Flying With Fred Vol.VI #6

/Flying With Fred Vol.VI #6

Flying With Fred Vol.VI #6

A number of folks are now convinced that I am related to Rip Van Winkle, “sleeping” away almost four months since I last penned a narrative. They’d be right, of course. Not exactly sleeping, but being sucked into the wormhole of the universe that exists outside of modeling. Helping to take care of elderly parents will do that to you. Other small events played part; such as having your Significant Other come down with her third case of Hyper-Thyroidism (tremors, racing heart, rashes, hot flashes) in the last 15 years, and the flu, and strep throat all at the same time. One morning roughly six weeks ago at about 3 AM, I came this close to hauling her fanny over to the Emergency Room, after watching her head almost explode during 5 minutes of non-stop coughing.

The meds did their job, however, and now she’s almost recovered. The medical types recommend zapping the thyroid permanently and controlling its functions with drugs going forward, which apparently is easier to do. Her memory of the misery she suffered is tempered by the fact she lost almost 30 pounds during the ordeal (“look, honey- I need to buy new clothes!”). Trust me when I tell you this is NOT a weight reduction plan I would recommend…

While there aren’t any cobwebs over the workbench, there hasn’t been much RC modeling going on in the last 120 days, sad to say. One evening- in a sudden and unexpected burst of energy- I did manage to clear off the top of same, and organize / compact / compress a number of other “staging” areas that had slowly been covered over with all sorts of flotsam, both useful and useless. At least the “stage” is now ready for a Building Bust-Out…

The one major event during this dormant period was the annual W.R.A.M. show, which some of you attended. Unfortunately, I have to use the word “some” as opposed to “most” or “a lot” or “many”. The Low Point of the weekend was the fact that for the first time in recorded history our booth was unmanned on the opening Friday of the show, due to lack of personnel being able to volunteer. This speaks to a number of realities reflected by not only our outfit, but just about all RC clubs. Key among these is the fact that the number of dedicated and available club members (not to mention knowledgeable veterans) is dwindling as the hobby continues to “grey”. Add other talking points regarding travel and participation (the bad Economy, two or more jobs, kids, grandkids, etc.) and it could get you depressed.
In our case, you can add the fact that now the show is not exactly in our back yard. Additional expense is now involved to get to New Jersey for the day(s), even with a bit of help with the W.R.A.M.’s new vendor pass changes. By now I’m sure you ARE depressed. What’s the answer? For the moment we’re going to have to re-evaluate our presence at the show come January 2014. Hopefully we’ll have enough guys to do the job. If not, I’ll have to find other uses for our large sign and Fred Freyer’s photos… If you give a damn, at least try to clear your calendar, save some money for travel, expenses, etc. and hope for good health and no last minute surprises.

Speaking of the W.R.A.M. show, I spent some time with Jo Joy (nice name, no?) who runs Peak Electronics, one of the long-time vendors. A typical Mom & Pop operation at the show- selling everything from servos to radios to batteries to chargers- for at least the last 15 years or more (Jo is nearing her 70’s, but I’ve never asked). I’ve spent more money than I care to remember with them, since they stocked what I needed, at a fair price, with warm and friendly service, and Jo always the personification of her married name. With her grey-white hair and perpetual tan, she seemed to be everywhere at once at their booth, laughing and answering questions and lamenting the usual problems with the hobby, the industry, the economy and other vendors not up to their standards. Except last year it was paired down to a “Mom” Operation, since “Pop” (a heck of a nice guy) passed away suddenly the summer prior.

Jo made a go of it last year with the help of her son and daughter-in-law, and was back this year, but… word of mouth confirmed she had contracted a weird cancer attacking her liver and other organs. They can’t operate or radiate due to location and extent of the invasion- only chemo is being prescribed. She looked like she’d gained weight, and as I greeted her on Thursday while they were setting up, we both reached out to each other with a gentle but firm hug and peck on the cheek (my peck, her cheek).

Looking at me she showed no hint of the internal battle raging, and with a soft voice said that this would be her last visit to the show. She wasn’t shutting down or giving up, mind you. The son and daughter-in-law had agreed to continue the business, at least for the foreseeable future. But she no longer could handle the trip out from her home on the West coast. At the Friday cocktail party for the vendors she presented a special cake that included the likeness of an airplane to the W.R.A.M., in appreciation and thanks for sharing a profitable and personal show experience over the years. An ovation and a fair amount of sniffing and wiping of eyes followed the end of her remarks.

I purchased yet another item I didn’t need from her during the weekend, and on Sunday as everyone was breaking down their booths, I sought her out and, with parting hug and peck, admonished her to keep in touch, and not give up the fight. I have to remind myself to send her a note, since the chances I’ll see her again are not…good.

I have active and retired aircraft with servos and batteries I bought from her, using chargers and meters I bought from her, among other equipment. Seeing her at her usual location at the County Center was part of the yearly ritual and the enjoyment of the show for me and countless other friends. I guess you could say that of all the vendors over the years she and her husband were the ones with which I had the closest relationship.

That word… relationships. They, too have been part of the RC modeling experience since I first became a part of it and immersed in it. So many great people like Jo (many more than the few Bad Apples) that have made my partaking of the hobby- and to a degree, my life- all the more wonderful. Many thanks, Jo, for every kindness and every moment- all too few in retrospect- that we shared once a year around the end of February…

Went to see Gerry at Al’s Hobbies a few days ago, and damn if that wallet didn’t jump out of my pocket again (you’d think I’d have chained it down after the W.R.A.M. show). He had a ParkZone plug-n-play Radian Pro which I’d been eyeing for awhile now, as a relaxing flyer and trainer for the masses. I’d toyed with adding a glider to my air fleet over the years, but for no particular reason I’d never taken the plunge into the world of soaring.

Though it goes together in no time if you have a TX, RX and battery handy, the fuselage is sitting on the part of the workbench cleared out prior, awaiting a number of completely unnecessary (but “strongly recommended” by all sorts of Internet Gurus) modifications. A larger prop, aluminum spinner, higher capacity battery, Gorilla Glue for beefing up a few locations, packing tape to protect the wings, just to name a few.

So much for simplicity- going with a virulent phosphorescent lime green motif (took all the decals off) for the top of the flying surfaces, and glossy back undersides. I don’t think I’ll mess with moving the center of gravity back and changing the decalage angle of the stab, at least for now. This supposedly makes it handle better as a glider, as opposed to its current design as a powered sailplane, slightly nose-heavy.

Next to all this stuff is the bundle of balsa that may- with any luck- grow into the new Bristol M1 Bullet replacement in the next few weeks. Ooops, I forgot- first I have to repair the wing leading edge of the HobbiStar 60 that I pranged back in late January, on a day I had off that started deceptively warm, but ended up much colder and windier than expected (stupid thumbs wouldn’t move). And I still have to replace the firewall on the D-VII. Guess I shouldn’t have let three months go by…

The 2013 Spring Clean-Up Day is scheduled for 4/20, weather permitting. It looks like we finally need to do some heavy-duty maintenance on the flight line barriers. The metal posts we’ve used over the years have not proven to be very effective in the long run, and we’re planning to replace them with PVC pipe and sturdier netting or fabric. The tables also need some TLC. Would like to see as many of you there as can make it- we start with coffee and donuts at 10 AM. We hope to see you there.

While waiting for the warm weather… fly safely, but fly!