DVRC History

Parent Category: About DVRC
Created on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 21:57
Last Updated on Sunday, 24 January 2016 17:30
Written by Administrator
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In the mid-1960’s, a small group of radio control flyers flew together at various sites in the Diablo Valley. The group consisted of several veteran flyers who has started as early as the ‘50s together with some new flyers. These flyers had banded together largely as the customers and friends of Howard Smith, an R/C flyer and proprietor of "Howard’s Hobby Shop", originally located in Pleasant Hill and finally in the Sun Valley Shopping Mall. In early 1967, the group (about 18 in number) decided to form a club in order to improve fellowship and to facilitate acquiring a permanent flying site. Other goals were to develop better flight safety discipline among themselves, to provide better exchange of information and equipment among the group, and to try to control the safety behavior at their sites of flyers from outside the group. They adopted the name "Diablo Valley Radio Controllers" (a.k.a. "DVRC"), and shortly there after affiliated with the Academy of Model Aeronautics as Chartered Club No. 123. The first President was Don H. Redford. The club was chartered as a California non-profit corporation in 1972.


After flying from several sites between 1968 and about 1972, the Club got permission to fly on property which had been the motor pool area of Camp Stoneman before that Army base was dismantled 15 or 20 years before. This provided the Club a 600- by 70-foot concrete runway with a 250-foot asphalt extension as well as a separate 300-foot square asphalt mat, all in good condition. This was the Club’s home field named in memory of EARL LINDSEY, a DVRC Member and U.S. Steel employee who obtained the support of the company for DVRC. A 400-foot runway five-station "Pacific Plan" frequency control setup was installed and used Astroturf from Diablo Valley College was laid down in the pits and as a 25,000 square foot landing mat. 


In 1989, the Dow Chemical Company bought the Lindsey Field property and terminated DVRC’s lease. Arrangements were made with Jack Roddy, an Antioch rancher, to use his property in Horse Valley south of Antioch as a flying field, and operations moved there at the end of July 1990. The landing surface is another batch of used Astroturf from the San Francisco 49’ers former practice field augmented by the DVC material. Work benches, pit areas, the five-station "Pacific Plan" setup, safety fences, shelters, and parking facilities were all installed in 1990. In 1993 saw the club move from the Roddy Ranch to the old Antioch Airport for a brief stint. In 1995, the East Bay Regional Park system gave DVRC a small, temporary site in the Contra Loma Park, in Antioch, CA.


Contra Loma was a great place to fly.  The field was surrounded by hills and it was a great place to be in the Spring when the grass started growing and the hills turned green.  Our stay at Contra Loma Park lasted about 6 years.  In  June 2001, we were asked by the Park System to return the site so DVRC established a group led by Chuck Hill to try to save the Contra Loma Site.  Chuck and the team gave it their best effort but the Regional Park District declined to allow us to continue flying at Contra Loma.  It took us three work parties to teardown and pack all of the field equipment including the Astroturf and move it to our new facility.  We successfully returned the field to its natural condition and left Contra Loma for the last time on 10/27/2001.


During the effort to save our Contra Loma field, another effort was started to search for a new facility.  DVRC Member Orin Allen worked closely with the City of Pittsburg, CA and heard of an area that used to be part of old Camp Stoneman near the Delta View Golf Course.  The City of Pittsburg was given the property by the Department of Defense with the condition that it be used for public recreation.  Orin spent considerable time working with the City of Pittsburg to obtain the site for DVRC.  His efforts were rewarded and in December 2001, DVRC was offered a lease on the 241 acre property in Pittsburg.


This property was a WWII era shooting range and part of old Camp Stoneman and as such needed considerable cleanup and maintenance. The property also has a 1700 Sq. Ft. Clubhouse, a great place for a runway (old rifle range) and plenty of parking.  There is also an area to the east across a berm that is a great place for camping.  All of the club members pitched in to cleanup the Clubhouse, install windows and grade and pave a 500' runway. 


