The Kamloops Model Airplane Society (KMAS) is your gateway to the exciting world of miniature aviation.
The Society was started in 1993 and is located at Tolko Field, which is named in recognition of our major corporate sponsor, Tolko Industries. We are located just 15 minutes outside Kamloops (Club Location). Since our formation in 1993, we have developed Tolko Field into the attractive park like setting it is today. We have a 600 x 40 foot asphalt runway, parallel to a grass strip with in-ground irrigation, five pilot stations, 13 Prep Tables and a club hanger with amenities.
In 2019 we erected our "KMAS Gate Guard" (photos here) which is a Scale Model, Twin Engine Mallard Airplane. A gate guardian or gate guard is a withdrawn piece of equipment, often an aircraft, armored vehicle, artillery piece, or locomotive, mounted on a plinth and used as a static display near to and forming a symbolic display of "guarding" the main entrance to a site, especially a military base. Commonly, gate guardians outside airbases are decommissioned examples of aircraft that were once based there, or still are. A well written article of the history of our Mallard Gate Guard written, by Norm Bryson can be found here.
Whether you are newly interested in the exciting world of miniature aviation, or just curious, you are welcome to visit.
Tolko Field is open for flying 12 months of the year (in winter our planes are equipped with skis to fly off the snow). Guests are welcome any time the field is open to see what we do. Our main flying days are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, usually between 9AM and early afternoon. If you are a seasoned pilot new to the area, come fly with us! (All pilots are required to have current MAAC membership). Our Club is a charter member of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) through which our programs are sanctioned.
We can assist you with assembling your first airplane and once you are a member and it comes to your first flight, our instructors are there to help you earn your "Wings" at no additional cost. If you are new to RC Flying, we suggest talking to one of our instructors, prior to purchase, about the best Trainer RC Plane to purchase, to get you started. The fun in the hobby is learning to fly safely and to expand one's skill at both the workbench and the flight line.
Together, we take pride in our field and its maintenance. Being part of the wider radio control flying community in
and abroad, we invite you to join us in the exciting world of miniature aviation. Canada
Annual Membership: For information on Membership Fees, click here. For more information on the club or membership questions, please contact our Membership Coordinator.
Note: Guests are welcome and are required to pay a $10 per day fee. Proof of current MAAC Membership required to fly.
KMAS History by Terry Faulkner
We would like to share the history of the Kamloops Model Airplane Society with other MAAC Clubs.
At one time Bee-Hive burners were very common in British Columbia. Sawmills throughout the province used them to burn excess fiber waste created during the processing of timber. They created many smoke filled valleys and also a number of health issues. After Provincial Legislation banned their use, many mills then buried their waste as close to the mill site as possible in much the same manner as municipal landfills, it was an environmentally approved method. One of our local Mills, now Tolko Forest Products, chose to bury their waste in a gulley which was located about half a mile behind the mill.
Similar to any other landfill site, they placed 3 feet of mill waste, then 3 feet of fill over it in the gulley for multiple layers. The fill that they used was scraped from the sides of the gulley. Eventually the gulley had reached capacity and the Mill was told they could no longer use the gulley for waste and that it was unsuitable for any immediate use or future development. However as part of their original approval with the Dept. of the Environment the Mill had to re-mediate the site, returning it to raw land and it could not be an eyesore. At some places in the gulley the fill was over 60 feet deep. Burying mill waste mostly no longer happens; today mills generally make their fiber waste into alternative products.
In small communities information like this gets out quickly and before management had a chance to develop a plan to re-mediate the site they were approached with a proposal to turn the site into a RC Flying Field. The proposal was simple, a club would grade the site to level, plant grass, use the mills ponds that were close by for irrigation and turn the site into an effective park with little or no cost to the mill. The Mill management agreed to the plan.
