When I mention to people that I fly model planes the first thing that happens is that their eyes glaze over and the shutters come down. When I say the engine is 100cc, the wingspan is nine feet and they weigh 15 kilograms the shutters re-open pretty sharpish, usually followed by “that’s bigger than my first motorbike”.
Yes, it sure is. We are certainly not talking Airfix models here but before you run for the hills, a beginner is not going to start off with these monsters.
Beginners start with a 6cc high wing trainer that is designed to be very stable in the air, flies at a fairly sedate pace, has a five foot wingspan and weighs about 3 kilograms. Further, the new beginner is not let loose in the air on their own until they have gone through the club’s training program with a club instructor.
This will start with (in no particular order) three familiarisation flights with the club’s trainer to see if you like the hobby before spending any money, time on the club’s computer simulator, a good Ground School safety briefing, and a tour round the flying site, accompanied by copious amounts of tea or coffee free of charge.
During the initial visits to the club the various aircraft and equipment options will be explained to you so that you can make the correct choices when spending your money, and this is generally a mix of new and used equipment.
Training is always accomplished with either your own buddy-box set-up or the club’s system depending on your own circumstances. Most training is done on a Saturday or Sunday morning but can be done at anytime as agreed between you and your instructor.
To fly on your own you need to pass a basic “Solo” test which is a take-off, a simple circuit and a landing and after becoming solo you will be encouraged and coached to obtain an SAA bronze safety and achievement certificate, then from this point on you can move onto whatever type of plane you like.
After you have competed this test, you can continue to fly your high wing trainer, or move onto a more advanced models. There are lots to chose from for example WW1 planes, WW2 warbirds, waterplanes, gliders, aerobatic and electric ducted fan jet-type models.
Unless the rain is horizontal or the wind is up-rooting the trees the likelihood is that someone will be at the club on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The West Calder Model Flying Club has been going for 20 years and now has an excellent flying facility. We have a number of openings for our Spring Training Course and we would love to see you. As a hobby and sport it is open to all everyone so if you are looking for a new pursuit come up and see us. If the kids have grown up and you want your partner out of the house then send them up for a visit. If you are approaching retirement and you are wondering how you will fill your time then get in touch and we will show you how. We can be found on Facebook.
Published in Konect February 2019
Author: Tom Laird, West Calder and District Model Flying Club