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Jul 27, 2017, 01:46 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
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Building models for your own good


I don't have kids, probably left my run too late for that, and I'm in my working years but my industry has just about collapsed and I need to get requalified in something. So I've got time, but few resources. If I want something to fly then effectively I've gotta build it, even in this day and age (sorry but a Hong Kong foamie isn't going to do it for me, and it's not what I'd spend the little I can get on). When my day job finished I had to wait months for unemployment benefits, right in the hard part of a classic boom and bust cycle here. I had scraps of low-grade work for the off-season part of the year so I could usually put ten, twenty dollars a week or fortnight into it, but I really wanted to build and fly model planes. Sounds like a luxury, to invest time and precious resources into basically a toy in that situation, but I think it was just what I needed. I'd built a glider and one or two other little kits in my teens back in the 80's and decided that would do me good.

And I did it, there's a long, drawn-out build thread where I downloaded some plans and built up a trainer, with lots of great support and advice from very generous-minded people, and now I'm soloing that model. It's one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time, I greatly enjoyed it, stayed positive, gained or improved my skills, and wound up with the clubs, meeting people who among other things give me a social circle that helps me make contacts to build new work relationships (gradually). I've always like craftsmanship and nice machines, so it's appealing to me, but most of all with too much time on my hands and not enough going on outside my little unit, it gave me a great focus and a lot of valuable good times, too. One thing that didn't quite go to plan was that I didn't learn to fly on THAT model, but during the last working season I bought a membership, and learned to fly with the few lessons I was actually able to get, and a cheap simulator at home. By then I'd paid off a radio and engine (and was donated some very helpful items by the wonderful, generous people you meet in RC). Now I'm finally soloing that model, and it's actually a good one, I've had lessons on many different trainers and I happen to think mine's my favourite, not just because it's my special project but because it's actually pretty cool (it's an RCM Trainer 60 with a Saito FA-56).

Out of all that, I *don't* think I built that model because I couldn't afford to buy one ready-made, no way! I LOVED building that thing, learning what I was doing, gradually improving my set of hobby tools, a stock of materials and spares, paying off equipment... I really committed to it. My next model is underway, a great quality kit by Bruce Tharpe Engineering (Venture 60), and I'm preparing to build an Ugly Stik next. I've also got a flat-board foam profile-type project that's delayed just now. In the summer when there's work I buy what I need, and it has to carry me through winter - I thought last year was bad but I'm on track to make about a third of that this year, out of my usual work anyway (just today I picked up some basic labourer work for a few weeks, part time).

So maybe I have an extra reason why model building appeals to me, because it was my ticket out of the doledrums and a way to stave off depression, but it's just a great thing to do for yourself anyway, it's very good for you. I always admired people's craftsmanship and I like nifty little machines with precision and build quality, like RC engines for instance, or radios, or a nicely made model. It improved my focus and hand skills and made me a circle of people to stay in touch with, while I continue to try and pull something better together for my future.

People who build have their own reasons and they're usually not like mine, but they all get something from it. Building's not for everyone anyway, most people want their models for flying, and don't want to have to put so much in on the ground. But it really did something for me. Even if I COULD have bought a ready-to-fly model, I was a rank beginner (I don't count tagging along a few times over 30 years ago as any real experience) and I had to learn most of it again. I had bought RC magazines back then too, so i knew about radios, powerplants, types of models and so on, but I'd never got one flying until now. I'd enjoy *owning* a nice ARF but I can't see myself *buying* one any time soon, even if I could. I just loved what that build did for me so much, it was a great apprenticeship in RC, which I'll stay with permanently. I hope I end up building scale, becoming a better pilot, getting other people into it, and getting a job to pay for it

It was hard doing it on so few resources, but I'm glad I diverted some of the few that I had. Flying that thing now feels like a real achievement and I am proud of it. It's earned me some respect and notice that could help me get started in new work, maybe whole new fields. There's more to say about how and why I got into RC but I think you ge tthe idea, if you made it through this far. I do heartilly recommend model building, it's not actually *hard*, just time consuming. But it was a great way to consume some time I wasn't able to spend any better. And it made me happier, what more could I ask.
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