Club History

Coffee Airfoilers The First Fifty Years

Chuck Anderson January 2009

This history was compiled from information in the club news letters prior to 2000 and from the minutes of the meeting posted on the Airfoilers web site after 2003,

The Coffee Airfoilers Model Airplane Club was founded in 1959 and the first meeting was held on January 19 at Jim Robinson's Hobby shop. One of the first items of business at the first meeting was the organization of a junior program. Another objective of the club was to promote all types of model lying rather than to emphasize any single phase of flying such as RC, FF, etc. The Airfoilers emphasized contests from the very beginning and the first AMA sanctioned contest was held in 1959. It was a free flight meet; however an RC pattern event was included for those few who were affluent enough to afford the equipment.

The original name of the club was "AEDC Model Airplanes Club", however it was later changed to the Coffee Airfoilers Model Airplane Club because Air Force regulations prohibited the use of "AEDC" or similar names. At that time, the Airfoilers were a part of the Air Force Recreational Services and membership was restricted to military and civil service personnel, AEDC contractor employees and retired personnel from any of these organizations. An Associate membership was created for other modelers that provided all club privileges except for voting and holding office.

The original flying site was in the Franklin County portion of the model field Jim Robinson and others were flying RC models around the corner from where the current runway is located long before the Airfoilers were founded. The entrance was on Harton Boulevard to the perimeter road of the WWII German prisoner of war camp. Microsoft Street and Trips map still shows the Harton entrance and the perimeter road even though the entrance has been blocked and trees are growing up in the perimeter road. Most of the current field was growing up in scrub oak and blackberry briars. Lt. Essmeier was instrumental in getting the current flying area cleared at no expense to the club. He managed to get the use of some AEDC equipment but most of the work was done by the Army Reserve Unit in Tullahoma as part of their annual two weeks summer training.

Meeting Places

The first meetings were held at Jim Robinson’s Hobby Shop on South Anderson Street Sometime before July, 1962, meetings were shifted to the Army Reserve Center on South Anderson Street. The club had been holding indoor contests in the St. Paul’s Church gym so meetings were moved there when the Army Reserve unit was disbanded in 1964. A new priest at St. Paul’s ended the use of their gym so meetings were shifted to St. Barnabas in 1969. The club had been holding a beginner’s building class in St. Barnabas Sunday School meeting rooms so it was a natural move. Club meetings are still held at St. Barnabas in the winter and when the weather is too bad to meet at the field. Beginning in 1969, some of the club meeting shifted to the model field for the June, July, and August meetings so club members could fly before the meeting. The field meetings eventually expanded to include all meetings between May and September except when inclement weather forced the meeting back to St. Barnabas. The club also met at other sites such as the Stagger Wing Museum, Lions Club, Loehle Aircraft factory, and Wilson Center for special events.

Photo taken about January, 1964 at the Army Reserve Center. Three of the people shown are still active members of the Airfoilers.
Standing: Dwight Robinson, Chet Tuthill, Lee Webster, Charlie Myers, Chuck Anderson, Buck Buchanan. Jim Robinson, Eddie Robinson
Kneeling: Bill Neighbors, Paul Waldrup, Bill Davis, Brian Webster, Doug Waldrup, Jerry Amelang, Sam Waldrup.

Activities

The Airfoilers has always been a universal club flying all types of models. In the first 30 years, contests played a very important part of the club’s organized activities, however in recent years, fun flies have become the major part of organized events. The Airfoilers had its first contest in 1959, a combined free flight and RC contest. In 1960, we held separate RC and Free flight contests every year until 1976. Membership declined in the mid 70s and the lack of manpower forced us to end the RC pattern contest after 1975; however the annual free flight contest survived until we lost the use of the AEDC airfield after 1998.

In the first 10 years, the club had several junior members who flew primarily control line models and the club had several club control line events each year. Indoor was also an important part of winter club activities in the first 15 years of the club. That was long before indoor meant electric RC and we flew hand launch, paper stick, and scale models in gyms at the Tullahoma National Guard, St. Paul’s Church, Hickerson Station School, and Manchester High School. We even had indoor control line balloon busts club contests flying 1/2 A control line models as long as we had access to the Army Reserve building. After 1970, charges for use of the gyms increased sharply ending the club indoor contests. We did have a few sanctioned indoor contests afterwards when entry fees paid for use of the Manchester High School gym.

