Six Weeks of Summer Enjoyment as a UAV Pilot

It started with purchasing a micro-airplane in June of 2017, when I casually entered the RC shop known as Great Hobbies on the Southside of Edmonton. It was one of those RTF (Ready to fly) $150.00 planes on sale for $79.95 because the model was being discontinued. The best part of RTF airplanes is they come with everything you need to fly them: a plane, a battery, propeller, wings, fuselage, wheels, charger and a controller. It comes with a manual, but who ever reads that, am I right?

Someone must, but it wasn’t me! I just charged it up and took it to the nearest park to start my hands-on training. What it really was though, was hands on destroying as soon as it got some altitude! The wings caught an air thermal and the next thing I knew the micro-plane had taken off, to great heights above 30-feet!

The wind shook that micro-plane left then right, up then down until eventually, I got it into a controlled downward spiral, well at least I thought it was controlled until it twisted and took a quick sharp right turn which lead it to bouncing nose first off an asphalt parking lot beyond the fence of the far side of the soft soccer field from which it had escaped.

By the time I reached the crashed micro-plane, I had lost part of the nose and busted the right wing. I piled the scraps of plane into the back seat of the truck, and shrugged at my own stupidity for first not reading the manual and second not getting any proper training.

Later that night, I sat at the kitchen table mending the right wing, taping up the planes nose and powering up the batteries. The following day, I went to finish her off in a field near my home. It was my first RC plane, and the excitement lasted a mere 72-hours!

As I perused the internet in search of a more “stable” beginner plane, I came across the Sport Cub S and Champ S+ by Hobby Zone, the 1400mm Kingfisher PNP w/Wheels Floats Skis & Flaps by FMS Model and the DHC-2 Beaver Island Wings Ed RxR w/Floats by Flyzone, all of them sounded very promising. However, I had my doubts mainly because everything I read kept pointing out to me in BIG BOLD LETTERS; be sure to have a trained pilot provide instructions before flying solo. I knew these planes were not made for me, or at least not for me right now.

A few weeks later another journey to the RC store, had me exploring and discussing with another hobbyist a variety of beginner planes. He recommended going with something which was made of styrofoam such as the Delta Ray, as it could handle the minor bumps and bruises that only a beginning pilot could muster. Also, it had really neat features like, toss n’ go, sport mode, limited flight range, limited flight heights, and an automatic landing switch which was usually where beginners messed up their planes. Also, he told me of this sweet deal which was going on next week and he put the plane on hold for me until my next paycheque which just happened to be coming next week.

The following week, I arrived with debit card in hand, ready to purchase my second plane with its much larger wingspan and its one piece styrofoam body, the much larger 40″ wingspan, its twin turbo charged propellers and the fun fact that you could fly it with or without landing its wheels, also known as landing gear.

I sped off towards home with the plane in its box, taking up the entire backseat of my truck. I was headed home to read the manual, or at least the shortcuts on how to fly with those special operations and to charge up the two batteries. Because the next stop after that was the very flat, very open spaced, soccer field near home.

I kept plane #2 in the truck and every waking moment away from work that I had, I was at the controls flying it up and down, loops to the left, twists to the right, flying it upside down and landing it on my own. Of course, there was the occasional crash and mend job, with some duct tape or Gorilla glue, then it was back into the air it went.

I flew that plane over soccer fields, desolate parking lots, behind giant warehouses, up and down the alley way and anywhere else the large wingspanned creature would go safely into the air. I had small kids following me around, cheering at my daring acrobatic extravaganza some being so bold as to ask if they could have a go? My typical response, “Yea right! Get your pops to drop $300.00 for you to have your own plane!” Then there little mouths would jaw drop as I laughed at their question.

The Delta Ray, was a bundle of joy to fly for the entire 5-weeks that it lived on as my personal summer tragedy. Just shy of 5-weeks, I had improved my overall flight time from that of the micro-plane but in the end dismantled the plane into salvageable parts and gave them away at the local RC plane field near home.