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Fielding Questions


Staff member
<strong>Written By</strong>: Fred Provost


If you've flown at a local park, you've had this experience. A person walks up to you while you're flying, and starts to ask questions. You know, those dreaded inevitable questions. "How high will it go? How fast can it go? Where can I buy one? How much does it cost? Can I try yours?" It places that pilot in an interesting situation. He's just become a spokesperson for the hobby.

How does one answer these questions? Do the replies simply satisfy their curiosity? Do they ignite that spark that causes the people to go out and try the hobby for themselves? Or is the inquisitive person left with the impression that people that fly RC are inconsiderate or rude?

I imagine that few people who fly RC go out with the intention of influencing or educating the public. Yet, if you fly where people can see you, you're going to be approached. You will be asked questions, often right when you're trying to concentrate on your flying the most. Just because you have a transmitter in your hand, doesn't make you exempt from Murphy's Law. If you haven't been in this situation, you will be, and even if you already have, you can bet you will again. So, with this in mind, I thought I would share some tips on how to handle the inevitable.

I've been known to wear a shirt to the field that has the more common questions printed on it, with some generic answers to those questions. It has helped to break the ice. When approached, I've been able to direct them to read the shirt, and explained that I would go into more detail once I landed.

I'll confess, I like to talk. I enjoy sharing the hobby with new people, sometimes whether they want me to or not. So I look forward to these opportunities. I also understand that not everyone will. You're there to fly, not teach. For those of you that fit this category, you have an excellent resource, FliteTest.com. Let them know you're not good with answering a lot of questions, but that you can send them to the website where there's lots of fun and interesting videos they can learn from. You want to be careful to not be too abrupt though, the guy you're talking to might be on the city council, and the next thing you know, there's a sign at the park banning rc flying.

For those like me who enjoy conversing with the people who show an interest in flying, answering their questions might do more harm than good. Imagine this situation. The newcomer asks the typical questions, and in reply he hears, 'yeah, it's pretty expensive, I've spent hundreds on just my transmitter alone. Oh, and you're going to crash, flying is harder than it looks. You can probably expect to spend over $500 just to get in the air. Did I mention you're going to crash?” While in some cases that assessment could be true, to someone who would like to try his or her hand at flying, it leaves them feeling doomed to an expensive failure.

While I'm not recommending you paint an overly rosy picture of free airplanes for all and crashes for none, there is a better way to approach this. There are several models out that are easy, ready to fly aircraft that just about anyone can fly. From inexpensive coaxial helicopters that can be bought for under $50 and be flown around the house terrorizing the wife and dog, to some really good ultra micro planes available for just under $100. One of these, I myself have let inexperienced strangers fly with first time success. Of course, you can go on to describe some of the more advanced items on the market. Explaining these options, encouraging folks to look for information at reputable sites and forums, or even offering your contact information for future questions are preferable methods of handling a curious visitor to your flying site.

Far be it from me to suggest that the aforementioned hypothetical city council member will dedicate a flying park in your name due to your excellent educational skills. But who knows, you might end up with a new flying partner, who will also help you pick up pieces of your crashed plane.

1 Extra tip:

When I fly there are always children (5-10) running behind my plane. Most people would say them to don't run near there plane. That's the mistake. They won't stop. Tell them this:
"Hey do u see that tree there? Who can run the fastest." And of they go...