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.


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