Australian Aeromodelling is represented nationally and globally by the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA) but behind the scenes there is a dedicated group of hardworking volunteers who also represent the interests of state level aeromodelling in a number of affiliated state associations.
Model Aerosport SA Inc (MASA) representing 28 aeromodelling clubs in South Australia is one of those associations.
The MASA charter is to promote, coordinate and encourage aeromodelling in South Australia and this is done by the annually elected executive.
As with all the state executives they are an enthusiastic and dedicated group of local aeromodellers whose passion for the sport prompts them to give up their free time to further the interests of aeromodelling in South Australia.
MASA Secretary: Paul Kumela
Paul Kumela is one such dedicated individual; passionate about aeromodelling and recently retired after 39 years with SA Ambulance Service, Paul brings his extensive technical and management skills to the role of Secretary of MASA.
"Serving the modelling community in SA is an opportunity for me to put something back into aeromodelling at both club and MASA level for this truly absorbing sport."
When Paul immigrated to Australia from the UK in 1973 he was already a qualified pilot with a six year career in aviation behind him. Although now working in electronics he was still keen on flying so he converted his UK Private Pilot's licence to an Australian licence. But soon family considerations came first and flying was relegated for a few years.
A chance remark to his wife about a desire to resurrect an old interest in aeromodelling led to her buying him his first Australian model aircraft, an Aeroflight Gemini Mk1 which he built and learnt to fly on.
That was the start of his involvement with Australian aeromodelling and Paul has now been a member of the MAAA for over 30 years, has built and flown over 30 model aircraft, and is the current proud owner of 'about' six aircraft including a scale PZL Wilga 35 a Polish designed short take-off and landing utility aircraft.
"I love to fly because it's a skill and a challenge that I need to practice on a regular basis."
For Paul aviation runs in the family and his choice of model aircraft is no coincidence. His father was a World War 2 fighter pilot who flew in the Polish Airforce in 1939 and later in 1940 as part of the contingent of Polish pilots who joined and flew throughout the war in the RAF.
Now a grandfather of three, Paul remains passionate about this golden age of aviation and he loves to build and fly scale aircraft especially planes from that era.
"That WW2 era of aircraft development was the pinnacle of aviation before jets came along."
But Paul's passion for the sport extends beyond just building and flying aircraft.
"There's a lot of camaraderie, I've made lifelong friends ... it's a great leveller. We all come from different backgrounds and the sport unites us."
It's that love of the camaraderie as well as flying that has led him to donate many hours of his time as Secretary of MASA, joining the rest of the Executive to ensure MASA can meet the terms of its charter legally and professionally at all times.
"It's not all me. MASA is a team effort of talent and energy of modellers working for modellers".
What does MASA do?
"Basically we look after all the administration on behalf of 28 member clubs around a 1000 members throughout South Australia."
As Secretary Paul is responsible for a number of tasks including:
Collation and distribution of monthly MASA Committee meetings documentation
Record keeping and administration
Communicating with member clubs
Processing of member Wing endorsements, Heavy Model Inspector endorsements, Turbine endorsements, Public Display applications, Country Fire Service Fire Ban permits, CASA Area approvals
Liaising with MAAA, CASA, Government Departments and other external agencies in the promotion of aeromodelling
Providing MASA representation at modelling events and club visitations
Whether it's in his job title or not Paul also deals with a wide range of membership queries and issues, and simply knowing where to direct a query is invaluable knowledge for the association.
As well as administering the day-to-day business of the association and dealing with ad hoc queries there are a few key services that specific services the MASA executive perform for club members including:
Members who want to complete their Bronze, Silver or Gold wings qualification need to be assessed and the relevant paperwork submitted, signed off and membership status updated in the MAAA database.
Documentation needs to be organised and instructors and pilots coordinated as well as results processed, which takes a lot of time and effort. There can be 20 or more applications each year
Heavy Model Inspections: Secretary
Aircraft weighing more than 7 kilograms are subjected to an inspection process and test flown to confirm their airworthiness before members can fly them at their club. MASA has registered inspectors and organise this on behalf of the members of each of the affiliated clubs.
Again this requires the coordination of pilots and inspectors as well as the administration of the relevant paperwork.
Public Display Applications: Secretary
Each time a club wants to put on a public display an application complete with a risk assessment has to be submitted to MASA in line with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requirements.
The introduction of CASA area approvals means once a recognised model flying field is registered with CASA and lasts for 5 years, public displays can be approved at MASA level.
Promoting Aeromodelling: All Executives
A central tenet of MASA's charter is the promotion of aeromodelling in SA and it's a responsibility all members of the executive take seriously. A great example of this was when one of the clubs wanted to hold an air show in conjunction with the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS).
More than three months of effort by MASA, the host club and RFDS to facilitate and coordinate this event resulted in a great weekend of flying that show cased the best of the best of SA aeromodelling and pilots to both members and the public alike; and also helped raise $11,000 for the RFDS.
Who's who at MASA
0439 517 539
-Liaise on behalf of MASA with MAAA/CASA/Other aviation bodies and state associations. Also current President of the MAAA
0417 898 493
-Support the President / deputise as required
0490 371 869
-Information on monthly meetings/ other club or member administration queries
0417 814 373
-Website and database issues
0499 018 288
-Articles and submissions for the newsletter
Senior Flying Instructor
0409 099 418
-information specifics/availability for instruction and assessment