RC flying with single channel escapement radios and reed munti-channel radios were part of the club from the start; however it increased significantly in the early 60s when Kraft and Controlaire brought out cheap single channel receivers that could be built from kits for about $5.A few club members began acquiring proportional radio by 1964 resulting in more pattern and scale RC flying. Beginning in 1964, the Tullahoma Hobby Shop sponsored a club contest for power pod gliders using the cheap Kraft and Controlaire receivers. By 1966, increasing CB radio traffic rendered the cheap receivers unusable so the power pod sailplanes died out but it was renewed in 1971 when enough club members were flying better radios. Our first sanctioned sailplane contest was held on Memorial Day in 1971 and we have had at least two sailplane contests every year since.

The first helicopter in the club appeared in 1977, however significant helicopter flying didn’t start until the 1990s. The first electric models also began showing up in the 1990s. For a short in the 90s, RC rat racing with delta wings became popular but didn’t last long. 3D flying with large semi-scale also began in the 90s

The club continued to sponsor free flights contests until use of the AEDC runway was lost and we continue to sponsor three sailplane contests a year. The RC pattern contest was discontinued in 1976 because of lack of manpower and organized RC power flying did not resume until the 1990s when fly-ins’ for large scale models started. Helicopter and electric fly-ins’ were started after 2000.

We became a charter AMA club in 1967 and several members have served as AMA officers, advisers, contest board members, and contest directors.

FIRST DECADE

In the first decade, the club was primarily a free flight club with a lot of radio control flying and some control line flying, primarily by the junior members. There was also a lot of indoor flying in the winter months. In the early 60s, a few members had reed multi-channel radios, however most of the RC flying was single channel with cheap superregenerative receivers which meant that there could be only one RC model flying at a time. Very small cheap receivers such as the Kraft KV3K and the Controlaire 5 lead to a lot of thermal soaring with power pod sailplanes, however the rise in CB radios practically ended flying with the cheap receivers by 1966.

Doctor Frierson was the first club member to buy a four channel analog proportional radio in 1964 and two club members bought three channel Citizenship analog radios, however reliability problems and cost kept most from the analog radios. Jim Robinson was the first to venture into digital proportional radios when he bought a Kraft digital proportional radio in 1965. By 1966, more manufacturers were offering digital radios and the price began to fall. Chet Tuthill and Chuck Anderson bought Microavionics six channel radio with four servos for less than $500. In 1967, that was almost a month’s take home pay after all the deductions for an engineer at AEDC.

1969 saw the first major change at the field since 1960 when the Air Force held their World Wide Model Airplane contest at our field. AEDC funded several improvements at the field including building a paved control line circle with a safety fence for control line speed events and a grass circle for other control line events. The runway was graded to level the runway and improve the drainage; however the project ran out of money before they could pave it. The runway was oiled and rolled which gave a 100 foot wide 600 foot long runway as smooth as asphalt. Unfortunately the oiled dirt runway could not stand up to rain, snow, and freezing temperatures over the winter and it had to be graded, oiled, and packed each spring.

The 60s saw the introduction of the ARF when Lanier brought out the first of their foam, plywood, and plastic models and a few Airfoilers began flying them. They were good enough to fly in RC pattern contests, however the early models tended to fatigue the plastic so those who managed to avoid crashing generally did not survive for a second season of flying.

The Airfoilers conducted several beginner classes for several years after 1965 in the middle schools and in the hobby shop on Saturdays. The Saturday beginners’ class moved to St. Barnabas Sunday school rooms after the hobby shop moved to a smaller building.When we lost the St. Paul gym, meetings shifted to St. Barnabas.

The Airfoilers became a chartered AMA club in 1967 and several members have held various officer and committee positions in AMA since that time. Jim Perdue served two terms as District V AMA Vice President starting in 1967.

SECOND DECADE

When the Nats were held at Glenview Naval Air Station in Chicago, several Airfoilers flew in free flight, control line, and indoor events winning many trophies. Brian Webster was the most successful Airfoilers winning in such diverse events as control line jet speed, free flight, and indoor scale. He was the Senior Grand Champion in 1970 and 1971. Brian just missed being the Grand Championship by a few points in 1971 and was Grand Champion by a large margin in 1972.

The second decade saw the rise of RC thermal soaring by club members. In 1971, more club members had digital proportional radios and small superheterodyne receivers led to the resurrection of power pod sailplanes and we sponsored the first sanctioned thermal soaring contest. A gasoline powered winch was built and the first contest included a pure sailplane class. Clark Fitch built the first electric winch in the club and Jim Robinson build several aluminum winch drums. Jim, Clark, and Chet Tuthill developed a standard winch that was published in Sailplane as the Airfoiler Winch System.

There were no retired club members so all flying was done after work and on weekends. Power flying began to decline as several club members were transferred away or left for other employment. Most power fliers didn’t fly in the morning because they didn’t like flying with the sun in their eyes so on weekends, most sailplane flying was done before noon and power fliers took over after noon.

