BY Rich T.

I am right now, what you might call awe-struck. It is one of those -25-degree mornings, so I am perusing You-Tube in the office looking for a few walleye catching tips, and the latest video by Safety Ranger Tim McEntire popped into my playlist. It is another one where he used his drone to show a logging job from above. He does quite well with his drone and judging by the quality of the video, I imagine his drone comes in one of those nice cases with the individual drone pieces neatly packed in that fancy black foam. Not exactly the same kind of packing my first attempt at flight came in, that I got for my 8th birthday. It was one of those Cox Control Line Airplanes that you fired up and controlled with strings while it did circles around you. I remember my first (and only) attempt one Sunday morning in the IGA parking lot. (Sunday morning circa 1966… Bozeman, Montana… The only parking lots with cars in them were the ones at the churches and at the 4-B’s…) So, we rode our bikes up to the IGA, hooked the airplane to the control strings, fired it up, and let it go. Three quarters of a circle later, it “Augured In” and thus ended my Control Line Airplane career.

Flash forward to Fifth Grade, Mrs. Garrison’s Science Class, Wilson Middle School, Third Floor Windows facing Main Street, Bozeman, Montana. It is an absolutely perfect bluebird type day, and the windows are wide open and as Mrs. Garrison was teaching away up at the blackboard, my Pal Jamie Thompson and I were tossing paper airplanes out the open window. Most of them spiraled down to the playground below us, but then for some reason, I tossed one that actually went up a ways. We watched that little paper airplane maintain third story altitude out over main street, and it finally disappeared behind the Courthouse. I had finally achieved “Flight”, Yay.

Flash forward again to Spring 1985, Belgrade, Montana, a small stretch of pavement right behind the Plum Creek Mill, the perfect runway for my introduction into Radio Controlled Flight. (Note the long stretch of time from fifth grade 1968 to 1985… RC Airplanes are expensive and take considerable time to build…) My first attempt at the RC Airplane went quite well, until I clipped a guy wire on the phone pole that I did not know was there. I was able to patch that one back together long enough to fly it right into the side of my pickup, and it was then that we decided we needed more money, and a large chunk of ground without anything tall on it. Our local RC Airplane parts Guy said that perhaps I should practice with a more versatile model instead of the delicate balsa wood types that tend to disintegrate when the wrong amount of gravitational pull is entered into the equation. The problem is, when the RC Plane is flying away from you, left control turns the plane left, and right control turns the plane right. But when the RC Plane is flying toward you, right becomes left and left becomes right, and the result is the ground suddenly getting in the way of your RC Plane. So, one should practice, and attempt number two was this “Trainer” that was made from PVC and an indestructible wing made out of special Styrofoam. Nope… Darned ol’ Gravity ate that one too… My third attempt was another “Trainer” that it said right on the box that “Anybody Can Fly This!” Nope… (Not sure what exactly happened to this particular RC Plane… Somehow lost connection between the Controller and the Plane and the last I saw of it, it was heading for the general area around Ennis, Montana…)

Flash forward again still to the summer of 2006, my enjoyment of flying having been fulfilled by a few trips here and there on the commercial jet. But I had never been in a helicopter until that summer. I was serving as one of the Board of Directors for the Bridger Ridge Radio Users Association, and I was invited on a helicopter ride up to the ridge above Bridger Bowl Ski Area where the radios were. As the winner of the quick coin toss whilst waiting for the copter to show up, I got to sit up front with the pilot. And as we lifted off out of the Bridger Bowl Ski Area parking lot, looking for somewhere to hold on I grabbed with my left hand what I thought was the Parking Brake. Well, turns out there is not a Parking Brake on a helicopter, and that particular handle is actually a helicopter controlly thingy, and if you touch it, the pilot sorta goes crazy. Crazy enough in fact, that one has to walk back to the parking lot from the drop-off spot on top of the Ridge.

Fast forward again still to summer 2020, my camper, Silos, Montana. I am sitting in the shade in my lawn chair and on the table in front of me is the Drone that Uncle Amazon just brought me. I slowly unboxed all the parts, which were carefully placed in their respective cutouts in the kinda fancy black foamy stuff. (I did not spend enough money to get the one that comes in a fancy case with the fancy black foam, obviously…) Not wanting to put my shoes on, I figured I could fire it up right there in front of me and just hoover a bit. (Hover?) So, I set it on the ground and pushed the “On” button. Nothing. Then I decided to actually read the directions... Attempt number two resulted in the darned thing coming to life and skittering across the ground and attacking my socks, me scrambling to find the shut down feature. A third attempt resulted in much the same result, only this time the darned thing attacked the barbecue instead of me. It is back in the box now, and I figure that sometime this spring I am going to reassemble it and set it in the middle of the two sections of BLM ground next door to me, then race back to the camper and hit the “On” button…

That said, you really do need to check out Safety Ranger Tim’s videos he has on You-Tube. Way Kool stuff! (Just go to You-Tube and search for “LoggerTim230”…) I must close now as I am thinking that there will be open water soon, and I need to get the boat ready, and the drone.

Until Next time,

That Is All.

Rich T.

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