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About Us

The Santa Fe Dam Radio Control Modelers club of Southern California serves the interest of model airplane and helicopter enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. We welcome interested persons, beginners and experienced flyers.

We have a spacious uncroweded flying field in the San Gabriel valley. It features a long paved runway and paved pit area and an unmatched view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Events we have include:

  • Monthly meetings with raffle and refreshments
  • Float Flys at beautiful Santa Fe Dam Recreation Center
  • Fly Ins
  • Barbeques
  • Swap meets
  • Public Events such as National Model Aviation Day, and EAA 96 Model Expo and Fly In.
  • Educational outreach to school and scouting.

Our interests are mainly social rather than competitive. We have members from all walks of life, with families often involved.

We donate and support City of Hope and the American Red Cross.

We have held community open houses, with free trainer flights and demonstrations to introduce the public to the fun and educational value of model aviation.

We are a chartered club of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the sanctioning body of US model aviation.

Based on our activities and service we are AMA Gold Leader Club status.


The club was founded in 1976 after a conversation at the Continental Hobbies hobby shop located in Sierra Madre. Dr. Arthur 'Art' Major and Doug Conway were co-owners of the store and early RC helicopter enthusiasts (they were expert at building and flying Kavan Jet Rangers). Earle Levine had just moved into the area and was a trainer for the State and wanted to conduct classes in building and flying model aircraft.

The first meeting was in the Sierra Madre recreation center in a small conference room. About 5 people attended. The name Sierra Madre RC modelers was chosen, mainly to get the benefits of use of the rec center, and to tie in with RC Modeler magazine, the leading RC publication, that was also located in Sierra Madre.

The club continued to meet at the Sierra Madre rec center for about 15 years, until the city council decided we weren't paying enough rent. Meetings were held in several locations until we approached the Arcadia Red Cross. We have rented their meeting room for a number of years and give regular donations to support them.

Since the club no longer had ties to Sierra Madre and were flying in land controlled by the Santa Fe Dam Recreation area, it was voted to change the club name to Santa Fe Dam Radio Control Modelers.

Flying Sites

The earliest flying site was on Clark Street in Arcadia, east of Peck Road. Literally on Clark Street! There were few building in the area but the street was paved so we would pit on a short cross street. The curb was the biggest hazard. Later, an agreement was reached with Owl Rock company nearby at Duarte Road and Peck Road, to use their former landfill area for flying. It was pretty much dusty dirt that got rather fragrant on hot days. For a runway we used a long, wide industrial conveyor belt stretched out that actually worked pretty well. Mr. Jim (JP) Petersen then donated a large number of urethane clad steel plates that we arranged for runway and pit areas. (Remnants reamain at our current site.) Ever on the lookout for better flying sites, we test flew in an low canyon area near Chantry Flats (scary and disorienting), and the site of the old "605 Speedway" east of the 605 freeway (again disorienting).  

Current Field 

Many had noticed the two diverging "runways" down in the southwest corner of the 605/210 intersection but did not know what it was or who owned it. Rumor was that it was old Ford Motor Company crash test site. Bob and Katie Martin were tenacious in their investigation and negotiations with LA County Parks, US Army Corp of Engineers, LA county superintendents to finally got approvals for our current site. The planted the (now large) pepper tree that gives us shade.

The pit was dirt, and we believed paving was not an option so for many years, dumpsters were scavenged for used carpet for the pits. They did keep the dust down and cushion the knees. Strong winds would scatter them, and they would deteriorate but functioned for many years. It was finally agreed with the authorities that paving the pit area would not impact the function of the flood control or settling basin. An assessment and donations were made. A haul away day for the carpet was set, followed by the paving. Later paving projects expanded the pit area and taxiway to the runway, and a strip for pilot stations, and two helicopter pads. Large cable reels were used for many years as work tables until they were no longer usable. Steel starting tables were fabricated. One concrete picnic table was destroyed by vandalism but one remains. A barbecue and other picnic tables were donated by the county. The club pays for outhouse rental. Course gravel was obtained from Santa Anita Race Track when they reconstructed their track, hauled in and used to cover the west entrance and margin of the concrete apron greatly facilitating access and drainage after rains. The club installed access gates at the entrance to the paved road over the dam, and vandalism was greatly reduced. In 2014 the club re-surfaced and striped the runway, hoping to preserve it for a good number of years. In the meantime the club has saved a significant field fund for future repairs. 


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