South Birmingham Model Flying Club – Profile

By | September 16, 2019

Currently SBMFC are a broad church and members fly free flight both indoors and outside and control line when the weather permits.

The main flying field is Cofton Park (the Pope has  blessed the site!) approx 9 miles south of Birmingham city centre. The club also meets on most Fridays at Northfield fire station Community Room from 7.30-9.30pm.

The Club roots lie back in the 1930s when a few youngsters started flying Free Flight models in South Birmingham. The club as we know it today  started just after World War 2 with Reg Loynes a night school teacher at Turves Green School who started a model aircraft flying group, meeting on Friday evenings in Turves Green School (Local to Northfield, a suburb of the city.) Harry Cook a local man with great interest in model flying  helped by supplying all manner of materials for the newly formed group. He even went as far as allowing the lads to have expensive items such as engines on the basis of paying weekly, without charging interest.

The original flying field was Allens Cross Sports Field in Bell Lane not far from the historic original Bell Public House on the main Bristol Road in Northfield, where control line flying was introduced. Unfortunately the noise was too much for residents who lived close to the sports field and the Birmingham City Council at the time offered a site for this “new sport” at Cofton Park, where we fly today, albeit in a different area.

Norman Smith a now retired G.P. Worked at the time at West Heath Hospital which had a flying field near to Bourneville.

Yes the famous chocolate factory workers estate! However the noise issue as with the Allens Cross Sports Field venue killed off the facility and all moved to Cofton.

Over the 65 plus years since its formation the club has had some significant and important members. The most famous were the Hewitt brothers Brian and Alan.  They designed the models Stunt King, Stunt Queen and the quite superb Ambassador.

Both were great flyers and they influenced many to take up control line stunt flying as it was known then. Allan notably travelled over the English Channel and went to Knokke in Belgium where He won an early international stunt contest around 1950.  Several of their models were either offered as kits or plans.

The current membership includes not only C/L flyers but several top notch free flight indoor flyers. Some fly radio models mainly indoors but the club is mainly about control line models and flying.  Our recently deceased former Club Chairman Mike Downing had been flying C/L since 1948 where He along with several other school friends including Ron Greaves flew models on the school playground and football fields. His first model was a Frog Kit of the Vandiver powered by an original long stroke Frog 100 diesel. Later He moved onto a Veron Bee bug stunter and ED Mark 1 Bee diesel and with this model He managed to loop for the first time.

Don Burgess was a valued member of the club for many years and he was a close friend of the late great George Aldridge. In Fact the last time George was in the UK He flew Don’s Peacemaker using a mark 3 Oliver Tiger engine. Those who witnessed His flying session tell it was a real eye opener, never to be forgotten.  Peter Martin has been a real stalwart of the club for many years. An unfortunate illness has rather restricted Pete’s activities but he regularly turns out to club events. Another notable member is Ken Burton who has had several of his designs published in the British model press.  He was a very close friend of Peter Galloway another very keen member.

A notable free flight modeller Phil Reade made the GB Wakefield team in the 1970s he was also a fine indoor flyer along with Aubrey Harris they both used the Moseley institute as a indoor venue

In recent times Eric Hawthorne whom is a very keen member who along with Colin Sheperd also fly indoor rubber duration models. Bob Pickering who along with Eric, regularly have sessions at Cofton Park.  Bob Arnold is another important member having designed the “Old  Sarum” stunt model which was first flown in the late 1940s with spark ignition 10cc  Atwood champion engine.


The clubs main flying site is a public park known as Cofton Park offLow hill Road Rednal Birmingham.  We also have the use of two other sites one near Rubery and the other near Coventry. All sites are for control line flying only. Members wishing to fly free flight  often use warwick racecourse common.

Every Friday night starting at 7.30pm we meet ate the Northfield Fire station and quite lively meetings take place. Here the club members vast experience can be most useful for the less experienced members. This last year the excellent Ian Peacock gave a well received talk and demonstration on  the art of airbrush painting.

Models flown

Most of the members are keen control line stunt flyers and there is a regular output of scratch built models being produced and flown. We use plans and balsa wood and encourage new people to learn the art of actually making a model. Models being flown vary from the recently introduced Mouse racer that are about 300 mm span with a a .8cc Cox glowplug engine to 1.50 metre span models powered by  10cc glowplug or spark ignition engines. The clubs main interest appears to be vintage i.e. pre 1959 kits and plan designs.

Training programme

Recently Two members of the club have built 4 suitable control line trainers and they have worked very well getting many people both young and old airborne the youngest 4 years old the oldest 70 plus.

Members welcome.

We have no specific flying days as such. If the weather looking promising a ring round interested parties results in a gathering at Cofton Or Rubery fields normally in the early afternoon.


The club run a number of events throughout the year, April usually brings our first fun fly and Mouse race meeting at Cofton. We  support the Leys millionaires big local Festival of flight at New Arley, Warwickshire. September brings our second Fun Fly at Cofton Park.

The Hewitt Shield

One of our biggest events is the contest for the “Hewitt Shield” on Sunday June 16th. A Vintage Control line flying contest that takes place at Cofton Park where you can see control line stunt flyers compete for the coveted Hewitt Shield.

The Hewitt shield is in recognition of the achievements of the late Brian and Alan Hewitt Brothers, former members of SBMFC who became World Champions in 1950 and 1951 for control line stunt and speed competitions with their own designs.

For further details contact Tony Field 07710280288 or Eric Hawthorne  01384 423647