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Monday, July 20, 2009

Umbrella and Chevy

Had I known of Otto Lilienthal's impressive early pioneering efforts in human flight, it may have inspired more serious and potentially successful efforts of my own as a child. But, having neither the funds, knowledge or resources, my earliest attempts consisted of jumping off my father's Chevy with an umbrella to obtain some type of gliding experience. Of course there was none. Somewhat later, I learned to travel the forest canopy, moving from treetop to treetop ala Tarzan. 
As an adult, still desperate to become airborne, I took 10 hours of flying lessons in the 1970s. But I slowly realized what every aviator knows - flying is a hobby for the rich or at least those with disposable income willing to make the sacrifice. And down the road, some investment in a plane or high rental fees would be necessary. An interest in hang gliding was quickly curtailed with tales of accidents and spinal injuries.
Much later, perusing magazines in a shop in New York City that advertised itself as having an exhaustive selection of titles (over 3000), I was quite shocked to see a magazine on RC (radio-controlled) jets. As a child I had seen tethered U-control planes with their operators circling in a dizzying affair. I had no idea hobby aircraft had advanced to the point that there existed genuine ducted fan engines powering scale model jets. 
But where to see such a thing in New York City? Nowhere. Or so I thought. Yesterday's second excursion to Floyd Bennett Field confirmed what I had read. There is an active club of RC Aviators operating on an unused runway at the decommissioned airfield. A number of enthusiasts were on hand - the displays of flying were very impressive, however what I was seeing was exclusively propeller driven planes. Secretly, I was hoping to see some jets. Soon, my wishes were fulfilled and a couple of jet fliers turned up and flew their aircraft. See my photo gallery here.
I also learned that not only did RC propeller planes exist in both fuel powered engines but jets also were available with electric ducted fan turbine engines. Surprisingly, an entire setup including the radio transmitter can be had for a few hundred dollars. At the other end of the spectrum, some run into the tens of thousands - there are even RC Concordes - I was informed of one perfect scale model with a working hydraulic nose, real windows etc., costing upwards of $30,000. Beats an umbrella and a Chevy :)

Note: I will be posting a video of my excursions to Floyd Bennett Field and the various activities there. Check back here in a few days.


Abe Lincoln said...

Wow. Model airplanes have come a long way. I would guess some would cost several thousand dollars and it would require a skilled pilot to fly them.

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Mary said...

Once again you've shown me that something I'm familiar with has a depth I never realized -- for both Floyd Bennett Field and model airplane flying.


Fábio Paulos said...

nice photografies!

congratulations for your blog!