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Up, up and away…

Posted by on October 15, 2016

OCTOBER 15, 2016

MEET OUR FRIEND WAYNE.  We’ve been at the same RV park for quite a while. People come and go. Different rigs on different days. But whenmodel1 our “next door neighbor” Wayne arrived, we knew something was a little different. After initial pleasantries on arrival, we noticed that behind his good looking motorhome was a huge covered trailer. “What could be inside that thing?” I wondered to myself. I found out the next morning when I saw that, like rabbits from a hat, Wayne had extracted not only his tow-car, but model airplanes the likes of which I’d not ever seen.

MODEL AIRPLANES. BIG ONES. These weren’t your “ordinary” little radio-controlled planes, but bigger versions of them. Bigger like 25 times bigger. These planes had wingspans of about four feet with a “toe to tail” length in an appropriate ratio. And Wayne had several of them in that trailer, together with an entire complement of supplies, tools and other “stuff” he obviously uses to maintain these man-toys. “No wonder he pulls that huge trailer,” I said to Florence. He’s got everything inside it but a tractor!” He and I immediately “hit it off.” Turns out we both keep our motorhomes well-maintained and shiny, are rather outgoing and chatty and use our middle names as our first, thus sharing the lifelong frustration of explaining this to people and filling out forms requiring the typical last name, first name and middle initial. There’s a certain camaraderie among us.  That’s almost a blog topic itself!

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Wayne’s an expert on all types of model aircraft, including drones like the one Florence purchased earlier this year. He’s also a great teacher! Here he is giving some instruction to her and as you can see she’s intently listening and learning.

 

 

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She’s airborne. Teacher and student intently watch the take-off of Florence’s drone.

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You can see the drone. It’s straight-up at 12 o’clock.

IT WASN’T LONG. This meeting occurred just before I left for a week-long trip to San Diego, but upon my return I soon sat down with my new neighbor and learned about his operation. Turns out that Wayne’s a snowbird, one of the thousands of folks whose homes are in states with really cold winters, so as a result these folks pack up their RV’s and head to warmer spots, like Pensacola, for the winter. Our neighbor has been a “regular” at this park and he’s spent winters here year after year. That’s not only because of the weather, it apparently also is due to the fact that there are lots of other model plane enthusiasts here, so Wayne has an instant built-in group of friends who greet him each year and with whom he flies these planes in a nearby county park, converted to a huge area dedicated to enthusiasts like him.

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What a nice guy and a gentleman. Wayne didn’t pull out his plane until he’d completed his lesson with Florence.

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Another club member got his model in the air first. Here’s a picture taken when the aircraft was lifting into the air.

THE AIRPLANES. We’ve learned that the planes are typically purchased as “AFP’s or some acronym which stands for “almost finished planes.” After purchase and upon delivery by UPS, the newly purchased aircraft is assembled by connecting the major parts and then stretching a fiberglass material over the wings. An engine is then installed and the newly-assembled craft is paired with an elaborate radio-controller before being taken to the field for its maiden flight. These radio-controlled aircraft (RCA’s) are small flying aircraft remotely controlled by an operator on the ground using a hand-held radio transmitter. It communicates with a receiver within the aircraft which sends signals to it and allows it to be flown by the operator,  who’s high from the experience but still on the ground. The initial cost of “getting into the sport” by acquiring a craft, a motor and a transmitter is around $1,000. Hmmm, I thought to myself as Wayne explained all of this to me.

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You can see the engine in this photo, as final preparations are made before take-off along the grass runway.

 

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Now Wayne’s got his aircraft in the sky.

WE ACCEPTED HIS INVITATION. We enthusiastically accepted Wayne’s invitation to accompany him yesterday morning to the park I mentioned, watch the action and meet some of the other club members who happened to be present in the morning, when conditions are typically optimal. Florence had also talked a little with our neighbor about her new camera-drone and it turns out that he also has at least one of these already and is lickin’ his chops in anticipation of getting a newer, bigger and better one. Florence took her drone with us yesterday after learning that she would be welcome to share the airspace as would model sailplanes, gliders and even jets. Yep, you got that right, jets. There is a model jet club in close-by Mobile, Alabama and often “those guys visit these guys” at the county-owned park where we were headed. We didn’t see any of them during our visit yesterday. But we did meet a half dozen of other members in Wayne’s club and they were about the nicest, most welcoming bunch of Southerners we’ve met so far in our long stay down here. “Thanks, you guys, for allowing us to visit you and for patiently explaining the operation to us. We enjoyed your company.” And as Arnold would say, “We’ll be back!”

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This one’s a glider. Once airborne it flies with no power but is still radio controlled by the operator in the ground.

 

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We met Lance, another club member who flew his glider effortlessly.

 

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There it goes!

 

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Wayne’s newest plane arrived today via UPS. As you can see, he still has to install the motor and build the cockpit. When we saw him at work he was gluing the tail on to the body of the plane. Can’t wait until it’s assembled. We want to see it fly! 

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This is a picture of the inside of Wayne’s trailer. His tow car rolls into the trailer and is secured on the left, behind all the other stuff.

IT’S AMAZING. We’ve been in Pensacola far longer than expected and my fear was that I’d run out of blogging material and not until we again moved down the road would I have anything to show you guys. How wrong I was. There seem to be new experiences for us every day or two and although we can’t wait to put this part of the country in our rear-view mirror and take off down the country roads to our next spot, we’re still having a good time here. I think the lesson to be learned, a bit like the one I pointed out when we explored Pensacola Beach a few weeks ago, is that all around us there are interesting things to see and do. You just have to slow down and take a look!

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I’ll continue my story next time.

 

2 Responses to Up, up and away…

  1. Bruce Einhorn

    Greg – Those planes are amazing. Must be great to be able to tow your whole work room along with your RV.
    I hadn’t heard from you for awhile – I’m glad to see you’re still in Pensacola and doing well.
    How’s your new pooch doing?

  2. Greg Alford

    Hey Bruce…The planes are really cool. Shall I order two of them so we can each fly one when we come to Cape Cod to see you? Or do you think we’ll be too busy eating those world famous Wellfleet oysters? Molly is part of the family now. In fact she runs the family! Good hearing from you.

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