by Dave Nofziger & Larry Baker
Back in the days before four stroke engines, electric power and narrow band, and when you had to build your own model because an ARF wasn't an option (or else buy one from Rick or Ray Mallioux), several Lebanon area RC'ers were active in the Albany RC club, the Thundervolts. In those days their flying site was where the Linn County Fair buildings now sit. The only houses in that area were on the north side of Knox Butte Road. Times have changed!
As it became obvious to a few of us in that club that the rumors about housing developments and "progress" of other types were not just rumors, and that those changes would force the Thundervolts to find a new place to fly, some of us began pushing the club to find a new site. We got nowhere.
So the club members that lived in the Lebanon area got together under the leadership of Dave Nofziger and Larry Baker and decided to form our own club and build our own site. As I remember it, there were about 10 members when we started. It was open to flyers in the Lebanon and Sweet Home area, so we called it the “Lebanon Area RC Club.” The flyers in the Albany and Corvallis areas had their own flying fields, so we weren't being exclusive.
The company Dave worked for, Far West Farmers Cooperative, agreed to let us use part of the land for our flying site. We used FWF's large front end loader machine to help with the site preparation and leveled out a landing strip. Then we hauled in gravel and did the work of laying that as a base for the landing strip. We did it like you would lay concrete – built forms, “poured” the gravel (hauled by wheel barrow), and then slid a 2x4 across the forms to level it. We ended up with a level base and laid dryer felts on top of that base. By keeping this sprayed for weeds and grass, we had a level, hard, bare landing strip. Having a good place to fly was useless if you couldn't drive out to it, so we hauled a lot of gravel to create a road out to the flying site.
Over time we were able to add tables, enlarge the pit areas, obtain a lawnmower and widen the strip. We had a member who was an excellent artist, Russ Vickers, that painted us a wonderful club sign. Those early members put a lot of work, money and sweat into making the site one of the best in the area.
The landowners were concerned about the amount of traffic the club would generate, so we decided to limit the membership to a number that would keep the traffic to an acceptable level. Over time, the ownership changed and that need was no longer an issue.
Noise became an issue with a few neighbors, but not to the point of shutting us down. We took the offensive and implemented a noise decibel limit and monitored it closely. That helped us be seen in the community as a "good neighbor".
We did have occasional problems with the owner to the south of the field, and never could seem to make much progress with him. If your plane went down south of the fence, you had to endure his wrath if you got caught on his property, depending on what mood he was in when he saw you. In those days this was the only problem we had with the site.
One project we did for over a year was a newsletter. Several of us got together one night every month and actually took articles that had been typed, cut them and pasted them in a newsletter format. We did "cut and paste” before computers existed in the PC form! It took hours. Now you can knock out a newsletter in a few hours if you have articles and clip art. The newsletter was an attempt to bring added interest and life to LARC. It got to be too much work, so it was dropped.
Everything has a beginning and goes through stages. LARC is no exception. It has changed with the times and still meets the needs that local area RC flyers have – social contact and a flying site.