A Brief History of Bartow County Model Aviation (BCMA)
by Bruce Nebergall
22 October 2019
BCMA was begun in the 1980’s by a small group of model aircraft pilots. Its first flying venue was on the grounds of Emerson Elementary School. The access road, parking lot and surrounding grassy areasserved as runways.
As the club grew, a larger space and less busy place was required and a move was made to privateproperty on Highway 411 now occupied by Shaw Industries. The site was called Magness Field. The runway was grass and was oriented North-South. It was about 400 feet long. It had a long overfly area to the North but a fairly short overfly area to the South. There were trees to the South and, of course, Highway 411, a busy road. Still, the site was adequate and safe.
As a result of the sale of that property by the owner to Shaw Industries about 1996, the club moved to another private property on 411 north of White, GA. The runway was grass and very long. There were long overfly areas to the East and to the West. Unfortunately, the overfly area to the North was quite small and involved flying over a hangar and a private residence. Caution was required to avoid hitting the hanger or crashing on the neighbor’s property.
The facilities at White Field were quite sparse. The field was far from any comfort station. At Magness Field, a PortaJohn was rented for comfort relief. So, even though the membership and, subsequently the treasury, was quite low, the decision was made to purchase a used PortaJohn. One was found in Ellijay at a cost of $200. It was installed with much flair and celebration and it was securely anchored to discourage vandalism. After all, White Field was quite isolated from any observers. The PortaJohn, affectionately called The Crapper, was the clubs first permanent asset. Its installation is still celebrated annually by holding the Crapper Birthday Party with a Crapper Birthday Cake and a Crappy Airplane Contest. The winner of the Contest is obligated to keep The Crapper clean
for a year. That “prize” is a great honor! And, a great time is had by all each year.
After a couple of years, about 1998, permission was given by Bartow County to use county property on Paga Mine Road. The site looked to be permanent so, as the club grew, investments were made by erecting a large shelter against wind and rain and flight table pads were installed in the pit area. Because the runway was grass, a sprinkler system was installed to keep the grass, which was Bermuda, green. In winter, of course, the grass was brown but short. It made for a good runway surface. Among the other improvements made was installing a storage building and a permanent chain link fence between the pit area and the runway.
The site was a good place to fly even though the overfly area to the West was short. The runway was oriented East/West with the pilots facing south. A club member came up with the idea of using sunspots, round pieces of black plastic mounted on posts, at each flight station. While not the best ofsituations, the sunspots did work to keep the sun out of the pilots’ eyes especially in the winter.
In 2006, the Club received the bad news, to the Club, that the County wanted to establish a water and sewage project on the property. With no other field alternatives available, permission was given to move back to White Field. The field was not nearly as nice a the Paga Mine Road field but it was a place to fly. Even so, members left in droves; membership became quite small. Some, especially those who were leaving, wanted to dissolve the Club and distribute the assets. This effort was resisted. Overtures were made by other club to merge with them. Our treasury was very attractive to them. These were put to a vote and rejected. The Club, including The Crapper, moved back to White Field until another field could be found. The search was ongoing.
After another two years, about 2008, a couple of members obtained an agreement from the owner of a commercial development on Allatoona Road in Emerson to use a portion of the property for a field. The site was perfect. The field was designated “Highpoint Field”. The runway, again Bermuda grass, was long and wide. The overfly areas were adequate that even third scale models could be flown safely. The venue looked to be long term so the Club invested in some facilities to accompany The Crapper including a portable shed and a metal shelter with picnic tables. Many, many hours were enjoyed by members flying their aircraft.
In April, 2018, the Club with informed by the owners of Highpoint Field that the land was to be again developed for commercial purposes. The Club had 30 days to vacate the proper. All assets were sold, except for The Crapper, The Shed, The Fence and flight tables which were moved to storage locations for
possible later use. The Club vacated 1 May 2018 and a search began for another field site.The Club went into hiatus. Many members were also members of other clubs and flew there. The Paulding club invited BCMA members to fly at their field for the summer of 2018. Some did take the opportunity. Others found other clubs. The treasury was frozen and members in good standing in 2018 would remain members until a new flying site was obtained. In late 2018, after much diligent searching and many contacts with landowners by the Search Team, a
site was located on Cass-Pinelog Road in Rydal, GA. Mr. Jim Raines, owner of Possum Trot Farm, said he was interested in providing a site for the Club. An agreement was made and in January, 2019, preparation of Possum Trot Field began. The field is again grass and isn’t quite level but is quite flyable. It is also a bit short, only about 350 feet, but, with care, even quarter-scale aircraft can be
flown. Third-scale aircraft might be questionable. The Clubs most precious assets, The Crapper, The Shed, the flight tables,and The Fence have been installed on the field. Possum Trot Field is flyable. It is active. The Club’s occupation there looks to be long term if care is taken.
Note: Bartow County Model Aviation (BCMA) was first AMA Chartered in 1988. This history leaves a gap between 1988 and 1994 because this writer first joined in 1994. The early stories of the club prior to 1994 are vocal anecdotes from early members who have left the club and are no longer available. This history will be updated as memories are related.
BLN/22 October 2019