Control line flying almost vanished after 1970 as the juniors who had been flying UC graduated from school and no new juniors took their place. We continued to have the annual free flight contest however the loss of the drop zone for contests when the AEDC runway was built meant that the free flight contest was moved back to the model field. We were able to move the contest back to the AEDC runway when AEDC lost their airplanes and the runway was closed for normal operations.

Airfoilers With Trophies Won at the 1974 SOAR Nats. Tullahoma News Photo

In the early years, the Airfoilers were a part of the Air Force recreation program along with the tennis court, golf course, skeet range, and rifle range and provided the club with funds for club activities. AEDC stopped maintaining the runway in 1970 but continued to mow the field for a few more years.By 1972, the club was dragging the runway and spreading used motor oil while the runway was packed by driving back and fourth over the runway. Not as good as the paving roller that had been using but it did result in a usable runway.

By 1975, membership had declined to less than 10 active members and the loss of Air Force funds hurt finances. The loss of members led to the elimination of the annual RC pattern contest after 1975 and the free flight and the two annual sailplane contests became the principle source of club funds. In 1976, Bob Collins was the only RC power flier in the club and sailplane flying declined when some of the fliers went away to college or took jobs elsewhere. Power flying began to come back when Jerry Amelang finished his tour of duty in the Air Force and moved back to Tullahoma.

The Airfoilers began to have an annual after Christmas dinner meeting at the ARO Lodge in 1970 and continued to have them there until 1980 when ARO had to remove their lodge from Air Force property after other contractors won part of the AEDC operation contract. After 1980, the annual dinner meeting was held at various restaurants in Tullahoma and Manchester.

Jim McNeil, AMA District V vice-president, appointed Chuck Anderson to the AMA Soaring Advisory Committee that had been formed to formulate rules for establishing soaring as an official AMA event. After the Soaring Advisory Committee was replaced by the National Soaring Society, Chuck served as and officer in that organization for four more years.

The club news letter was printed by the Air Force and distributed through the base mail until 1976. When the club news letter was resumed after a few years, printing was done by various printing firms and distributed through the US mail.

THIRD DECADE

The 1980s brought more changes to the field with the construction of the first shelter and the removal of the safety fence around the old control line circle.Several workbenches were added and the parking area was moved to its current position. RC flying had increased enough that it became necessary to institute frequency control.

In 1986, Tullahoma began discussions with the Air Force to let them develop the area between Harton Boulevard and the golf course as a recreation area. President Lee Webster developed our own proposal as to how the area could be developed in order to have something ready in case Tullahoma was successful in getting control of the area; however Tullahoma never got control of the area so the plan was never submitted to anyone.

Membership increased during this decade and rose to 60 by1986.

Lee Webster served as District V AMA vice-president for two terms before becoming a member of the AMA safety committee. He also appointed Chuck Anderson as District V member of the Soaring Contest Board, a position he still holds.

The club newsletter was resurrected in 1980, however many of the issues from the late 80s were saved only on floppy disk and were lost when the disk became unreadable.

Discussing aerodynamics with Carl Goldberg at the 1983 Nats.

FOURTH DECADE

This decade brought out the first major rewrite of the club constitution and bylaws to meet Air Force requirements and to incorporate the club as a non-profit organization. The club leased the field from the Air Force and was no longer a part of the base recreation program so the membership requirements were relaxed and was open to anybody interested in flying model airplanes.

Some Club members even made magazine covers.

The club began investigating ways to improve the oiled dirt runway since environmental regulations prohibited oiling the runway. Astroturf was investigated but was rejected after a trial run of a sample failed to stand up to Tullahoma weather. A fund raising campaign finally raised enough money to pave a small portion of the dirt runway and the rest of the dirt runway was seeded and a grass runway was established on the east side of the paved runway. A larger sun shelter was built next to the old shelter and a concrete pad was poured for a storage room behind the original sun shelter but was not built.

The free flight and sailplane contests continued to provide most of the money to support the club, however a Giant Fly-In and a WWI Scale Fly-in was added to the annual club events while some club members began to investigate electric and helicopter flying. A float fly on Woods Reservoir was added in 1990. Dues were increased to $25 per year, the first increase since the club was founded in 1959.

Membership rose to 87 by the end of 1997.

In an effort to attract more fliers, we began holding an annual Mall show in Northgate Mall.

Lee Webster and Tom Hartsvigen conducted an extensive test of RC Pylon racing safety cages for AMA. They developed a catapult system for launching test vehicles and actual RC pylon racers into various proposed safety cages.

