MAAA Wingspan - Quarterly Magazine

22 WING SPAN MAY The progression might have been slow, but Cairns Model Aero Club (CMAC) president and treasurer Paul Dixon is enthusiastic about the eventual evolution of his aero club, which recently saw a surge in membership, thanks to the merge with neighbouring Cairns Miniature Helicopter Club. It’s been quite a journey considering CMAC didn’t have a permanent base until recently, when the council finally committed to the acquisition of an eight-hectare sporting precinct that could home the Cairns aero club community. “The Cairns Model Aero Club was formed around forty years ago by keen fliers coming together, however it’s been seeking a place to call home for most of that time,” says Paul. “Many places have been used for our flying; from a polo cross field that’s adjacent to a crocodile farm, to empty farm and old cane fields. The longest and most recent home was that of a turf farm, however this was only made available for us to use on a Saturday afternoon. Because of these restrictive times to fly, we had been lobbing the council for some years to get somewhere we could use as a permanent home.” Temporary residence was acquired three years ago thanks to the use of Cairns Water Board land. In the interim, the club signed a lease and began spending club funds on earthworks for strip grading the proposed runways. Then, thanks to various public events, aeromodelling interest began to surge. “The club was asked to place an aircraft display stand at a council-run sports and outdoor expo- held in the Cairns Convention Centre. It was a great arrangement of our aircraft and became a huge hit with the public,” says Paul. “There was also an event called the ‘Big Boys Toys’ held at the Cairns Showgrounds, where we put on a huge display and started up turbine aircraft for the public. This was one of the biggest drawcards for the club and we had a lot of public and media coverage.” Open days and ‘Have a Go’ flying events attracted further attention, capturing the interest of mainstream TV media. “The club had an open day where we flew aircraft and gave people a chance to get up close and ask questions. We also offered free training flights,” continues Paul. Meanwhile, the club put up safety fencing for the pits and the flight box and separated the public area from the runways, utilising retractable pergolas for shade. “With all the heat and tropical rain to contend with, we continued to lobby the council for a more permanent site so that we could build some toilets and permanent buildings,” says Paul. CLUB SUCCESS STORY: WHEN TWO BECOME ONE THE MERGING OF CAIRNS MODEL AERO CLUB WITH CAIRNS MINIATURE HELICOPTER CLUB INC. HAS BEEN A POSITIVE MOVE FOR MEMBERS