Can't see my planes, is it my eyes? - RC Groups
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Nov 05, 2003, 11:34 AM
Lost in Kuwait

Can't see my planes, is it my eyes?

I have a slight stigmatism (speeling), and am not able to judge distances accurately at night time with all the lights, I can judge distances well enough to drive and other such things just not as well as i would like (ie perfect vision), I'm not even restricted to having to wear any type of corrective lenses while driving.

enough of that part, my problem is this: I started flying with the GWS Sopwith Camel, nice slow easy flying airplane, enjoyed it alot, even with the pound of CA that found it's way on there while learning the basics. After i was more comfortable with flying it, i started flying it further and further away from me, and that's when i first started noticing that after about 200yds i can't tell if it's coming towards me with it's right side towards me, like 45 degrees towards me, or if it's left side is towards me. I was able to overcome this by paying extreme close attention to what inputs i gave to the plane. but now i have a GWS Zero, the 3 flights i've down have ended 20 - 30 seconds after launching with the plane spiraling towards the earth, and i can't tell which side is the top of the plane and which side is the bottom, now the plane has the default paint scheme on it, dark green top, light grey on the bottom of the wings, seems to me like a good contrast, but i can't see it at all, is there ANY way to help me see my plane better? I would like to be able to fly this thing, i don't want to be stuck with just slow park flyers without ailerons.
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Nov 05, 2003, 12:17 PM
Registered User
I've found that to judge orientation at a distance requires extreme contrast, like black on the bottom and bright yellow or white on the top of the wings. Smaller planes make this harder, as do faster planes.

Also, if possible you should have a more experienced pilot fly your plane. It may be that your CG is way off or it is so far out of trim that it really can't fly. Might not really be a visual problem...
Nov 05, 2003, 12:47 PM
Registered User
alangorham's Avatar
My Dad has almost exactly the same symptoms you describe - and also the same result.

A plane that I can fly fine (a small fast thing with ailerons) he spins into the ground when it's about 200yds away. Obviously I can't be sure it's the same thing because I am relying on second-hand diagnosis from him of what HE thinks the plane is doing, but we have found that he can fly a slower rudder-elevator plane OK (even then his perception of distance is not great).

It sounds like you should restrict your flying to slower models until you've had some professional advice.

Nov 05, 2003, 02:23 PM
Closet Extrovert
Jim Poor's Avatar
Another thing to consider:

Military planes have been painted dark on top light on bottom in order to make them HARDER to see. The light blends with the sky while looking up, the dark with the ground looking down.
There are a lot of good articles on color choices. Most recommend light on top, dark on bottom.
Nov 05, 2003, 02:35 PM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar
Your description is almost exactly the same as I had- loss of orientation from a three-quarter view of the model at any sort of distance. I also have a moderately severe stigmatism and whilst flying indoors found it very difficult to judge the distance to the wall, resulting in several hits on the wall.

There are a couple of points to make. Firstly at 200m distance I don't think that we have any significant input to judging distance from our binocular vision, your eyes would have to be three feet apart for that to work. Judging distance there is done by scaling of objects and our perceptions of objects that we know the size of. If I had a pound for every time someone landed out whislt thinking they had crossed the threshold I'd be flying full scale rather than models. Secondly even if you are not required to wear corrective lenses for driving you should consider them for flying. I took the plunge in earnest last year and it made a tremendous difference, I can't imagine flying without glasses now. You don;t say how old you are but as we get older our eyes become less able to accomdate unfavourable lighting conditions, if, like me your stigmatism has caused one good eye to carry a weaker eye for some time then as the eyes get older that ability to carry a passenger diminishes.

It would be a good idea to have a chat with a decent eye doctor and explain that you feel you might need some help with flying your models.

The colour schemes that you fly with make a huge difference as well in helping with orientation. If you like camoflaged aeroplanes you might find to your cost that the camo sometimes works too well. Strongly contrasting upper and lower surfaces, clues to orientation such as stripes under the wing and other bright markings all help. I found that invasion stripes under the wing on my Spitfire help tremendously so that might be worth a try.

Good luck with a solution to your problem.

