The Early Days
The Cornwall and Area modellers who enjoyed the Sport of model aircraft building and flying in 1960 until 1970, used to get together and fly at local fields; such as the Dingwall property (Canadian Army Basic Training Center) on Marlborough and Sixth street, the Raes Road, and the Tyo Town Road areas as well as quite often, in order to fly off of a paved strip, we would go either to Massena, N.Y. or to an RCAF WW2 abandoned airfield at Pendleton, just north of Maxville.
The Founding Members
|Brian Hawley||Walter Osadczuk||
1934 - 2021
|Taf Mondoux||Mike Roy||Paul Potvin||
1934 - 2006
Jack Mott had always wanted to own and operate a Hobby Shop but knew that he needed the support of an organized Club to support him and the shop, it was decided to form a club and it was called the Cornwall Aero Modellers (the year being the Winter of 1969). In 1970 the Cornwall Aero Modellers became a Chartered Club within the frame work of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada. Charter members who were active and present when the Charter was applied for were, Jack Mott, who ran Jack's Hobby Shop at the time, Taf Mondoux, Mike Roy, Don Mitchell, Paul Potvin, Brian Hawley, Walter Osadczuk and and Cliff Merpaw.
Members would meet every month at McDonnell's Inn at Eamers Corners and later the meetings were held in Jack's Hobby Shop at Eamers Corners, where Club business and flying was discussed. The Club flying field was located at the old Go-Kart track on Cornwall Center Road and just east of Eamers Corners and down the hill. (It is still there!). This was the Club's most prized possession, as it was central to our members, private from the Public and a paved strip to take-off and land on. There were no neighbours to bother and was a great place to have a party. There were a few drawbacks like: no water, no washrooms and a very poor access road. It was at this time that Richard Harper became a member. The first Club Fun Fly was held there in 1971 and was a huge success with all the members of the Massena Modellaires turning out. They were, Tom Silver, Ed Hooper, Bob Dwyer and Gary Grant. The Cornwall and Massena Clubs worked closely together at meets by sharing equipment and supporting each other.
In 1973 Jack opened a Hobby Shop at Pitt and Third Street and the meetings were then held in a large meeting room at the rear of his store. Jack was instrumental in getting us new members and assisting them in building and flying.
In 1973 we lost the Field at the Go-Kart track due to the land being sold for house development. The Club then found a temporary location on the property of Murray McGregor of McGregor Cranes, where Murray had a grass strip for his private plane. The Club graded, rolled and grassed a model aircraft strip at the south end of his full size strip, but on land that was used for occasional farming. We were informed in late 1976 that tilling of the field to plant corn would commence in 1977.
The Gray's Creek era
The Club then decided to look for a more permanent site. Always on the look out forgreener pastures, Cliff and Jackie Merpaw drove into the Raisin River Grays Creek Park which was just in the process of being developed into a Public Recreation Area and came across an area that looked like it could be developed into an area for Model Aircraft Flying. It was discussed at the next meeting and was agreed to pursue a formal application to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority to allow us to use a portion of the land to construct a Model Aircraft flying field. Cliff Morris arranged for the Executive to meet with the RRC Authority out in Martintown, to make our presentation to them. Permission was granted to us from the RRC Authority to proceed with our plans subject to their approval.
Our Plans were:
1) to have a paved strip (a strip of asphalt 25 feet wide by 200 feet long)
2) Cost would be $2,240.00 half would be paid for with a Wintario grant.
3) A fund raising drive to raise $1600.00 would be put on by our members.
Walter Osadczuk was instrumental in securing the Wintario grant allowing us to bring the field project to fruition. The Club then held it's meetings at the East Wind Inn(which is now the Children's Treatment Centre).
The grand opening of the Club field at Gray's Creek was in June of 1978. There was a Fun Fly held with modellers coming from Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, Brockville and Massena, N.Y.
Trees, Trees, Trees...
In 1984, as the trees were beginning to get tall making it difficult to land and take-off from the strip at Gray's Creek, a new area was discovered at Grant's Quarries on the South Branch Road which was developed into a nice flat east / west grassed flying strip. The Gray's Creek area was kept only for contests and the regular flying activities were held at the new Grant Quarry field, but again in 1987 due to problems with neighbours we had to cease flying activities at this field and everyone resumed flying at the Gray's Creek field.
The Club moves on to Léger Landings
Cliff Merpaw noticed that there was an area across from the City Landfill that had a lot of possibilities in being made into a new Flying Field. There was a house and shed that suddenly disappeared from the property and it was well known that the City was buying-up property so as to expand their City landfill and to eliminate any complaints from residents about the foul odours emanating from the Landfill.
Inquiries were made and information obtained indicated that we could indeed begin a new Model Airplane field, as the City of Cornwall thought it was a good deal for them (as our presence would stop the dumping of garbage on their land) and a good deal for us as we got to put the property to good use while keeping it in clean condition.
Initially, after all our members had a chance to see the location and give their opinion on their feelings about location and possibilities before going ahead with actual development, Cliff Merpaw asked for a budget of no more than $250.00 to proceed with the actual work to construct a flying strip.
While passing by the Transport Terminal located at the corner of Power Dam and Cornwall Center Roads, he noticed a grader in their yard, that they used for plowing snow. He stopped in and inquired if the grader could be used to flatten the new field which we were planning to develop, to which the Manager stated it could be and would be if we so wanted to as a good will gesture. The Manager graded the field and the Club members filled in the low spots with a truck load of ground.
Although initial contact with the City was in early 1993 the official opening of Léger Landing took place in 1995. The Club has been there ever since.
Further development went on over the years:
New Club House built from Doug Geisel's plans circa 2003, as the old one burned down in a fire.
A new front gate, built by Ed and Albert Renaud, has been installed in 2008 and the overall appearance of the field is great.
In 2012 the transport Company Minimax has very graciously donated a 53 foot road trailer to the club to be used as a safe storage container. A gravel footing and a wood ramp was constructed to allow access to the storage area.
In 2014 a 80 feet landing strip extension was begun and completed in the spring of 2015, allowing up to 600 feet of useful runway.
Incorporated in 2016 as a Non-Profit Organization.
In 2017 Barlow Energy started planning the construction of a solar farm east of our field. As a good neighbor gesture, they sponsored the club to pay for a new gate at he entrance to the field.
Written to the best of my knowledge.
By Cliff Merpaw
Very interesting archive footage of the club early days in the 70's and early 80's
Another archive video of the club early days in the 70's and early 80's
Photos from the 60's on Tyotown Road
Photos from Derrick Harrison
Lest We Forget