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Duncan Cameron has provided most of the information for this short history of model flying in Aviemore.
Please send any corrections, omissions and further interesting facts to the web editor for inclusion in later versions.
Looking back into the mists of time, even into the Maggie Thatcher era of 1981, we find Duncan flying models all on his own in Aviemore, from odd fields and from any place he could get a launch. Then he found out that there were other modellers active in the valley, Alan Whigan - a farmer in Nethybridge, Jackie Farquhar - Grantown's butcher (who Duncan describes as a "skilled and prolific builder and an excellent flyer"), Sandy McAdam - Coylumbridge's own joiner and Roy Booth - who used to own the old garage at Carrbridge. Malcolm Jacob also met up with Duncan around this time and this first group of 6 got together for a meeting which resulted in the formation of the Spey Valley Model Flying Club.
Aerial photo of the club flying field
No flying site yet of course, so flying continued as before but now centred on a field on the Rothiemurchus Estate beside the backroad running from Coylumbridge to Nethybridge, adjacent to the current flying site. Permission to fly had not been requested, the field is right beside the public road, the field was in crop rotation and had grazing cows during the pasture years . . . . well. So not ideal for the first 2 years, but it sufficed.

1983 - The club is offered a permanent site on Cambasmore

Duncan was observed by John Grant (The Laird of Rothiemurchus) retrieving a model from a field in crop just across the road from the flying field. This chance meeting led to the suggestion that we get a flying field of our own. Mr Grant suggested moving the club's activities into the unused heather area known as Cambasmore. He offered the use of his farm machinery, to strip the heather from a 80 yard by 20 yard strip and to smoooth and flatten the area for a runway facing the prevailing SW wind. The work exposed the underlying cobbles and alluvial gravel - very stony. Mr Grant offered us free silage grass seed, "which will grow anywhere" and which the club members proceeded to hand sow.

Cows and sheep occasionally wandered in to graze and to enjoy the lush new grass and at the same time to provide us with organic fertiliser! Roe deer, badges, foxes, and even our deadly enemy, the mole, all helped to improve the grass. Aerial wildlife at Cambasmore includes buzzards, falcons and hawks of various species, ospreys in season (on their way to dine at the nearby fish farm) and the migrating geese in spring and autumn. Pheasants are bred for sport shooting.

With an unrestricted view to the east and south east of Cairngorm and the Northern Corries and Braeriach (see picture below)Malcolm Jacob we consider our flying site to be the most beautiful model flying site in Britain!

A slight problem was a depression in the runway towards the north end of the strip which tended to become a pond in wet weather. 200 tons of topsoil was generously donated by local contractor, Iain ("Frosty") Fraser, and used to level the airstrip. Re-seeding with a fine grass followed; the area which was low now has the lushest grass, as you can clearly see in the above picture.

The airstrip started off as a perfect rectangle, but over the years a little more has been won from the heather by enthusiastic use of the various grass cutting machines and an alternative (though shorter) runway has been created to cope with NW / SE winds.

1987 - Sandy McAdam and Malcolm Jacob mix some concrete

With the help of others (their initials are set in stone) a concrete pad was constructed for use as an engine startup area and the airstrip began to become more comfortable with the provision of a wooden bench provided by joiner Sandy McAdam.

The original access track led to (and was in line with) the south end of the runway. It quickly became apparent that this was NOT a good idea. In 1992, a new access track was constructed to avoid potential conflicts between flying and driving. A new car park was constructed at the same time. Duncan and Muriel did most of the hard graft required for these improvements. Much carting of gravel material took place to convert the muddy-in-winter and dusty-in-summer surfaces into the all-season access that we now enjoy .

Club developments

During all this activity, club membership had hovered around the 10-20 level, with a hardcore of 6-8 active members, much like many other small clubs. New members have arrived and some have departed but the stalwarts soldier on with a new addition to the hardcore every now and again. With the arrival of a model boat enthusiast (Roy Whitton), who was Secretary/Treasurer for many years, the club was re-named the "Strathspey Aero and Marine Modellers" - (SAMM). Another re-think in 2004, to accommodate a new membership and to better reflect the club's activities, saw the club re-brand itself as the "Cairngorm Model Flying Club".


What does the future hold?

Around 2000, all of Cambasmore, including the original field where model flying started, was planted with conifer seedlings. Now some of these trees have reached up to 8 feet high and we can expect accelerated growth. Fortunately for us, the soil around the airstrip is so poor that we can easily anticipate another 5 years use before the plantation becomes problematic for us.

Another threat to the airfield in 2006 was the planning application by Rothiemurchus Estate for a major house building programme on Cambusmore - in effect to create a new highland village. In the plan, our little airstrip would be the main street of "Cambasmore"! John Grant, benevolent as ever, has offered the club an alternative site on the Rothiemurchus Estate.

In 2009, with the credit crunch on us, the Cambhas Mor development should start in "2-3 years".

In fact, we moved to the new field in 2013, even though there was no sign of a start to the building project. Latest news is "August 2014 start".