Print this articlePrint this article

Written by Dave Gee
Safety Comes First
As seen in the July 2019 issue of Model Aviation.




MODELERS tend to be friendly types. We share a common interest in aviation. Talking about model aircraft makes us instant friends, despite any and all differences that seem to divide society these days.

The internet was an instant hit with AMA members. Chat rooms and email bulletin boards popped up years ago and remain a popular way of socializing and sharing information. I have friends around the world whom I’ve never actually met face to face.

This openness has become a vulnerability, especially lately. You might have read warnings in recent Model Aviation issues about tricks to drain your club’s treasury. Internet scammers have been using our chat groups and email addresses to deceive and rob us. I have nothing good to say about these dirty, lowdown thieves, but perhaps a little information can help thwart their plans.

The latest phishing scheme is aimed at older people. A personal email arrives from the hacked account of a friend, asking you to purchase gift cards and send the numbers via email. Some excuse is given, and it might look legitimate.

Well, I get loads of these because so many readers have emailed me for the mystery airplane contest. "Hey old buddy, I’m in a jam. My granddaughter’s birthday is here and I’m out of town. Would you please help me out and get $200 worth of gift cards and send me the numbers ASAP? I’ll pay you back right away."

Deleting the message is best, of course, but sometimes I get fed up and try to engage the scammer. "Sure, pal. I’ll leave the cards under the flowerpot on your porch like usual. Glad to help."

They think they’ve got one on the hook and quickly respond with, "No, I need the PIN numbers off of the cards and a photo of the card itself." I’m always happy to send fake PIN numbers and reassure them that the cards are safe on their porch. This correspondence can go on for quite a while until they finally catch on or I get bored.

There are many other variations of these con games. The bottom line is that any request for money that comes via the internet could be a scam. Don’t let merciless crooks take advantage of your friendly, helpful nature to rob you.

Speaker Exchange

Club meetings need to be kept fresh and interesting. A guest speaker always goes over well but finding one can be a challenge. My club has had recent success with a simple idea: We swap speakers with a group in the next county. Our local modeling comrades have great old stories, and the next club over hasn’t heard them yet.

My club sent Kurt Young to tell about owning and flying his classic full-scale Navion. In exchange, we welcomed Fred Hesse and his giant, solar-powered RC airplane. Cool! There are amazing people with fascinating stories throughout our hobby.

I admit that the "Club Meeting Speaker Exchange Program" isn’t really a safety concept, but if it worked for us, it might work for your club too! Next month it’s my turn. I’ll speak on how to deal with the embarrassment of losing a contest to some newbie kid pilot. I’m an expert on the subject.

An Outside Viewpoint

On the subject of newbies, I recently had a detailed conversation with a security checkpoint person about the current state of our hobby. He examined my computer bag and noticed the material that I had gathered for this column. "Oh, you do model airplanes? I’ve always wanted to try that!"

For a nonmodeler, he raised some interesting questions. How has "the drone thing" affected lifelong model aviators? Had I seen the news stories about drones interfering with full-scale aviation? Did the new laws apply to our airplanes as well as multirotors? Were there separate groups for drone fliers and fixed-wing users? His questions made me see things from a new perspective!

I was glad to say that AMA includes all of the miniature aviation spectrum and lobbies for laws that make sense for everyone. Yes, "the drone thing" has certainly changed our hobby, mostly for the better because of increased exposure and recruitment. New safety rules and "best-practice" procedures have been worked out. As with anything, there have been a few problems with inexperienced or thoughtless operators. Commercial drone users and sport pilots alike join AMA, but the rules are very different depending on the purpose of your multirotor. As for the laws, it’s tough to keep up with the constant changes. We depend on AMA bulletins to keep us up to date on compliance.

My new friend was fascinated and said he’d visit AMA’s website to see about getting involved. He wanted to start with something simple such as an RC B-17. Who was I to discourage him? It was great to have an opportunity to promote our hobby’s reputation and image as being fun, challenging, and safe.

Aeromodeling historically goes from trend to trend. Whenever the next big thing comes along, we get publicity and new pilots. It happens to be drones now, but old-timers might remember when 3D flying was red hot, or the rise of Control Line flying, or when the first RC helicopters took over the sky. Heck, it goes back to the days when gas power pushed rubber bands aside.

One day, multirotors will take their place in the spectrum of modeling when something even newer becomes the hot ticket.

this is not a p 40 the british flew shark-mouth
This is not a P-40! The British flew shark-mouth fighters during WW II, but they went by a different name. Email your guess to the author and win the mystery airplane contest!

Mystery Airplane

In the early 1940s, the hot ticket was the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. Big and powerful, this airplane fired the imagination of modelers.

I obtained a vintage P-47 profile glider kit that was from shortly after the World War II rationing of balsa was lifted. My own Bubbletop Jug model is built strictly from the plans for an authentic look, but this classic design would work fine in foam sheet. CO2, rubber, or electric power would go great, and maybe even an RC system.

To receive digital files of the parts scans and instruction sheet via email, just identify the mystery airplane.

You chaps and ladies will find that this month’s classic mystery airplane is a piece of cake. This shark-mouth fighter from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum, at the former Hendon Aerodrome in London, might look like a P-40, but check out those British markings.

nonmodelers have a hard time
Nonmodelers (and lawmakers) have a hard time defining "remote control drone." This vehicle might qualify despite its high wing loading.

the public about our fun challenging and safe hobby
You don’t think drones are big these days? Check out a toy store! We can educate the public about our fun, challenging, and safe hobby.

win plans by guessing the mystery airplane
The P-47 Thunderbolt makes a great profile glider. This vintage kit came out after wartime balsa rationing ended. Win plans by guessing the mystery airplane.

What would an English pilot have called this airplane? Send your guess to the email address at the beginning of this column and win P-47 glider plans.


Add new comment