Of age and civility
I've begun the preliminary repairs on the Zero. I reinstalled the framework for the fuel tank support (with as many of the original pieces as I could find) and reinforced it with some balsa. Once I repair the tail, I can turn my attention to the wing. Success!
I wish the rest of my day was as pleasant.
Today was as perfect a day for flying as one can imagine. In fact, I was one of the first at the field where a loose band of hobbyists like myself meet on Sunday mornings. The fellow who gave me the Zero brings a frequency board with him...but he arrived much later than I did.
There generally aren't any frequency issues, but those who grab the pins ask aloud if anyone is on that frequency.
Had a frequency issue today.
An elderly seasonal visitor flies on channel 50. My little Flyzone Cessna is on 50 as well. He hadn't verified that anyone else was on the frequency.
He arrived considerably later than I and was in the air when I switched my transmitter back on...and I had previously verified that no one else was on the channel.
The result was predictable. I sent the man's plane nose down into the dirt.
Before I go on, I have to say that the folks who come out to that field are some of the nicest in town, including the seasonal visitors. The only really poor attitudes belong to, well, the snowbirds. One of those snowbirds utterly refuses to check frequencies and has splashed a few planes as a result.
But I digress.
He and I had a minor frequency issue once before; I hadn't picked up the frequency pin, but neither had he and he just laid into me.
Oh, the fireworks today.
This guy refused my apology or any offer on my behalf to repay him for any damage, such as it was. The plane was a homemade and unadorned blue foam profiler. Didn't take long before things got a bit heated.
Since discretion is the better part of valor, I left the field. I was certainly sorry about the mishap, but furious over this man's lack of civility.
My father turns 72 in a couple of days. He's youthful, brash and vibrant. He works out on a daily basis (a helluva lot more than I do), plays with computers and has not one but two iPods full of music ranging from easy listening to classic rock. One handshake and the man is immediately and forever your friend. In short, he isn't old in the sense of "crotchety old man."
One R/C pilot there today flew P-40 Warhawks. The real deal. In the real war. Sharp, intelligent and articulate, this gentleman is as up to date as anyone in their 20s, let alone pushing 90. These are the sorts of men I look up to at age 46, the types of people I want to be when I'm north of 70.
I can't picture my dad reacting the way this guy did, nor can I picture the other pilots of any age present at that field reacting in that way. The friendly twelve-year-old with ADD (by his own admission) who generally attaches himself to me like a remora to a shark witnessed the whole affair and was virtually in tears when I told him that I was leaving and that my day was ruined. It wasn't long before he'd spread the word of my planned departure. Of course, I was asked to stay, but my temper was utterly frayed. So, the planes got packed and off I went.
Will I return to that field on future Sundays? Not likely. I'm reactivating my AMA membership and joining the organized club next week.