Who Are the Hill Country Aeromodelers

   

The Hill Country Aeromodelers, a radio controlled model airplane club, began flying from a leased field on South Manchaca Drive in 1987.

 

In April, 1993, members were notified that the field was being sold and were given ninety days notice to vacate. Search was begun for a new flying site. James Bruns, then club treasurer, discovered a possible field in Mary Moore Searight Park on West Slaughter Lane and alerted the club officers. The field was three fourths covered with cedar trees and bushes, but was an excellent site and location if it could be cleared. A club meeting was held and the members agreed to pursue the idea. Club president Ralph DeClairmont formed a committee to determine requirements and costs.

 

Jim Vier, a major sub-division contractor, expert scale model builder and club member, offered his support and indicated he could provide building equipment and machinery at cost. Joe Del Gato, an architect and club member, designed the field layout and submitted the plan for approval.

 

Larry McKinney, a club member and member of the Austin Parks Board, was instrumental in achieving parks board approval for a five year lease. A Parkland Improvement Agreement between the City of Austin and the Hill Country Aeromodelers was entered into on the 16th of June, 1993, whereas the City of Austin desired to procure to its citizens diverse recreational opportunities. I.E.; a portion of Mary Moore Searight Park be developed for use as a radio-controlled model aircraft flying field.

 

The City agreed to allow the Aeromodelers to make and operate improvements at no cost to the City.

   
After city approval of the site plan and necessary permits were obtained, construction began. The field was covered with scrub cedar and other native growths. Jim Vier, the true sponsor of our field, furnished heavy equipment, cleared the allotted land, leveled it, and club members seeded the field and grass runway with native grasses. A paved runway, 500 feet long by 50 feet wide was installed, as were paved taxiways and pilot stations,. The base used was macadam torn up from Austin city streets, as were the stabilized parking areas, thus saving the city from disposal fees.
 
Next, safety fences were installed for pilots and spectators, in accordance with the safety rules of the American Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which governs model aircraft flying. The AMA also provides liability insurance in excess of one million dollars once they sanction a model club.
 
All of our members are required to be licensed by AMA and fly by their rules to insure safety and insurance coverage. Next, a 30 by 40 foot pole barn building kit was purchased by the club, and work started in earnest to erect it, along with spectator seats and benches behind the safety fence. The work took on the aspect of an old fashioned barn raising. Unfortunately, vandals burned the club building in January, 1995.
 
The Club then purchased a "Mueller" metal building and erected it ourselves, under the direction of Brian McMurray and David McBride. Used wooden fence poles were procured and a post/cable fence was erected around the parking lot in accordance with the park layout. Club members erected a similar fence along the entry park entry road from near Slaughter Lane to the model field entrance at clubs expense in support of the park.

 

The field was finally opened for flying. Trash barrels were procured, and contracts were let to provide porta-potty and dumpster service. Later, two used metal shipping containers were procured to store lawn mowers and other maintenance equipment.

 

The field was built and is maintained in "Golf Course" condition by volunteer club members. The Aeromodelers membership varies between 95 to 120 members each year. We have a number of father/son members, (our youngest solo pilot was 10). Membership is offered to pilots through eighteen years old without fees.

 

Over one third of our members are veterans of military service, and many members fly "real" aircraft. We have taught two men to fly who can neither speak nor hear. Club membership is open to ALL, and instructor pilots teach new members to fly at no cost. Spectators are welcome whenever the field is open. . We have an active noise reduction program.

 

Two or more flying events are held each year. Participants come from all parts of Texas and beyond. Many are nationally known modelers who consider our field one of the finest in the country.

 

For over ten years, the Club's annual "Blue Santa" fly-in and auction in December has raised over two thousand dollars in money and toys each year for the needy children of Austin. Club fly-ins bring in large numbers of spectators at each event, and many on weekends when weather permits routine flying conditions.

 

Club members have put on flying demonstrations for schools and gone to the schools for in-classroom lectures and displays. We are proud to claim that some of our young members who started flying at twelve years of age are now Air Force and/or Commercial pilots. Model aircraft building and flying is not only educational, but provides an alternative to the temptations of our youth today. It also offers parents an opportunity to participate with their boys and girls (yes, Girls!) in a hobby that all can share.

 

We welcome the public to come and observe some exciting model aircraft flying, and perhaps consider joining in the fun and festivities as a member of the Hill Country Aeromodelers Club. Welcome!