Friday, December 4, 2015

Dealing With Frustration - Model Aviation

After working on model air powered car this past weekend and being stuck on a particularly frustrating aspect in testing for air leaks and spending so much time conquering the problem; I thought of the great frustration encountered in my model airplane hobby over the years.  I have to believe it has prepared me somewhat for frustrations in other aspects of my life.  In the summer project building class I have been teaching for several years, I often see students get frustrated really fast and give up rather soon.

Old Sailplane Crash - Too Much Stress on Launch

Getting Valves Working Really Frustrating

Many Students Found the Walkalong Gliders Frustrating 

Thinking back to when I was their age and just starting in model aviation,  my friends and I were really presented with the frustration of spending so much time building a model airplane and then seeing it crash into so many small pieces. No doubt there could have been times where an already damaged airplane was further destroyed by stomping it into the ground in frustration. We never gave up because of that. Sometimes I think the risk factor made it more exciting.

Radio Failure RC Sailplane After 10 Years

Still in the hobby as an adult it is frustrating to see your model planes broken or worse yet fly away I think I handle it better now. In writing this article I read a couple of articles on frustration written by psychologist; in both articles they said some frustration can be good as it makes a person try harder in pursuing their goals.  What the articles did not mention is what I see as a “high” you feel after working through something frustrating. 

Free Flight Wing Hard Landing

In the model aviation hobby I have seen some very good role models in dealing with frustration, especially in the competition world.  How these people see so much time and money invested destroyed so quickly and then pick up the pieces with a smile on their face is truly amazing.  They have accepted this part of the hobby but are normally very vigilant in learning from their mistakes if it was caused by a mistake. 

Wing Broke Off in Flight

Not all the frustration in model aviation results in a crash; much can be encountered in the building process as well. It really teaches one to think ahead on how building processes must be done so as not to glue pieces together too soon and then not be able to complete another step because gluing the new parts are inaccessible.  With the really lightweight balsa airplanes breaking the airplane during construction can happen often. For me covering models and trying to get all the tiny wrinkles out can be equally frustrating.

Breaking Model During Construction

In reading this if you have stories of frustration in model aviation that you would like to share, leave a comment.

Bill Kuhl


  1. I have learned more then you can know by watching how my friends deal with a crash as I make the walk with them from flight line to destruction sight. As a psychology Professor I listen for the rational or irrational tapes that play in our head about what that crash says about themselves as a person. I find it so much heather to see the crash as a challenge then to blame some mystical external force as the cause.

  2. On the topic of irrational tapes being played in our heads I noticed I would take inventory of all the things wrong in my life whenever I crashed!! I admire people who are able to handle the loss of plane and not get too upset.

  3. The true metal of a persons soul is displayed when the chips are down.

    In my association with modelers, the ones that stay with it are the best collection of folks in this world.

    Van Wilson

  4. I was taught, when I re-entered the hobby at 47 as a sailplane flyer, after an 8 year break tacing RC model sailboats(model aircraft and cruising yachts are a poor fit!), to always bring a garbage bag.., and that from a former national sailplane, Wakefield team captain and LSF level 5 (twice!), Robert I. Champine(also 3d man through the sound bartoer in the X-1B! Nuff said? If he could "re-kit" a plane, anyone can, and he did... Even after 60 years of model flying!... I have one in my kit to this day!��

    1. I ran into Mr. Champine a few times at sailplane contests. I'd say you were lucky to get to know him. It was a long time ago, but I remember thinking he was a great guy.

    2. It's been my experience that model airplanes are capable of partial self repair, if you recover ALL the parts. After a week or two sitting out of sight, they look much easier to fix!