Flying - Remote Control (RC) Models

RC (Remote Control Flying)

In spite of being an ardent aeromodeller and even spending hours and hours up in the air on gliders, I used to be a terrified flyer. Terrefied, not because of the fear of flying, but because of the fact that someone else is piloting the plane!

You see, it is like driving a car. Even today, the most tense moments of my life are spent either at the co driver seat or the rear seat of a car, while it is being chauffered (especially if the chauffer happens to be my wife!). The nuances and response of the vehicle to our actions are imbibed into my system and that is what makes the drive or flight, tense. If I happened to be seated at the window of a plane, the flap postions and landing gear retraction times during approaches and take offs used to give me nightmares. Similarly turbulence during the approach and porposing on the final, used to make my heart skip a few beats. Not because I do not know what needs to be done to over come these situations if I am at the controls, but because I am not sure whether the pilot responds to such situations, the same way I think and am taught to react !

Business forced me to travel, but it was not pleasant. My fears were so strong that at one point in time in the early years of my career, I went to my boss to cancel a trip, citing the condition of my health - a blatant lie.

So, you ask "Hey, this is supposed to be an article on Remote Control (RC) flying - not fear of flying. What is the point here ?"The point is, for a large number of fearful flyers, learing to fly a Remote Control Plane (RC Flying) is a perfect antidote for what ails them. More important, i'll wager that those who learn RC flying become one of the most relaxed long haul flyers, with a totally new perspective to life.

Why ? First the incredible need to know, understand and learn, makes them ongoing students. Part of overcoming fear is understanding. Long before my first aeomodelling or flying experience, I read and subscribed for everything I could on Aviation, meteorology, communication and aeronautics on the web and picked up a horde of books from the newstands. The articles, anecdotes, flight logs and experiences of some of the pilots, along with the safety and operations manuals of those superb passenger aircrafts, have instilled a sense of great confidence on the safety of flying. Articles on the fault tolerance features built into almost every control of the modern passenger planes have actually convinced me that flying, is a lot safer than walking on Indian roads.

Second, once past the barrier of starting training, the overwhelming joy of RC Flying eclipses all else. Sure, the first few hard landings and spins aren't fun. You may not be as confident as your instructor on your initial solo's. Yes, you will may have belly jelly's for every landing or take off. Yet none of that compares to the joy, freedom and privilage of being able to play your RC plane amongst the clouds, all with your feet planted safely on Terra Firma.

Third, once you get the hang of the intricacies of avionics and nuances of flight controls through RC Flying, you soon start enjoying the awesome pieces of mechanics and electronics within those wonderful machines, which is the same across Giant Cargo Planes, Nimble Fighter planes or 7 feet Remote control models.

More important, understanding the basics of avionics enhances ones respect to the amazing forces of mother nature namely, Gravity, air currents, Cloud patterns, atmospheric layers and their effects on an aircraft on flight. This gives one an entirely new dimension and perspective to life, where one learns to respect and understand every aspect of the environment including humans.

This helps understand some of the (ab) normal situations on board commercial aircrafts like drop in cabin pressure, turbulence, flight through clouds, porpoising etc. The fear factor during such situations, is completely overriden by the thought process which concentrates on visualizing the various controls that are being manipulated to tide over the situation. The fear is completely lost in the comfort of the fact that there is redundancy and back up built in for every single control in the passenger aircraft.

I'll never command a B2, or drop a hook from a F16 for a carrier landing at night, or feel my 747-700 contact the runway after a category IIIb approach and landing. But I've trained on simulators and remote control models, loved and lived the flight, with the same intensity of those behind the controls of those incredible machines. I am part of the community of men and women who value the sense of accomplishment and the ultimate accountability that flight brings - only on RC models.

Finally, through my training, I can better appreciate the knowledge and skill of those more advanced pilots - while holding myself to the same levels of professionalism and commitment.

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