Nov 05, 2003, 02:39 PM
Registered User
Boy can I relate to that. I don't know about you but I am getting pretty close to 70 and my sight is not what it used to be. Not sure that we can do anything but keep a bit closer in and paint so that it might be easier to identify the planes attitude. I kid that it seems the older the R/C pilots the larger the models such as giant this and that, I think they are compensating for vision problems.....just kidding of course. I also find that it helps to fly high so that if I do have a problem it gives me more time to react and get back to full control. In the meantime rest assured you are not alone. Gud Flying........Dick
Nov 05, 2003, 03:01 PM
Dead stick!!
Peter Young's Avatar
I can also relate to this. I gave up glow flyiong because I found it hard to see my low wing sports plane properly. The move from a 70" trainer to a 50" sports plane was a disaster for this reason - I just never felt comfortable. However I find park flying a bit easier. I can just manage our little Projetti, but much prefer my gliders. There's a thought - get an electric glider!
Nov 05, 2003, 04:41 PM
Lost in Kuwait
hehe all good Ideas and will try to implement them as soon as i get a new ESC (went to my Hummingbird Heli), for those asking or skipping on, i'm 23, and yes wear my glasses all the time, except 'round the house 'cause i usually forget and don't notice, I just used the thing 'bout not being restricted to wearing them while i drive for effect of how slight my vision problem is, shoot if I wasn't single i'd prolly not wear 'em except to drive and fly
Nov 05, 2003, 04:59 PM
Go Leafs Go!
Fantam's Avatar
Better check my eyes, never seen a GWS Sopwith Camel. ?? : )
Nov 05, 2003, 05:21 PM
Lost in Kuwait
ack, my bad, tiger moth , hey it's been a while, and truly does it really look that much like a Tiger Moth?
Nov 05, 2003, 05:56 PM
Grejen's Avatar
200m is pretty far away for a small fast parkie. Even after lots of experience "at altitude" I still occasionally loose orientation on my gliders when they get that high. Try maintaining orientation while circling a 2meter glider in a thermal at 300-400m and it disappears completely each time it comes around and points directly toward or away from my line of sight. Practice by watching eagles and seagulls soaring.

When I started flying the Beaver at or near dusk (with lights) I was loosing orientation once every minute or so!. I have prescription glasses which are not very strong at all. I can drive without them in a pinch during the day but at 200m I don't think I could see the Beaver at all.
Nov 05, 2003, 08:26 PM
Registered User
Just gone through the "summer of hell" because I could no longer see correctly and was having the same sorts of problems. Get your eyes checked by a competent professional. I just had my last surgery and at this point, even with temporary glasses I can see better that I have in years. Went out with the sailplane crowd sunday and had no problems seeing the planes at hundreds of yards away.
Nov 06, 2003, 07:28 AM
an earth bound misfit, I
Basketcase's Avatar
Hi Arror,

How about another 2 cent opinion?

200 yards is a long way, why not just fly in closer? I doubt if I ever fly any of my planes, aileron or not, more than 500 feet away from me.

And some brighter paint would probably help. One guy I fly with has a Zero and it tends to disappear when it's below the tree line. The camo does work, even on models.

It looks more like a Tigermoth than a Sopwith Camel.


real Tigermoth
Last edited by Basketcase; Nov 07, 2003 at 08:59 AM.
Nov 06, 2003, 07:29 AM
an earth bound misfit, I
Basketcase's Avatar
My GWS Tigermoth...
Nov 07, 2003, 12:06 AM
Pack Rat
KLH's Avatar
Good glasses and contrasting colors on the top and bottom of your models will make a big differance, but size and speed also come into play here.
Until I was about 50 I had exceptional eye sight and pretty good hand eye coordination, but over the last 16 years my old eyes have gotten a lot weaker and good glasses have become a must. Also about 14 years ago I lost the sense of touch in the finger tips of my right hand. As a result of those two problems the type, size and speed of the planes I fly and the distance away from me I allow them to get has changed a bunch.
Been building and flying models since I was 10 and even though I've had to make some serious adjustments in what and how I fly over the last 15 years it's still my favorite hobby.


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