RAMS History

Loosely formed in April 1980, we were fondly referred to as the Raleigh Renegades. Today, we are the Raleigh AeroMasters. The change in the name from "Renegades" To "AeroMasters" accurately reflects changes in both the character and make up of our club. But how did we come to be who we are today? This brief history is a beginning at telling the story. Hopefully, our members will continue to fill in the gaps in what is presented here.

The nickname "Renegades" was earned because we flew off side streets in North Raleigh industrial park and quickly learned how to avoid light poles. We were a carefree lot and hardly a day went by that someone wasn't flying. Having absolutly no fear of recourse, R.C. combat with streamers attached to sport planes was commonplace. The crowds grew. Weekday spontaneous cookouts became commonplace and our escapades drew commuters on their way home in the evening; and the crowds grew. One of our more accomplished fliers was sure that there was only one plane was used in WWII and that was an Oscar. When top Flight P-51 Mustang (B-Model) chanced on the scene, an aerial duel was imminent. To the pleasure of the growing weekend crowds, stand off scale dogfights became reality, now as you have probably noted, the CROWDS GREW. Landing along side parked cars is exciting but as one soon learns, it has its drawbacks. As buildings sprang, many of Raleigh's 3800 Capitol Area Soccer Players and their families failed to appreciate dogfights over their heads. Someone up there was watching over us and we had, at this point, no inflicted causalities.

One thing was becoming obvious; these things we operated were dangerous. Lawsuits nationwide were a way of life, and we needed to avoid them at all cost. It hurt to leave our self made grandstand, full of spectators, and head for the countryside, but we needed the elbowroom. Streets seem too narrow when quarter scales approached; and they do cause crowds to grow. Fortunately, a fellow aviator, of the full-scale variety, offered us the use of his private airstrip, located, believe it or not, in Lizard Lick, North Carolina. Now Lizard Lick, as you may have surmised, is a small town, and we were fast becoming one of its main attractions. We were then sometimes known as the Lizard Lick Flyers.

Some participants frowned on the long drive to and from the field at Lizard Lick. We had been spoiled from flying downtown, so to speak. We missed the fanfare, but the field lease rate couldn't be beat, it was free. Problems loomed, however. Even quarter-scales don't co-mingle with full-scale aircraft very well, and we started looking for a solution to our age-old problem. An auxiliary site, again in Lizard Lick, was donated, and our immediate problem was temporally solved.

It was now the spring of 1981 and our little band of twenty regulars agreed to charter with the Academy of Model Aeronautics. It was thought, and has been so proven, that affiliation with the academy and its benefits would assist us in getting a flying site more centrally located to our membership. It provided insurance for flyers, and for the site owner, and enabled our club to host sanctioned events.

To the chagrin of many of our members and after many heated arguments, we relinquished our affectionate name, The Raleigh Renegades, in favor of a more responsible sounding Raleigh Aero Masters Inc.: our present club name. Wham-O, the fall of 1981 arrived, and Neuse Plastics of Wake Forest fathered a field capable of meeting our every dream. Still a considerable drive but we had the possibility of a true model aerodrome. A field design was quickly sketched; reminiscent of LaGuardia International with six proposed runways. Planes swarmed like bees, and suddenly a fifty acres flying site seemed very cramped. Our residential neighbors, a quarter of a mile away, were not impressed with our aerial abilities. It soon became evident that approaches would have to be limited, and a tight 180-degree field of flight in front of the flight line enforced. Even under stringent controls, Fliers' skills improved and a highly restrictive muffler rule, over tremendous member objection, was enforced.

Some of our fliers had competed in contests in South Carolina and North Carolina, with impressive performances. Confidence in the ability of many of our members was deeply entrenched. A contingent was sent to Northern Virginia R.C. Club. Though it was not one of our better competitions, luck smiled upon us. Many professionals in this sport were present and all of a sudden, this hobby of ours was no longer adults playing with toys, but a real down to earth, gut level, sure enough, sport. We had always been hooked, but now we knew why.

Then, one of the best things to happen to any club happened. People wanted to join our small band of fanatics; yes beginners, other clubs showed them little interest, but the Raleigh AreoMasters wanted every dedicated member it could get. One new member was a Northern Telecom employee. That corporation had a fun day coming up at the North Carolina State Fair Grounds and wanted us to put on a flying demonstration. Three thousand people were expected. Two one-hour shows were requested with an hour intermission. Pride swelled and the decision was made, we'd do it. The result was a successful program, and the birth of the Raleigh AeroMasters Show team. The team performed regularly over the next five years.

In 1982, it became clear to us that a more secluded flying site was needed. An intensive search for land was begun, using aircraft and cars. So, in 1983 the 40 AeroMasters club members moved to their new home. After making four moves in three years, we had finally found a place to settle in. Mr. J.T. Moss of Wake Forest was willing to lease acreage on one of his farms near Youngsville at a very reasonable fee. He agreed to a five-year lease with options for extensions.

Our new flying site was huge, safe and beautiful. It had a plane eating swamp with deer, raccoon, beaver foxes, snakes and other creatures that you keep hearing, but never see. A grass runway was prepared immediately. In 1984, some club members countersigned a note to build a 35 by 330 foot runway. This was a controversial decision because many members were comfortable flying off of grass and did not want to invest the money required to build a high quality asphalt strip. The decision to institute the new member initiation fee of $25.00 was made to help make runway capital costs more equitable.

In the last 20 years the Renegades became an AMA chartered, well functioning, bunch of AeroMasters. Regular monthly membership meetings were held at the Exchange Park on Spring Forest Road on the third Tuesday of each month. The club maintains its charter as an AMA club by strictly complying with their regulations and guidelines.

We have gone through quite an evolution in the last thirty years. The early 1990's showed Raleigh AreoMasters as a pattern-flying club with a many exceptional fliers. Bob Richards even won National pattern flying awards. Then a bunch of Fun Flying Pilots invaded , mainly Larry Lewis, Robert Vess, and Rob Court. They started winning fun fly competitions throughout Eastern United States and our club became well known. In 1993 we even hosted the National Fun Fly Competition. As with many clubs, we have our fads and after fun flys, it was 2-EZ flying wings, then it became battle competitions with Battle Floyds.

In 2005 J T Moss sold the land and we had to find a new field again. Gary Elliott located our present field and developed our new 350 by 33 foot paved runway. 35% and 40% planes have no problem landing. We also built a new and larger shelter. Most of the helicopter pilots have moved on.

How did all this happen? How did this club succeed while so many fail? No one knows for sure. But we can all be grateful of the hard work and the resources people have put in to make this club thrive. An RC club like The Raleigh AreoMasters doesn't just happen-it must be nurtured along on an ongoing basis. Get involved. If you want to get involoved or have any new and exciting ideas e-mail me or contact any of the officers