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The way we look at modeling.

Ak Flyer

Fly the wings off
Mentor
#1
I was reading through the July 2012 issue of FlyRC, one of my favorite magazines. I was reading the editors column titled " Where is the hobby going". I found it to be a good article, with a reference to a comment from a 20 year modeler responding to a previous column.

The comment was this "What sense of accomplishment is derived in piloting an otherwise coffee cup airplane, so designed that an untrained monkey can get it up into the air?"

I finished the article and enjoyed it but I couldn't quite let go of that comment. I thought and thought about that comment and the attitude behind it. I believe it's the same attitude that makes people give me that look like I don't belong when I bring out my foam planes. I felt compelled to write the editor and make my counterpoint. Here's my reply. Let me know what you think.


Mr. Royer,
First off let me say that I enjoy your magazine. Second, I am offended by the comments made by Darryl Carpenter that you referred to in the July editors column.

"What sense of accomplishment is derived in piloting an otherwise coffee cup airplane, so designed that an untrained monkey can get it up into the air."

This is an attitude popular among older modelers who often scowl at foam modelers or new pilots in general. I find that this attitude reflects poorly on us as a group and is a huge deterrent to new modelers that want to join our hobby. I have personally experienced this "better than thou" attitude and it makes it very uncomfortable for a new modeler to approach a group of expensive hand built gassers with your foam plane and try to join the fun. I am an active participant in the flitetest.com forums where this same scenario is commonly heard over and over. Some of us try to encourage new pilots to seek out experienced help in their local area by seeking out their local flying club and field. We often refer them to the AMA website search function so that we know they will find a good group of people to help them out.
I know the feeling of seeing a line of large expensive models and getting a chuckle or two as I bring out my foam cub. It's that look of "you don't belong here." They get a little less high and mighty after I unload my big balsa cub and my heli's as though that means that I'm suddenly okay to be around because I have a "serious model."
I have also had the fortune of being introduced to a club that was absolutely fantastic and helped me time and time again. I live in a different town but they are always welcoming whenever I visit and their membership has been incredibly kind and helpful. The difference in someone picking up modeling or giving it up can be as simple as the people around them being willing to help and share information....or not.
The fact is not many people are able to spend the time building large balsa models and many live in apartments and such and don't have the space to take on such a venture. I can be counted in both areas of not having a lot of time and not having a good space in which to build a long term project. There are of course those with both of these things and I enjoy both seeing their models and excellent craftsmanship as well as their skill in flying these models and it makes you appreciate the risk they take with them once you have put some time into building one.
My story is this. I grew up building RC cars and trucks. I never had the time or more importantly the patience for a balsa plane. I also didn't have the assistance of any experienced modelers where I live so any build surely would have resulted in an early crash and my time in the hobby would have ended there. I started flying with an all in one box type of plane, a Hobbyzone Firebird Freedom. It was a great little plane to learn the basics on and I thoroughly enjoyed flying it. I found it in a hobby store in a mall and talked myself into buying it. I mostly wanted to drop the parachute with the optional drop module and let my kids chase after it (which they still love doing). I crashed it enough times that it went in the trash and my flying stopped for a while.
Renewed interest with a friend resulted in us both getting Hobbyzone super cubs. We learned or relearned how to fly and had a blast. We have both heavily modified our cubs and moved on to different models as well. My brother helped me get into balsa models with a deal on a used 76"nitro cub. That was followed with a .60 size Sig four star. I've built 3D indoor planes, scratch built a few foamies, rebuilt my wood planes and even have electric and nitro helicopters now. I'm now considering doing a kit build balsa corsair.
My point is this, I enjoy all the building and such as much as the next guy but if I hadn't started out with the flying coffee cup I never would have tried the rest. If not for my early successes in foam I would not have had the ambition to build in wood. Perhaps one persons abilities to build aren't as advanced as others or maybe they lack the experience or no one has been around to show them. As long as I'm flying and enjoying it why would someone feel that I shouldn't enjoy it as much as they do because it didn't take me months to create it. While I can relate to the feeling of putting up a model that you have a lot or time into, I know that the look on a new pilots face when they first take to the air is the same whether the model is wood or foam. I have taught a dozen or so people to fly using foam planes and they all wear the largest smile possible while doing so. Most of them have went on to buy or build planes of their own.
So without further ranting, I suggest an answer to Mr. Carpenter's question.

The sense of accomplishment derived from piloting an otherwise coffee cup airplane, so designed that an untrained monkey can get it up into the air is.....

......that you're flying.

