What makes a good model pilot? What is the mysterious factor that causes certain people to have the mind and hand coordination necessary for success, while others never seem to develop the knack?
This is a topic worthy of discussion. Certainly, a variety of opinions will be voiced to provide an answer to this interesting question. Basically, a good model Pilot exhibits an attitude of sportsmanship and safety-consciousness. Use of frequency pins, directing prop blast away from others, observing the AMA safety rules, and keeping noise at an acceptable level are a few of the normal activities of a good model pilot. Beyond that, a good model pilot exhibits a degree of skill when flying his aircraft. A good model pilot flies the airplane and never lets the airplane fly him. The characteristics of a good model pilot are numerous, but here are a few of my observations which are applicable to such an individual.
(l) A good RC pilot can turn his aircraft in either direction (right or left) with equal skill. lf that sounds strange, watch the fellows who fly themselves into trouble. It's a good bet that they have developed the habit of always turning in the same direction. Sooner or later, wind direction changes. The sun or a tree will get in the way of the "one way" pilot.
(2) A good RC pilot has a plan for each flight. By this, I don't mean that each time the good pilot flies, he performs one of the AMA Aerobatic Patterns. It simply means that he normally flies in a designated area, and practices manoeuvers that sharpen his skill. You won't see a good RC pilot batting aimlessly about the sky, giving little attention to airplane trim or position.
(3) A good RC pilot is smooth on the controls. The good pilot doesn't make a habit of overstressing his aircraft. Sure, he spins and snap rolls his aircraft for fun, but it's a cinch that you won't be able to count his elevator corrections by simply watching his airplane.
(4) A good RC pilot has a good airplane. One of the things that makes a good pilot is a good airplane. His radio is in good shape and checked frequently. His airplane is true and properly balanced. Control surfaces are properly hinged. The engine starts easily and is properly adjusted. His airplanes are well built and adequately finished, and the radio installations are well thought out and neatly accomplished.
(5) A good RC pilot got there through practice. Piloting an RC aircraft is a learned skill. I have yet to see a good pilot who didn't get there through some all-out perseverance and some good old-fashioned fuel consumption.
* Editor's Note: Bob Isaacks was editor of the Raleigh/Durham Radio Control Club Newsletter, and past president of RDRC. Bob is an ardent RC Pattern competitor. The following commentary is an excerpt from the July 1973 RDRC Newsletter and featured in "American Aircraft Modeler" of March 1974.