Rob Cobb and Jeff Gee demonstrated model building on National Model Aviation
Day 2016. Many tools and techniques are needed for even a simple airplane!
Attention deficit leads to disorder
I’ve recently been involved in an industrial safety project: trying to stop a rash of motor vehicle incidents.
These professional drivers hit stationary
objects. It’s tough to explain to your
boss why you drove into a tree or a
wall! Such minor, but expensive, crashes
happen too often at my company.
Of course, each one is completely
preventable (and no, I’m not one of the
perpetrators … lately).
One theory is that the drivers are
concentrating on the wrong things. As
they park, their minds are on whatever
tasks will be performed at the job site.
Then, at departure time, they are either
mulling over whatever work they just
did, or are thinking about the next stop
on their schedule.
Either way, they are paying insufficient
attention to the objects around parked
vehicles. That’s where a driver’s mind
and eyes should be focused when the
vehicle is in motion. The result is a
bunch of bent trucks and flattened
mailboxes. A solution has not been
found, and the struggle continues.
This situation translates directly to our
hobby. Working with miniature aircraft
involves a variety of skills! We need to
shift our mental gears each time that
we start new work on our models. It’s
hard to maintain the proper level of
concentration for every task.
After tightening a mounting screw
(low level of attention required), for
example, we might pick up a power drill
to make a hole for the next fastener. All
of a sudden, the risk level has jumped.
Eye protection is now needed, along
with more attention to the task at hand.
After that, we might sit down and
study the instruction manual again. Not
much danger there! The minor perils of
model building change from moment
to moment, and we need to adjust our
concentration to match the work.
Imagine the mental jump we must
do when going from wiping down a
cowling to starting the engine. Holding
a rag is different from picking up a live
transmitter, and our minds need to make
a fast change from relaxed, daydreaming
mode to full attention on a soon-to-be-spinning propeller. Sometimes, someone
fails to have the appropriate level of
concentration, with painful results.
It might be possible to consciously
help ourselves focus on the right things.
If we are aware of the changing need for
attentiveness, we take merely a second
to plan ahead and prepare for the next
part of our flight preparation routine.
“Okay, the hatches are secured. It’s time
to pay attention to engine startup. Let’s
get serious now.”
I experienced this mental gear-shift
phenomenon on National Model
Aviation Day, during a Black Sheep
Squadron club model-building
demonstration at the California
Science Center in Los Angeles. Even
constructing a simple aircraft requires
several skills and tools. Many people
who passed by became spectators when
they saw what we were doing.
I had the opportunity to screw up
many times, depending on what I was
working on when a question was asked.
Multitasking is difficult for me. I can
safely operate sandpaper while chatting,
but I need to say, “Excuse me for a
moment” when using a rotary tool, or
there might be an entertaining mishap.
Adjust to the proper attention level or
Non-modelers are amazed at the
many skills required to construct even
the simplest model. Learning to safely
master a variety of tasks and tools is part
of our hobby’s appeal.
The models that we built were
13-inch profile replicas of air racer
and test pilot Tony Levier’s full-scale
Monocoupe, which was on display
93 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2016 www.ModelAviation.com
SAFETY COMES FIRST