On November 16, 2002, the new field was dedicated and named the Thomas C. Allen Memorial Airpark in honor of Orin Allen's father.  Orin's father Thomas was one of the first certified A&E African American mechanics and J. Herman Banning was one of the first African Americans to gain a pilot's license.  In October 1932, this FIRST TRANS-CONTINENTAL FLIGHT by Banning and Allen in their Alexander Eaglerock was a major historical event.  This historical flight inaugurated a series of other flights by black aviators.


After a year or so, the Club built a covered structure on the flight line and installed work tables and an impound shack.  New starting tables were built and all was complete on the flight line.  Once that flight line project was complete, the Club focused on improving the remainder of the facilities.  The next project installed a water supply tank, build a couple of bathrooms and installed a septic tank and leach field.


Finally, after many years of work, DVRC has build a world class facility.  Many people contributed to this effort but Greg Gallegos, Dennis Earp, Jack Schonberger, Phil Young, Mike Casaglio and many others deserve special recognition for their tireless work.

We also have numerous hills on the club land that afford us a great place to slope soar as well. How many other clubs can you name that have all of this?


Many early Club Members were pattern (aerobatics) competitors, although most of them also flew sport and scale aircraft. The early interest in pattern competition still is reflected in the Club today in the usually high percentage of the membership who are Mode I (or throttle-on-the-right) flyers. This has resulted from the popularity among pattern flyers at that time of the theory that Mode I was more precise than Mode II for aerobatics; and since most of the Club’s flight instructors until recently have been Mode I flyers, a somewhat "inbred" condition has resulted in about 75 to 80 percent of the Members flying Mode I. (Most other clubs have about ten percent). The Club today still has some pattern flyers, but interest now runs more along the lines of sport flying and of larger airplanes. There has also been a growing interest in scale aircraft for the last five years or so, and DVRC includes (as a subsidiary organization) International Miniature Aircraft Association’s Chapter 24 devoted entirely to Giant Scale models. There is also a close association with International Model Aerobatic Club, since DVRC Member GLENN CARTER has long been Vice President of that organization.


DVRC is one of the older clubs on the West Coast and over the years has become one of the largest and most respected clubs as well. We are noted for running well-executed meets and fly-ins and for maintaining an excellent flying facility. Our members are always welcome at other clubs’ meets because of unfailing good manners and helpfulness. We are looked up to for excellent structure and administration of the Club, for quick and thorough integration of new Members, and for our overall friendliness to outsiders and for the Club’s lack of cliques and internal divisiveness.


Traditional events for the Club are: the annual Christmas Party, which features awards and festive potluck dinner; Coffee and Donuts Event, Erv Rodemsky's Stud Fly Event, 7-11 Event, Devil Mountain electric Fun Fly and our Annual Newbie Day Open House.


Past Presidents of the Club are:

  • DON REDFORD (’69)
  • NEIL VAN DER WENTE (’70, ’71)
  • JOE WOLFSLAU (’72)
  • BILL DOUGHTY (’73)
  • GENE KESSLER (’74)
  • BILL EICH (’75)
  • RAY MENKE (’77)
  • EL HARTBAUER (finished ’77, ’78)
  • BOB SEXTON (’79)
  • WALT FARRELL (’80, ’81, ’82, ’83)
  • JIM SIMON (’84)
  • TOM SOFIELD (’85, ’86, ’87)
  • TOM SOFIELD (’89, ’90)
  • KEN MOUNTAIN (’91)

MILT DE GROODT (’92, ’93)

  • JOHN DUNN (’94, ’95, 96’, ‘97)
  • PAUL MACKER (’98)
  • GARY CLOUGH ('00)
  • CHUCK HILL ('01)
  • GREG GALLEGOS ('02, '03, '05, '06)
  • TED EDGINTON ('04)
  • BARRY WHIFFIN ('07, '08)
  • MIKE ENOS ('09)
  • NORM SHOMBER (’10)
  • MEL NASH ('12)('13)
  • RON PENN ('14)
  • KEN BIELER ('15)