It started in a bean field, in the spring of 1962, when a remote controlled model aircraft introduced a new sound into the Scenic Boston Valley south of Hamburg. To many of the neighbors, this was a new and interesting sight -- a model airplane flying by radio control. To a few of the onlookers, the hobby looked interesting enough to try for themselves. From this event has emerged the success story of the R.C. flying club of the Southtowns area -- The Flying Knights.
Bean fields can be rough and through a search for a flying site, the owner of a private airstrip in Boston was contacted and it wasn’t long before the owner himself became interested and was soon an active member of the group.
At the close of the 1962 flying season, this small group decided to form a club, and through the co-operation of the Hamburg Photo-News and hobby shops in nearby Buffalo, word was passed of the new club being formed.
Many showed up for that meeting, -- some were R.C. enthusiasts from neighboring towns who were flying where ever they could find a spot. Others were U-control and free flight pilots who had decided to try R.C., while still others were altogether new to modeling. Enthusiasm was high, and during meetings held over the winter months officers were elected, a constitution and by-laws using AMA guidelines were written and the club name chosen and club insignia designed, an AMA charter was applied for and the Flying Knights became an AMA chartered club on May 23,1963 boasting 16 charter members.
The club decided that it would be best for all concerned to build their own airstrip and during the summer of 1963 through the joint efforts of all the members, land adjacent to the full, scale airstrip was graded and seeded for a 120 x 450 foot runway. This airstrip served as the “Home base” for the Flying Knights through the summer of 1967.
For the protection of its members, the club incorporated in early 1964. Formal business meetings were held at the Boston Free Library every 3 weeks on Friday nights.
The first R.C. Fun Fly sponsored by The Flying Knights was held on July 12, 1964. Emphasis, as in all following Fun Flies was put on sport and fun flying, with very little competition involved. There were prizes for all entrants and all fliers went home happy and contented after a good days flying fun. The great success of this fun fly attracted many new members and was the beginning of the growth and expansion of this club to what it is today. This fun fly became an annual event and on June 25, 1967 it was combined with the Boston Sesquicentennial celebration in the form of a model airshow for the public.
Ironically, a few short months later, a few overzealous Boston politicians who were completely ignorant of aero modeling pushed through a town ordinance to restrict the flying of model airplanes in the town only to satisfy the whims of a few, some of whom lived miles from the model airstrip. The Knights hired legal assistance and attempted to discourage the passage of this ordinance. Their efforts, however were in vain, as the so called public hearing was nothing but a legal formality. The ordinance is in effect today and is written so broad that no airplane of any size or dimension may legally fly over the town of Boston without its pilot first applying for and going through a public hearing to obtain a permit to do so.
In 1968, the club rented a plot of farmland in North Collins and developed an airstrip on that land. That airstrip is still very much in use today by club members. It was during this year that the, club, not wanting a repeat of the loss in Boston, wrote up field rules and regulations to protect its members and also help keep peace and goodwill with its neighbors. The fact that the North Collins field is still in operation and on friendly terms with area residents bears out this fact that common sense organization and public education goes a long way to preserve and promote this hobby and sport.
In 1969, new members of the Boston Town Board, realizing the injustice done to those interested in aero modeling worked with the Flying Knights to secure a piece of county property off Rockwood Rd. in Boston for model flying use. At much expense to the club, and hard work by its members, a flying field was carved out of the side of a hill. The field was in use until 1977 when it was abandoned in favor of the present Hamburg site. A permit as required by the Boston ordinance is being renewed annually to use the site, however, so it can be re-opened should the club lose use of the North Collins or Hamburg flying sites.
The Flying Knights, working with other R.C. clubs in the Buffalo area, negotiated with Erie County to develop a county flying site. Permission was granted about 1971 to use an area in Chestnut Ridge Park for R.C. model flying. The terrain and local obstruction in the area however did not prove favorable for R.C. flying. Negotiations between the area model flying clubs, the county, and the town of Hamburg led to the development of the model airport at the Hamburg recreational park on Lakeview Rd. in Hamburg in 1973.
Use of the Hamburg site has brought the Flying Knights and R.C. aero modeling into the public eye; and has been a major factor in the recent growth of the club membership. This field has made it possible to resume an annual fun fly and the first meet in Hamburg was held on August 25, 1974 with great success. Since then the annual event has expanded each year and in 1977 was increased to a 2 day meet.
Because of the enthusiasm shown by Hamburg Town Officials
in recognizing model flying as part of their recreation program, The Flying
Knights have moved their business meetings from the Boston
Library to the Senior Citizens Building at the Hamburg Recreation Center.
Another club project in public education that has helped expand the interest in R.C. modeling is the static display put on by the Flying Knights in a local department store sometime in January or February.
The popularity of R.C. modeling is growing and the Flying Knights is growing with it. Dedication and experience of the long time members blended with the spirit and enthusiasm of the new members and hard work by both have combined to make up a great R.C. flying club.
The Flying Knights of Hamburg, New York, Inc.