Tour the IAC—in 1997!

Tour the IAC—in 1997!

Tour the IAC—in 1997! 

By Steve Kaluf

As seen in the August 1997 issue of Model Aviation.

My department at AMA HQ (Competitions) is, among other things, designated to help organizations that run events at your International Aeromodeling Center with the administration of those events. We try to assure that they have all of the equipment needed (we make it available, if they do not) and assure that the Contest Director is properly briefed on the site rules and any special circumstances that may be in place for any given day or event. We also are in part (1/3, actually) responsible to authorize events to held on this site.

Because of this involvement we receive many questions from the membership about the center:

What does the flying site look like? What has been done to the site since I was last there? What do the offices look like? Is camping allowed?

In an effort to answer some of these questions I’d like to offer this short pictorial tour of the International Aeromodeling Center. These pictures were shot in March and April, so the grass is not as green as I would have liked, but hopefully you will see just how wonderful this facility really is.

The “site” is located at the southeast corner of Muncie, Indiana. Muncie is about an hour’s drive from Indianapolis and a little farther than that from Dayton, Ohio. Muncie is a city of more than 70,000 persons and is also home to Ball State University. Motel rooms are plentiful, but can be in short supply during large events. The flying site itself covers a little more than 1,000 acres of flat Indiana farmland.

 The main entrance and pond. Photo 1: The main entrance and pond.

The International Aeromodeling Center is comprised of The Frank V. Ehling Complex (AMA HQ offices and the National Model Aviation Museum); The Lee Renaud Memorial Library; and the flying site itself.

The Frank V Ehling Complex building (Photo 2) currently houses all AMA offices and the National Model Aviation Museum. This 25,000-square-foot building will eventually become all museum as the offices move into a new facility. No definite plans have been made as to when this will happen, but when it does the museum will expand and be able to display all of the wonderful models that are currently carefully stored.

 Frank V. Ehling Complex building.

Photo 2: Frank V. Ehling Complex building.

Our first tour stop is the lobby of the complex. This contains the museum store and reception area (Photos 3 and 4).

 Building entrance and store.

Photos 3: Building entrance.

 Building entrance and store.

Photos 4: Store.

The front one-third of the building is dedicated to the Museum. It is amazing what the creative minds of Mike Fulmer and others have done with a relatively small amount of space. Once the museum expands to fill the entire building, it will probably be divided into different spans of years: 1950 and prior, 1960-1970, and so on. The museum is already a facility that all AMA members should be very proud of.

Photo 5 shows the entrance to the museum. Displays are built into every available inch of space, into the walls, free standing, and suspended from the ceiling.

 Museum entrance.

Photo 5: Museum entrance.

The “in the wall” displays (Photo 6) are theme-based and house some of the “neatest” displays in the museum. Most are dedicated to a particular manufacturer. Each is filled with one-of-a-kind models and memorabilia.

 Wall displays.

Photo 6: Wall displays.

The museum ceiling is covered with all types of models from many different eras.

The 1:1 scale replica of a 1950s hobby shop (Photos 7, 8, and 9) is my favorite display. This shop is stocked with hundreds of kits (most of which have all of the original parts still in the box). The display cases are full of accessories, fuel tanks, glow & spark plugs, wheels, and much more. The only problem with this hobby shop is that you are not allowed to purchase anything from it!

 1950s hobby shop replica.

Photo 7: 1950s hobby shop replica.

 Middletown Models is certainly well-stocked—but nothing is for sale!

Photos 8 and 9: Middletown Models is certainly well-stocked—but nothing is for sale!

 Middletown Models is certainly well-stocked—but nothing is for sale!

The back half of the museum houses some of the larger models. The Wright Flyer and a magnificent Spirit of St. Louis (built by the late Ed Izzo) are on display (Photos 10, 11, and 12).

 Ed Izzo’s Ryan NYP.

Photo 10: Ed Izzo’s Ryan NYP.

 The Wright Flyer and other Scale models.

Photo 11: The Wright Flyer and other Scale models.

 Other Scale models rest atop a display case that holds smaller models.

Photo 12: Other Scale models rest atop a display case that holds smaller models.

