What goes up…

… must hit a tree and then explode into a thousand sad little fragments. But, before we get to that, I need to explain the level of detailed planning that precedes creating a window of time into which you can smash what used to be money.

Kids Easter Egg hunt starts at 12:30sharp. Flying starts at 10. So roll out of bed at 8 and:

08:01: Release mad dog and receive traditional greeting of big slobber and 30kg of misplanted paw on my foot.

08:05: Engage in daily re-enactment of “attack of the killer chickens” as you release the hungry, fat peckers , and then run away as they hunt you down assuming there is a hidden lettuce about your person.

08:08: Complete removal of chicken poo from beju poultry residence. Count chickens and sum only three. Recount does not magically produce another chicken. Notice dog has helpfully nosed gate open through which “free range Willy” has motored through.

08:09 Corner chicken and attempt to catch through use of approved “double arm grab

08:14 Decide whoever approved that technique has clearly never dealt with Killer Chickens before. Examine bloodied peck marks while Mexican standoff breaks out. Dog attempts to break back in by herding escaped bird using an approach best described as “Bottom Sniffing”

08:16 Dog joins human on the bloodied side of Mexican standoff having been chastised by the beak of doom

8:17 With a “fuck this, it a sodding chicken not a bloody grizzly bear“, successfully apprehend squawking pray using “big wing” arm movements followed by swift Rugby tackle.

8:18 Flushed with success, don’t notice chicken flushing herself as she squeezes out a line of shit, perfectly aimed at my recently (as of 30 second ago) pristine new fleece.

8:19 Look into mad eye of the Chicken and know it’s laughing at me.

8:20 Return chicken to POW side of fence, attempt to clean up fleece poo but merely marinate remainder of clothing with liquid shit. All chickens now pissing themselves laughing.

8:25 Stalk out, return to house, stick both model batteries on charge, decant entire truck full of spares, wings, God knows what else from one room into the 4×4. Congratulate self on remembering to actually pack same number of wings as fuselages*

8:40 Wolf down breakfast. Embark on walk with domesticated Wolf.

8:41 Notice key component of Dog Walking missing, namely Dog.

8:45 After some frantic searching, discover Murf in the pond with his “oh it’s me you wanted was it? Sorry I thought it was the other Murphy you’ve been shouting at desperately for the last five minutes” look.

09:20 Return with Dog. Wave in general direction of family and promise imminent return from amazing flying session in which the repaired Boomerang will once again aspire to aviation.

10:30. 20 hours repair, 20 minutes flying. Let’s just leave it there should we. Okay let’s not, it was another TREE, ANOTHER ONE. One day I’ll have a proper accident where I crash into the ground or myself. But no, I just clipped a tree on the final approach. Final being the right word. Plane is wrecked, completely. I’m setting fire to it later.

11:50: Completed my first ever landing with a proper engine-y plane. Well second if you want to count 25 foot in a tree as a “landing”. Second training aircraft is nowhere near as nice to fly, but at least it still looks like an aeroplane. Amusingly everyone was commenting on what a great repair/recover/rebuild job we’d done on the boomer. Makes smashing it into a million pieces so much more easy to bare.

12:30: Return home. Sweep out sorry remains from the truck.

It’s still there. I can’t bring myself to sort it out. What you probably won’t believe – and I know I’m struggling – is apparently, my flying is actually pretty damn good and not many people make their first landing after 8 training flights. Loads of people have been in that tree. Think of it as a rite of passage they say.

I’m thinking of a beer 😉

* Ask me why. Go on, ask.

Splinter Groups

There is a cost per use issue here that I need to air. My cheap’n’cheerful glider has seen a few hours flying – intespersed with spectacular but non debiliating crashing – for a lump sum of sixy quid. The two planes with proper noisy engines have amassed a cost about six times that for, oh let me see, six minutes flying.

This ratio has not been any way balanced by the sad splintery remains for the Boomerang which suffered a mid air collision at the hands of my instructor. Hardly ever happens apparently, and while that’s a comfort of sorts*, it failed to prevent a furtive scoot into Hereford with a scribbled list of the exotic wood and glues that may fashion a repair.

