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My interest in models was encouraged by my father who in his youth was a member of the Leicester Flying Club and gained his pilot’s licence for gliders and went solo when he was 18. He held a full pilots licence for powered aircraft when he was 18, but he was not allowed to fly solo until he reached the age of 21.

EarlyOrigins

Click on photo to enlarge.

Ironically when war broke out, he volunteered for the RAF but was rejected on health grounds, whilst my Mum who thought Dad was bound to be accepted, decided to enlist in the WAAFs as a way of being near to wherever he was going to be, was accepted. The aircraft with which he was taught to fly and in which he qualified as a pilot was a 2 seater Sopworth Pup which was owned by the Leicester Club at the time. It was subsequently converted back to a single seater; it still exists and is flown on a regular basis as it is currently in the Shuttleworth Collection, which also hold his pilot’s licence and his log books.

I don’t know when or why he gave up flying the full size planes, but he always had an interest in model planes and would make models for me and my older brother. The first ones that I can remember were a rubber power free flight Keilkraft Achilles which he built for my brother and a Nomad for me, it was small glider which was also kitted by Keilkraft.

My first recollection of a Model Flying in Loughborough stems back to when we moved from Wolverhampton to Sutton Bonnington when my father took up a post at the Loughborough College of Further Education. On my 8th birthday (1955) my father brought me a Keilkraft Champ control line trainer complete with a plastic control line handle and terylene lines and an ED Bee motor (what a crock of !**! that was). When the motor cut it dropped like a stone and the ¼” thick plywood engine bearer plate that stuck out the front without any other reinforcement snapped off like a carrot, through the holes for the rear motor bolts. Anyway we persevered and having effected the necessary rebuild it was suggested by the then owner of the Model Shop Market Street, one Reg Fetch that we might find some help and assistance from fellow modellers who gathered at the old Aerodrome at the weekends. Some of the help came from some of the members of the Loughborough Colleges Club that had one of the prefabs that had been erected on the Airfield as their club house and were the “Official” users of the site, and some came from the modellers from that area who just flew there.

It appears that just before the war the Principal of the Aeronautical Engineering Dept of the college a Doctor Schofield negotiated with Loughborough Corporation and the County Council for the College to lease the site at Derby Road for a civil aerodrome. After the war the site was released and the lease was granted. Never one to miss an opportunity for promoting the College, Schofield had a hangar built to house the Aero Engine section embellished with a huge sign reading ‘Department of Aeronautical Engineering Loughborough College'.phoca thumb m LoughboroughCollegeAirfield

During the war the whole aerodrome was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production but more College buildings were put up as soon as the war ended and in 1946 the Aero Engineering Department was moved to the aerodrome. It is thought to have been around this time that the Prefabs were erected and that the Loughborough Colleges Model Aircraft Club was established. The university still has a model flying club, but I do not know if its roots are linked to the old Colleges’ Club or not.phoca thumb m Loughborough 1944

I can’t remember when, it must have been the in the around 1960 that two other model flying clubs were formed, one of which was known as the Imps, who used to fly from the Meadows on the Stanford on Soar side of town, and the other the was known as the Wombats who used the Aerodrome as its flying site. My brother and I were members of the Wombats. Initially we had a clubroom which was above an old bakery that was behind Loughborough’s second model shop that used to be on Sparrow Hill. Latter we graduated to a large room above the shop, and had our own keys to the shop’s back door and had free access at weekends and in the evenings to the Clubroom and to the shops stock for anything we wanted provided that we recorded the items in the book and settled our bills at the end of the week.

My involvement with that club and aero-modelling dwindled with the advent of homework, girls, motor bikes, college, marriage and children, but was re-awakened with the miners’ strike and the 3 day week. So having dug out an old motor and stuck a combat wing together it was off to the Aerodrome again to find that model flying in Loughborough was alive and well but that the Imps and the Wombats had disbanded. The model shop on Sparrow Hill had closed, Reg Fetch had move his shop to the Ashby Road before leasing it to Chris Irwin, and we continued to tick along doing our own things for a couple of years or so.

Round about 1975 Chris Irwin suggested that we should consider forming a Club and after some lobbying organised a meeting of interested parties at the local Church Hall and so the current Loughborough Model Flying Club was born.

During the following years I served on the Clubs committee in different roles, represented us at the SMAE’s Area Committee. In my workshop I have the Players Medium Navy Cut Tobacco tin with “Aero Club” scratched on its lid, which was the original petty cash box for the subscriptions taken on the night of the inaugural meeting, a note book containing the membership records for the years 1980 to 1984 inclusive, a contact print set of some of the Clubs activities in 1979 taken by the then Secretary Reg Satterthwaite, who was granted the first fellowship of the Club,   and the Club’s Goodyear Team Race Trophy, which was made by Andy Soars’s father and was last competed for in 1980.

Peter Jephcott.