A club was formed with around 10 members. A Constitution was drawn up basically copied from another RC Club. A plan was formulated and using contractor friends the site was leveled in a day using Scrapers and a Road Grader. Grass seed was purchased and spread over most of the area that had been graded. It also took a lot of hard labour by the members using shovels and rakes to fine tune the surface. Unfortunately the grass didn’t grow as well as had originally been envisaged.
We found out that our local Pulp Mill had just replaced their pulp conveyor belts that were 20 feet wide, and if placed end to end that could provide almost 200 X 20 feet of landing surface. The Pulp Mill donated the conveyor belts to us and they were used for the first years of operation, while we waited for the grass to grow. Unfortunately the only place that the grass grew was underneath the conveyor belt and the conveyor belt surface was not that great, even though we knew it was just a temporary fix.
By the third year the site did not look very much like the vision of the Park that had originally been presented to Tolko Forest Products. There were big weeds everywhere and not much grass. We knew that if we did not resolve the problems we could lose the site, simply because the site still looked like a dump, nowhere close or near to the vision of what had been initially presented to Tolko.
A decision was made to go back to the drawing board, revisit our plans and try to come up with an alternative solution to complete the initial vision.
First we needed to know why the grass was not growing, so we asked the daughter of a member who was a Professional Agrologists. She told us that the soil had almost no nutrient in it and that it would need a substantial amount of fertilizer. Because Kamloops is in a very dry area of BC, almost desert, we would also need a fairly substantial irrigation system to get anything to grow. The irrigation stuff that we had on hand at that time was primarily for residential use and really not adequate for such a large site. We knew that getting the right equipment would be expensive.
She wrote us a grass seed prescription that included clover, her hope was that over time the clover could provide enough of natural fertilizer, and it worked.
Over several lunches with some engineering friends we were told that we should anticipate that the site would most likely degrade, settle, over a relatively short period of time as the various levels of fibrous levels in the landfill decomposed. We should expect the level ground to no longer be level, there could be sink holes with various undulating levels throughout the site. Adding excesses of water to the surface was problematic and would likely speed up the rate of degradation. Rodents would also very likely become an issue.
We then asked them, what would they suggest? They thought that if there was an asphalt runway, (as opposed to concrete, because it was not as flexible) it might work to our advantage, with a 40 foot asphalt runway becoming something like an umbrella over the most of the terrain and it might result in the use of less water needed to maintain a reduced grass area.
We needed to know some hard costs to develop, a paved runway, an irrigation system, a proper lawnmower, including the cost of bringing power to the site. At the same time we considered continuing maintenance costs and while we were at it some “futures”. A clubhouse, a cross or second runway, and other expenses. In the end an asphalt runway was one of the least expensive options when you factored in ongoing maintenance costs. If we had that, we did not need to have grass everywhere, at least initially.
However it was going to cost a lot more money than the original plans had envisaged. We knew that some creative financial plans were needed if the project was to proceed. For example on the lawnmower issue, an idea was floated that we could use older retired push mowers ganged together to give us a 6-9 foot swath when pulled by a vehicle. We had the talent to make that happen, however it didn’t happen because the grass didn’t grow.
There were many fundraising ideas and it was surprising how many businesses donated. It is amazing the creative and innovative ideas that are generated with a group of motivated individuals. When the right person asked the right person, the results were amazing. Some members just dug deep in their pockets by offering loans or donations. Paying back the loans required a more focused business like approach with Budgets, effective changes to the Clubs By-Laws, plus a strong, focused and committed, executive body. The process would take time.
By the time these new plans were presented to the club, then around 20 members, it became clear that all were not on board, and in particular some of the original members did not want to go further particularly with the prospects of the additional costs outlined. Unfortunately this resulted in a division of the membership, with many hard feelings and bruised egos that resulted in a nasty division within the club. Fortunately a majority of the other members recognized the benefits and the need to move forward with the more realistic current plans that were presented.
Unfortunately the division created a breakup of the membership of our Club; however the good news is that another local RC Club was formed and that club is still in operation today.