A lawn tractor was purchased to mow the pit area, grass runway, and sailplane tow paths while bush hogging the field west of the ditch was done by club members with borrowed equipment.

FIFTH DECADE

The fifth decade saw a large increase in electric and helicopter flying. Night RC flying became a regular feature of summer evenings and indoor flying returned as a regular winter event; however this time it was electric powered RC instead of rubber powered free flight. The annual Electric Flying became a big success and was the biggest club fund raiser while the sailplane and helicopter contests also contributed to club finances.

In 2004, the club began issuing white membership cards for non-flying members and colored Flying Authorization cards for flying members. The Flying Authorization Card was to be posted on the appropriate channel slot on the frequency board before turning any transmitter on at the field.

Field improvements included completion of the storage room on the concrete pad that had previously been poured. The club began renting a Porta-Potty for the field during the summer flying season and was expanded to the entire year in 2004. The club had been using borrowed or rented generators for contests and fly-ins since the 1980s and finally bought a used generator to be kept at the field in 2004. A solar panel and storage batteries for charging electric model batteries was added in 2005.

Club membership finally exceeded 100 in 2005

A second larger lawn tractor was purchased and field bush hogging of the field west of the ditch was contracted. The area of the field east of the ditch was allowed to grow up controlled only by controlled burns. A string trimmer to cut the grass around the work benches, buildings, and parking lot was added in 2005.

Officers

Many people have served as club officers. The following list was compiled from information published in the Club newsletter up to the time it was discontinued after 1999.After 2003. the information was taken from the meeting minutes as posted on the internet.

 

1959

 

President:                    Mickey Collier

Vice President:            Chet Tuthill

Secretary:                    George Schulz

Treasurer:                    Lt. C. Essmeier

 

1963-1964

 

            President                     Doug Waldrup

            VP FF                        Karl Hube

            VP UC                                    Lee Webster

            VP RC                                    Charlie Myers

            Secretary/Treasurer     Chet Tuthill

 

1965

 

            President                     Dr. Wallace Frierson

            Secretary/Treasurer     George Schulz

            VP FF                         Bill Davis

VP RC                                    Jim Robinson

Editor                          Doug Waldrep

 

1966

            President                     Lee Webster

            Secretary Treasurer     George Schulz

VP FF                         Jim Perdue

            VP UC                                    Doug Waldrup

            VP RC                                    Charlie Myers

            Editor                          Doug Waldrep

 

 

1967

President                                 Dick Butler

Vice President                         Mickey Collier

            Secretary/Treasurer/Editor      Jim Perdue

1968

            President                                 Ben Cleveland

            Vice President                         Mickey Collier

            Secretary/Treasurer/Editor      Jim Perdue

 

1969

            President                                 Mickey Collier

            Vice President                         Jim Robinson

            Secretary                                 Lee Webster

            Treasurer                                 Chet Tuthill

 

1970

            President         Art Mansfield

            Editor              Chuck Anderson

 

1971

            President/Editor          Chuck Anderson

            Vice President             Art Mansfield

            Secretary                     Lee Webster

            Treasurer                     Clark Fitch

 

1972

            President                     Lee Webster

            VP/Editor                    Chuck Anderson

            Secretary                     John Fox

            Treasurer                     Howard Counts

 

1973

            President                     Clark Fitch

            Vice President             Slick Williams

            Secretary                     Jack Culpepper

            Treasurer                     Tom Bentley

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1974

            President                     Chet Tuthill

            Secretary                     Jack Culpepper

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1975

            President                     Lee Webster

            Vice President             Tom Hartvigsen

            Secretary                     Chet Tuthill

            Treasurer                     Jim Fitch

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1976

            President                     Tom Hartvigsen

            Secretary                     Howard Counts

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1980

            President/Editor          Chuck Anderson

            VP                               Jean Boaz/Lee Webster

            Sec/Treasurer               Clark Fitch

           

 

1985

            President                     Chuck Anderson

            VP                               Kendall McDonald

            Secretary                     Norman Shus

            Program Chairman      Joe Blanton

            Editor                          Clark Fitch

 

1986

            President                     Lee Webster

            VP                               Larry Mullican

            Sec/Treasurer               Carlton Garner

            Recording Secretary   Charlie Bair

            Program Chairman      Bob Collins

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1987

            President                     Bob Mackie

            VP                               Lee Webster

            Sec/Treasurer               Carlton Garner

            Recording Secretary   Joe Paulick

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

 

