History of the Culpeper Model Barnstormers and the Culpeper County, Virginia Lenn Park and associated Lenn Model Airpark

The history of Radio Control (R/C) model aviation flying sites in the Northern Virginia area has been one of relative turmoil with sites being lost to commercial development. The high cost of land in the Washington D.C. metro area has made finding, obtaining, and maintaining model aviation flying sights a difficult challenge for all Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) sanctioned clubs in the area.

Near Culpeper, Virginia, the three Lenn brothers had farmed their land for many years. In addition to several large tracts of farm land, they owned and farmed a 85 acre piece of land on which part of the battle of Brandy Station took place during the Civil War (The battle of Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle of the war and the opening engagement of the Gettysburg Campaign.). This tract of land was known locally as "Lenn's Bottom". The Lenn brothers decided to donate that piece of land to Culpeper County to use as a park. Culpeper County and its Parks and Recreation Department gladly accepted the land. While the road frontage part of the Lenn tract was suitable for developing ball fields, the back part of the parcel was rather narrow and part of a flood plain. The County did not know how to develop this part of the tract for maximum utilization for county residents.

Mike Dale recently settled in Culpeper County after retiring as CEO of Jaguar North America. Not only was Mike an active full scale pilot regularly flying his fully restored Percival Provost, which he learned to fly for the RAF before going on to the De Havilland Vampire, he was also an active and enthusiastic aviation modeler. As luck would have it, Mike and the Culpeper County Administrator, Frank Bossio, a retired Navy Captain pilot, worked together on the Culpeper County Airport Committee. Mr. Bossio mentioned the newly acquired Lenn property to Mike and asked if he could think of any use for the flood plain back part. Of course, Mike immediately saw a potentially great R/C flying site. So he assembled a small group of fliers from the Fauquier Aero Recreation Modelers (FARM) club to tour the site to see if it was suitable as a model aviation facility.

Mike Dale and his group of modelers set about creating a new AMA chartered R/C club, the Culpeper Model Barnstormers (CMB) to try to promote and develop the Lenn tract as a flying site. R/C fliers were drawn from the local AMA FARM, Skyline, and Northern Virginia Radio Control (NVRC) clubs to form this new club.

The initial organizational meeting for the Culpeper Model Barnstormers was held at the residence of Mike Dale on 12 January 2008. Those in attendance were: Mike Dale, John Hunton, Charles Koustenis, Bill McMullen, Dave Rothbart, and Nic Burhans. It was determined all in attendance would be on the Board of Directors and the initial distribution for club's officers would be:

President: John Hunton.
Vice President: Charles Koustenis.
Secretary: Nic Burhans.
Treasurer: Nic Burhans.
Safety Officer: Nic Burhans.
Field Marshal: Mike Dale.
Members At Large: Bill McMullen and Dave Rothbart.

On 12 February 2008, the initial Bylaws and Members' Handbook for the Culpeper Model Barnstormers were adopted along with a draft agreement for the model aircraft use of the newly designated Culpeper County Lenn Park.

On 5 August 2008, CMB Board members attended the meeting of the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors. Plans for site development were presented to the Board of Supervisors who supported and accepted the concept of the R/C flying site. The one important point that was discussed in detail was that the County did not want to administer the Lenn Model Airpark flying site, they wanted CMB to manage it for the County.

Subsequently, the Lenn brothers, being aviators themselves, affirmed the proposed use for the property. In fact, the Lenn brothers liked the idea so much that they added deed restrictions to their adjoining property guaranteeing model aircraft overflight and recovery privileges from the County's Model Airpark.

On 5 October 2008, the second membership meeting of CMB was again held at Mike Dale's home. Total membership: 10. All members were present. It was determined that, at this point, all members would again serve as Board of Director members. The distribution of officers being:

President: John Hunton
Vice President: Perry Jones
Secretary: Nic Burhans
Treasurer: Nic Burhans
Safety Officer: Bill McMullen
Members at Large: Mike Dale, Bernie Feaganes, Rodney Ketterman, Charles Koustenis, and David Rothbart.

The club's Bylaws and Members' Handbook were reviewed and amended as of 5 October 2008 in preparation for AMA charter club application.

The initial club logo was adopted until detailed original artwork could be arranged:

First CMB Club Logo

The club's bylaws were amended by the membership as of 1 January 2009 to conform with revised AMA requirements.

With seed money from the FARM club, the charter package for the Culpeper Model Barnstormers was forwarded to AMA on 20 January 2009. Subsequently, AMA charter #4894 was awarded to CMB on 23 January 2009.