And so into the model shop, which is mainly configured for those lonely souls who have failed to put away their childish things. A point much demonstrated by two men – showing no external evidence of a recent escape from a high security loony bin – rifling vigorously through the model train accessories bucket searching for two matching sheep.**

This is under the fond gaze of the three proprietors clearly plucked from the all Herefordshire final of “Least chance of ever getting laid” competition. This surreal pastiche of badly skewed humanity was enhanced by an extremely venerable old lady, laden down with a tea tray, hobbling carefully from kitchen to till in a time period best measured using the term “epoch

I hurried out before being Borg’d by cardigan, and hid the geeky balsa under my coat. Honestly, I’d rather be caught reading “Hardcore Poodle Sex” by my mum that trying to explain to anyone I’ve ever met why I’ve been shopping in a place where strange, unwashed men get excited when discussing train gauges.

Which was pretty much my experience of climbing a big Welsh hill last weekend after bagging up the remains of my Boomerang that ended yet another unfulfilling flying experience. I stuck the Wildthing under my arm and made slow progress up half a mile of vertical hill to be met with a view that had CGI written all over it.

And a bunch of men – although as they were all dressed by their mum and sporting bobble hats and goggles, I’m making a bit of an assumption here – who could be best described as somehow positioning the Hereford Model Shop misfits as sexually charged Brad Pitt lookalikes. They ignored me, on the grounds that I wasn’t sporting food in a beard or my own carefully cultivated selection of warts, and I ignored them right back while trying to work out how to fly a light glider in 35 MPH winds.

Unless flipping upside down before firing it off behind you like an unguided missile, and then burying itself in soft peat counts, I’m not sure I quite got it. I went back to riding bikes which feels familiar, safe and really not that stupid. Which tells you everything you need to know about the shadowy world of the Aero Modeller.

Love the flying, really do especially the glider which is a mere 5 minute drive away from being chucked off a decent slope. It’s mentally quite absorbing, technically interesting but peopled with a group of aliens who somehow tuck Mountain Bikers in the middle of the sanity bell curve.

Bit of a worry if I’m honest.

* Not really.

** Full size, that’s fine.

Going Spare.

I am. They didn’t. Next time I will. Even looking ever backwards to my fortieth birthday, I have yet to achieve a level of calm when multiple failures pile up on my personal highway. It all started with good intentions, as such disasters invariably do.

Firstly a slow puncture highlighted a problem with my spare tubes, of which there were many and the number that held air, which were none. Slackness personified, my standard approach of decadently replacing old with new was stymied by a lack of fresh rubber.*

An hour later, the kitchen floor was awash with a tidal wave of water, my entire patch collection had been deployed, and four tubes now leaked a little less air than before. Flushed with success**, I spent some time worshipping at the voodoo of the front mech, before retiring satisfied a pro-active maintenance regime would be rewarded by trouble free riding.

Which made the horror of an abandoned ride at 8am this morning all the worse. Firstly my cranks basically fell off, when the drive side bearing stripped itself of a thread and made a break for freedom**. My riding buddy responded with patience, a quick return to base plan and – almost immediately – a aurally impressive exploding tyre. Luckily he’d not flatspotted the tyre, unluckily he’d flatspotted the rim.

No time to fix any of that as I was under orders to be initiated into the local flying club at 11am sharp. I arrived ready to go with flight box, fuel, trainer, a whole shit load of funny shaped stuff for which I still cannot divine a purpose and a cheerful expression.

Which lasted as long as the first engine start took, which in turn took the prop and flung it across the field. The only modification I’d made to this pre-loved trainer was changing the propeller. Ahem. Things didn’t improve much as fixing that merely broke something else. I can’t say I quite understood the exact cause, but symptomatically opening the throttle sent all the control services into a St. Vitus Dance.

Apparently this isn’t good unless you’ve the plastic bag ready. I do have a spare plane but decided to leave it at home. My reasons are now as cloudy as this beer I’ve been forced to drink. Yes, forced you heard me right, because after having no ride to speak of, no sleep beforehand and no chance to marmalise balsa in the presence of experts, it seemed the right approach to the rest of the day would be to back away from anything expensive, and get drunk on the sofa.

To get my own back on fate, tomorrow I’m commuting by bike for the first time in three months. Unridden bike, uncharged lights, unused climbing muscles. But I’m confident that nothing can go wrong, because HAVEN’T I SUFFERED ENOUGH ALREADY?

I’d be pulling my hair out, if I had any.

* I did consider the obvious alternative, but even fixing tubes was better than sewing condoms. You experience may differ 😉

** But not for long. They were all flat again this morning. So I ate them to teach them a lesson

*** I’m going with awesome power of my thighs. Although it does explain why the fromt mech was a bit out.

Anyone have a plastic bag?

