This 1960s home movie captures a Radio Controlled Model Airplane show at a designated airfield in Zilker Park. Prior to the 1950s, model airplanes were either released as free flight or piloted via control lines. Zilker Park provided two airfields: the Archie D. Alley Memorial Flying Field for control-line flying, and another for radio-controlled airplanes. Pilot Lew Kennison, who also owned Ken's Hobby Shop on Congress Avenue, flies a Kaos Model Airplane. Today, Austin Parks and Recreation still hosts two aeromodeler clubs, including the Hill Country Aeromodelers at Mary Moore Searight Park and the Austin Radio Control Association at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.
Austin has hosted model airplane clubs and activities since before 1948. The first model airport documented was in Zilker Park, 1948. By the early 1960s, Zilker Park supported two model flying fields. The Archie D. Alley Memorial Model Flying Field was for Control Line flying. Alley was a WWII B24 gunner and local resident of Austin. Zilker Park supported a second flying field for Radio Control Models, located on the north side of Barton Springs Rd.. The Austin Aeromodelers Club operated from these fields. Over time, a second model aviation club formed called the Hill Country RC Club. The two clubs merged in 1987 and moved to private lands as the public use demands at Zilker increased. The newly formed Hill Country Aeromodelers Club (HCAM) officially began operations at a small field on South Manchaca Road in Austin. In 1993, the Austin Parks Board granted the club 32 acres of undeveloped land at Mary Moore Searight Park in order to build a new miniature airport for Radio Controlled Model Plane activities, shows, and competitions.
The primary overseer of HCAM's new field was club member Jim Vier, who provided the majority of the building equipment and machinery. Architect and club member Joe Del Gato also played a major role in designing the field's layout. Landscapers planted multiple native trees and plants throughout the park, paved runways and taxi ways, and created numerous pilot stations. The American Academy of Model Aeronautics monitored and insured the blueprints. HCAM created the airfield at no cost to the city and continues to pay the annual taxes on the land and provide annual insurance policies for the City. Hill Country Aeromodelers Club greatly values its good relations with the City and long history as a featured miniature airport within Austin Parks.
HCAM's membership ranges from 95 to 160 persons of all ages and occupations. The club hosts annual air shows, flying competitions, fly-ins, charity auctions, and other community-friendly activities. Most years HCAM is able to raise several thousand dollars for charities in need throughout Central Texas. Members of the club also host flying demonstrations and lectures for schools and have supported University of Texas at Austin aeronautical engineering classes. HCAM promotes safe flying, free training, and recreational fun for all ages and cross sections of our community.