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Silver Wings Syndrome

#1
Hi all.

I am wanting to start a community discussion that has, will or, in my case, is currently affecting us all

"Silver Wings Syndrome" also known as "Intermediate Syndrome" or equivalent national pilot rating.

This represents the Pilot who has just been signed off to fly solo, gained their wings and is alone and unafraid. The teenagers of the flying community. Everyone experiences this when they first get their provisional drivers licence (18 and bulletproof! yeeeehaw!). Hence the high insurance premiums for under 25 males.

This affects pilots too. Both Full scale and RC. I went through it (and survived!) when I was new to paragliding, and having just earnt my silver wings on the weekend (Australian equivalent for being signed off as competent for a ground launched pilot (non-acrobatic), Bronze is for hand launched foamies and wings).

You have just been told by your instructor that you are safe to fly without the safety net of the buddylink. What you hear is that your god’s gift to aviation. You bind your aircraft to your radio direct, have several safe flights, and then BOOM! ego up to 11! you start pushing your trainer, your skills and your safe zone.

This happened when I was learning to paraglide. I did a 9 day intensive course, got signed off, then 6 weeks later I had a 3 week flying Holiday to the European Alps. I came back with a head the size of a hot air balloon. Then mistakes started to creep in. flying when it’s too rough, flying too close to other pilots, taking off when I should have stayed on the ground. It was not until the pending arrival of my daughter a year later that changed my entire risk analysis of the sport. I froze on the hill about to take off. All my stupid decisions over the past 2 years came back at me. I could end up dead. Since then I have flown only occasionally and only in benign conditions. I still love the experience but the drive to chase every thermal no longer guides my life.

I see this now happening with my RC flying. I recognise that I pick up basic aviation techniques very quickly, I did so with paragliding, and I have again with RC planes. I was signed off on the first flight of my fourth flying session (about 16 flights - and we are talking a glow engine here). And I kept flying. The first two flights after binding direct were safe repeats of my check flight. Take off, circuits, approaches, figure eights, procedure turns, deadstick landings. All good.

Then I got cocky. Loops, rolls, Immelmanns. In two flights I had two close calls where I saved it at about 2 metres from the deck (Thankyou super forgiving Seagull Boomerang 40) After the second I realised "Its back!" I landed and talked this over with the Instructor (who also used to paraglide). Thus we have dubbed the term "Silver Wings Syndrome". Now whilst in this hobby it won't kill you (like paragliding tried a few times), but it can cost a lot of money and has led to the common concept of "You WILL crash your plane". This doesn't exist in full sized aviation. So how do you combat it?

Short answer: I can't tell you, as I suffer from it but so far have been lucky. Everyone must find their own methods of self-discipline

Long answer: I am going to force myself to take it slow. I want to preserve my boomerang trainer for posterity (and for my daughter), so that means I need another plane. My instructor agrees and recommends a low wing sports as soon as possible (in this case phoenix scanner). This is the plane to do silly things on. This is the plane to push the boundaries. It’s cheap and simple and repairable. And if/when it does crash; I can go back to the boomerang whilst I am repairing it.

But I do not want to crash anything! So, what lessons do we take from other hobbies, full scale aviation, life in general to combat "Silver Wings Syndrome" and change "You WILL crash" to "You shouldn't crash", and if you do, it’s for a very specific reason that you can identify.

I will post here as I develop the concepts I want to implement as I further my RC hobby experience. I encourage others to post with their advice, experiences and thoughts.
 

DamoRC

Active member
#2
But I do not want to crash anything! So, what lessons do we take from other hobbies, full scale aviation, life in general to combat "Silver Wings Syndrome" and change "You WILL crash" to "You shouldn't crash", and if you do, it’s for a very specific reason that you can identify.
I am not 100% sure that I understand what you are trying to achieve. Are you saying that we should change mantra for beginners from "You WILL crash" to "You shouldn't crash"? Why? Although I understand the desire to preserve a plane (for posterity or to avoid costly replacements) is that not why we encourage folks to build their own cheap and cheerful craft so that they can crash and not worry too much about it?

I think if we were to take lessons from full scale aviation to combat this syndrome the hobby could become very dull very fast.

Just my 2.5 cents worth.

