From The Lab September 1997 - RC Groups

From The Lab September 1997

Steve does electric flight East Asian style.

OK, what happened to 'From the Lab'? Business (yes, I do work for a living) has taken me exactly halfway around the world to Singapore and Malaysia, which are about 12,000 miles from my lab. This column is being written in Singapore, where I met up with fellow EFLIGHT subscribers and electric modelers Allan Teo and K.C. Tsang. I had previously exchanged emails with both, without ever thinking that one day we would meet face to face. The Electric Flight community may be spread very thin, but it is a small world, courtesy of the Internet. It was very nice to meet up with fellow modelers so far from home.

There are not a lot of modelers in this city of 3.2 million, and very few electric flight modelers - perhaps 10 or 15 out of 400 RC modelers. Nonetheless, our hobby seems to show up everywhere. For those of you who do not get to see the E-Zone web server statistics, let me assure you that our readership is very international, with web site hits from around the world.

Before arriving in the Orient, I had emailed Allan to let him know (approximately) when I would be arriving in Singapore. Getting to Allan's house was a rather interesting trip, which included exchanging my westbound-via-Japan tickets for eastbound-via-Holland ones, and eventually walking across the Malaysia-Singapore border because I could not find either a taxi or even the right place to buy a bus ticket. Actually, it could have even been more complicated if I had found a 'teksi', but I did find a very helpful taxi driver in Singapore, who was actually able to find Allan's house with little more than an address - and accepted foreign currency - try that in a US taxi!

K. C. Tsang and Allan Teo at a street restaurant in Singapore, where we stopped for what they insisted was breakfast. It seemed kind of late for breakfast, as I had been up since 2AM - my body was still trying to figure out the 12 hour time shift.


Most homes in Singapore are short on space. K.C. stores some of his models hanging up in the stairwell.

Other models are stored atop a kitchen cabinet, and the kitchen light fixture. Models seemed to be stored in every nook and cranny of the house - and K.C. has a family living there, too!

Here I am in K.C.'s workshop. All of it! It appears to have originally been a walk in closet.

K.C. showing me the Phibros, a UK made flying wing slope soarer. On the table below it is a Poly Bob HLG.

K.C. and Allan took me on a wild ride around Singapore, and I got to see all sorts of industrial sites, construction sites, proposed construction sites, piers, and a lot of the city. We finally arrived at the first of 4 places where we saw people flying RC. This is the Bukit Batok RC Club, which is the only officially sanctioned RC flying field in the country. All of the other fields we saw were ad hoc flying sites.

After driving through an amazing number of other construction, pre-construction, and pre-pre-construction sites (the entire city seems to be under construction!) we arrived at the second of the three ad-hoc flying sites we saw, and the only one where Allan wanted to actually fly his planes. Everyone else was flying glow, and there were a number of helicopters. As you can see, the site is very rough. The runway is actually the sub-base for future road construction, and much of the field was covered with debris. Not exactly a glider friendly place, and even the planes with landing gear had a hard time.

Allan assembling the NSP/FVK Electron 400 before flight (best time to do it!). Nice flying plane, and very quick to assemble from the almost-ready-to-fly kit.

I felt like a real secret agent here, as two of the locals tried to kill me by crashing a plane and a helicopter within a few feet of where I was standing, while I was flying one of Allan's planes. In the background you can see more of the flying site.

Allan flies Mode 1, as do most of the modelers here, which means aileron (or rudder) are on the right stick, and elevator is on the left stick. This took a few very exciting minutes to get used to - I am not sure who got more excited, Allan or me!

You may not see RC flyers everywhere you look, but there seem to be a few almost everywhere you can go. Next time you travel somewhere unusual, try posting a message to Eflight asking if there are any e-flyers at your destination. You may have a great opportunity to make some new friends.

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