How do you tell a flyer he's too old to fly? - RC Groups
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Jun 13, 2012, 11:09 AM
Yea, I fly dusty planes..
zeezee's Avatar

How do you tell a flyer he's too old to fly?

This morning my good friend came over to see my new build and to fly his planes. After coffee we walked out to my airstrip and he got setup. Tommy is 83 (me 58) and a little shaky lately. Last week he came over to fly his Kadet Senior and as I watched him setup for flight I was thinking that it may not go well. He got it in the air and I kept telling him to get more altitude but he kept bringing it down. As he flew the plane he was telling me that it was twitchy but have had flown the plane I knew better, it's a stable bird, a floater. All of a sudden he came down low and as he tried to come up stalled it, destroying his plane I wanted to say something but kept my lips zipped offering my sincere condolences. So we go out to my field and he pulls out his 3DHS Edge and gets ready. I flew it already and set it up especially for him (with his TX) and it flew very well. This guy has been flying longer than I have been alive and was a top pilot. The plane was all over the sky and I was worried and then he comes down low and BANG Strike2 I'm afraid my buddys flying days are over. How do you help him understand that? I remember telling my mom that I had to take the car keys, don't want to go there again..ZEE
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Jun 13, 2012, 11:40 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
You don't. It's a self-solving issue once he runs out of planes.

Jun 13, 2012, 11:43 AM
Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum!
Doubletap's Avatar
Oh boy...........I feel so bad for your buddy, and my personal experience helps me to relate what he is going through. This is what I recommend. You know as well as anyone, that you will never be able to stop a lifelong RC pilot to at least attempt what he loves to do. However, because of his current condition, he can and should for many reasons, the most important is safety for everyone including himself. With you standing by, he should transition to more suitable models, meaning resilient foam airframes, and perhaps electric powered gliders would be easier to see and control with their ample surface area and subdued control response, also being foam, they will be able to withstand moderate impacts without being completely rekitted, only sustaining minimal damage that can be easily fixed. This way, he can still fly but with less risk. This is exactly what I did 2 years ago after getting out of the hospital. I had suffered a massive near fatal hemorrhagic stroke just before my 46 yrs old birthday, requiring an emergency craniotomy, but the brain damage from the hemorrhage was so extensive that I am disabled in many ways now, including I lost half of my vision. But that didn't stop me to try to continue participating in my lifelong hobby. But I recognized that I wasn't the same and my abilities now are much different than before my stroke. I decided that the only way I can proceed is to make adjustments to my activities to suit my curent condition. That's where I discovered that EPO foam and large and gentle flying electric sailplanes are much more suitable to my current disabilities. I just can't fly like I used to but foamy EP gliders allow me to get into the air with minimal stand-by supervision from my flying buddy, so I still am able to experience the RC flight I love so much. but with much less financial and physical risk to myself and the general public. I Apologize for my rambling /incoherent poor typing, I still have some expressive aphasia as a result of the stroke, so speech and reading/typing is fairly difficult for me. Anyways, good luck to your buddy and you to make any transitions to keep him in the game as long as he can. BTW, should you need any assistance in this matter, don't hesitate to contact me via PM, I'll be happy to assist in any way I can.


Al, AKA "Doubletap", <RC Lifer>
Jun 13, 2012, 11:43 AM
Hobby King Hater
Kimber's Avatar
How well do you know him! Be more than a friend. Maybe he needs to be on a
buddy box at this time?? Mainly be there what ever happens.


We posted together, you have it down the center line.


Not to go in to details, but I know where you are coming from,
several members here know our situation and have been
there for us.

Jun 13, 2012, 11:45 AM
Registered User
eddy4753's Avatar
Now that's a sad and tough one to deal with. I'm 65 and have a hard time seeing my planes due to several needed eye surgeries and I know the end of my flying days are near. I am going to keep flying and crashing till I have no more planes, kind of going out in glory.

Hopefully, your friend can/will do the same, providing that he can maintain personal safety for himself and others. It's a tough thing getting older and I commend you for being such a concerned, understanding and faithful friend. It's painfully sad to try and put an end to what is part of a mans soul.

