History of the Club

Our present club was originally formed back in 1957 as the Toronto Radio Control Club by six men dedicated to the sport of model aviation.  One of those original members, Ron Chapman is still a member of the club today, although he had left for a few years to pursue other interests.  In 1967 the club was incorporated and the name changed to the Radio Control Flying Club of Toronto.  The club's first directors were: Donald McTaggart, Kenneth Dwight, Robert Chesher, Robert Howey, Elmer Nowak, Clifford Moll, Robert Gordon, Michael Pennington, Ronald Russell and Melvyn Hall.  Ken Dwight, who now lives in Whitby, drops by the field occasionally.

The club's first flying site was a farmer's field at Pharmacy Avenue and Huntingwood Drive. In those days it was a major accomplishment just to get a model into the air and back on the ground in one piece. The club grew to 40 members by 1959, and through the 60's and 70's the membership averaged around 75. In 1967 the club was incorporated, as mentioned above.

Through the years the club flew from various fields. One was located on CNR property on the west side of Warden Avenue just north of the 14th. Concession beside the railway tracks. In the early 1970's the club's field was located on the north west corner of Markham Road and Finch Avenue. Then, for a while, at Tapscott Road and Finch Avenue. In 1974 they had to move back to the CNR field again. In 1976 the club was forced to move to a field outside of Pickering. I understand that flying was fairly restricted because of a lot of trees and a horse stable nearby. After that they moved to Middlefield Road and Passmore Avenue where they flew for a number of years.

I might have missed a field or two, but I think from there the club acquired the field at East Point Park located at the bottom of Manse Road right next to the Scarborough Bluffs. The club flew there from 1982 until 1992, when they were asked to leave because of baseball diamonds being constructed nearby. I think a few of our present members still have fond memories of East Point.  I know I do, because that's where I learned to fly. They say if you learned to fly at East Point, you could fly anywhere.

At East Point there were two runways basically formed like an "X" carved out of the bush. The parking lot was about 200 yards, ("meters" for you younger guys) from the actual field area. You had to carry all your stuff, or drag it behind you on a home-made cart. To get to the pit area, you usually had to cross the active runway, sometimes dodging a plane on a landing approach. The pit area was only about 20 or 30 feet behind the actual flying spots, and these spots were literally right at the edge of the runways. The grass was only cut on the actual runways and pit area, leaving it about 2 feet high everywhere else. If you didn't make the runway on landing, you were guaranteed that your aircraft would be hidden in the tall grass. This tall grass, however, was fairly kind to the planes in most cases. The trees were another story altogether. There were so many trees close by that we had names for some of them. There was the Butterfly Tree to the south east, named because the of the Monarch butterflies that used to spend a few days there every year during their annual migration south for the winter. Then there was a white birch tree on the north side of the east-west runway. I think it was called the "@!#%*(^?<&" tree because of all the planes that adorned its branches over the years.

Just to the left of it, and past the edge of the runway was an old burnt-out car left there by one of the many dimwits who used to joy-ride down there. One day, Bill Burnham was doing one of his infamous low passes. He didn't pull up in time and totally destroyed one of his planes on that car. He hit it so hard that we think it moved a couple of inches further to the west. I could go on for several more paragraphs, but I will end the stories for now.

Luckily enough, in 1992 the club managed to get the field that we are presently flying from. With a little luck we might be able to stay here for a few more years. However, when our present site is gone, we'll be looking a lot further away for a new one. There just isn't any more empty land in Toronto suitable for a flying site. Over the years our membership has slowly increased to its present 140  or so members. I guess with the newer sophisticated radio equipment, space age glues, fancy covering material and ARF's, it is a lot easier to build and fly a model aircraft today than it was back in 1957. We should be grateful to those earlier pioneers in model aviation, for without them, we might not be enjoying this wonderful hobby today.

In late 2018 our present field was closed due to nearby construction.  The club is in the process of developing a new site on the 10th. Line north of 16th. Avenue in Markham.  It is now up and running.  I will provide more information at a later date.

If any of you members have any good stories or any more historic information about the club, let me know, and I will include it here.

Paul Battenberg

The following excerpt is from Don McTaggart, a previous member who was surfing the net one day and came across our site:

"The Pharmacy Ave. field is where I got started with my son Ross. He since found other interests. The CNR field initially had an abandoned WW II radar bunker filled with water that had to be filled in for safety.  In the Centennial Year we hosted the Canadian Nationals. What a crowd! The parking lot was full and curbside parking stretched for blocks along Finch.  I was responsible for publicity, and had strong support from Murray Chercover, an excellent pilot, and President of CTV.  He arranged for filming a publicity short that was aired on CTV and several other stations in Southern Ontario. I managed to be one of the winners.
        I was the "Charter President". The Club executive and I realized the legal advantage of incorporating, but had to change the name from the Toronto Radio Control Club to the Radio Control Flying Club of Toronto because of a name conflict. Member Bill Williamson, an artist with Imperial Oil, designed the current crest, which depicts an abstract goose flying in either direction."

Thanks Don.

Here is another story from John Wilson, which he asked to have published.

There is a comment that if you learned to fly at East Point you could fly anywhere.  Well I learned at East Point and I'm no example.

While flying at East Point as a real novice flyer, my beautiful Eagle disappeared over the trees behind the pit area. I looked and looked up into the trees for such a long time to no avail.  I finally walked to the edge of the bluffs and looked down and there she was floating majestically about fifty feet out in Lake Ontario.  I scrambled down the bluffs and stood looking out on the water from the shore wondering if my plane would drift in, and there were no boats around.  I made the decision to swim out and get her so I stripped down to my underwear and walked out to the top of my legs.  Now this was June and I have never been in such cold water in my life.  The water was absolutely numbing and I decided to let the plane go rather than risk my life to a heart attack.  At that point a young fellow member came and stood beside me and asked if I was going out for it.  I said no and he said well he was going to give it a try.  I questioned him about swimming abilities and the risks.  Just let her go.  No way he said, I'm going out for her and stripped down to his shorts.  He got out into the water up to the top of his legs and bravely dived into the lake.  He immediately came up sputtering, and yes, swearing with scrapes on his knees and chest.  When he stood up he was in water on a sandbar that was just past his ankles.  He then walked out and retrieved my plane.  I could have walked out myself had I known.  I think the plane,s wheels were probably sitting on the bottom.  I told the young man that I owed him a case of beer.  I later found out that he was a young preacher, and I never saw him again.

Thank you,
John Wilson

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