Illawarra Model Aero Club: new home sought

Members of Illawarra Model Aero Club. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Members of Illawarra Model Aero Club. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Berkeley will no longer be home to the buzzing of model planes when the Illawarra Model Aero Club is forced from its Hooka Creek Road base at the end of the month.

The club – which has been operating in the Illawarra for more than 60 years – has been forced to search for new premises after the owner of their Berkeley base offered the land to a new tenant.

If a new flying site cannot be found by March 31, the club will likely fold.

Club president John Murphy, who has been building planes for more than 50 years, is now on a desperate hunt to find somewhere suitable for the club’s 100 members to indulge their aeronautical passion.

‘‘We’re in the process of trying to find somewhere so we hope with media [coverage] maybe someone has a property that they may be able to lease to us so we could move to another vicinity,’’ he said.

So far, Mr Murphy has looked at potential sites in Maddens Plains and Jamberoo but is unsure if owners would be willing to lease the spaces.

The club needs 50,000 square metres of flat, grassed land that could accommodate a shed and fencing, and that is free from power lines.

A golf driving range will be built on the Berkeley site, which the model aero club occupied for 28 years.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements meant the two groups could not operate at the same site.

Mr Murphy said the community would be losing more than a recreational group if the club was forced to fold.

‘‘[Our club] is one of the oldest men’s sheds in the community,’’ he said.

‘‘What we’ve got down there is fantastic – we’ve got men who are more than 90 and kids who are in their mid-teens and everybody gets on well and is there to help each other.

‘‘When I first met the club, that’s what impressed me the most.''