The museum also sports a small theater which continuously runs videos on the history of AMA and aeromodeling.

Two large cases house part of what has to be one of the largest engine collections in the United States. They also house some early radio control systems (Photo 13).

 Engine collections and early radios.

Photo 13: Engine collections and early radios.

The Lee Renaud Memorial Library (Photos 14 and 15) is one of the most complete reference libraries you will find dedicated to aeromodeling. Volumes of books and magazines dating from the early 1900s to present day can be found in the library.

 Magazines stored in the Lee Renaud Library.

Photo 14: Magazines stored in the Lee Renaud Library.

 Hardback books in the library.

Photo 15: Hardback books in the library.

The rear two-thirds of the building houses AMA HQ offices. The office space is separated by temporary walls. Most of these will be removed when the museum takes over this space and a new office building is built. Photo 16 shows the Membership department—probably the one department that most members have spoken to at one time or another. The open space is typical of all other departments at AMA HQ. It ain’t pretty, but it works!

 Membership department.

Photo 16: Membership department.

Other vital departments (not pictured) included Competitions, Model Aviation, Special Services, Marketing/Resource Development/Flying Site Assistance, Computer Services, Accounting, Operations, and Human Resources. In all, about 47 staff people are employed full-time by AMA.

On to the flying site itself!

The flying site is accessed through an electronic gate. This gate automatically opens a little prior to normal flying hours and closes after dark. The main access road is about a mile-and-a-half long. Photo 17 looks roughly East along the access road. All of the property you see in the picture is AMA property.

 View along access road to site.

Photo 17: View along access road to site.

Photo 18 looks southwest from the edge of AMA property. The open field (southern 1/3 of the property) is a favorite site for Free Flight contests and test flying. It offers the most open area and gives the best drift over the rest of the property. At the center of the picture you can just see the main RC runway. The general-purpose area (L-pad) is clearly visible.

 View from northeast edge of property.

Photo 18: View from northeast edge of property.

Photo 19 looks north toward the new RC Soaring and Control Line grass area. Work on this area was completed in the fall of 1996. New grass is growing and the area is expected to be used for the 1997 Nationals. The area is 600 x 600 feet of graded, smooth grass, large enough for nine Control Line circles or the launch are for the Soaring Nationals.

 View toward northwest. HQ building at top.

Photo 19: View toward northwest. HQ building at top.

Photo 20 shows the asphalt Control Line Speed and Racing area. This pad has two circles on it. Each is marked properly for Speed and Racing events. Speed pylon bases are permanently installed at the center of each circle.

 CL Speed/Racing area.

Photo 20: CL Speed/Racing area.

Photo 21 shows the pavilion at the general-purpose facility. This was the first flying surface installed at the site. It has been used to fly RC and Control Line. It is marked for four Control Line circles in an L configuration, and is used for the Nationals for Control Line Aerobatics. This is a truly versatile surface.

 General-purpose facility.

Photo 21: General-purpose facility.

Looking north toward the main RC runways (Photo 22), staff has dubbed this area “Stage Center.” All large RC events are flown from this complex. Two 700-foot runways in an X configuration provide members with an “into the wind” situation most of the time. Each runway has a 200-foot grass overrun area on each end. A formal asphalt pit area and gravel parking lot is south of the runways.

 Stage Center—the main RC area.

Photo 22: Stage Center—the main RC area.

The simple house in Photo 23 is on the east side of the property. In the spring of 1996 it was renovated and turned into an event HQ. An area was configured as a hobby shop (primarily for the Nationals); office space, computer networks, and lots of AC outlets were installed. The house serves as Nationals HQ during the duration of the Nats. Scoring for Pattern is handled from this location as well as all onsite registration (sure works better than the hotel lobbies used at past Nats).

 House on property converted to Nats HQ.

Photo 23: House on property converted to Nats HQ.

There you have it! I hope the “tour” has been informative for you. The site is always changing; it keeps getting better and better.

It is very important that all AMA members remember: This is your site. Your comments are solicited and appreciated. Changes take time and money, and an excess of either does not exist. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to forward it.



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