Model plane association looks to spread wings further after 100 years

Paul Hoey, Joseph Kemp, Phil Gutteridge, Keiron Gray, Graham Nash, Mark Pearce, Mike Woodhouse and John Rounce

South Norfolk BFMA members Paul Hoey, Joseph Kemp, Phil Gutteridge, Keiron Gray, Graham Nash, Mark Pearce, Mike Woodhouse and John Rounce at the Forum on Saturday, April 30 - Credit: Lauren De Boise

It is the sort of hobby which is traditionally associated with a distinct demographic... men of certain age.

But as the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) celebrates its centenary this year it is ramping up efforts to bring in more younger and female members.

The organisation held a special promotional event at Norwich's Forum over the weekend, to mark its 100th anniversary and to encourage new people to take up the hobby.

Paul Hoey, 67, a life-long model plane fanatic and member of the BMFA's South Norfolk Flying Club branch, said: "We would like to welcome more women. There's something for everyone."

Paul Hoey celebrating 100 years of the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) at the Forum, Norwich

Paul Hoey celebrating 100 years of the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) at the Forum, Norwich - Credit: Lauren De Bois

The association has 30,000 members nationally across 750 clubs, with around 75 members registered in to the South Norfolk branch.

Several members of the Norfolk club - based in Wymondham for more than 40 years - were involved in the event, and took their aircraft to the skies for a series of displays. 

Mr Hoey had brought several models along, including modern makes of 1950s planes, including one called a Tomboy.

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"When they fly, they have a 15-second engine run before gliding," he said. "On a good day, the target would be to fly for three minutes and it could fly itself for about half a mile.

"A lot of these planes are free-flying and have no radio and fly in circles."

The exhibition also boasted model plane flying simulators for the public to enjoy, as well as a live demonstration inside the Forum from BMFA member Mike Woodhouse, with a plane so small and intricate it can fit in the pam of your hand.

Krzysztof Jozwa, 11, and BMFA South Norfolk member Mark Pearce on the model flying simulator at the Forum in Norwich

Krzysztof Jozwa, 11, and BMFA South Norfolk member Mark Pearce on the model flying simulator at the Forum in Norwich - Credit: Lauren De Boise

The display featured more than 25 models from six enthusiasts, with planes ranging in size - and price.

A dinky 'peanut' model made of balsa wood and tissue paper can cost in the range of £10 to £50, and others, such as member Joe Kemp's 100-inch wingspan model can set you back the best part of £3,000.

BMFA South Norfolk member Mike Woodhouse with one of his model planes at the Forum, Norwich

BMFA South Norfolk member Mike Woodhouse with one of his model planes at the Forum, Norwich - Credit: Lauren De Boise

Paul joked: "It isn't all about the money, there's something for everyone on all budgets. But you've got to be prepared to lose it or for it to break!"

Model planes at the Forum in Norwich as part of the South Norfolk branch of the BMFA's centenary celebrations

Model planes at the Forum in Norwich as part of the South Norfolk branch of the BMFA's centenary celebrations - Credit: Lauren De Boise

The club is taking part in a Guinness World Record attempt on May 15 at Wymondham flying field alongside other branches in a bid to have the most models in the air at any given time.