Mark Hunt, a past president and founding member, shares the following about Dick Shiveley and the formation of Houston Sport Flyers:
Back in the early 90’s, Dick Schiveley and others were flying from a street behind Sam’s Club on I-45 North. Dick got fed up with kids farming the strip he kept mowed that was right along side the dead end from which we were flying. He took it upon himself to find the owner of the vacant field behind Olshans lumber on SH249. After trudging through a lot of red tape, Dick found that the field belonged to an estate that was controlled by a local lawyer, who leased the field to Dick for a modest amount per year and gave him permission to fly there. Dick began to work on the empty field. It was a popular place to illegally dump trash so there was a great deal of work involved. I began to fly there after being invited by Mr. Shively himself.
After Dick poured countless hours into the new field, and lots of his money (heavy equipment) the field was not only flyable, but had a very good, flat grass surface (better than most current clubs.) We tried to form a club with an off-the-wall model insurance company, but that company went under. Finally we got together and became an AMA-sanctioned club. We paid $50 dues to ensure that the mowers would be kept running. All this time, volunteers mowed the entire field every week all summer, every summer.
Suddenly, we began to grow, and to set a cap on membership. The club generally was a wonderful, enjoyable place because of the its relaxed status… Nobody had to go to meetings, nobody had to mow unless they wanted to help the everyday mowers. This worked, but as the club grew it sometimes became clear that more control had to be enforced to prevent bad safety issues and/or accidents. We formed an executive council and I (Mark Hunt) became the president, secretary, and treasurer…for two years. I talked Peter Muchmoore into stepping in along with Billy Howard so that more members would be involved with control of our club. Just about that time, our housing development neighbors moved in. The possibility of our owner now selling the property forced us to close the field.
We looked for a new field, and had a draft of a lease on the table from Waste Mgmt. for a closed landfill site on Cutten Road near the Willowbrook Mall. Everything seemed peachy until we performed a frequency check — not a single channel was safe due to stray frequencies from a nearby cell tower. Some people began talking about an empty soccer field on Kuykendahl…. Mostly everyone talked — only Dick Schiveley and Peter Muchmoore acted. They took the initiative to knock on doors and play phone tag with the county, and finally to talk with Mr. Eversole about the area. Dick spoke candidly with the appropriate officials and got the instructions for submitting a proposal. It took a few months, but they accepted our proposal and granted us the lease. Who knows where it will go from here — the sky is the limit!
Billy Howard, club treasurer and a founding member, shares Dick’s vision on club expenses:
The club expenses have always been extremely low, due in no small part to our founder Dick Schiveley. The original field on West Mount Houston was prepared and maintained by Dick using his personal equipment and funds, and everyone could fly for free. We formed a club and collected dues to pay ongoing expenses and to pay for any events that the club sponsored; this allowed us to put on an event without charging anything. When we had to close the field Dick was instrumental in obtaining the current field from the county and getting a very favorable rate. As our club begin to grow we started to have more events. The only event that we charged a landing fee for was Toys for Tots, where all proceeds were given to the charity; the club paid all expenses.
As we continue to grow, have more events, and give to more charities, I hope we do not lose sight of what the club represents.
Our founder, Dick Schiveley, passed away on the evening of 12-19-05 after suffering with multiple health complications related to pneumonia. Dick is dearly missed.
This article — The Model Man — from The North Freeway LEADER, April 21 2005, talks about Dick and the club.