My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
Modeling and flying are a result of hours of research and development. Many of the craft we fly have hundreds of development hours behind their design. And then there are the flights that begin with, “It will get better in the air” or, “It’ll be okay; let’s go for it.” Of course, “If it worked yesterday, there’s no doubt it will work today.”
Years ago I watched a young Jason Shulman get out his Pattern model for a day’s competition at the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC). He performed one of the most thorough preflight examinations I’ve seen. Everything that moved or was connected was carefully tested, not merely examined. This airplane flew great the day before. What’s the concern? The concern is that if you don’t have eyes on it, something will go bad and you won’t even know it’s happening.
Please, do a preflight every time you fly, on every craft you fly.
Two columns back, I discussed the difference in learners and therefore the need for varying strategies of instruction. This raised some great reader response! Jack Becker of Port Townsend, Washington, wrote:
“I can accept that different people learn in different ways, whether it’s by reading, listening, hands-on, etc., and on an individual basis that’s a very important concept to remember. But how do you deal with a group of students that probably includes the entire range of learning styles?
“Do you teach the same thing in four or five different styles? That does not seem to be a practical approach. Do you separate the group into subgroups by learning styles? That would be great, with smaller class sizes, but now you need many more teachers. And how do you identify the learning style for each student?”
Jack asked some great questions and maybe the same thoughts crossed your mind. I’ll offer some views.
First of all, we’re always making the assumption that we are starting in a traditional classroom with average students. Any variation of this sends up a red flag, and we’ll call this flag adaptation.
Teaching people how to fly models may involve a large group for ground school and some discussion of the National Airspace System, then a review of buddy-box operation and initial flights. As we progress, we go from a group to individuals. The group may need information delivered in a specific way while an individual needs it differently.
This is a good way to start. It’s easier to read the needs individually than with a large group. Given the challenges of a large group, my suggestion is to start with what you are most comfortable and always be aware of what’s going on with the students. If it isn’t working, change the approach!
Often a group will respond positively to simple variations on a theme. The students in the group know in a heartbeat if you’re bored, so how can you expect them to be interested if you simply go through the motions? Adapting to the energy coming back to you is the key to success.
Things don’t have to be as formal as Jack describes in his questions—nice for some if they could be, but reality suggests that students today need different strategies and the best way I know to decide upon a strategy is to try it.
We recently completed an academic year relationship with the journalism department at Ball State University (BSU). The BSU journalism program is nationally known and respected, so it’s not a surprise that some instructors are extremely interested in including sUAS as news-gathering tools.
Many videos and news stories are now coming from above through many platforms, but especially multirotors. In that spirit, we set up an on-site workshop for the students on the topic of sUAS.
Archie Stafford and Tim Hurley from Pax River Naval Air Station in Virginia, joined us, and we videotaped the entire event. From the basics of flight through Archie’s display of automated flight via total autopilot function, the class and instructors saw some great stuff. We had a Blade 350 QX quadcopter for all to try, and much to our surprise, the students all flew well, thanks to a winter of fun inside with the little Proto-X.
I have to mention this wouldn’t have happened without Kim Payne and Horizon Hobby, Atlanta Hobby, and 3D Robotics who supplied what we needed to make everything work as planned!
Finally this month, give your learning comfort zone a checkup. Don’t be the person who knows it all. You don’t. Embrace the challenge and opportunity something new brings. The puzzle you might work or the new airplane you could design gives you this chance. Make the most of it, learn, and share what you’ve learned. And, don’t be content with failure!
Fly and have fun!