Russ Johnson (1930 - )

Russ was born in Palmerston North and became interested in aviation during his high school years in the 1940s. He modelled small solid balsa aircraft by reference to newspaper 3-view identifications of both allied and enemy aircraft during the war years.

In 1946 a public meeting was called to form a club for those interested in model aircraft, and Russ was elected its first Secretary at age 16, a position he held for the next four years. He has held continuous membership of the club to the present day. Over the next 47 years Russ regularly took on management positions, alternating between Secretary and President for a total of 19 years service. In 1968 he was elected to Life Membership of the Palmerston North Aeroneers.

Russ took an active part in the national association, being elected Secretary in 1962 and 1963, President in 1977 and 1978, Area Representative and Councillor from 1987 to 1990, and a member of the Scale Tech Committee for several years. In 1985 he was elected life member of the N.Z.M.A.A.

His early modelling interests included control-line (particularly team racing), free flight, and rubber power. He held the N.Z. record for outdoor spar models with a Modelair 'Monarch' of 2 min 40 secs. In the early 1950s he won a place in the N.Z. team for Nordic A2 which was contested in Austria. He began radio control with the N.Z. designed HMV set and an R6B model. Buoyed by success he then built a kitset Controlaire superhet system, followed by a kitset Digitrio 3-channel proportional, and later a 4- channel set, also built from a kit. Russ progressed to the reliable Kraft gear, and finally to JR and Hitec systems. Initially Russ built the popular sport/aerobatic type of model in which to mount his radio gear, but his main interest turned towards scale models. In 1980 he was a member of the R/C Scale team which travelled to Australia for the Trans Tasman contest. This was repeated in 1987 when he again took part in the R/C Scale contest in Australia.

His interest in large scale models began in 1979 when he built a 9 ft span quarter-scale model of the 'Citabria' a model he still flies regularly. In 1982 he was a foundation member of Miniature Aircraft NZ (MANZ) the group dedicated to promoting the correct construction and safe operation of large models. He held the position of President for 16 years and was elected life member of MANZ in 1992.

June has been a supporter, almost from the day they met, and Russ spends much of his time is now caring for her. Russ is still actively flying large scale R/C models as time permits, choosing from his fleet which includes the quarter-scale Citabria, quarter-scale Cessna Birddog, one-third scale Spacewalker, and a one third scale Tiger Moth. Occasionally he brings out a glider to take part in a club glider contest.

Russ has played a major part in fostering interest in aeromodelling in the Manawatu. Over the years he has encouraged younger members, promoted club contests, organized local rallies, supported other club rallies, and given freely of advice to anyone who asked. He was also heavily involved in preparations for and running of the Nationals during the years when they were held at Feilding.

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