by: Dave Smith
The Halifax Radio Control Club had its beginning somewhere in the mid 1960’s. We like to say 1965, but it might have been a year later. In any event the first meeting occurred in Claude MacLachlan’s office in the Lord Nelson building. There were thirteen interested modellers in attendance. From those thirteen five trustees were chosen by secret ballot. Those five then chose the officers from among them to be President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and ??? I believe Claude MacLachlan was our first President. Of those first 13, only Grant Beaver and Dave Smith have been members continuously since then into 2007. This procedure carried for several years until we eventually elected all officers from the open membership. To backtrack a bit, before we officially became a club…my home in those days was only a mile as the crow flies to Stanley Airport. Occasionally I would hear airplane engines screaming. Upon investigating I would find Claude MacLachlan, Bernie LeRoux, Don Blackburn and Al Belair flying control line. I could never figure out why they just flew in circles, once in a while doing a bit of a climb or a dive. I had been flying control line stunt and free flight both at the airport, and on the farm. In later years I noticed the same style in R/C!
Grant, Ken and Roy Beaver were my first intro to R/C. I heard the engines one day and as the road to the airport passed over the Kennetcook River, there was Grant fishing Uncle Roy’s Rudderbug from an ice pan in the river. The plane was rudder only and hand launched by Grant. Someone forgot to turn on the receiver and as most planes in those days were basically free flight, controlled occasionally by rudder input, it flew merrily away.
The radio units were often heterodyne set ups which meant only one plane at a time could fly. Soon R/C progressed where more than one could fly and we had five frequencies assigned by the government for R/C flying. And licenses were required. A 4 or 5 channel fully proportional set cost close to $600.00, without even servo reversing. So some of us flew Galloping Ghost which was a one or two channel set where the decoding was mechanical. Throttle if any, was push button only.
The HRCC had an agreement with the Department of Lands and Forests for the use of the airport. This worked well until the Experimental Aircraft Association moved in and friction began to develop between the two groups. In the early 70’s we were forced to leave the airport.
We then set up on my family’s farm and our runway was about the same distance from the airport hangar as was our former site on the airport. The first few days we managed to buzz the hangar a few times just to let them know we were still around.
After a few years Fred Coyle and Grant Beaver found us a site in Shubenacadie where we flew for several years. Years before all the above there was a bit of activity at Beaverbank where we presently fly. As Shubie was a long drive some of us wanted to improve the Beaverbank site. We obtained permission to fly there but it was mighty rough. The site had been a farm years ago and the topsoil had been removed prior to us flying there. It was muddy at times and narrow. A few of us got a quote of $1,700 for dozing the top of the hill off but the membership would not go along – we didn’t own the property; we didn’t know when we would be told to take a hike; we couldn’t afford it; the road was too crooked; etc. Over 30 years later we are still there and we have a paved runway. But up to paving an awful lot of work by the members went into improving our mud runway, such as putting Colas and stone chips on it, smoothing and grassing the pits,etc. We rented a Bobcat one fine Spring day and Arie Hakkert said he could run it, no problem. Arie fired it up and soon just about ran it down over the bank. Could have been serious but he managed to back up and turn the controls over to another.
Paving occurred in 1982 when we had about 80 members, most of whom didn’t fly. We asked the membership for a one time fee of well over a hundred dollars. We had only one serious objector who almost managed to scuttle the deal but it went through. Interestingly several members paid the assessment but did not fly anymore. We also introduced an initiation fee of $100 for new members as we felt they should assume some of the financial burden. This was eventually dropped because some prospective members would not pay it.
We have proceeded to make field improvements most every year but the vandalism in recent years has been a serious problem.
That about sums up the field situation over the years. As far as flying goes we have flown just about anything from Beaverbank: giant scale; ducted fan; jets and many warbirds. The HRCC has also participated in many static shows and exhibitions such as an annual display at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium; the Shearwater, Greenwood and Moncton air shows and many funfly events when there was little if any club activity at Greenwood, Moncton, Charlottetown and Debert. It used to be an annual trek for many to journey to Maine and meet up with clubs from around Portland, Bangor, etc. We had many a fine trip to Squaw Mountain.
The HRCC was the first club to hold a stand off scale competition. Dave Platt had immigrated to Top Flite from Britain and he came up with a set of relaxed rules for scale. Previously scale was only all out scale with two to three years to built the finest possible then maybe crash it or not even fly it. We met in my apartment one night to discuss this novel concept. Claude called Platt and got the details. We had our show at the College of Art and Design and according to Claude Platt later said that was the first stand-off scale contest. Of course it contained no flying. I had a Nieuport 17 entered and Claude was always a great promoter so he had the Dean of the Dal Law Schoool as one judge. Accoding to Claude the Dean flew the 17 in WW1, yet the Dean made no mention of it to me. We had some members that became well known internationally, notably Colin Campbell and Dave Patrick.