A friend of mine recently embarked on a new hobby, and invited me to come and have a look. He has taken to flying model airplanes, which sounded fun and intriguing, and definitely new to me. (I’d never seen it done before). I’ve heard of places where men gather to fly them, but had never seen it, so with a certain amount of curiosity, I decided to tag along on a quiet weekend. And Wow!!! What a lot of fun!!!
I’m not ‘technical’ by nature, and I suspect that most/many women aren’t. The group I observed was all men, not a woman among them, but what struck me first was the camaraderie among them. Rather than closed and suspicious of new arrivals, although they didn’t know either of us, they were friendly and helpful, lent my friend tools he needed, and gave him friendly advice, and were very welcoming to me as well. The group was interesting and varied. Americans, some people speaking Spanish, someone from Brazil. And most of them had several planes, and in some cases, they had a van full of many models, battery chargers, a gazillion wires, and enough tools to build a 747. And a LOT of tape to make repairs with—-crashes are frequent even among the experts. The planes are flown by remote control, and are of varied styles and sizes. Helicopters, a ‘droid’, a lot of ‘fighter’ planes, underwing, overwing, bi planes, large and small planes, and even some jet planes. Most of them are about two feet across, in some cases three feet. There were even some artificial ‘birds’ made out of fabric, which flapped their wings. The planes seem to go about a thousand feet in the air, and sometimes swoop down low to the ground, and then sweep up again into the sky. Even knowing nothing about it, it was exciting to watch them, and fascinating to watch the delicacy and skill with which they control the planes, even my friend, who was relatively new to it, but impressively adept at it. (Definitely a boy thing!!! Although there are women pilots in the sky, and very good ones. But among this group of model plane experts, there was noticeably not a single woman on the two days that I went).
It was fascinating and a huge amount of fun watching. My friend pointed out that the hours kids spend on video games gives them a head start on learning how to maneuver the planes. But the group I saw flying was of varied age, and not particularly young. I’d say they ranged from their thirties to their sixties, they weren’t kids, they were serious men. And many of them set up tables to tend to their injured planes or charge their batteries. And all seemed to be extremely dedicated and very knowledgeable. They were meeting in a large field where there was plenty of room for everyone to fly their planes. And in the spirit of camaraderie I mentioned, everyone took pleasure in the others’ victories with a skilled maneuver, and sympathized with a rough landing, or worse. There was a total atmosphere of friendliness and enjoyment, no sense of competition or envy of someone else’s plane, everyone was just having a great time, enjoying chatting with others with the same passion, and sharing information. It was exciting and fun to watch. And it was a pleasure to be part of it, even as an observer. The hours flew by as I watched the planes take off and land, and the intricate maneuvers in between. It really was terrific!!!
It actually surprised me that there were no women doing it, or even watching it. It looks like so much fun. I was the only woman there, even as an observer. I didn’t have the feeling that I’d be good at it, and wasn’t tempted to try. But I had a ton of fun being part of the relaxed, friendly atmosphere, and seeing people have so much fun. And my friend turns out to be a natural pilot, with a lot of skill, and did very well. He held his own among the experts, and did a great job flying his plane. People always tease about men and their ‘toys’, and that they stay boys forever. But after spending two wonderful afternoons, sitting in the sun, and watching the model planes, I’d say they have the right idea. What a great way to have fun, out in the air, meeting people, and testing one’s skill. I have a feeling that it’s even harder than it looks, a lot harder than it looks!!! You need a good eye and good hands, and have to make some fast saves to keep your plane from crashing. But even when they do, they repair the damage with tape and glue, and replace propellers, and in no time, the planes are back in the air again, battle scarred but still efficient. I had a wonderful time, seeing something so new to me. It was great!!!!!