1988

            President                     Joe Paulick

            VP                               Tom Hartvigsen

            Secretary                     Herman Acklin

            Treasurer                     Tom Towry

            Editor                          Chuck Anderson

1989

President         David Agee

VP                   Ralph Kimberlin

Secretary         Kendall McDonald

Treasurer          Joe Freeman

Editor              Chuck Anderson

 

1991

President          Mike Murphy

VP                   Lee Webster

Secretary         Mark Cross

Treasurer         Eric Clutton

Editor              Joe Pawlick

 

1992

President                     Jamie Hankins

VP                               Carl Hurst

Secretary                     Billy Adams

Treasurer                     James Smith

Safety                          Mike Murphy

Editor                          Lee Webster

Flight Instructor          Jerry Amelang

Sunshine                      Molly Webster

 

1997

 

            President         Ron Foreman

            VP                   George Shulz

            Secretary         Johnny Young

            Treasurer         Craig Logan

            Flight Instructors       

Jerry Amelang

Tim Bowman

            AMA Licensed Instructors

                        Kendall McDonald

                        Gary Barnes

                        Herman Acklen

            Board of Directors

                        Chuck Anderson

                        Gary Barnes

                        Mark Cross

                        Ralph Bonner

                        Kendall McDonald

            Committee Chairman

                        Admin/General services          Lee Webster

                        Newsletter                               Lee Webster

                        Sunshine                                  Molly Webster

                        Operations                               Kendall McDonald

                        Safety                                      Kendall McDonald

                        Program Director                    Bob Speers

                        Contest Coordinator               Kendall McDonald

                        Maintenance                            Herb Rindfleisch

                        Legal                                       Jerry Ewell

 

1998

 

            President         Ron Foreman

            VP                   George Shulz

            Secretary         Chuck Wagner

            Treasurer         Jerry Amelang

            Flight Instructors       

Jerry Amelang

Tim Bowman

            AMA Licensed Instructors

                        Kendall McDonald

                        Gary Barnes

                        Herman Acklen

            Board of Directors

                        Herman Ackland

                        Tom Towry

                        Joe Pawlick

                        Ralph Bonner

                        Kendall McDonald

            Committee Chairman

                        Admin/General services          Lee Webster

                        Newsletter                               Lee Webster

                        Sunshine                                  Molly Webster

                        Operations                               Bob Speers

                        Safety                                      Bob Speers

                        Program Director                    Bob Speers

                        Contest Coordinator               Kendall McDonald

                        Maintenance                            Herb Rindfleisch

                        Legal                                       Jerry Ewell

 

1999

President         Craig Logan

VP                   George Shulz

Secretary         Johnny Young  

Treasurer        

Jerry Amelang

            Flight Instructors       

Jerry Amelang

Tim Bowman

            AMA Licensed Instructors

                        Kendall McDonald

                        Gary Barnes

                        Herman Acklen

Board of Directors

Herman Ackland        

Herb Rindfleisch

Tom Towry

Ron Foreman

Joe Pawlick

 

Committee Chairman

Admin/General Services         Lee Webster

Newsletter                   Lee Webster

Sunshine                      Molly Webster

Operations                   Bob Speers

Safety                          Bob Speers

Program Director        Bob Speers

Maintaince                  Herb Rindfleisch

Legal                           Jerry Ewell

 

2003

            President                     Mark Kummerow

            VP                               Jerry Amelang

            Secretary                     Bob Speers

            Treasurer                     Harry Hyland

 

2004

            President                     Craig Logan

            VP                               Jerry Amelang

            Secretary                     Bob Speers

            Treasurer                     Harry Hyland

 

2005

            President                     David Green

            VP                               Kendall McDonald

Secretary                     Kevin Raney

            Treasurer                     Harry Hyland

 

2006

President         Dave Green

Vice Pres         Jerry Amelang

Treasurer         Harry Hyland

Secretary         Bob Speers

 

2007

            President         David Green

Vice Pres.        Kendall McDonald

Treasurer         Harry Hyland

Secretary         Robert Speers

Director           Jerry Amelang

 

 

2008

President         David Green

VP                   Randy Baker

Treasurer         Harry Hyland

Secretary         George Schmidt

 

2009

 

President         Charles Bair

VP                   Randy Baker

Secretary         George Schmidt

Treasurer         Harry Hyland

Safety Officer Rich Eichel

 

Folded Wings

Craig Logan                July, 2006                    Former President

Mark Kumero              September 2006          Former President

Molly Webster            September 2006          Founding member?

Dennis Lemonds         November, 2008

Ben Cleveland            May 2008                    Founding member

Charlie Folk                April 1968                   Founding member

Jean Boaz                    1980                            VP at the time of his death

Joe Freeman                                                    Founding member?

Wayne Amelang         2008                            Founding member?

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