Monday, September 04, 2006

The end of the hiatus at last??

Looking out the window this morning, it looks like we may finally have some decent flying weather today! It seems like it has been weeks since we've seen the sun, or at least had a cloud layer high enough to allow for comfortable cross-country flight. The enforced layoff has been way too long! Co-pilot Egg and I even went so far as to go a radio control airplane "fly-in" here in Grove City a couple of weeks ago.

Radio control (RC) was my earliest entry into the world of aviation, if you don't count the umpteen control line planes I went through in a never successful chase after the elusive loop-the-loop, as we called it back in the last century. I was the neighborhood specialist at the figure 9, though! Unfortunately, as the figure 9 was defined as a loop that ended in a nose first impact with the unforgiving ground, you could usually only do those once per airplane. I clearly remember the seemingly interminable Sunday sermons at church, daydreaming about what it would be like to be able to control the model airplane without the strings attached. Oddly, I don't think that I had ever actually seen an RC airplane fly at that time.

I've pretty much always had some kind of paying job or another, so I was able to start bankrolling my aviation passion at the relatively young age of 15. My first RC plane was a Sig Kadet. Back then, there were no ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) kits - you built the things by cutting the parts out of sheet balsa. My dad made the first one for me, but the next dozen I built myself. Although I avoided the ignominious fate of ever having cut out two of the same fuselage sides (I guess that was pretty common), I wasn't a terrific builder by any means. That's why I was so impressed by the scale modellers that could build a plane that was indistinguishable from the real thing without something to give you perspective.

The Fly-in that Egg and I went to was very impressive along those lines, but even more interesting was the new advances in model airplane engines: these planes were powered by true jets and turboprop engines! Back in my day, we had the 2 cycle glow engines. If a builder wanted a jet, he put a fan on the engine and stuck it in a duct. They screamed like banshees, but they weren't real jets. These days, for a couple of thousand dollars you can buy an actual jet engine. They sound like jets, they smell like jets, and by golly, they fly like jets!

Here are a few pictures I took, and I promise you I'm not having you on - these are actually model airplanes(!!):


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