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Nov 03, 2017, 11:41 PM
"I will return" Federico
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Flying Solo


In my early RC days flying slope and power planes I looked forward to a quiet airfield and having the sky to myself. It rarely happened while living in Southern California or stationed at a Navy base. I sometimes went out of my way to find secluded places to fly, driving to hidden coves along the beach, inland to a remote hilltop, or up into the mountains where the giant scale sailplanes flew in some serious winds, piloted by guys with more guts than I ever had.

Now that I'm finally competing in aerobatics and need time and airspace to practice, I have mixed feelings about arriving at my club's airfield to find the gate locked and no one there. I have opened that gate after work and on weekends, and locked up long after sunset, more times than I can count. We have 85 members at our club, yet I am often the only one flying at our field.

Granted, I will fly in less than ideal conditions: in gaps between thunderstorms, in strong winds, in the heat and cold. Competition has made that a necessity. We did have a few pilots come out for our Chili Fly last Saturday, when the temperature was struggling to get above 40 degrees and the clouds threatened rain at any moment. I went back to fly again the next day, with the winds a bit stronger and the thermometer stuck at 40 again, and I had the field to myself. On a Sunday afternoon. I went after work today, with the air feeling balmy at 52 and the sun finally pushing back a week of gloomy skies, and once again I arrived to an empty field.

This is both good and bad. Good for me to get more flight time and practice for IMAC, and bad for anyone with hopes of beating me. (Ha!) But kidding aside, this hobby has always been more enjoyable when you have people to share it with, when you can get help if you need it, and when there is someone to shoot the breeze with for a few minutes when taking a break between flying. I didn't appreciate that aspect of the hobby as much when I was younger as I do now. The camaraderie that happens in the heat of competition has been good, but that makes coming home to an empty field even harder.

Flying solo is great and has its benefits. Cherish your wingman, though, if you have one, and appreciate your flying buddies. It's part of what makes this hobby so fun.
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