The Northern Connecticut Radio Control Club (NCRCC) was founded in 1962 by Roland Bernier, Paul Caisse, Al Case, Les George, and Jack Secondo. By the end of the first year, the club boasted of a membership of 35. The original flying field was in Hazardville (possibly near Powder Hollow Park) and meetings were held at Skip Traska’s TV Repair Shop on North Maple Street. In 1963, the NCRCC flying site was moved to Suffield, CT and in 1964 the club saw another move to the famous curve on South Stone Street in West Suffield, CT. NCRCC was incorporated in 1965 and chartered by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) as club #188. Membership meetings at the time were held at the East Granby Fire Station.
At this point in its history, NCRCC initiated a broader commitment to aeromodelling through hosting multiple AMA-sanctioned contests and events which actively advance the interests of the hobby. Goodyear racing was promoted in 1965 by Bob Granville, Tony Giovanetti, and Art Simmonds. Paved runways were installed at the flying site in 1967.
Bernice Williams started the club newsletter, NCRCC Flyer, in 1968 and the membership swelled to 85. Unfortunately, the fire station in East Granby burned down and, consequently, meetings were moved to the Knights of Columbus Hall in Windsor Locks, CT.
By 1969, NCRCC was receiving national recognition for promoting pylon racing. In 1970, membership rose to 104, of which 77% were active. In September of that year, 32 members entered the club fun fly event.
The first NCRCC Auction was held in April of 1970 and, in 1971, the auction was held in March. By 1973, it was determined that February was the best time to host this popular event among area aeromodellers.
In 1973, NCRCC purchased the rotary mower attachment for the tractor and our members expanded their volunteerism for the benefit of the club. During the 1970s, NCRCC hosted model airplane demonstrations during multiple air shows in Ellington. By 1976, membership reached 147 with one-half of them regularly attending meetings and participating in club events. 1978 saw membership reach 168.
1980 was a tough year for NCRCC as tensions with neighbors of the flying site rose and, as a result, the flying site was moved to its present location in Ellington, CT.
In addition to NCRCC’s leadership role in promoting pylon racing, the club began sponsoring AMA-sanctioned events in multiple other areas of the hobby. Prominent among these events were many scale fly-ins and pattern contests held during the 1980s. These fly-ins and pattern contests attracted many of aeromodelling’s pioneer “superstars” including Lou Andrews (designer of the Aeromaster among many other stellar models), Art Schroeder and his son, Butch Schroeder (Art was the founder and publisher of Model Airplane News), Bob Violett (one of the founding fathers of turbine engine models), Tony Bonetti (pattern and scale master pilot/builder), Ed Izzo (long-time AMA Vice President and inventor of the foam wing construction technique), and many other luminaries of the hobby.
Other “superstars” such as Bob Granville, Pete Reed, Bob Wallace, Cliff Tedford, Joe Gianetti, Tony Giovanetti, Art Simmonds, Jack Secondo, and many, many more sipped champagne from their trophy cups commemorating their victories at various NCRCC pylon races.
NCRCC member Bob Wallace was the U.S. National Team Champion in FAI pylon racing in 1986, and a member of the team for the winning U.S pylon racing team that was sent to the 1987 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. The American team won the gold, silver, and bronze medals at that competition, and it was the first time such a feat had ever been accomplished. Bob was asked to serve as Team Manager for the Czechoslovakian team, which ultimately won the 1985 World Championship. At the 1995 World Championships that were held in Muncie, IN, unexpected illness prevented a member of the Russian team from competing and Bob was asked to serve as an emergency member of the Russian team. Bob became the only American ever to serve on the Russian pylon racing team. Bob was also the Connecticut Associate Vice President for the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) for many years, and was bestowed the title of “Fellow” that is the Academy’s highest award.
Over the last several decades, a number of NCRCC members have participated in and placed in multiple AMA National Aeormodelling Championships (Nats), some held in Muncie, IN and others held at assorted locations throughout the United States. While many of these NCRCC members competed in pylon racing other members took part in various alternative specialized areas of the hobby including indoor flying and scale.
The Dawn Patrol meet drawing scale modelers specializing in WWI-era military aircraft began in 1995. Paul Savastano and Bob Boulais served as Contest Directors for the initial events.
NCRCC’s website was launched in 2000 by Bob LaFlamme and supported by Irv Thurrott. The website serves to transmit and store key club notices and information, offer insight into the club, provide easy access to pertinent club documents, offer a pictorial history of club events, and assist our members’ various needs.
In 2002, NCRCC became the proud owners of the flying field in Ellington. A formal dedication ceremony celebrating this accomplishment was held in that same year. Improvements to the site are ongoing and have included adding a pavilion, picnic tables, storage trailers, a paved runway, memorial plaques to several deceased members, fencing, barbequing equipment, parking area, secured entry gate, etc.
In 2010, NCRCC held its first Allies & Axis event. Long-time Contest Director Dennis Thibodeau subsequently changed the name of the event to Warbirds over Ellington and the event has grown to attract military-themed models from WWI through the jet age. NCRCC has proudly donated proceeds of this event to support veterans and other non-profit organizations.
Much to the chagrin of the aeromodelling community, a decision was made to discontinue the popular annual NCRCC Auction due to spiking operating costs. However, to continue providing a valued service to area modelers, in 2013 NCRCC began its annual Tailgate Swap Meet held at the club’s flying site in Ellington under the guidance of Bob LaFlamme, Mike Maznicki, and Len Marchese.
Recognizing NCRCC’s prominent role in area aeromodelling, RC Madness coordinated with NCRCC to offer our first Heli-Fest in 2014. NCRCC subsequently assumed full responsibility for the annual event with Mike Lewandowski and Joel Lang taking the lead to ensure its continued success.
In 2017 and again in 2019, NCRCC member Walt Wosko was invited to and competed in the world-renowned Top Gun World Championship (team scale category) in Florida with his SNJ Texan.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted club activities as federal, state, and local safety guidelines limited groups from congregating. Nonetheless, the “Web Team” (Leo Nordell, Ola Nordell, and Stan Kulesa) unveiled a new club website with a range of embellished capabilities while leveraging much from the former website. NCRCC also used the lull to refresh the club by-laws. Membership exceeded 190 in 2020.
NCRCC has coordinated regular indoor electric flying under the tutelage of Irv Thurrott and Bob Spooner at Sports World in East Windsor and at Star Hill Family Athletic Center in Tolland.
To this day, NCRCC remains at the forefront of making aeromodelling history and advancing the interests of the hobby through its proclivity for sponsoring various types of AMA-sanctioned events, maintaining a premier flying site, and – through the reliable and enthusiastic volunteerism of its members – a reason to be proud of their affiliation with the Northern Connecticut Radio Control Club. The high quality and camaraderie of our club members are what accentuates the NCRCC experience.
Photo Gallery of NCRCC History
Enjoy this photo gallery highlighting the people and historical events of NCRCC. If you would like to offer a photo or video of NCRCC history to be included, please email your information to the NCRCC Secretary. Be sure to include a description along with your submission that includes date(s), names(s), model(s), and other pertinent information. Click here for the Secretary’s contact information.