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My First Flight: Into the World of Radio Control Airplanes
I've always wanted a Radio Control Airplane. And I remember back when I was about 12 years old, I had received as a gift from an Uncle this now considered an antique-Cox control Line gas-powered airplane. If I remember correctly it was the Cox P-51 Mustang. This was a flying plastic model airplane with a string tethered to it. The only controls you had were lift, and drag. You would stand in the middle of a circle with about 25 foot of string tethered to your model and spin while the model plane flew spinning with you...very dizzying. However, I could never get it to run.
One day my Uncle offered to take me out and teach me how to get the plane off the ground. I remember being very excited, and anxious. I couldn't wait to fly my airplane. I mean I had tried so many times before. But I just couldn't get it to start. I didn't understand the sequence or method to using the Glow Plug Starter, adding fuel, and cranking it. It would always just sputter. I remember trying to fly it by simply spinning it around essentially dragging it along the ground. All I did was scratch it up. Even the paint was coming off from all the fuel I was spilling on it, especially the wings.
And then came the day I was waiting for. The day I would learn how to fly my airplane. So, we went out to the parking lot and gave it a try. He explained how to start it the best way he could. And I remember saying to myself, "just do it, make it start!", I just wanted to fly it. But I was forced to listen. So, after a few failed attempts I started thinking, "maybe I broke it". Maybe I broke it from dragging it across the ground trying to fly it without the engine running, spinning it around and around from time to time it hitting the ground. But thankfully I hadn't ruined it. The engine finally started and it was loud! It was a high pitch, ear piercing buzz. But for me it was music to my ears...it roared! It was so much fun.
From that day forward I wanted to play with model toys. More specifically Radio Control Models. Like the off-road buggies, the race boats, the race cars and even helicopters. But they were all just too expensive for us. My parents just couldn't afford it. So, as a compromise, my father introduced me to building plastic model replicas from Revell, and the like. Everything from a vintage Viking ship, to a modern Military ship. I would build spaceships, cars, trucks, airplanes, motorcycles, you name it. I would build it. I was a standing member of the Revell Master Modellers Club. Funny, I still have the certificate. These plastic model replicas didn't operate as Radio Control toys do, but it was fun just the same. I've even ventured into Model Rocketry. My parents eventually bought the radio control cars and even Robots once they realized how much I enjoyed them. It is my belief that I gained a fundamental experience that helped me with building the more complicated radio control vehicles that I've enjoyed so much over the years.
I wish I still had that Cox P-51 Airplane. I would encase it in a plastic display box, and admire it for what it's worth to me.