DamoRC
 
#3
I am not 100% sure that I understand what you are trying to achieve. Are you saying that we should change mantra for beginners from "You WILL crash" to "You shouldn't crash"? Why? Although I understand the desire to preserve a plane (for posterity or to avoid costly replacements) is that not why we encourage folks to build their own cheap and cheerful craft so that they can crash and not worry too much about it?

I think if we were to take lessons from full scale aviation to combat this syndrome the hobby could become very dull very fast.

Just my 2.5 cents worth.

DamoRC
I am not saying "You shouldn't crash!" with an angry finger point like the militant school teacher.
I am saying "You shouldn't crash, but if you do, its from a clear mistake that was made that you can identify and learn from" (that mistake can be piloting, preparation, construction etc, but identifiable), which is a change from "You crashed because beginners crash, its what they do"

My mindset is also affected by the community in the ACT, and the cost of the hobby in Australia. I am learning on a Glow engine ply and balsa trainer, as did most other members here. that set me back about $600AUD ($450USD), not including the transmitter which I borrowed. The vast majority fly big, expensive gas driven planes. So crashes are expensive here. The whole cheap foamboard DIY culture that flitetest perveys doesn't really exist (although I want to do that with my daughter, after she gets comfortable on a bixler 3 (she is 5 1/2). So the local instructors teach you to not crash your trainer. Thats what your first sports acro is for. But they cost just as much.

Now the expensive trainer was my choice, I understand that. Its whats made me commit to the hobby, as opposed to the park flyer pusher EZ trainer, I would have crashed, got bored with or fed up with.

So your method, of flying cheap foamies and DIYS, is a valid technique for combating "silver wings Syndrome" as it makes your planes cheap and expendable.
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
Mentor
#4
Also in Aus here, and I do not really follow your statement or thought process in this matter BUT I do have a good reason. My father was an Ex-Army transport sergeant and instructor. He told me straight out that regardless of what I was taught in relation to driving, flying or any similar activity that until you actually have your first crash the whole experience is like being in a simulator because you will not truly appreciate what the vehicle will or won't do until you push it past its limits. When you find that the physical consequences of your endeavors can be very expensive or time consuming then the true nature of the risks sets in.

As for the sport plane to LEARN? to crash on heck I have crashed almost every type there is and you will learn that each plane will fly different to others and so effectively you need to learn each new plane or each different type you will fly. That is where I decided to see about the FB electrics and now I design, sell and even barter FB aircraft, OH, I also do the repairs on any RC plane if required and where necessary.

Lately I have been rapidly expanding my own hanger, and experience, especially in Warbirds including a large number of foamies, (pristine and repaired).

Anyway I got a little sidetracked but the message is to go out and fly the pants off your planes or build FB planes and fly them into the ground pushing your experience envelope. The recovery reflexes, (muscla memory), will more than pay for the cost of a number of FB planes being destroyed.

Have fun!
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#5
I do like the idea of learning from every crash - we all should (and usually do) go over the scenario and aircraft and try to determine what went wrong so we can learn/avoid the same mistake. So I'd amend the statement to be "you shouldn't crash without learning from it - but you will crash" :D
 
#6
My perspective as an IRL pilot and just getting in myself.

I think to compare this to full-sized flight kind of breaks down in that the consequences are different and the availability of instructors are different.

Don't want to crash your nice trainer? Then don't. You have recognized the squeeze point and can avoid it. On the other hand, if you don't push yourself, you will never get better.

Just some thoughts.
  • Use a simulator to try new things.
  • Make an FT-style plane that you won't feel as bad to crash and push yourself on it instead of your nice trainer.
 
#7
My perspective as an IRL pilot and just getting in myself.

I think to compare this to full-sized flight kind of breaks down in that the consequences are different and the availability of instructors are different.

Don't want to crash your nice trainer? Then don't. You have recognized the squeeze point and can avoid it. On the other hand, if you don't push yourself, you will never get better.

Just some thoughts.
  • Use a simulator to try new things.
  • Make an FT-style plane that you won't feel as bad to crash and push yourself on it instead of your nice trainer.
I use the simulator (Realflight 8) exentsively, it is one of the best methods to counteract this. I put in usually an hour a night, running through a routine of circuits, procedure turns, figure eights and deadstick landings (the requirements for silver wings). then I start pushing into the acrobatics, repeditively, methodically, until I feel comfortable. And I try to not attempt anything in real life that I have not drilled a dozen times in the sim.