We shared our revised plans with Tolko management and their response was surprising. They liked it on several points. They had quietly been observing our work and frustrations with the site. They knew that we had worked hard to clean up the site. When they found out that we would need to use 140,000 gallons of water for our irrigation system, they happily agreed as it would solve a stagnant water problem they had in the ponds, essentially by turning the water over more often it would reduce the amount of algae, and save downtime for mill maintenance.
One of our “futures” was to add a second or cross runway but we would need to cut down some trees on their land to facilitate a clean approach to the second runway. They agreed and donated the proceeds of the logging to the club. That turned out to be about $3,000 which effectively paid for a major portion of the irrigation system (however we still do not have the second runway).
Another thought that we had was to regrade some of the rest of the acreage so that we could plant a cash crop like “Hay” and then sell it to a local rancher. While Tolko liked the idea, (it would improve the look of the property), it just did not happen because it was not economically viable for us. Tolko also offered some plywood and lumber if needed. Needless to say that we were ecstatic and a little surprised with the level of cooperation they provided.
Our Club president at the time was a retired BC Hydro employee. BC Hydro had an employee program to assist current and former employees with community projects. Using this program we were able to bring Hydro power from the Highway to our site, all we had to do was provide our own pole and connect it up. BC Hydro told us at the time that their cost was $4,700.00, which included the transformer. A huge donation.
CN was selling off some old Highway Trailers and we were able to purchase one for $500 delivered. It was a good start for our clubhouse. The cost was paid by a member as a donation.
A member also called in some favours from a local road builder to pave the runway while they were doing some Highway work close by. Three members agreed to loan the club $7,000. The paving company agreed to defer part of the payment until we had the balance of the money.
We used Raffles, various Mall Shows, 50/50 draws, new memberships, revenue from pop and hamburger nights, and basically anything else that was legal to raise money. With the paving company first in line and our member loans last, we were able to retire all debts, including loans, within 3 years.
Today our facility boasts a 600 X 40 foot paved runway. Our membership averages around 50 individuals. Our clubhouse has a workshop and kitchen, outdoor barbecue, a real-time weather station and public address facilities. We now have a new John Deere riding lawnmower that doubles as a Snow plough and Dry RV Camping for around 15 units.
We thought that it was important for the club to be recognized locally, so when we could afford it we have donated the profits from our fun fly to Hospice and also have put on private model airshows for the residents of the local senior homes. All were particularly well received, and it gave us some good press.
As it happened one of the residents of the Seniors Home in attendance at our private Airshow was the person who built the original sawmill (Dave Balison, then 90 years old). He was also responsible for creating the original dumpsite including the ponds that we now use as the source for our irrigation system. He could not believe the park like setting that we had created from the dumpsite and was thrilled to see the good use of what was a somewhat otherwise, useless property. We all felt good about our field.
Currently our futures are; *Real time video cams so that we can view the weather from home before we leave, and a *10 X 20 permanent sun shade that is currently under construction.
*Update 2020, now complete.
One of the key reasons for our Clubs success is that we continue to update the plans implemented by the early Board and still carefully follow the budgeting rules they set to ensure that we have no financial surprises. With any property there are annual maintenance costs which we plan for, plus we maintain a reserve fund for major expenses, effectively a savings account, for expensive things that we know will wear out and require replacement over time. Careful but realistic budgeting is crucial.
We also take every opportunity to maintain the best working relationship with our landlord by making sure that we continue to have an open dialogue with them. Often heavy Industrial businesses get a bad rap from some members of the public. Whenever possible we voluntarily tell the public about the good corporate practices of our landlord, Tolko Forest Products, and how beneficial their relationship is to us.
When we do that it does not cost us anything, and in return it solidifies our relationship with them.
The News media are always looking for feel good community stories and we try to help them by telling them what we are doing. Sometimes they respond, sometimes not.