Ashhurst Model Fliers Incorporated.
Located at the River Flats, Ashhurst Domain, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
The club was founded in 1998 by a gropu of enthusiastic modellers. This came about because in 1997 when PNCC, in conjunction with the Orura County Council called a public meeting in Ashhurst to discuss the development of the Ashhurst Domain.
Six of the Ashhurst Model Fliers founding members were present at the public meeting and in fact were outnumbered by council attendee’s.
They present their proposal that the river flats area would be an ideal model aircraft flying site.
A further meeting run by the PNCC where all interested parties that wanted to
establish their projects within the Domain were invited. These other parties included organisations such as Ducks Unlimited, Forrest and Bird, Canine Association, along with the Equestrian Club. The club presented their case complete with supporting arguments which included distances to local housing, hours of flying, numbers using the field and impacts on the wildlife and controls relating to safety and site serenity.
Some months went by before the PNCC gave us the good news that the club had been awarded the use of the river flats for a model aircraft flying field.
The club had eight members at that point. These eight members are the founding members of Ashhurst Model Fliers and were made up of the following: L Goggin, S Hubbard, B Jardine, O Rogers, H Kilsby, B Searle, B Treloar, D Walker. We owe a great deal of thanks to these pioneers, as without their energy and tenacity our club would not have come into existence.
AMF have been a part of Ashhurst ever since, with the club meeting room being the Ashhurst Library where monthly meetings were held.
The club now consists of 26 members. This number has fluctuated over the years but generally sits at between 22 – 28 members with 10 – 12 of those being regular flyers.
The member age group is between 20 – 70 years of age with the majority of members being over 40.
Over the years there have been three life changing events at the airfield. The first being the obliteration of the strips and surrounding grassed areas as a result of the 2004 floods. The club put a lot of time, money and energy into repairing the damage caused by this event.
The second event was the formalisation of a lease with PNCC. A great deal of work has gone into this process which has included noise testing, council meeting attendance and completion of incorporation of the club. This process is still continuing but has been mothballed due to the third event.
The third event is the most recent. In September of 2015 flooding washed away the access road to the airfield. This event threatened to end the use of the airfield at the Ashhurst Domain and could possibly end the club itself. PNCC have partially developed an alternative access which has been used on and off for the past 6 months. A new more developed access track will be built by PNCC for this summer (2016) which will be greatly appreciated by all concerned.
Model Aircraft Flying is still an activity very much enjoyed at the Domain River Flats Field by the AMF members and appears will be for many years to come.
The club’s members are interested in a wide mixture of flying disciplines that cover most types of aeromodelling. Members build and fly aircraft of the following categories: Vintage, soaring/gliding, sport, scale, helicopter, multirotor and control line. Of these aircraft types, models can be sub categorised into many more interesting and varied models such as Autogyros, aerial photography platforms, competition, duration, and aerobatic.
The club holds a club day on a monthly basis, normally on the first Sunday of each month weather permitting. Club day is always enjoyed by all as it is when the majority of flying members get out and fly newly built planes and have a catch up with what’s being built and flown.
AMF are affiliated to the NZMAA (New Zealand Model Aeronautical Association). CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) requires certain regulations are complied with that control the use of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems). NZMAA are the approved organisation that amongst other functions moderates and manages how model aircraft are used and flown in NZ. NZMAA assists clubs with education in the legal requirements of flying model aircraft, holds insurance cover for pilots and operates a pilot qualification system known as a Wings Program.
A MODEL AIRCRAFT AIRFIELD:
An airfield needs to be managed to accommodate the activities of a model aircraft club, and in doing so, consideration is given too: compliance with all legal requirements, neighbourhood disturbance and privacy, limiting any exposure of people or property to danger or damage, effects on the surrounding environment including livestock and wildlife.
HEALTH AND SAFETY:
Considerations for H&S are processed through AMF club documentation which supports all the requirements made under the CAA rules for the safe operation of model aircraft.
Noise created by the operation of internal combustion powered aircraft is unavoidable; however the club has strict guidelines laid down by NZMAA and local authorities. Minimisation of noise is paramount. Club rules and national regulations controlling the operation of model aircraft include the requirement to have effective mufflers fitted, suitable propeller to engine size ratios, limiting flying hours, limiting number of aircraft operated at any one time, and flying in areas or locations that are away from noise affected habitations.
In an Ideal world a club airfield would be available to be used from dawn till dusk 7 days a week; however in the real world limitations are always placed on the ideal and this is to be expected because considerations need to be appreciated on the impact of model aircraft operation.
Generally acceptable operational parameters limit flying hours at the AMF River Flats Field for internal combustion powered aircraft from 9am – 5pm. With electrically powered aircraft that emit no motor noise, it is normally acceptable to operate with no noise related considerations.
A club airfield is a meeting place enjoyed by likeminded people primarily to operate model aircraft. Socialising is part of the enjoyment of flying model aircraft and can sometimes extend to hosting a social flying or competition event with another club, which may include a BBQ lunch.
Maintenance of the air strip is essential to the safe and effective operation of model aircraft. The usual maintenance is covered by mowing and weeds management but may extend to fence and gate repairs and/or ground work repairs for Rabbit holes and levelling etc. The club has equipment and expertise within its membership capable of looking after and maintaining an air strip to the level expected by the pilots and landlords.