An unexpected evening . . . in more ways than one
Here in Lubbock, modelers really enjoy a great indoor flying facility. Not only is the facility spacious but it is also conveniently located next to I-27 and affordable. Whatever challenges, problems, or situations we might face at the site, they are typically attributed to our own ineptitude. And such was the case for me last Tuesday evening.
To be sure, flying is not new to me. I had been in the modeling hobby since childhood days and continued intermittently throughout adulthood. The amount of time spent in the hobby, however, always had to be compromised with school and then later with family and work responsibilities. So, only when life permitted, did I find time to hone in my skills and attempt to fly competitively. Recently, after retiring, I heard that Lubbock had indoor RC flying and I wondered whether this would be the venue for my latest return to the hobby I love so well.
I did what most of indoor fliers probably do. I invested several months to learn about electric motors, how the indoor planes were constructed, and to watch how others fly the models within a confined air space. Then when I started indoor flying months ago, I also accumulated my share of unspeakable mistakes such flying into the walls, basketball backboards, and other architectural obstacles. But, on the Tuesday evening of March 13th, I thought I had moved past the learning stage and was ready to advance to higher heights of indoor flying (no pun intended). I arrived early at the facility with the expectation of checking some of the more advanced characteristics of my newly constructed F3P aircraft. After a few minutes of some preliminary trim checks, I progressed through inspection of inverted flight and several other basic maneuvers when I noticed that flying on the knife edge with left rudder was accompanied by a strong pull to the belly. So I landed and added clay to the nose in an attempt to correct the adverse tendency. Simultaneously, I thought that I should also examine the effect that the added nose weight would have on the pitch control. So after a quick knife-edge test, I made a straight, level pass and commenced in what I had anticipated would be a large inside loop. The plane rose in a graceful half circle as expected. Then as I shifted my eye direction to anticipate the plane’s downward flight trajectory, I heard an abrupt “thump” followed by dead silence. My heart sank as I understood the implications. Rather than complete the loop, my plane struck a rafter. Moreover, the plane was stuck.
My plane was stuck so high on the rafters that firemen would probably not risk their lives to retrieve a model airplane. The reality was unmistakably clear. I could only walk back toward the pit area in shock. My head hung low as depression set in. That is when I saw Gary approach me. In a calm voice, Gary said something to the effect that he could help. I don’t remember his exact words as I was loss in my own thoughts. But I remember that Gary's words sounded reassuring and probably conveyed more optimism than anything I could imagine. With a transmitter in one hand and an RC model in the other, Gary accompanied me back to the approximate area where my plane was stuck. Because the plane had struck the rafter at the top of the loop maneuver, I suggested that a nudge from the front would probably dislodge the plane. He visually appraised the situation, turned on radio and motor, and, in what seemed like just a second or so, flew straight up to the rafters, and brought my plane to the floor. I stood there momentarily speechless. The apparent ease and speed of solving my problem was striking. It was like the feeling of a dying man who awakens following surgery to discover he can now pursue a productive life again. Such events just don’t happen often.
Call it lucky or whatever you wish. I only know that I am extremely fortunate and grateful . . . so grateful that I want to share this story with everyone. So, if I failed to express my appreciation adequately that evening, thank you Gary!
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