The best for you and your friend,

Jun 13, 2012, 11:48 AM
Always Ready!
warhead_71's Avatar
That's unfortunate... but we all get old and eventually can no longer "safely" do the things we used to love doing. Maybe crashing two planes is the writing on the wall and Tommy will realize it himself... but if not, you have to be concerned for the safety of bystanders as well. Imagine if he had crashed into a crowd instead -- those are big planes. I'd be equally concerned if he drives like he flies. I guess as a friend, you should just look him in the eyes and tell him you are concerned... hard as that might seem. Otherwise, maybe you can contact his spouse or family and let them soften the blow?

Just thinking out loud: maybe you could get him to sell some of his planes and get an FPV setup that you could put in one of your planes... so he can "ride" while you fly.
Jun 13, 2012, 12:31 PM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar
I am nearing the end of riding my Indian Chief motorcycle due to arthritis in my knees . I can still fly RC models well but have trouble seeing smaller ones at a distance in haze, etc even after cataract surgery. It's sad watching many shaky old guys, new to RC, or retreads, crashing their models and making the same mistakes. Maybe it's reluctance to find an instructor or use a sim to revive needed reflexes. Maybe some just don't have the mental and physical abilites remaining to fly enjoyably and safely. Not everybody is a Bob Hoover. Choice of model is important for old and young beginners.
Jun 13, 2012, 12:37 PM
Suspended Account
Speak loudly in to his good ear, then run.
Jun 13, 2012, 12:42 PM
Registered User
Tough call there! I think Kimber has a great idea. Tell him you hate to see him having trouble with his "twitchy" planes and that a B box with 2 sets of thumbs might just save his planes. That might work better than saying that he is all washed up.
Jun 13, 2012, 01:46 PM
I fly 3-C Crash,Crunch,Crumble
Mr. foambuilder's Avatar
This is more than tough, it is heart wrenching, and more than most can stand. I once had a friend that had a heart attack, and i gently took him aside (out for a lunch) and explained to him the problem he was presenting (safety to himself and others) I offered to buddy box him, and did for a long time, till one day the big one hit him. In return, he left me all of his planes and gear, which I sold and gave the funds to his family. Just helping him enjoy the hobby till the end was payment enough. BTW, I took him to the hospital on his first attack, which occured at our local flying field. Talk to the family for more guidance. Roy Still going strong, but much slower after 53 yrs flying.
Jun 13, 2012, 02:09 PM
Yea, I fly dusty planes..
zeezee's Avatar
Thanks for the caring responses. Tommy is like a dad to me and we are close. BTW, I bet he has 50 planes in his house that are in varying stages, all at one time flyable. He has 2 fliers at the time. He just called me and gave me the damage report on the Edge and was glad he had a plane to rebuild. He lives alone in his "hanger". He also told me that his eye to hand reflexes are not what they used to be, saying that he believed his flying days are nearing a end. WHEW!!! He asked me would I be willing to sell him my PZ SE5a that he has always loved and it being a stable slow flyer along with being foam. I have it detailed to the max with flying wires, wire wheels and paint. I told him that I couldn't bear to sell it because of all the work I had in it and how much I just liked looking at it and he agreed. I'm gettin ready to take a quick ride over to his house and give him his new SE5a. I just respect the man, ya know. His nerves are the result of his battles in the Korean war and all of the terrible things he was forced to do and see. BTW, guys, no one is in danger from a crashing plane on my property as I have 60 acres surrounded by a buffer zone. Good air! ZEE
Jun 13, 2012, 02:16 PM
Registered User
Dave - do give that buddy box idea a long look! He might really appreciate that you're willing/wanting to help him extend his flying time!
Jun 13, 2012, 02:22 PM
2 many planes & 2 little time
scootrb4's Avatar
NICE story Zee, I'm glad I read this, Good luck & God Bless.
Jun 13, 2012, 02:26 PM
Gilbert AZ
Get him a slow stick.
Jun 13, 2012, 02:50 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Or perhaps try to get him into a slightly different hobby. How about model photography and video ?

Many flier would love to have good quality flying shots and videos where you can actually see what sort of plane it is (yes, a keychain camera mounted on my glasses doesn't exactly give many videos worth watching).

It's not just the elderly who struggle to fly either. When teaching my eldest son to fly many years ago, it became obvious that he was having a problem with distance and orientation. That's how we found out he needed glasses.

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