I shall very likely need one, after the first flight of the “Boomerang“. It is pre-loved which meant an evening of the kind of extreme dullness that only a wet rag can provide. Not because I really cared that the fuselage smelt as if it had been used as an ash tray, and a few – possibly vital bits – were hanging a bit loose.

No, the chairman, no less, of the club I’ve joined popped over and offered sage advice regarding which bits plug in where, and what not to touch if you want to finish your life with the same number of fingers you started with*

At the end of this, I was no less confused but probably better informed. I plunged in anyway, armed with some stinky foam and a vague idea of how flange A may interface with widget B. Less than two hours later, my engineering prowess had joined the radio to the receiver, the battery to the servos and – even – fuel into the compressed tank.

I did consider starting it but history predicts one of two things would happen.

a) It would explode taking the house and about a acre of field with it. I would be identified by flecks of surprised atoms floating across the charred countryside.

b) The bugger”d just fly off completely unharnessed by any radio signal. I’m still considering this as the safest way to effect the maiden flight.

Even after meeting me, the kind chap is still keen to teach me to fly it properly. Which I’m hoping to try next weekend assuming Murphy-Shoe-Eater hasn’t got to it first. This morning I was met with wagging tail, hungry expression and the remains of Random’s two week old trainers.

He did give me the “who me? what those? no, know nothing about those gov” expression, although this protestation of innocence was somewhat undermined by the lace hanging out of his mouth.

Anyway, it seems I have somehow ended up with three planes, one recently crashed, one ready to fly and one needing all sorts of trickery involving z-bends and micro adjustments. Sound like a job for the big hammer!

* I’m considering offering this as a service to some of the more “local locals” to get them back to 4 per hand.

Fly like a ….

… turd. That’s more than an adequate description of the manikin like gyrations of the little SuperCub I’ve been abusing over the holidays. I’m yet to be convinced my twiddling of the sticks* is in any way controlling the random perambulations of the flying rabbit** as it terrorises innocent patches of sky.

It’s more that a few thousand bits of foam happen to be flying in the same direction. Only when it magically appears back overhead does the full horror of my total lack of spacial awareness become terryfyingly apparent. I must be the only man ever to be dive bombed by his own air force. Well apart from the British when the Americans forgot to update the arial SatNav.

On another long trudge to fetch the bloody unsteerable thing from a far away field, I under-breathed admitted that maybe I needed some help. Nothing new there, but specifically in the art of bringing the plane to heel. I’d tried shouting at it – a technique daily demonstrated with the dog and even less successful; the dog just stands there with a “who me?” look about his fizog, while the plane buggers off over the horizon – and when that didn’t work sort of ran out of ideas.

But my grumpy DNA mixes badly with kind people explaining gently how to do things. It’s not that I think they’re wrong, it’s just that I can’t bear not being right. And my brief immersion into the Radio Control fraternity suggests Mountain Bikers + 20 years and even more bloody pedantic.

You know how it’ll go; I’ll turn up somewhere, do my best to be quiet and still then somebody’ll quote a rule at me, and the next thing it’ll be smashed balsa everywhere, and the police will become involved. Instead I decided the best way to learn was to up the ante in terms of danger and cost. That picture goes by the precedent name of “boomerang” which suggests it’ll be arriving back on earth in a smash of glazing and expensive parts.

We’re talking over ONE HORSEPOWER of raw power there people. And a radio system that has the word “computer” emblazoned all over the manual. And I’m buying it secondhand because – as everyone in the know knows – trainers are flown by calm, rational people who hardly ever scream “Oh Fuck I’ve dropped the controller and now IT’S COMING RIGHT TOWARDS USEVERYBODY DOWN!” before a noise like the world exploding, and the traditional burying of the remains in a carrier bag.

Now with my unblemished history of second hand motors and computers, nothing – snigger if you must, but I tell you – nothing can go wrong. Especially since some poor unsuspecting bugger has offered to help. I feel money may have to change hands after the first flight.

I have neither the time or money for another hobby. Apparently we’re in training for the HONC***, the house spreadsheet has entered scary new worlds of advanced calculus, and there’s all sorts of stuff going on at work that really demands my full attention.

Still, always time to polish a turd eh?

* Not that stick. This is bloody well hard enough already.

** As named by one of my children. Yes, it was the random one.

*** New year, new rule. No beers with more than 4.5{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} alcohol content. Oh yeah, I’m serious about this race