New hobby takes flight

mattflyerLast summer Kim took me out to one of the local parks where some coworkers of hers were flying model airplanes. Some of these model planes were 4-5 feet in wingspan. Most were gas or alcohol powered, and they were all mesmerizing. Wow. I was fascinated with everything. It looked like a lot of work and learning (and money) to get where these people are, but it looks like tons of fun, especially for an engineer. Design. Build. Break. Repair. and on and on. 

So for Christmas this year, Santa brought me a little Vapor ultralight indoor flier. It weighs about 1/2 0z. and is powered by a tiny battery. It is fully assembled in the box, so there is no tinkering required, just learn how to fly it. The local RC club sponsors an evening at a skating rink. Just show up and fly indoors.

A couple dozen people showed up to fly, and many of them had little planes like my Vapor. The Vapors fly very slowly, much like a moth without all the fluttering. They are fun to watch, particularly in skilled hands. 

At one point in the evening, they set up an “aircraft carrier”, which was just a folding table in the middle of the skate floor. Guys would fly up to it, land, and then take off. Very cool. I didn’t try it. There was too much traffic around the carrier, and I thought I would cause a big wreck. I need a couple hours alone in a big gymnasium to practice some more.

Some of the guys also lined up their planes and had a mass take off. The planes all look the same, so it’s gotta be hard to know which one is yours as they all fly in a pack.


The highlight of the evening in terms of excitement was when one guy ran his vapor into a large helicopter. It was like a salad shredder. That little plane became a couple dozen small parts. The helicopter didn’t even miss a beat. 

So, after I master flying, which is going to take some time I can tell, I might build a kit indoor electric, and get a feel for what sorts of parts are available. Eventually I will start designing planes either from foam or balsa or maybe wire and film like the Vapor.


Rodeo Fun

Last night, Matt took me to the rodeo. bronco-riding4What Fun!  This is an annual event that occurs just across the street at the Salem Civic Center.  Every time I go over there, so many memories come flooding back for me from Rebels hockey to graduation to learning to drive a stick shift to the Salem bluegrass festivals.  The view from there is magnificent and the baseball stadium (home of the new Salem Red Sox) captures the beautiful scenery as its backdrop.

Back to the rodeo….. cowboys.  Need I say more.  Ever since I spent time in Wyoming at the Girl Scout National Center in Ten Sleep, (I think I was about 13)  I have been a total pile of mush for cowboys.  For Matt, this was a little different than the rodeos he has experienced out west with his family.  One difference he immediately barrel-racing11noticed was bronco-ridingthat the event wasn’t sold out and that they played country music.  He said out west they play rock.

There were many events and some surprises.  Bronco Riding, Steer Wrestling, Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, Rodeo Clowns and of course Bull Riding.   The barrel racing ladies were fantastic.  they added so much excitement to the evening.  I was really pulling for them.  the way the horse can cut around the barrels is super cool.  I love it when they are in the groove and almost sit back on their hind legs a little.

Did you know that there was a Miss Rodeo America?  and even more a Miss Rodeo Virginia?  Pretty young lady dressed up with bling that was a good rider. 

But the best of the show (in my opinion) was the lady trick rider.  Wow!  She rode on the backs of two horses STANDING UP with two more horstrick-riding1es leading.  It was quite spectacular.  She clearly demonstrated her command over the horses with voice only.   She hopped from one horse to another and had the horses doing all kinds of cool maneuvers.  Talent and Daring combined into one.   The best part….. she had this huge smile on her face as she came around once that clearly said that she was having a great time at what she was doing.  It was one of those awe inspiring moments for me.  That has got to be one of the great secrets to life – love what you do.