Who Is GAMA?
Georgia Aircraft Modelers Association, Inc. is a chartered club of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (Club #228). They began as a recreational model airplane flying club shortly after WW2. Over the years, GAMA has evolved and grown. Today, they operate a beautiful flying site in an open meadow in Fort Valley, Georgia. Each year, GAMA runs the largest R/C swap meet in the US.
GAMA is open to any members interested in enjoying the hobby of R/C flying with other aircraft enthusiasts, in a natural setting surrounded by breathtaking views and abundant wildlife.
At the beginning of WW2, the Army Air Forces needed a supply depot in the eastern part of the country. Political pressures were brought into play and Wellston Air Depot was established on several square miles of farmland just south of Macon, Georgia. The name Wellston Air Depot was changed to Robins Air Force Base in the late 1940s. As on many military bases, recreational facilities were established for off-duty military and civilian workers. Beginning with U-control flying just after WW2, to the present, Robins AFB has had an established model airplane flying club either on the base or in the nearby town of Warner Robins.
During the Vietnam era, the club was formally organized under the leadership of Major William Benshof, and was known as the Georgia Gnatz. This club met on Sunday afternoons on military property just off the base. The club was primarily into radio-controlled planes at this time. Local activities both on the base and in the town usually had time spots for demonstrations of radio control flying.
In 1972, the name of the club was changed to the current Georgia Aircraft Modelers Association. At this time, one of the yearly activities the club established was an auction of model-related items. This auction was established as a fundraiser and was originally conducted in the Civilian Club on North Davis Drive in Warner Robins. Club membership was about 15 people, and at the first auction some 40 people showed up at our very small meeting room in the club. The first auction was a big success and has continued every year since, and in recent years has become the Southeastern Model Show.
In 1973 the base officials requested that the club curtail flying on the property that was just outside gate 9 west of Highway 247. This area was to be used in the construction of an overpass on the new Russell Parkway highway. The club immediately rented an area to fly from in a field owned by a local lawyer, John Nixon. This field was located near the crossroads known as Bonaire, about 8 miles south of Robins AFB. At this field, the club established a yearly fly-in. This event originated when the club invited the Columbus group to our field to fly and have hamburgers. This fall tradition was continued for several years and ultimately evolved into a yearly event that brought fliers to our field from all over the state. The Bonaire site was shared with a herd of cows, who really enjoyed the nice sweet grass that resulted from the weekly mowing of the flying field. The club flew from this field for several years, and gave up the site upon Mr. Nixon's request. The cows had priority, and as the land was up for sale, Nixon did not want any renters on the land, fearing legal entanglements might hinder potential sales. In the late 1980s, this same land became a beautiful subdivision known as Doublegate.
The club flew temporarily from several sites around the town of Warner Robins. Though fragmented in its flying activities, the club maintained continuity, and each year conducted the annual auction. The yearly fall fly-in was not held for several years. The club finally secured a place on Robins AFB in 1976. The field on Robins AFB though restricted by encroaching pine trees, and military needs, became a very popular and much used flying site. During the period of 1976 to 1991, the club membership grew to about 30 members. The club continued its yearly activities, putting emphasis on the annual auction, and enlarged the advertising for the fall fly-in which became known as the October Fly Fest. In 1990 the club was notified that the area it occupied on Robins AFB was needed as a storage area. The club secured a flying site near the town of Byron, Georgia. This site was rent-free and in very poor condition. Much effort was put into the grading, sowing, and maintenance to make this field useable. The site was less than ideal. Nearby trees, Interstate 75, and other factors caused the club to seek another field.
In 1992, the club made contact with a landowner in nearby Peach county, who owned 161 acres of woodland. Upon inspection of the land, it was immediately obvious that it would be ideal for a flying site. An offer to lease 15 acres was made and accepted. The 15 acres overlooked a beautifully rolling meadow, clear on all sides. The area had previously been farmed, and though overgrown with waist-high weeds, was in excellent condition and only required the club to set up a mowing cycle that would allow the underlying grass to grow. The club built its own outhouse facility in a nearby wooded area and a covered facility for meetings and other activities.In 2000, the club was notified that the landowner was going to sell the property, and did so in early 2001. The new owner allowed us to continue using the property through August 2001, at which time we had to vacate the flying site.
Club members had previously located a new leased flying site, 60 acres on Vinson Road near Fort Valley, Georgia, and began flying at the field immediately upon vacating the old site. Runway conditions were less than ideal for several months when club members agreed to invest in having the runway tilled and seeded, which was completed in March 2002. The landowner charged GAMA with the responsibility of periodically grooming the entire 60 acres; however, he also placed the acreage in a land bank, informing us that there were no plans to sell the property, but rather, it would be kept in the family. This flying site is one of the most beautiful in the southeast. Members enjoy a great vista of open meadow, with a backdrop of pecan trees, populated by all manner of wildlife, foxes, deer, rabbits, quail, and hawks in great abundance. The club is very proud of its heritage, and particularly its flying site. R/C flyers from the local area who want to associate with a group of flyers who enjoy and respect the natural beauty of the land are invited to join.
Click HERE for information on our club officers and monthly meetings.