[Headline: Rules, rules, rules!]
It’s enough to drive you nuts. These days, everything has to be perfectly safe. Anything that is remotely hazardous must be banned, or watered down until it’s useless.
Here’s the pattern: an accident happens. Those in charge decide that “something must be done.” A rule is written “so this can never happen again.” This repeats until we are wrapped in a cocoon of regulations intended to keep everyone safe.
This trend is a big pain. Layers of rules are a tripping hazard that can keep us from doing anything at all. This is not prevention—it’s annoying red tape. Safety rules need to be carefully thought out, not banged out in an emotional moment without considering the unintended consequences.
Having silly little rules is dangerous. It trains people to ignore and disrespect guidelines. The important regulations might get skipped over and then the scene is set for serious trouble.
Have you heard the argument that “if it saves just one life, it’s worth it?” I don’t buy it. Somewhere, a soup spoon has caused the demise of some poor soul, but the benefits of soup spoons outweigh the risk to humanity.
People get injured in car accidents, but most of us have decided that the benefits of motor vehicles are worth it. In my opinion, this holds true with everything from electric toasters and lawnmowers, to model aircraft.
Nothing is without risk in this world, but the incredible benefits of our sport make rare mishaps worth it. Youngsters learn physics and mechanical engineering through models’ aerodynamics. Adults find relaxation, mental stimulation, and satisfaction by designing, building, collecting, flying, and competing with models. Industries thrive by selling hobby equipment.
There are endless interesting aeromodeling niches to explore: helicopters, gliders, free-flying models, and airplanes that are controlled by radio, cables, or beams of light. You can tinker with gas engines, electric power, CO2 or rubber motors, or fly with no onboard power. Talk about fun!
Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy this wholesome and safe pursuit. I can’t understand why some people would want to restrict or ban it. Someone should put a transmitter in their hands and teach them to do a loop.
We all accept that it is possible to get hurt in our hobby. Some of us have had a moment of inattention and paid the price with a bruise or bandage (in my case, several times). But is all that fun and education worth the risk? Yes! (But please, be careful ... )
Written on the Wall
Check out my photograph of tile work in a theme park restroom.
Above the sink was a set of instructions on how to wash your hands. Apparently, some people need basic guidance! Washing your hands with warm water and soap is an effective way to prevent the spread of disease, specifically cold and flu bugs. You probably don’t need a reminder tiled into the wall, but someone did.
That Newfangled Stuff
Aeromodeling is always changing. I got a kick out of hearing a bunch of old-timers talking about how these newfangled multicopters are taking over, and “whatever happened to balsawood?” Just you wait! Someday, a bunch of gray-haired quadcopter pilots will be reminiscing about the good old days and complaining about how the fancy, expensive, new antigravity units are “ruining the hobby” and wondering what happened to good-old, carbon-fiber composite?
The photo of two young pilots prepping their models seems to cover it. Heath Cho is getting his classic rubber-powered model (developed in 1871) ready, while Ryan Naccarato tunes his digital-age quadcopter. They’re sharing the same flying field and the same pastime, but their machines are 150 years apart.
From a safety standpoint, we should keep up with current developments in our hobby, even if we only fly old-fashioned machines. The new stuff seems to filter into every part of the sport. I visited a local flying field and was amazed at the mixture of technology. A 1930s model built with CA glue was powered by the latest electric motor. A CL aircraft with a radio-controlled ESC throttle was flying next to a composite-wing RC Pattern airplane converted to gas for CL. How cool is that?
It’s all great fun, and a reason to keep abreast of our hobby’s newest developments. You never know when something new will come in handy on your latest project, such as the foam 3-D Stunter I upgraded to rubber-powered FF. (Guards! Seize him!)
The Propeller Strikes Again
I recently mentioned that people sometimes email me gory photos of their adventures with spinning propellers. Jack Bena wrote me and asked, “You mean like this one?” It was a ghastly snapshot of his hand, taken in the emergency room. Yup, that was exactly what I was talking about!
Jack is a cautious modeler with plenty of experience, but one day, for a fraction of a second, he got distracted and the propeller contacted his hand. He was in his shop at home, adjusting the throttle while using a tachometer, when the accident happened. Luckily, Jack’s wife was there to administer first-aid and drive him to the hospital. His hand had arterial damage and he said it would have been a more serious situation if he had been alone.
Do you think Jack will give up flying so this can never happen again? I bet not! But I would also wager that he has a greater respect for his model’s powerplant these days, and he will be doubly sure to have someone around when he’s running an engine.
Our sport can be enjoyed alone or with friends. Researching or designing a model is usually a solitary pursuit and not much can go wrong. Any time we’re using chemicals or power tools, running an engine, or operating an aircraft, we should have someone else around just in case. I’ve heard too many stories about unexpected trouble and how fortunate it was that there was another adult nearby to help out. Please don’t fly alone.
A Feather in Your CAP
Randy Carlson is “big noise” (influential) at the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)—helping countless youngsters get their start in aviation. Randy’s programs mix modeling and full-scale aircraft. What young person could resist?
Randy sent me a photo of Raymond Tallarini and his Kcitsinim model, built at a CAP event. Sure, it’s a canard pusher biplane, but Raymond says it flies fine regardless. (Kcitsinim is Ministick spelled backward.)
The plans were a prize in a previous guess-the-airplane contest. Stand by for a new mystery airplane and prize next month.
Meanwhile, if you want a copy of the Kcitsinim plans, send me an email. I also welcome any useful close call stories or accident reports, along with any topics that you think I should discuss.[dingbat]