In a 1960 "Model News" Monty Tyrrell wrote that in Melbourne "the first experimental models were built back in 1946."
George Levine, Allan Lim Joon, Ted Gregory and Keith Hearn were amongst the first to get started. Keith Hearn, in partnership with his brothers Jack and Bruce, went on to establish the biggest hobby dealers in the country... Hearns Hobbies.
1. Photographed by John Wynne in 1947, at right is Keith Hearn's big model powered by a Forster 49.
By 1947 the Eastern Suburbs Model Aeroplane Club had grown up at Surrey Park. Each Sunday morning the sceptics and free flight types like Monty freely criticised the "spin dizzies" and thought the fad would only be an obscure one with a minority following. Models just flew round and round until Ted Gregory showed a model could be looped and flown inverted.
2. Ted Gregory and his model with Tony Farnan looking on. By mid 1948 Gregory was doing the complete stunt book, and at the first post war Nats in 1948 he won the stunt event, setting the pattern for Victoria to dominate Australian stunt for a very long time.
By 1949 control line flying was firmly established with Lim Joon bettering 120 mph consistently in speed, and a line up of stunt pilots acknowledged as the best in Australia regularly giving demonstration exhibitions at suburban and country carnivals.
3. Allan Lim Joon showing his speed model to young admirers. Allan flew lots of free-flight as well as control line.
For many years after 1950 aeromodelling National Championships were conducted during the December/January holidays each year.
4. 1950 Nationals junior stunt champion, Johnny Lamont, with his Frog 500 powered Super Skylark designed by Jack Hearn. The Skylark embodied features that later became well known in Hearns kitted models such as the Demons and Hellcats.
1950 was the year when team speed was first run at an Australian Nats. Apparently the planes had all had the sword half way through, but the race was finished with relay runners from each State carrying the wreckage of their particular entry in the final.
5. Nationals open stunt champion in 1950 and again in 1951 was Monty Tyrrell, who had by then overcome his reservations about "spin dizzies".
As the 1950's unfolded, control line modelling continued to progress.
6. This early 1950's photo shows the Hearn's Hobbies shop in Banana Alley, Melbourne. The shop somewhat resembled a cave, for it was one of a row of premises built underneath the Flinders Street railway lines. The Hearn brothers pictured here are Bruce on the left, Keith at centre rear, with Jack on the far right. Although never famous in competition circles, the Hearn brothers were accomplished modellers who had successes and a record in other fields. Hearns produced a fine range of kits which included numerous control line models that helped many new enthusiasts get started.
By the mid 1950's improved model designs, more plentiful hardware, a growing number of profitable hobby shops and a growing number of clubs characterised a boom in aeromodelling that is looked back upon today as the golden era of control line in Australia.
7. A keen crowd of spectators would reliably gather at demonstrations of control line flying given during the nineteen fifties. Pictured here is Tony Farnan in 1957, about to give a demonstration flight with his new Ramrod, a plane designed by Victorian stunt champion Ian Hooper, and kitted by Montgomery Models.
Earlier, control line flyers had staged some very successful flying circuses which members of the public gladly paid to attend. Monty Tyrrell remembered "The first was held in the St.Kilda Cricket Ground in July 1949 and it was a howling success literally and figuratively. The team stuck to a set printed programme utilising large planes with motors of the 10 cc type in the main circle with general flying supplementing them in three other circles. 8000 people paid to go through the turnstiles and after expenses and a donation to charity the VMAA cleared £156."