Growing up in the sixties and seventies in Indiana the internet did not exist (I don’t even think it was on Al Gore’s radar) nor where there TVs with two hundred plus channels. The closest thing to a cell phone was the communicator Captain Kirk used in Star Trek.
It can be really cold during the winter months, so when you couldn’t dribble a basketball outside because your hands were stinging or the ball simply wouldn’t bounce you had to go inside (playing in the snow wasn’t something you could count on).
I did have a hobby: I liked to fly remote control planes and run RC cars. In our basement I had a workshop where I built models to fly once the weather permitted. These weren’t what they have today, commonly known as “ARF”, (Almost Ready to Fly) where you open a box, snap the wings on the fuselage, screw in servo’s, add a receiver, battery and you’re done. My planes were made from scratch using parts you created from a blueprint. There were all types of planes. New flyers would choose something in a high wing model, keeping speeds down and usually had faster build times. The military replicas were then; as they are now, very popular, but the rule of thumb is – the faster they go the harder it is to fly them.
The parts were entirely made out of balsa wood. You may know very little about this versatile material. It’s light, but surprisingly strong. Grown mainly in South America, it has a variety of uses. If you have ever used a crankbait fishing lure it was probably made of balsa wood. Every inch of the project was cut, shaped, and sanded.
Assembly of the fuselage, wings, tail, rudders, elevators and ailerons was completed with five minute epoxy. Five minutes doesn’t seem like a long period of time but when you’re fitting literally hundreds of pieces together it can seem like an eternity. You then painted everything. Starting with a primer coat, (very, very thin coats, as weight is your Achilles heel) then sand, then prime, then sand, if every looked good and smooth you were ready for the final color coat. The wings were covered in a plastic film. Think of a really tough shrink wrap. I used my sister’s hair dryer to get the surface tight as a drum.
Next the internals, mount you motor with linkage, gas tank and electronics. If you did everything correctly you could hold the completed plane on the forward tips of each wing and it would balance front to back. If you paid attention to your details and exercised patience you should have a flight worthy aircraft, just waiting for a day of calm winds and green grass to take off and land on. Construction time would easily eat up forty five hours of work or even more in the completion of a single plane. If you were replicating a real, full size aircraft to scale you might spend a year or two of dedicated work.
I told myself when thinking of a topic for this blog that I was going to write about something that had nothing to do with finances. Something different, but in the last paragraph I can’t let the opportunity pass by without making the following analogy. The design a plane no matter the size starts with a detailed, well thought out plan. Some planes have more pieces and nuances than others, but care has to be taken with each one. It’s an extremely rewarding feeling when you fly the model for the first time. The second and third are no less satisfying, but anytime your craft is moving there are conditions that you can’t control, wind gusts, engine or radio issues. Adjustments must be made, caution exercised or you may face some horrifying consequences and hours upon hours of work can be lost in the blink of an eye.
Are your dreams of retirement and financial security any different? Carefully you put away part of your income while trying to balance everyday living. Paying the mortgage, saving for the education of your children, all the parts of your daily life just like the plane, you are shaping, contouring them, trying to make them fit, holding them together with the very fabric of your will. But wait, what’s missing, the plan? That detailed guide that identifies each part and shows you where each piece goes, how they all fit together to ensure that you too will have your day in the sun, where time is your friend. Do you have one? If so, like the plane is it balanced properly, have you calculated the variables in your future?
Life takes twists and turns. You marry, have kids, a house and soon the hobbies fade away.
Fast forward thirty-five years. Just because I wasn’t flying didn’t stop me from looking and reading about what was new and exciting in RC aircraft. Okay, confession time: I may be a grown man but I do like my toys (this statement was put in as an acknowledgement to my wife).
About ten to twelve years ago a buzz word hit the scene of small remotely controlled aircraft… DRONES!
Parrott was one of the first companies that made a reliable, functional, affordable drone for the mass retail recreational market. They’re drones were like something out of a fantasy alien movie. It could fly like a helicopter, hover and spin on its axis, it had a forward looking, high definition camera, a downward looking camera, the maneuverability was simply mind boggling and you were controlling the whole thing not with a box and toggle sticks, but with your smart phone, while watching live video feed from the craft itself. You may think it sounds too complicated while actually nothing could be further from the truth. The technology is so advanced in these little machines that my four year old grandson was flying mine after two minutes of instructions. This fueled the public’s willingness to accept them not just as a form of entertainment and pleasure but as a tool.
Needless to say, I had to have one!
Suddenly, the market was flooded. Companies were coming out with bigger, more advanced machines, both in payload capacity and functionality. Huge corporations touted that soon you wouldn’t leave your house to shop, a drone would deliver your items within minutes of your order. The media flooded the airwaves with stories on the new innovations and how they would affect our lives. The world had gone drone crazy in that every day someone was thinking of new ways to fully utilize these wonderful creations. Sports’ reporting is just one area where the use of drones has dramatically improved the viewers’ ability to be fully immersed visually.
Sadly, negative press about military drone strikes and individuals who fly personal drones that have little regard or respect have exploited and missed used the mindless drone. The general public now has a stigma of these marvelous machines as being either a type of weapon or a vehicle used to invade the privacy of others.
The FAA has put forth legislation regulating the use of drones and has created a registry for those who own them. Safety is there concern as it should be.
Today when I have mine in the air I am mindful of those around me for their safety and privacy. I do enjoy it. Flying has always lifted my spirits; there is a sense of freedom. So maybe, just maybe if you see one, think first that someone is just enjoying the day with a marvelous creation, having their day in the sun.
Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see my Disclosure page for full disclaimer.