Yes I agree, the consequences are very different in this hobby compared to reallife, but they exist, and if you can avoid them whilst still having fun, you should, for sake of your wallet if nothing else :p
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
Mentor
#8
I use the simulator (Realflight 8) exentsively, it is one of the best methods to counteract this. I put in usually an hour a night, running through a routine of circuits, procedure turns, figure eights and deadstick landings (the requirements for silver wings). then I start pushing into the acrobatics, repeditively, methodically, until I feel comfortable. And I try to not attempt anything in real life that I have not drilled a dozen times in the sim.

Yes I agree, the consequences are very different in this hobby compared to reallife, but they exist, and if you can avoid them whilst still having fun, you should, for sake of your wallet if nothing else :p
I hear you and you are doing things your way as it definitely should be.

Where I fly there are many, (what I call nervous), pilots who seem to actually dread the maiden especially of their latest expensive purchase. Often you see them trembling after the maiden even if it went perfectly for them. As I am an instructor and a unofficial test pilot I cannot have the shakes as it could cause me to freeze or react poorly if a problem occurs in flight. I still get a little apprehensive at times and possibly a little cautious but not the the extremes of others.

Whilst flight sims are used widely my experience is that NOTHING is exactly the same as battling the elements and the planes responses in the real world act of flying models. In addition Flight sims do not have the feature of emulating a stripped servo, a post midair recovery and landing, and even partial structural failure in flight. Where are you ever going to get such experience?

Now my crashes are extremely infrequent and I fight all problems, (where they occur), all of the way to the ground ensuring the avoidance of all people and property even if it means sacrificing the plane in the process. Others here are not quite as skilled and regularly I need to take avoiding action to prevent personal injury when someones model loses control and all they can think of is minimising their own models damage.

Learn to fly and learn to push the envelope in the real world SAFELY!

Just my opinion and what works here for me!

Have fun!
 
#9
I hear you and you are doing things your way as it definitely should be.

Where I fly there are many, (what I call nervous), pilots who seem to actually dread the maiden especially of their latest expensive purchase. Often you see them trembling after the maiden even if it went perfectly for them. As I am an instructor and a unofficial test pilot I cannot have the shakes as it could cause me to freeze or react poorly if a problem occurs in flight. I still get a little apprehensive at times and possibly a little cautious but not the the extremes of others.

Whilst flight sims are used widely my experience is that NOTHING is exactly the same as battling the elements and the planes responses in the real world act of flying models. In addition Flight sims do not have the feature of emulating a stripped servo, a post midair recovery and landing, and even partial structural failure in flight. Where are you ever going to get such experience?
Our local CFI is also quite often used to maiden pilots new planes, the man is a wizard.

Realflight 8 has the option to inject failures, both upon command and randomly and dynamically. I have started to play with them.
 

Namactual

Well-known member
#10
I guess it all depends on what you are looking to get out of your RC flying experience. With my scratch built foamies, I enjoy pushing the envelope when I have the field to myself. I always plan on crashing and having a spare plane or two in the car just in case.

It's all part of the fun for me, even crashing because I am flying way too low or "because I was inverted".

Fly, crash and be merry!

Safely!(y)
 

sprzout

Active member
Mentor
#11
I do like the idea of learning from every crash - we all should (and usually do) go over the scenario and aircraft and try to determine what went wrong so we can learn/avoid the same mistake. So I'd amend the statement to be "you shouldn't crash without learning from it - but you will crash" :D
On this I agree 100%. There is ALWAYS something to be learned from a crash, whether it's "make sure the battery's held down good; if it slides around, it can mess up your CG," or "You weren't flying fast enough, and so the plane stalled." Or in my case, "Your XT60 plug was cracked, it didn't hold the pins inside correctly, so it was shorting out, causing loss of power."
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#12
From Sunday's crash I learned I shouldn't fly towards the east in the morning right when the sun is coming up, and when learning inverted flight start 3 mistakes high and if I end up only 1 mistake high when I finally stabilize inverted, just roll out right away instead of flying into the sun. :p