Like many boys and young teenagers I had an enthusiasm for models, and for flying; thus an enthusiasm for model aircraft. I built and flew various aeroplanes at the time, with varying degrees of success. A radio control system being beyond my wildest budgetary dreams, the planes were all "free flight" which meant they usually ended up in a tree, or disappearing over the horizon, never to be seen again. (If they flew at all, that is)
Later, I took my flying bug into flyng full-sized aeroplanes and gliders, followed by hang-gliders and parapentes. Although I was convinced at age thirteen that I was going to fly for a living, the passion never really bit beyond the level of enthusiasm, and I did different things with my working life. My interest in flying still remains, though, and now, having the means to acquire a radio control system, I have a couple of model aircraft that I fly from time to time when the weather and spare time permit.
Modern technology has advanced model aircraft a long way since I was a lad. It is nearly impossible to buy a "bad" plane: they are well-designed, and a model will, if correctly put together, usually do "what it says on the tin". The latest, lithium-polymer battery technology gives good power-to-weight, and combined with new, powerful ("brushless") electric motors, electric powered models are a realistic proposition. You can also buy models that are "Almost Ready to Fly", which means that instead of starting with a few sheets of balsa wood and heat-shrink covering, the main elements are already built: You just have to put the pre-built wings, tail, fuselage together, and add the electronics and mechanisms. This suits me fine, but one day I think I'll build one from scratch, like I used to.
I have little interest in aerobatic stunts: I dont get excited by the possibility of performing a perfect loop, Immelmann turn or the like, though I appreciate the precision of control need for it. Nor am I especially interested in building and flying scale models of real aircraft. Mostly I enjoy flying model gliders; I like the skill in flying close to the edge of what a plane will do, minimising lost height in a turn, looking for the invisible rising currents of air that will keep a plane flying for hours using only wind energy.
By chance, I discovered that a local model flying club has its workshop in the same building as we have our Franch lessons, so I introduced myself. Yesterday for the first time in a couple of years, I took my little "general purpose" plane out for a spin, at their flying field near Jublains. The wind was a bit blustery, not ideal conditions for flying, but I decided to fly it anyway.
My plane is a "Mini Leader", described as a beginner's aerobatic plane, it has forgiving handling, and can be set up for serious aerobatics or for more gentle maneuvres. I have set it up for the latter. My purpose in flying it yesterday was to verify the trim, and to confirm I could still get an aeroplane off the ground and back down again in one piece. The wind made things difficult, but the first out-and-back trip was fine. The second one, a gust took it during landing, and the impact made the wheels come off. Nothing that a spot of glue won't fix. But flying is one of those things that is unforgiving of errors of judgement. Given the wind I should have kept it on the ground.