Welcome to the Malta Model Aircraft Flying Association
The Association traces its roots back to 1949 also evolving in part from the Lascaris Air Scout Movement within whose ranks the Association’s founding fathers nurtured their “aviation and hobby calling”.
The hobby in Malta sprang into life immediately post WW2. It was still in its infancy and small sporadic groups of Maltese young and very keen pioneers of aero modelling taught themselves how to build and fly small “free flight” rubber powered models built from balsa wood framework and covered in delicate doped paper tissue. It was all very much about “trial and error” in those days. Experience was limited. The only information available at the time was “word of mouth” shared experiences. Limited overseas journals slowly became available including the “Aeromodeler” magazine which until recently was still in print!
Their “airfields” were military parade grounds, sports grounds or any “open spaces” afforded to them (of which there were many at the time).
Very soon the first tiny petrol and diesel model engines (1 to 1.5 cc) became available and began to substitute the rudimentary rubber powered free flight models.
The first “club” the SMAC (Sliema Model Aero Club) was officially founded in 1952.
A chance encounter with an RAF Squadron Leader who was based in Malta and himself a keen aero modeller, opened the doors to the Maltese “model aviators” to Ta’ Qali Airfield, and they were “allowed to share” the runway with their RAF counterparts and full size military hardware in what was still at the time very much a fully active fighter airfield! Unthinkable in today’s regulated aviation environment! Such was the passion for the hobby and the strong links and camaraderie with the RAF at the time that made the impossible, possible.
The early 1950’s also heralded the radio control revolution with model planes now enjoying a very basic form of directional guidance with single channel rudder only. One could describe it as “guided free flight” when the radio worked, and “free flight” when it didn't.
During that period a separate group of equally creative and active modellers were very involved with Control-Line models regularly flying at the R.A. Military Parade ground at Mriehel (now the factory site for Consolidated Biscuits Factory next to Farsons).
Members of the two groups met and joined forces sharing a common passion which turned into many life-long personal friendships. The rest as they say is history!
In later years up to 1979, as the club transformed itself into a national association, many Malta based RAF pilots also became regular members at Ta’ Qali. They enjoyed flying their models on weekends taking time off from their flying “office”. They all confessed that flying the real thing was so much easier!
From that small number of keen modellers, the Association has in these 60 plus years, grown from strength to strength and member numbers have swelled into the hundreds. The space age technology leap in motors, airframe construction methods, construction materials, and radio control technology that defines the hobby today was unimaginable in those early days. Radio controlled model aircraft development has kept up and benefited from the advances made in cutting edge technology. Model aircraft have become very sophisticated machines which utilize the latest technologies and encompass diversified crafts which include woodwork, metalwork, epoxy glass composites, electronics. Computer aided design and manufacturing techniques have become the norm. Model aircraft are nowadays very reliably controlled by sophisticated radio equipment offering redundant flight control systems offering significantly greater levels of safety. Models are nowadays powered by either hi-tech electric motors, or traditional internal combustion engines and even second generation miniature gas turbines which realistically power jet aircraft.
Many of these models are constructed from commercially made kits of various levels of prefabrication ranging from a kit of parts to truly turnkey models (including smaller lightweight PNF park flyers) which only require fitting of batteries to be ready to fly. The traditional “art” of being able to construct one’s flying model aircraft from scratch even to their own plans , is thankfully still alive and well, with modellers spending hundreds of hours crafting models from materials ranging from balsawood, plywood, and fibreglass. Our Association is very proud to have a number of these master craftsmen within its fold.
The hobby has also diversified into different categories of aircraft such as Scale Replicas of all eras; Sports and aerobatic models; Gliders; Turbine powered Jet models; Helicopters, including the latest multi rotor quad copters. The beauty of it all is that a new entrant does not need a significant investment to start off as prices relative to the technology have become cheaper. A trainer type model is, following full size practice, the first type on which to learn to fly, along with the assistance of an instructor.
The association can proudly claim to be the FIRST EVER CIVIL SPORTING ASSOCIATION OF ANY KIND EVER ESTABLISHED AT TA’ QALI EVEN BEFORE THE AIR BASE CLOSED DOWN AND HAS OPERATED INCESSANTLY FROM THERE EVER SINCE.
Practically all the founder members are sadly no longer with us. However their seed had already laid down strong roots and scores of modellers have carried on the tradition over all these years and made significant contributions in one way or another to the Association. Quite a number inherited the “art” from their fathers, and many second and third generation members have since gone on to successful careers in Aviation never losing the love for their hobby.
Members of the Association come from all walks of life, diverse occupations, trades or professions, and nationalities too, but all bound together by their common PASSION for flight and all things mechanical.
The Malta Model Aircraft Flying Association has carved its own unique niche in being the launch pad for many Maltese pilots both commercial and military, aviation engineers, technicians, and other aviation specialists who decided to further their studies and take up a successful career in aviation institutions such as Armed Forces of Malta, Air Malta, Royal Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force, Lufthansa Technik , SR Technics, Medavia, Aeromaritime, Malta Aviation Museum, and Civil Flying clubs.
The seeds were planted at our flying site in Ta’ Qali.
This is the lasting legacy of the founding fathers to educate the young and pass on their knowledge to future generations. Their vision is still found in the original aims of the Association enshrined in the Statute to this day:
“ To foster friendship and understanding between model aircraft enthusiasts, young and old alike and also to promote a general interest in aviation especially the acquisition of a more intimate knowledge of the physics of flight, model aircraft engines, electronics and the operation of radio control equipment”.
This is the Association’s enduring vision for the future
The Association’s flying site occupies the last part of the northern end of a historical (now disused) Ta' Qali runway within the National Park. This very famous airfield was once home to the famous RAF 126 and 249 Hurricane and Spitfire Fighter Squadrons throughout World War II and then, right up to the sixties with the advent of the first Meteor and Vampire jets, including detachments from the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) who made Ta’ Qali their home for two years. Our MMAFA site facilities include our club house, car parking, model preparation pits, taxiways and the runway. In 2016 a modern all weather shelter sheltering the greater part of the pits area, measuring approx. 40m x 6m was completed. Co-funded thanks to an EU sports capital projects scheme launched by Sport Malta and members donations.
This last stretch of runway in use by the MMAFA is about 180 mt long and 90 mt wide and is oriented in a NW/SE direction which is the mostly prevailing wind direction on the island. It is reserved for the exclusive use of the Association under a formal long term lease from Government. The Association is a registered NGO and affiliated within Sports Malta under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education. The Association also maintains close ties and excellent relations with the Civil Aviation Directorate Malta.