Have you ever wondered what makes somebody tick? Or perhaps how in the world they became interested in a certain hobby? Since you read my blog posts about Jay and the world of RC aircraft I thought that I would sit down and talk with him about the hobby.
Just a head’s up… it kind of skips all around because that’s how a conversation between the two of us just works out.
Kerry: How old were you when you first got into RC?
Jay: About 8 years old.
K: What was it that got you interested in the hobby?
J: Just interest.
K: That was when you got your first kit?
J: No, I was 10 or 12 before I got my first kit. I just had a little RC car. Uncle Larry used to take me up to the flying field once in a while.
K: So what was your first actual RC airplane?
J: An Ace Wizard. A little one that I got for Christmas. I built it, but never flew it. I only had a radio from my RC car that was a 2 channel. When I actually was able to try to take it flying, I can’t remember what happened, but I couldn’t get the engine started or something. It was never going to fly very well, though. It was spray painted and I had taught myself to fly with the rudder reversed. I wanted the elevator to work correctly, but there wasn’t any server mixing on the radio so the rudder had to be backwards. I actually had to unteach myself that when I taught myself how to fly later.
K: What was your first aircraft that you actually flew?
J: Gentle Lady
K: That’s a glider?
J: Yep. That was the summer of ’89. No help at all from dad with anything. I had to give him the cash so that he could write the check out. He had to deposit the cash first before he would write the check. No support whatsoever.
K: Would he have been much of a help anyway?
J: No. He used to build plastic models, but didn’t have a passing interest in the balsa kits. He never checked on my building progress or anything. Just didn’t have the interest.
K: So how long did that first one last?
J: That entire summer. I think the next year I decommissioned it and built a new one. It weighed three times what it was supposed to weigh due to repairs at the end.
K: What’s your favorite RC memory?
J: The first time that we hauled a camera up that wasn’t mine or Cliff’s. All we had were two rubber bands holding that 8mm camcorder that belonged to a buddy’s girlfriend. It was brand new. By all rights it should have been launched off of that airplane.
K: You have a ton of aircraft… out of all of them which has been your favorite?
J: That’s like saying which kid, or which cat, is your favorite. I can’t pick one. They each serve a different purpose.
K: Okay, if you had to get rid of all but 5 which ones would you keep?
J: Sixteen, MiG, Hog, Rascal and probably the Wonder.
K: What was the one that you couldn’t wait for it to crash because you hated it?
J: If I hated one that much I never waited for it to crash. I would take it up and then bury it.
K: Was there any one that sticks out that you had to decommission early?
J: Not that I can think of.
K: Was there any one that you had been looking forward to flying as you were building it, but once you got it up into the air you were horribly disappointed?
J: Oh yeah. There have been a few. That Sniper XL is one. I’m not willing to put the power system in it that it needs (money), but I’m not going to give up on it. I was hoping it would do better on what it has than it has so I’ll figure something out.
K: So you were deep into RC when you were in high school and then you went out to San Diego once you were in the service. You only built the Kadet out there, right?
J: No. I built a lot out there. I built one in the barracks in Memphis. It was like anything else. I just kept everything contained in my foot locker. I built a normal 40 size airplane. I stood it up in the corner with the wing in my locker. The only thing that I did find out was that I could not bring the fuel into the barracks. I had to leave a gallon of gas out in a buddy’s car.
K: So that was when electric would have been more beneficial for you?
J: Oh yeah, except I wouldn’t have had any way of charging them. Battery chargers just weren’t there. We were using 6, 7 or 8 cell NiCads.
K: Yeah because Lipos didn’t come out until the early 2000’s, right?
J: Yeah. They were into the late second generation of Lipos when I got into the jets because I was flying 10 & 15C packs and they BARELY got things going.
K: That would be comparable to what size pack today?
J: Well, right now I’m flying 65C’s.
K: Was there ever a time when you weren’t really highly involved in RC?
J: Probably just the time that I was skydiving and flying full scale, but I would still go out and fly a little bit.
K:Did you have any particular goal when you started flying?
J: Nope. I wander aimlessly about.
K: What got you into the electrics and away from gas?
J: Jets. I wanted to fly jets and I was not going to go with the gas powered fan. By that time electric technology was coming around enough that it could adequately power the jets. That was early summer of 2008. I found a 16 and decided to try it.
K: How long were you into helicopters?
J: 2002 – 2008
K: Were you exclusively helicopters?
K: What got you into helicopters?
J: Fascination with them. I wanted to tinker with the mechanics of them. Once I got into jets then that was it.
K: Is there anything coming out or that is new that you are thinking about getting into?
J: If you take one glance around you can see that I’m expanding more into prop planes. They are more efficient than jets, which are kind of single purpose.
K: Did you have any mentors over the years?
K: What advice do you have for newbies?
J: Expect that you’re going to crash. Consider every dime you put into the hobby as expendable. You’re never going to get your investment back out of it. Don’t expect that you’re going to have your dream airplane forever. If you can’t handle watching your pride and joy go up and come right back down, and fit into a sandwich bag to take home with you then find a different hobby. This is not it. You can’t get emotionally invested in it because there’s a good chance that you’re going to lose it. Every plane has an expiration date.
K: Do you think you’ll ever get bored with the hobby?
J: I have comings and goings with it. A few years ago I didn’t have a lot of disposable income so I got into trains for about a year and didn’t really do much with the airplanes. I saw my airplanes every day, they were scattered all around, but I just didn’t have the interest. I knew that I was going to get back into it. I just had to wait for the interest to get involved again. We all get burned out on our hobbies at times.
K:What’s the hardest thing regarding the hobby?
J: Having all of the stuff to go play with, but not having the time to do it. Working the kind of hours that I have been sucks. I just want to fly, but I can’t because of the extra hours we’re working.