Ben Pennington
Valdez Alaska
 
#2
Great post, I can completely relate to that, I've never been to a club because of that reason, I only fly foam or scratch build, I have no interest in nitro or balsa at all. My rc budget isn't huge so the idea of spending hundreds on a balsa plane and then walking away from the air field with only splinters doesn't appeal to me at all. Hot glue and tape is all I need to get back into the air after an unscheduled landing. Those who watch xjet's YouTube channel will know that he seems to fly his AXN more than any other plane, and Bruce has been flying since I was in nappies.
 

themajik1

Monkey/Bear Poker
Mentor
#3
I really appreciate the reply you wrote to the magazine.

I was shunned by two clubs and have found one that is accepting of us "coffee cup" fliers. My piloting skills have improved greatly because of the foam planes and even more so from the instruction of the members and their tips. It is sad that the uppity modelers look down upon us, and I hope you get a good response from the magazine and maybe even an apology from the author of the article.

Do not let anyone discourage you from flying our "coffee cup" airplanes, they are so fun to fly!

Have fun and help, don't discourage!!!
 

Mike oxbig

15% nitro is my cologne
#4
Right on ak. your bang on the money.

I think that sometimes there is a little bit of elitism, or lack of a better word, from certain people. It wasn't too long ago that the only way to get into flying was to either buy an expensive arf or spend the winter building a kit. Both required skills and knowledge not easily learned yourself. This was a hurdle that kept a lot of beginners from starting in the hobby and others from progressing. You had to be pretty dedicated to the hobby to stay in it. kind of like paying your dues before you could be considered a rc pilot.

Now you can buy everything you need in one box and be flying in one afternoon. There are models out there that have technology that will help guide the plane to reduce the risk of a crash. If you do crash the parts are cheap and readily available. Personally I think it's a good thing and I wouldn't be in the hobby without parkzone but if you are from the old school of thought it would seem like its too easy to get in the hobby. They do not embrace the new technology.

I have seen the opposite happen as well. At our club we have some members that have come back to the hobby only because they can fly simpler now. The one person I talked to had multiple nitros in the 80s and sold them all as he did not like all the work involved. Now he's back flying with a parkzone extra 300. He can throw the plane in the back of his car and go flying anytime. No mess, no expense, no building. Just flying.
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#5
The comment was this "What sense of accomplishment is derived in piloting an otherwise coffee cup airplane, so designed that an untrained monkey can get it up into the air?"
I do love coffee... and I am untrained.

Sounds like a valid point to me... :D
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#6
On a more serious note... I think this is in large part, (pardon the pun, but the people with that view point are leaving us by way of attrition) a dying viewpoint.

Once upon a time to be a pilot you had to be skilled a wide variety of skills.

1)You had to be skilled in building a craft from a pile of sticks to a degree that it could achieve and maintain flight on it's own.

2)You had to be skilled in the very unique craft of iron on covering (unless you were a real masochist and you were into fabric and dope.)

3)You had to be a skilled enough small engine mechanic to keep those little motors running well enough to keep them long enough to complete your flight.

4)You had to be skilled in piloting to get the plane in the air, keep it there for some circuits and then get it back to the ground safely.

5)Then you had to be skilled in the art of rebuilding a pile of sticks into a flight worthy plane. As we all know, crashing isn't a matter of if, but a matter of when.

Sure, that's all great things and worthy of a sense of pride. Although, if all you wanted to do is fly an rc plane, but didn't have all of these skills, then you used to be out of luck. At the time, there were few other options.

Imagine if full scale aircraft pilots had the same attitude...

"Oh sure, that Captain Sully Sullenberger was a good pilot, but really, what satisfaction could he get from flying a giant tin can that someone else built for him..."

Sadly, with any activity there's always going to be the elitists that NEED to feel better than someone else. For some reason they can't really enjoy being better than someone, unless they are able to vocally point out, not what they've done to be superior, but how someone else is inferior to them.

Please, if you see this attitude being displayed here on the forum, let me know. There's no room for that here, and we'll educate the misdirected person on the joy of showing your superior skills by sharing, instead of by dismissing.

Fred
 

earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#7
Very well stated, AK. As I was reading, the term "modeler" gave me a thought. Those who build the intricate scale planes are modelers. I'm not. I enjoy flying, but don't have the interest in taking on a project that requires such patience and detail. I do a fair share of scratch-building, but none of those planes are scale and, at best are based loosely on an existing aircraft.

Maybe there are two distinct groups within our hobby - modelers and fliers. I guess its a matter of finding which group we best belong and associating with those of more common interests. Now, there is absolutely no reason why one group should feel superior to the other. We can all get along. Bottom line - if someone is an asshole at the flying field, they are as asshole everywhere else. You're better off without them.

And the term "flying coffee cup" immediately made me think, "Hey, that would be a perfect duct for an edf unit!"
 

DejaD

ARG=almost ready to glue
#8
Bravo, Ben! Very well put. I know persoanlly I would not be flying today if not for foam planes. There is no way I would have the patience to build a balsa kit, not if I wanted it done before they plant me 6 feet under.

