An Unofficial History
Our club was formed by a group of RC flyers at the Santee corner of Mission Gorge and Cuyamaca St. back in 1976. A few of the original members are still active in the club today. I came to the flying site and the club in about 1977, after the club was formed. I believe the first President was Ron Smith. We met in the local hobby shop in Santee for several years – standing room only so we tried to keep the meetings short. The flying field was owned by the school district which allowed the local Little League to set up baseball diamonds in the area. We had to share the field, and curtail flying when baseball games were held. That area became the Trolley Station
We moved essentially across the street to Hahn Field, a dirt embankment overlooking the river bed. It’s all Shopping Center now. We had several good years there, flying sport, T-6 Racing, and Fun Fly’s. The field was dirt, so we had regular work parties where several cars and pick ups dragged chain link fencing and beams to smooth out the regular donuts left by RV’s after each rain. There was no shade and the pits were all dirt. When Hahn Corp. was getting ready to develop the land, we set up flying at two sites: a dirt strip in the middle of the gravel company land off Riverford Road and at Cactus Park. I was President (for a couple years!) in 1985 when we moved officially to Cactus Park with permission from the county. We had to share the field with the BMX track which was where our upper parking is now. We often couldn’t fly on Sundays because of the BMX races – their parking was on the runway. When we were flying at two fields only 1.9 miles apart, we test flew planes on the same frequency to see in there was any interference – there wasn’t any.
Around 1987, Jerry Howell donated the awning structure for the pits area. We had several work parties to out it up. Joe Cullum used his tractor to contour the land, actually raising the pit area above the mud lakes in winter. The runway was originally pavement used in the 1950’s to 1960’s for truck access to an asphalt mixing plant for paving the local freeways. The hill southeast was a DG mine for the asphalt. In the early 1990’s the runway was deteriorating. Thank then Treasurer Mike Aldrich for creative financing (collecting multiple years dues and contributions) to pay for paving the whole runway and getting rid of all those 3 inch holes. Our pits were several layers of rugs contributed over the years. Thank Walt Wilson as President for 3 years for getting the club to clean up the pits, getting rid of the rugs and paving the pits.
Our club dues have grown from $1.00/month over the years. The dues increase has allowed us to keep our field in good condition and pay for increased expenses for the newsletter, meeting hall, and toilet rental at the field.
We have had annual awards banquets since the very early days to recognize achievements and the contribution of many members. Fred Miller instituted the 12th Man Awards to recognize the many members each year who do extra service for the club.
There’s a lot more history and stories about the “old days” and I may have some dates and details misplaced. If you have details to correct or add, or stories to tell, let me know. Our club doesn’t have a complete written history. I lot of original members are still very active in the club and they have contributed much to the character and success of our club. Thank you all.