Avonvale Model Flying Club was originally formed in 1962 and was based for a long time at the ex-RAF airfield at Long Marston. The Club caters for all kinds of flyers and our scale, aerobatic, gliding and helicopter fraternity is now also starting to be bolstered by drone flyers.
Unfortunately, the relentless drive to develop new housing resulted in the club moving from Long Marston in the second half of 2017. Finding a new site for a model flying club is never easy but perseverance from the committee lead to a new site being found within the agricultural estate of Ragley Hall near Alcester in Warwickshire.
Getting agreement to situate us on Ragley land was not simple because, as always, there is some scepticism about the potential for disruption from traffic and noise. The club has gone to great lengths to ensure that this is not an issue and it’s fair to say that our relationship with the landlords has developed and improved significantly over the last 2 years.
The site is a large grass field which Ragley Agriculture agreed to seed with airfield grass at the end of 2017 and it is quite quickly developing into a very nice facility. A bonus is that, due to the alignment of the field, the prevailing SW winds run straight along the strip!
Members flying at the new site have found that the relocation of our flying field comes with a number of benefits. The first is that we don’t lose prime weekends in the summer any more – Long Marston used to host festivals, the Bulldog Bash, 10k runs etc. and those all shut down our flying. The second is that the site is really a very nice place to be – truly in the countryside. It’s quiet, out of the way and we regularly see a wide variety of wildlife from game birds to hares and processions of deer.
And the proof of the new flying sites attraction is best reflected by the growth in the club’s membership numbers. At Long Marston the club had over 100 members but we knew that many of them used the site as a backup for winter flying when some grass fields are inaccessible. As a result, we lost quite a number of members when we moved from the Long Marston site – why have another club with a grass strip as a backup to your existing grass strip?
Once the new Ragley estate site was established Avonvale MFC committee decided we would run a recruitment drive and organised a FlyFest during May 2019. That resulted in another 12 members joining the club very soon after the event. We’ve continued to have a steady take-up of new members – some following the FlyFest and some just organic growth, people who found us and liked our location. Current membership is heading back towards 80 members with 25 of those recruited this year. The mix of experience amongst the new members is also refreshing including experienced flyers, people returning to flying after decades of not flying and complete beginners. The club instructors are being kept quite busy helping the less experienced flyers to gain their “wings”.
All told Avonvale Model Flying Club is a thriving group of model flyers with a new site and a positive future outlook.
If you are interested in learning more about Avonvale Model Flying Club then you can find contact details on the club web site http://www.avonvale.org.uk