Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Friday, 28 August 2015

I Have Committed Aviation

And May God Have Mercy On My Soul.

The fact is that He already has. My first foray into the fine art of recreational aviation was with one of these:

That machine is a lot fancier than my beloved Turd Bird. That one looks to be sporting a serious Rotax 912 aviation engine whereas mine had a crappy two stroke Rotax 503 snowmobile engine. Arrogance and pride were other sins I committed, for I grew up with dirt bikes, snowmobiles, ATV's and boats...and these machines are NOT anything like those other ones. The problem isn't that they are unsafe; in the hands of a knowledgeable pilot they are no more dangerous than your average motorcycle. The problem is the learning curve: it's straight up, and you can get into fatal trouble without even knowing it. Your car can run (and run well) with one or several loose bolts. A loose bolt on an ultralight can kill you. I was a low time pilot with hardly any experience when my engine crapped out on climb out. When that happens you land on whatever is in front of you. For me, the choice was either a sewage lagoon or a standing crop of canola.

I chose the canola.

I hauled in my control bar to descend and pick up airspeed and controllability - and powered into that canola with every last ounce of kinetic energy I had! I still remember the horizon going round and round as I summersaulted the machine about three times. When I crawled out from under the wreckage my machine was a ruin - but I was totally, and completely unscathed. The old ego took a chit kickin' and my pride and heart were broken...and the local pros did their best to help out. "Everyone crashes in this game, Filthie. EVERYONE. What you did there was a text-book controlled crash, and you walked away! Call it a win and smile!"

See that control bar the pilot in the pic is using to fly the bird? That is lightweight chrome moly steel tubing. The one on my machine bent around my chest on impact and as God is my witness (and protector) - I didn't have a bruise or a scratch to show for it. I took this as a gentle warning that He didn't want to share his heavenly skies with me, so I thanked Him for his patience and stepped out of the game. 

Aviation for me is like sailing for others. A part of my soul still longs for the skies and always will. So it was that God took pity on me again and I bumped into some old farts I knew in front of a hobby shop. The result?

I was with one of my younger friends - call him a squib-fart because he is not old enough to be an old fart yet. The old farts introduced us to RC aircraft - and we were both lost, heart and soul. Those are crappy nitro-powered trainer aircraft we are flying. You would think this is a relaxing sport and for most it is...but when I am flying I am right back in that ultralight aircraft. My heart begins to jack-hammer, my breathing comes in gasps and for me, the whole shooting match is an exercise in controlled terror. I'm not as good at it in my old age, and I know this is an unnatural and unhealthy reaction to something that should be fun and wholesome. I am so strongly tempted to quit, but I will not be craven. I dunno what it is - I can fly the Crapcopter with aplomb - but these fixed wings? My reactions, by the way, are not unique. There is a pucker factor involved here as those planes of ours are $300.00 used. Some of the jets that fly at our field are $15,000.00 and up! You crash one of those - and you are out some serious money! By contrast, my young friend there is all over these things and is a product of the XBOX generation. He is doing loops and rolls and is bored with the trainer and ready to move into a scale warbird or maybe a slasher aerobat.

If you are a retired old fart looking for something to do that will keep your hands busy, off the street and out of jail - you might want to look into this yourself. If you are a father looking for something educational that will absorb you and your kid - this kind of thing would be an excellent father and son effort. The old farts and vets are very protective and appreciative of new fliers and the ones at our cub will treat you like a king. I suspect the other clubs are much the same.

There's a couple airshows every month that are as exciting and fun as the real ones - and some involve real drama. This P47 Thunderbolt is Tar Heel Hal. He flew his first maiden flight at our field a couple weekends back. There is well over $1000.00 tied up in this model so the owner handed the controls over to one of our best pilots to wring out. It was a good thing he did - Hal's engine crapped out the same way mine did all those years ago in the flex-wing ultralight - but thanks to some skillful airmanship the bird was brought down in one piece. For the life of me I do not understand it. We have reliable two cycle engines that will power a skidoo for as long as you want to take care of it and do the maintenance. We have two cycle weed wacker engines that can knock down weeds all day long...but can't last 10 minutes in a model airplane application. What's up with that?
So it is that I have confessed my sins. God has had mercy on me and has actually given me some wonderful hobbies - and for that I am grateful. May you turn your sins into healthy hobbies too - and have a great weekend to do it in!

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