BMAC History

The BMAC History book

As part of the celebrations marking BMAC's 50th Anniversary, the committee commissioned a 'History of BMAC' publication which is now available for download here

Many thanks to the hard working History team,  who worked long and hard to pull this fabulous record together. 

A little bit about BMAC

The Belconnen Model Aero Club (BMAC), first took to the air in mid 1973, from a rough patch of ground in “Fassifern” on Charnwood Road. The first committee included Frank Burtt, Grant Manwaring, William Burgess, Neil Allayn, Alfred Bridle and David Boyle as Junior Representative. The club was formed to fill the need for a club on the north side of Canberra. Free flight and control line were a major component of the club in those early days but remote control gradually took over. The club was offered a patch of land by the Department of Capital Territories just west of what is now Lake Ginninderra.

In 1975 members having a relaxing fly were abruptly notified that BMAC needed to find a new location. The notification came in the form of a bulldozer ploughing through the middle of  strip on a mission to build Coulter Drive. Department of Capital Territories, suitably embarrassed by the incident offered BMAC their third site. It was a tad further west to an area which is now the suburbs of Florey - Page.

In 1976 radio interference on the 27mhz frequency inspired some members to seek another location. A suitable site was found and BMAC’s forth location was identified approximately 6 Km west of Hall at the property known as 'Lockleigh'. BMAC's first open FAI pattern competition was held there on 5th September 1976 with eight competitors including entries from Parkes and Sydney. The ACT Aero Modellers FAI Sailplane competition was also held there later that month.

Due to farming activities BMAC eventually had to move for a fifth time back to the original grounds in Florey and the control-liners to an area in which is now known as Scullin. The change from 27mhz frequency to 29mhz equipment solved the earlier interference problems.

In October 1978 application to the Department of Capital Territories was made for a flying field at Wells Station, on the northern side on Mitchell. By the end of 1978, BMAC had completed its sixth move to the Wells Station field. After much effort during 1979, the Wells Station field was beaten into shape as it was originaly a rough undulating paddock with large thistles. During this time our current club house was purchased.

In 1980 vandals in cars undid much of the hard work to improve the runways despite being fenced. Eventually with the help of some stoic BMAC members camping on site and patrolling the field into the wee hours the problems abated.

1981 saw the Wells Station field become even more civilized with the installation of portable toilets and water connected to the clubhouse.

In 1982 membership dropped and club funds hit near exhaustion but once again with hard work the BMAC stalwarts saw the club thrive once again.

By 1983 the treasurer was able to report funds were in excess of $1,000 for the first time and attendances at meetings regularly reached twenty active members. However, BMAC was again informed that they would have to move as it turned out the Wells Station flying field was destined to be developed into the suburb that is now known as Franklin. BMAC enjoyed another 20 years of varying uncertainty before we had to move once more.

Early in the new millennium it became apparent that a new site would need to be found. Various sites were offered and hopes and expectations were raised and then dashed as sites offered were deemed unsuitable. Eventually in 2005 the current site south of Mitchell was found to be acceptable to all parties and BMAC made its move.

A major task for the club when arriving at the new site was re-establishing the club infrastructure, including clubhouse and flight line. The northern end of the site, where the clubhouse is now located, had previously been used as a green waste and road sweepings dump site and members spent a significant amount of time rehabilitating the site. 

Thanks to generous grants from the ACT Government and donations of time and money from club members, BMAC completed site restoration activities, eradicating weeds, re-seeding large areas with native grasses to ensure the site preserved the value of the surrounding grasslands. Dedicated efforts, especially from a core group, has created what is now the aero modelling venue that greets members and visitors.

The current field has continued to be improved over the years with addition of clubhouse and flight line facilities.  2020-21 saw the field closed during lockdown periods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the committee worked hard to maintain communication with our members so that they could continue to remain connected and return to flying as soon as possible. 

BMAC members continue to work hard to improve the facilities and in particular care for the grassland on which our model airfield is located.

Old  BMAC field which is now known as the suburb of Franklin

Test flights at our current field before we cleared re-established the site with native grasses

Test flight prior to relocating to what is now our known as the BMAC Crace Field

Early days after clearing what was previously a dumping site for green waste and road sweepings

Aerial view of cleared site and new strip

After clearing the waste, the site was sown with native grass seeds collected from the surrounding grassland

Laying the strip

Job done!!

BMAC 50th Anniversary Fly In

The BMAC 50th Anniversary fly-in held on the 29th October 2023 was a huge success and the committee would like to pass on our sincere thanks to all members who participated, who helped setup and clean up and who brought a huge number of models which showed off our club and hobby so well.

All of the politicians who visited were very impressed and left with the message "what can we do to help you" - so a really great PR exercise for the club AND a huge amount of fun for us all!

Special congratulations again to our two award winners, Grant M; the well deserved winner of  the Heracles Challenge Trophy and Shayne C, who took home the Clubman Award for his ceaseless efforts in maintaining the field we all benefit from.

This one will go down in history!

And speaking of History - the Club History team of Neil P, Grant M and Graham P have finalised the BMAC history book. It is available for download here.

BMAC Members & Visitors celebrate our 50th Anniversary on Sunday 29th October 2023.