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Old Jun 01, 2010, 12:00 AM
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United States, IL, Champaign
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Flutter-By Karma

I'm not sure my words will do justice to the wonderful event that I was fortunate to be a part of this evening.............but I wanted to share it in hopes that others might also get a charge out of it.

It's Memorial Day, right? Lots of reasons to be thankful and appreciative. Maybe you, like me, went to a cemetery and visited a loved one. Maybe you called on a Serviceman (or Woman) and told them you appreciated what they've done for all of us. Maybe you reflected on friends who have family members who are ill and spent a few moments sending some good thoughts their way. And, if you're lucky, maybe there was a cookout and a gathering of friends and family.

Well I am one of the really lucky ones. This afternoon, I took my Flutter-By with me to a family and friends Graduation Celebration out in the country. I enjoyed unpacking the cooler and the lawn chairs and the Flutter-By. And I especially enjoyed it when an older gentlemen approached and struck up a conversation about his love of flying RC airplanes.

So, we sat down together and started hanger flying. I learned that he - like me - started flying when he was already into his 50's. But he has a couple of decades on me, so I listened and learned about many fascinating things that he has done in his flying career and the veritable treasure trove of airplanes and artifacts that he has collected over his flying career. I heard stories of people that are legend to our hobby and of flights and equipment that happened quite awhile ago. And I learned that this gentleman was in large measure responsible for the club that I am a part of today.

And then I learned that his flying days are over. They ended 15 years ago when he started to lose his ability to confidently see the airplane and "lock in" on exactly what it is doing. When he became convinced that his eyes were bad enough that he was compromising the safety of those who were around him, he stopped flying. That was 15 years ago. Hasn't taken a plane up since. Still loves the airplanes, though, and you could tell that he was enjoying recalling the fun he used to have flying.

Well, since the only thing better than "hanger flying" is actual flying, I picked up the Flutter-By and off we went. We didn't have to go very far, just to an area away from where the younger kids were throwing a football around, and where the women were looking at the flowers. The older gentlemen took note of a few obstructions and cautioned me to take note of the people behind us.

I tossed the Flutter-By in the air and off it went. First, some gentle carving turns, then a couple loops, followed by my best hovers ever, then I punched it and went screaming straight skyward, chopping the throttle at about 150 feet followed by a very leisurely dead-stick return to a landing at our feet. I'm a novice pilot, but I was flying well and it was important to me to do so as the gentlemen who was watching was an accomplished flyer in his day.

I was thrilled when he commented that the Flutter-By was an "impressive plane"; and I was even more thrilled when he said that he'd been able to see it well throughout the flight I had just flown. Perfect. Another toss in the air and 50 feet later, with the Flutter-By flying hands off straight, level, and slow, I handed him the transmitter.

I'm not sure what I expected to happen next. Perhaps he'd just lazy it around the sky close in where he could see it well. Maybe he'd attempt a few more aggressive maneuvers and then lose it and pile it in. No matter, the fun of watching him re-discover the thrill of flight after 15 years was pure magic for me. He was welcome to do whatever he wanted with the plane.

What he did do was to perform, aggresively, a series of inside and outside loops, Immelmans, Inverted flight, Dives and Spins. He flew it with complete control and confidence. I was in awe that 15 years of rust fell off in no time whatsover. And I was a bit surprised when he announced that he was ready for me to take the plane back. Perhaps his eyes were still a bit out of shape. Or maybe his eyes, like mine, were tearing up just a bit. Priceless.

I made a new friend today. And, thanks to the Flutter-By, my new friend re-discovered an old friend - "Flying"!

Thank you, Jack Frost, for the incredible Flutter-By, and for all the fun I'm having with it. I hope your Memorial Day was as memorable as mine!
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