed with CB radio, leaving the brown for beginners etc. This left about a dozen on brown. The poor B’s never got a look in.

Shortly after moving to this new field it was proposed at a club meeting due to engine noise, no aerobatic flying to be flown. Models could be flown in a sports manner. This new rule caused many debates and was thrown out in the end.

In those days we were a lot keener to fly than today. I remember one winter day with snow on the ground, the temperature dropped way below freezing, and not one of us could get an engine to start. The cars had 9 inch icicles hanging off the bumpers.

In those days, men were men and women were glad of them.

At about this time, the club purchased a second hand ride on mower from Bolsover Council. We then obtained an ex-army hut to store it in. The hut was already painted in green and brown so it blended in with the surrounding countryside. One day, I received a phone call from Nottinghamshire police telling me one of their patrol cars had crashed into our hut stoving both doors in. The story goes; the police were chasing a joyrider down the lane. The joyrider saw the hut in front of him and stopped and ran off. But the police didn’t see it until it was too late, the police car ended up being taken away on a low loader. The police insurance would not pay for the repairs to the doors on the hut saying we would have to claim off the driver of the stolen car. This was not a very good idea because the driver was never caught. But, after a long wait, the police insurance did pay up.

Tony Devonshire (Founder Member)

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