Mark

Baldridge

, Platteville

, Wisconsin

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-13 18:50:00
“My name is Mark Baldridge, and I have been flying model aircraft for about 10 years now. As a child, I always loved looking in the local hobby shop, and I always wished I could fly a model airplane. At the time they were almost all gas, they were expensive, messy, and easy to crash. When I was about 18 a friend introduced me to building RC planes from scratch. And with the new electric motors and lithium batteries, the performance of these aircraft were amazing!! We built a glider from dollar tree foam with no plans. My friend was a retired engineer from Boeing, and Quickie (a kit aircraft manufacturer) and so airplanes were second nature to him. The airplane we built was so light and had so much lift that it would maintain altitude at nearly jogging speed! The only electronics in this aircraft were a motor, battery, receiver and two servos. A grand total of about $40. It was VERY INEXPENSIVE. I learned to fly on that airplane, and it got me outdoors and away from screens. I started a small-time “flight club” with my friends (both boys and girls!) who met every Tuesday evening for a whole summer to build airplanes, and fly in the soy-bean field at a member’s farm. When the weather became poor, we reserved a local basketball gymnasium and flew very small planes indoors! Some of us were nerds, others were farm kids, but we were all enthralled by the joy of flight. All of us kids used our own money that we had earned and saved to buy the few electronic parts necessary to build a radio-controlled plane. It has only stuck with me. I’ve built now several dozen different model airplanes. Although my life has changed somewhat with marriage, and becoming a father, I still love the nearly silent whizzing of an electric RC airplane on a still summer evening. My three-year-old daughter has slowly been grasping the concepts of radio control, and hopefully one of these years it will click with her, and she’ll be able to maintain control of a slow glider like I did. I have begun building a Pietenpol Air Camper which is a home-built airplane design from 1927 which essentially sparked experimental aviation as we know it now. Let me explain the RC technology a bit: The beauty of this hobby is how inexpensive it is. And let me state that minimizing the cost of flying components is EXACTLY what makes this hobby approachable. Think about it, would a student pilot feel more or less comfortable flying an aircraft with $40 worth of parts in it or $200? Obviously, since a new RC pilot (or an old one for that matter) IS GOING TO CRASH, it makes sense that the cost of the components that could be damaged by crashing should be kept to a minimum. That’s why with $1 sheets of foam, and simple, cheap electronic components are so popular. A remote ID transmitter would cost money, and could potentially be damaged in a crash. Putting the transmitter in the aircraft is the wrong place. By the time my airplane is more than 400 feet away from me, it’s essentially a speck in the sky anyway. So let me ID on my phone, and deal with the +-400′ tolerance in the information. Another amazing fact is that not all RC planes have motors! You can build a glider that contains nothing other than a very small battery, a receiver, and two servos which all would cost about $15, and with a long kite string or a high hill to launch from, you can fly a glider on wind sheer and thermals for quite some time! With no motor involved. Requiring remote ID transponder on-board such a beautifully simple flying machine would entirely violate the intent of the design! I am confident that with complete and accurate information about this wonderful hobby, the FAA will come to a reasonable solution that will meet the true needs of all parties involved.”
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