Club History

The history of the Wingbusters Model Airplane Club begins somewhere around the year 1975.  In the beginning, Wingbusters was an association of pilots who flew Control Line (or CL, as it’s more commonly known) airplanes in an era when more and more model plane pilots were turning to Radio Control (RC).



The Club was the brainchild of George McGinnis, a local Hobby Shop owner, who also served as the Club president for its first two years.  With a new Club on his hands, George not only ran his business (Hanson Hobby) but he also organized events, designed the Club logo, and got the club chartered in 1978 with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, or the ‘other’ AMA, a National network of model airplane Clubs.

 

Control Line flying’s many facets were still very popular for model airplane pilots back then.  Club members flew Precision Aerobatics, Racing, Combat, Scale, and something called ‘Navy Carrier’ where the object was to hook a wire on a pseudo aircraft carrier deck like full-scale Navy planes do today.  In those early days, members were not only pilots but they had to be craftsmen as well.  Planes of that era had to be made from kits, published plans, or original designs.  ARF’s had yet to be developed.


To show off their skill as builders, and to attract new members to the Club and hobby, the Club would sponsor an annual ‘Show Off” of CL models usually held in the Maguan School in Hanson as well as other venues.  Many times, CL was flown on weekends at schoolyards in Hanson and the surrounding area.
The Original membership of the Wingbusters Club consisted of approximately 14 ‘plank owners’ including John Peterson (who is still a current member), his son Walter, and Dick Pierce, who came up with the Club’s Name – Wingbusters. 

 

During the early history of Wingbusters, an association of CL Clubs was formed in the New England area known as the CLAN, the Control Line Association of New England.  Wingbusters was a very active member of CLAN, and had several members who flew in National and International competitions.

 
In 1995, the Wingbusters CL fliers lost their flying field in Pembroke.  At the same time, there was a group of loosely regulated RC fliers who were then flying at the Industrial Road complex in Halifax, off of Route 106.  However, the RC fliers were under pressure from their landlord, Cumberland Farms, to get organized.  A solution had to be found, so the two groups merged and kept the name Wingbusters. 


The ‘new’ Club’s first officers were George McGinnis as President/Treasurer, Gill Schwenzfeier as Vice President, and John Componeschi as Secretary.  As a side note, in order to get the Club chartered with the AMA, George had to submit a list of names.  It wasn’t until Bill Schwenzfeier dropped into George’s establishment, Hanson Hobby, that he found out that he was the new Club Vice President!

 

In order to be considered as an established AMA Club, Wingbusters had to demonstrate that it had a intelligent set of By-Laws.  This task fell to Tom Keegan, Bill Schwenzfeier, and John Componeschi.  Tom would also do double duty later serving on the Executive Committee for several terms, and writing and sending out the Club’s Newsletter, appropriately called ‘Wingbuster’, which is still carried on today.

 

Chris Howie followed George McGinnis as president in 1997 and 1998, but had to leave before his tenure was completed.  BJ Roussos, then current VP, assumed the position of President just as a very large shoe was about to drop on to the Wingbusters.  Cumberland Farms wanted them off of the Route 106 Site so that they could sell the land.  At first, Cumberland Farms offered Wingbusters a field off of Route 104.  The new Club, CL and RC members alike, teamed up to cut a new runway and two CL circles.  Then Cumberland Farms took that offer off the table and offered the site that we occupy now, at 90 River Street with a lease that was negotiated by George McGinnis. 

Members pitched in again and cut a RC Runway and a large CL Circle on the site and have been actively been grooming this for several years.  One of the decrepit structures on site was put back into shape for Field equipment storage and a very sturdy Lean-To was built, courtesy of Bob Foss.

In addition, for a time, the field next to ours had been occupied by a Model Rocketry Club that flew once a month.  In at least one instance, one of their rockets landed on the Wingbusters runway during flight operations! 

Following George McGinnis and Chris Howie, B.J. Roussos served as President for another two years, followed by Chris Howie coming back to serve another term.  Subsequent Presidents included John Arigo, Mark Margolis, Wayne Penwell, Cecil Horton for three years, Steve McNally, and Gary Silvia.

Wingbusters is not without its share of high-caliber modelers.  Founding CL member, Jack Patrolia, is still an active member and is very famous in his own right.  Jack was the National Champion in CL Stunt and Sport Scale 1996, 1997, and 1998.  He was also selected to represent the USA in Switzerland as part of the World Championship Team in 2000.  

Jack’s brother Ted, another high profile model aeronaut, joined the Club later on.  Ted’s specialty is Free Flight, with its own many variants in aeromodeling.  Ted’s uniquely designed FF ship, the Cobra, placed 2nd nationally, at the 1948 National Capital Airshow at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC.  The Cobra was also featured on the cover of Air Trails magazine in 1950, the precursor to the AMA’s Model Aviation Magazine today.  The ‘Cobra’ presently hangs in the AMA Museum in Muncie, Indiana.  Ted and Jack can still be found competing today in Regional and National Free Flight events.

Another member, John Glezellis, has won the EOTC championship title as well as multiple championship titles at XFC and has also competed at IMAC and TASC.  On top of all of that, he has written articles for Model Airplane News & Model Aviation, and is also a featured training pilot in the RealFlight RC flying simulator.    

The astute observer will notice that the Club’s name is “Model Airplane Club”, not “RC Club”.  The members agreed that this Club would welcome all aspects of model aviation that the Field area could support.  In that vein, you can find any and every type of model aviation being flown at our field.

Friday the 15th.
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