In the Air with BRIBIE ISLAND RADIO MODELLERS ASSOCIATION

By Neil Wilson - Sub Editor for the Bribie Islander

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In the very first article of this series, I pointed out that I would devote each article to a person or organisation that is associated with the Caboolture Airfield but, as it so happens, I may have told a teensy weensy lie. Whilst the following article is certainly about a group of people who have a keen interest in aviation, the aircraft that they fly are a little on the small side to use the facilities at the airfield.

Featured image(above): a meticulously built model of a Hercules transport

The Bribie Island Radio Modellers Association (BIRMA) was founded over five years ago and prior to moving to their current location at Rutters Road in Elimbah, the members used the Sandstone Point Oval as a base. ‘The area was rather unsuitable and all too often we had to retrieve our planes from the surrounding trees or the swamp,’ said founding President Kel Bartlett. ‘We knew that we had to find a better location and when Lance Blatchford offered us the use of a field on his property at Elimbah, our problems were solved.

Enjoying the BBQ facilities

He told us that the rent would be a bottle of Scotch whiskey and a carton of beer per year,’ Kel told me. Founding Secretary Murray Dennis explained that when the club was first formed, it was done so by a small group of radio control model enthusiasts who sailed their boats on the Sunderland Drive lake. ‘As it happened, some of us were keen to fly model planes so we made the decision to form a more official group,’ said Murray.

‘We gave it a name which would allow it to include members who were not model aircraft enthusiasts,’ he added. As founding members, both Kel and Murray have handed their roles as President and Secretary over to other members at the last AGM and now just enjoy being able to concentrate on flying their numerous models. Murray told me that both he and Kel, as well as a few of the other members, have also been licensed private pilots and owned their own aircraft.

Warbirds from the 1940’s

‘I owned a Cessna 150 for some time but eventually sold it,’ said Murray. Because I had always hired it to the local aero club, the only expense that I had when I flew it was the cost of the fuel. After I sold it and wanted to hire a plane, I was shocked at how much it cost me so I gave flying away,’ he said. Kel described becoming interested in becoming a pilot after a friend had flown him to a customer who wanted to buy a swimming pool and after he came home with a deal, he had learned to fly. ‘I went halves with someone in a syndicate to buy a V-Tail Beechcraft Bonanza,’ Kel explained.

‘That was a beautiful aircraft and, after some time, the other guy bought me out,’ he said. As an organisation which now has over forty members, BIRMA has been able to fund a number of improvements at the Rutters Road location and these include BBQ facilities, a four-station charging facility, two containers for storage of equipment which includes their ride-on mowers and they have also provided two portable toilets. Kel and Murray told me that the members of the club own a really diverse range of model aircraft in all sizes and types which include military and general aviation planes.

A beautiful model of a WW1 fighter

They pointed out that whilst some of the aircraft are still powered by the older type of glo-plug or diesel engines, many now have electric motors and this is the reason for the charging stations at the club’s field. During my conversation with Kel and Murray, Kel mentioned that, although their current field suits the purpose, they do worry that if someone made a good offer for the land, Lance might sell it and they would have nowhere to go. ‘We really need a place where we have some sort of tenure, perhaps an area that we could lease from the Council,’ Kel said.

‘If anyone has any suggestions, we would love to hear from them,’ he told me. Whilst Kel and Murray have adopted a more passive role in BIRMA, they are both keen to see new members and if anyone would like to find out more about joining the association, they can give Kel a call on 5497 7210 and information about BIRMA can also be found on their web page.

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