Inevitably, whether we’re at an event hundreds of miles away or flying locally, an observer begins
asking about our hobby. Although
there is no such thing as a silly or
wrong question—I consider it a
great opportunity to get him or her
on a buddy box, simulator, or even
better, to become a club member—
sometimes these inquiries force us to
take a closer look at ourselves.
Often, our responses end up
shedding light on our thoughts and
habits, reminding us of just how
passionate, determined, and even
defensive we are about flying RC.
So here we go:
“Do you own a real airplane?”
We can’t help but feel a tad
offended although we know what
the person means. Let’s
see … Real: live engine?
Check. Real: live spinning
propeller? Check again.
Heck, this hobby even has
insurance. Sounds pretty
darn real to me.
Naturally we explain
that yes, these are very real,
many of us
have a full-scale pilot license, so
we’ll happily talk about
that “real” airplane, too.
“You fly models?
Oh. So you don’t have
any hobbies like golf or
Oh boy. Part of us
wants to unleash a
sarcastic zinger that’s
so clever that he or
she may faint on the
spot, but we know the
question wasn’t asked
in jest, so we’re okay
with this one.
suggestion that this
is not a “normal”
Depending on the airplane and our
skills, we can fly in our own backyard,
in a gym, over a lake, or in a living
We have variety in speed, size, and
talent, all kinds of tools and glue, and
similar to skiing or needlepoint, a bevy
of other aspects such as community
forums, trade shows, events, good days,
and bad ones.
“How high do they go?”
Scott Annis, president of the Millis
Model Aircraft Club in Massachusetts
and frequent flier of Giant Scale
warbirds, tells people that “they can
go higher than we can see them, but
typically, we stay below 400 feet.” The
question often makes us more aware
of our habits and limitations and
often entails discussions about field
boundaries, being mindful of our last
input, knowing our airplanes, and not
always giving in to our overzealous
Annis joked that this question is also
something of a health-check reminder.
“If we tended to shun eye-doctor
appointments in the past, we certainly
don’t do it as much as modelers,” he
said. “Anything higher than 400 feet is
certainly doable [except near an active
airport], but of course the higher we
go, the more the ‘eye-squint factor’
comes into play, so it’s often best to
fight the urge to fly until our airplane
becomes a black speck.” He concluded
that no amount of squinting or visor
adjusting helps when we get too far
ahead of ourselves up there.
Hmmm. Forget fries. Maybe carrots
Five common questions curious people
ask RC pilots
We fly and yes
indeed, it is a
hobby. Just as are
golf, tennis, and …
How high can they go? Pretty high. Our eyeglasses typically
work fine. When binoculars are needed, we realize we may
have pushed the envelope.
111 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2013
SKY’S THE LIMIT