The way I look at it, many of the "old guys" as I have heard them referred to, who "built from a pile of lumber" have stopped flying due to age or health reasons. Many more are sadly no longer with us. When they passed on they took years of experience and skill with them. That is a resource we no longer have access to. This fact alone makes it more difficult for a noobie to build a balsa model these days than it would have been in the past.

So in a twisted kind of way the foam planes are partially responsible for keeping the RC flying community alive letting new pilots get the thrill of flight and sinking the hook to keep them in the hobby that the old timers loved so much. Some of these new pilots will eventually try building a plane themselves, but I'm sure many will not. We have an "old guy" who is a fantastic builder who is no longer active in flying but visits us once in a while at the field. He was very surprised at where the hobby is now. After seeing some of the foamies fly he said something to the affect of "I can't believe how well they fly and from a distance you really can't tell it's foam, can you"? Because my plane is foam and yours is wood is no reason to look down on me. Instead, look up. That's where my foamie will be while your big, beautiful balsa plane is doing an imitaion of a pile of lumber at the far end of the field.



*The preceding comments are in no way meant to disrespect anyone who builds planes from balsa*
 
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#9
Very well stated, AK. As I was reading, the term "modeler" gave me a thought. Those who build the intricate scale planes are modelers. I'm not. I enjoy flying, but don't have the interest in taking on a project that requires such patience and detail. I do a fair share of scratch-building, but none of those planes are scale and, at best are based loosely on an existing aircraft.

Maybe there are two distinct groups within our hobby - modelers and fliers. I guess its a matter of finding which group we best belong and associating with those of more common interests. Now, there is absolutely no reason why one group should feel superior to the other. We can all get along. Bottom line - if someone is an asshole at the flying field, they are as asshole everywhere else. You're better off without them.

And the term "flying coffee cup" immediately made me think, "Hey, that would be a perfect duct for an edf unit!"
+1 here minus the asshole, hey this is a family orientated thread Teach :black_eyed: LOL just joshing. Any way I completly agree. Like monkey said i could not do this as a kid it just was not possible for his reasons and more. I also am not very "crafty" my building skills have a lot to be desired. I do find it fun to scratchbuild and love the acomplishment when I get it right. I get it wrong most of the time LOL however I love flying more than I love building. I also enjoy watching other folks with their new planes whether it was a scratchbuild a glo plane or whatever. This hobby is fun. I once was accused on another form of "buying into his beloved hobby" and when I questioned his reply as to his definition of buyin into a hobby and did he not ever purchase a kit when starting out? He was quickly offended a went away. No big deal brush that sorta thing off. I have spoken with "snobish" club members but have met more "nonsnobish" This hobby is way to much fun for a snob to ruin it for me. Great reply to the magazine and I hope they print it. I may have to look for that magazine. I am not much of a reader of Magazines except for when I am using my throne :D

Oh how I do want to make a plane with coffee cup and coffe can could be a cool flying piece. The flying folgers hmm
 
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pgerts

Old age member
Mentor
#13
There has always been "conservatives", telling that you have to build a stick-and-tissue glider and trim it to understand.
When the RTF Cessna from ArtTech arrived - it was a revolution. A junior could pick up a decent plane and with some help learn to fly at a low cost.
It is, in my opinion, no idea to start arguing with those old pilots with low "AMA- numbers". All respect to them. Many of them cant fly an electric ARF or IC today because of age, but they have a lot of good stories to tell if you have time to listen and not argue.
 

earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#14
Those old school planes are definitely as much art as engineering. There is nothing wrong with being a purist and those guys should take an enormous amount of pride in their abilities. But, the only way to keep those skills alive is to draw new people into the modeling hobby.
 

Mike oxbig

15% nitro is my cologne
#15
There are all types of people in this hobby. Who is to say one aspect is more valid than others?

Personally I've kit built a Goldberg cub, still need to cover it and maiden it. I've scratch built a foamie. I've flown rtf planes and helis. And I've flown arfs. Each one is something different from the rest but none are better or more important than the other.
 

Tritium

Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
#16
Nearly every plane / flying machine I have seen looses all the detail you want to build in at 100' distance. Only basic shapes count then.
Come to think of it that same rule applies to many females. :rolleyes:
Thurmond
 
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lobstermash

Propaganda machine
Mentor
#17
Walk a mile in their shoes. Then you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

I like to fly. If someone's jealous that your flying career progresses 10x faster than their did because you've got better tools available... Well, that's not your fault. And if they hold that against you because you can do stuff that they can't, because you've taken the opportunity to learn on a foamie or a simulator without the risk of smashing up 6-12 months of building...
 

colorex

Rotor Riot!
Mentor
#20
Guys, remember this thread a few years of the future when you have flown hundreds of planes and a newb asks you "What's an elevator?"

(Bad kind of) Pride is a defect that comes with being human. One must fight it so it does not overcome one.