On 4 February 2009, the Culpeper Model Barnstormers Articles of Incorporation were submitted to the Clerk of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. On 12 February 2009 the State Corporation Commission issued the certificate of incorporation to the Culpeper Model Barnstormers, Incorporated.

On 28 February 2009, CMB, Inc. was issued an Employer Identification Number by the Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service.

On 5 March 2009, CMB Inc. was granted the use of Lenn Model Airpark located at:

18063 Stevensburg Road (county road RT-663)
Culpeper, Virginia 22701
38deg 27min 29sec (38.458) North
77deg 53min 35sec (77.893) West

on a temporary basis until a final agreement with Culpeper County was signed.

On 10 March 2009, Culpeper Model Barnstormers, Inc. held its organizational meeting of the membership, which comprised all the Board of Directors. Total Membership: 9. The Board of Directors membership and officer disposition from the 5 October 2008 club meeting were reconfirmed until the December 2009 membership meeting required by the corporation bylaws.

On 7 April 2009, License Agreement for the use of Culpeper County Property in Lenn Park for a Model Flying Field by CMB was signed by the County Administrator, Frank T. Bossio, and Culpeper Model Barnstormers President, John Hunton.

The County had let CMB know up front that they did not have any funding to help in Lenn Park or Lenn Model Airpark site development. The fragile and tenuous nature of the county's internal entrance road to the Lenn Model Airpark was of concern to the membership. This presented the club with a dilemma. An initial membership cap of 15 members was put in place until the situation could be brought under control by the club.

With less than a ten members, CMB could not afford any significant development costs. However, with multiple individual and club workdays, several dedicated members led by Captain Nic Burhans (U.S. Navy, ret.) spent a great deal of time clearing, mowing, and rolling the entrance road, parking area, pit area, and flying field in order to make it suitable for model aircraft use. Nic's crews were very dedicated to getting the field in shape, mowing and rolling it once or twice a week. It wasn't long before the 100 by 600 ft runway began to transform from farmland to a smooth grass model aircraft runway.

The access to the flying field was by a nearly mile long dirt road adjacent to Mountain Run creek that could wash out in the spring in several places. The club worked with the Culpeper County Environmental Engineer to come up with a method to repair the washouts. It was determined that, simply by the club filling the wash outs in correctly with coarse gravel to allow for drainage and smooth gravel for passage the problem would environmentally be solved.

In accessing the flying site over the next few months, it was found that the dirt roadway was stable, even during heavy rains. The now usable access road to the Airpark prompted the club to remove its membership cap with the hope that the club could gather enough members to afford to fully gravel the access roadway.

On 3 December 2009, the incorporated club's first annual meeting was held at Mike Dale's home. Total membership: 21. The 2010 Board of Directors was elected and determined their distribution as follows:

President: Mike Dale.
Vice President: Bill McMullen.
Secretary: Nic Burhans.
Treasurer: Nic Burhans.
Safety Officer: Bill Towne.
Members at Large: John Hunton and Perry Jones.

The club adopted its new logo:

CMB Club Logo

With the field taking shape it was decided to have a grand opening event so CMB could thank all of the people who helped obtain and develop the site. The event was held on 5 June 2010. In coordination with the Culpeper Parks and Recreation Department, invitations were sent to Culpeper County Board of Supervisors (BOS) members, the county Administrator, local politicians, and to all R/C clubs within 100 miles. Advertisements were run in local and nearby newspapers and announcements were placed on several internet forums. The results were great. Attendance was between 120 and 150 people. In attendance were four BOS members, a Parks and Recreation Committee member, the County Administrator, and modelers from all over the Northern Virginia area coming to lend support and to put on a great show.

After the Grand Opening, one of the club members happened upon a company that needed a place to dispose of a large quantity of coarse gravel that had to be removed to environmentally restore property. He arranged for the gravel to be delivered to Lenn Park as it became available during their clean-up process in order to create a fully passable, stable, entrance road and stable Airpark parking area.

In July 2010, the club purchased and positioned a port-a-john at the airfield for the membership's use.

In September 2010, the club established its website: "cmbclubrc.com".

On 4 December 2010, the second annual corporation membership meeting was held at Lenn Model Airpark as part of a club fall cleanup work day. Total club membership: 35. The 2011 Board of Directors was elected and determined their distribution as follows:

President: Nic Burhans.
Vice President: Bill Towne.
Secretary: Nic Burhans.
Treasurer: Nic Burhans.
Safety Officer: Mike Wiczalkowski.
Members at Large: John Hunton, Mike Dale, and Gary Foveaux.