Shongweni Model Airplane Club

During 1998 Andrew Marshall, Wayne Jenson and Barry Revell wanted a flying field closer to town. The Polo field at the Durban Shongweni Club seemed ideal. This small group started flying on the field, later joined by a few more friends. Soon DSC required that they should become members of DSC in order to continue using the field. Andrew came to an agreement with the DSC committee for a restricted membership and he wrote the first draft of the club rules applicable to flying on this field. (Still applicable today!) By 1999 a few more pilots joined the group and they registered with SAMAA for insurance and proficiency reasons. Barry had the two peg boards made up and mounted, that we still use today!

There was no committee as there were only a few pilots. The intent was to keep it a casual group of friends without enforcing a bunch of rules and having to police the members of the group. ( This is still the basic philosophy of SMFC, enjoy like minded friends, avoid politics and each member is relied on to behave in a safe, considerate and disciplined manner.)

More modelers joined, the club was formalized and a committee was formed. Richard Kirk was the chairman for a number of years. John Chisholm has been Vice Chairman since early 2000. He has supplied the full size windsock for many years. Norman Hatherly and Alan Tamage were the first two SAMAA rated instructors in the now more formalized club. SMFC however, continued to operate on a rather informal basis with the membership restricted to 60 members. John by 2003 was a SAMAA Instructor and has been the Chief Flying Instructor from those early years to date. John has trained dozens of members, including me, to fly competently. Lynda Revell, Barry's better half, looked after the clubs finances and membership issues efficiently for many years.

Johan Fouche became chairman in the middle of 2004. In 2005 the committee was expanded , I became Proficiency officer at the time. At the AGM we decided not to restrict membership to 60 any longer and we arranged full DSC membership and full use of the DSC facilities. Johan improved club record keeping and started putting out the first Newsletters.

During 2006 I was elected Chairman and was fortunate to build on Johan's good leadership and well organized efficient management. By 2007 we had 130 members. We formalized the Newsletter and communications to the members. We reviewed the club constitution to adapt to the latest conditions, promoted proficiency objectives, refined admin and financial control. We developed and cemented the relationship with DSC and the Grounds Manager. We did a lot of work with a Pretoria company to establish a web site which turned out to be slow and anything but user friendly.

Mid 2007 Peter Dale agreed to remain Chief Safety officer for the 4th year. Richard Turk joined the committee as a professional accountant and has excellent control of finances, membership lists and admin. Heather Coetzee as secretary and honourary member does stirling work with communications, minutes and the like. Albert King joined the committee as proficiency officer, became a club instructor and additionally made a major contribution in arranging to have the web site re-developed. Erick Truter has done a marvelous job designing and managing the SMFC website during 2008 to be the best of all the SAMAA flying clubs.

The 2007/8 economic downturn together with some members relocating, has sadly reduced membership to 99 as I write, however SMFC remains a place of great country ambiance with excellent facilities where aeromodelers and pilots can socialize and do their "flying thing" responsibly in a friendly atmosphere.

Leon Coetzee
Chairman.
November 2008