FORT EDWARD — Learning to fly is not that easy.
Even after a few mini-lessons and assurances that the co-pilot can take over instantly, anticipating the first flight is a bit frightening. And when the plane, with its 100-inch wingspan, taxis on the field and lifts off, the virgin pilot is prone to shrieks and worries, even when the plane is only model-sized.
On Saturday morning at the North Country Flying Tigers Model Airplane Club’s gathering on Route 43, this reporter piloted a small aircraft at the urging of club members. But the plane’s turns dipped too low, accelerations were too fast and straight and the aircraft was quickly too far away. Right turns went left and lefts went right.
There were too many pleas to the co-pilot, “Take over! Take over!” And in what seemed a split second from crashing the valuable aircraft to bits, it again soared as if a pro took control. And he did.
The patient instructors, Ernie Hoenigmann and Steve Thayer, said it was OK, “It takes lots of time and practice.” And Thayer, the co-pilot and the club vice president, was quick to say, “I’ve already got it,” meaning he had rescued the plane from certain devastation before the trainee even knew it was in trouble.
Less than eight minutes later, the aircraft was back on the ground, unscathed. When asked, Thayer agreed, “Yes, you would have crashed.”
Saturday’s event was the club’s free open house to celebrate National Model Aviation Day, which was on Saturday. The public was invited to their airstrip to watch some of the advanced flyers swoop, twirl and fly upside-down and to give it a try if they were interested. And several residents from the Washington Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Argyle came to enjoy the show.
“The point of Model Aviation Day is for newcomers,” said Bob Lippman, the club president. “We build models to understand aviation.”
Boy Scouts from St. Mary’s in Glens Falls, Troop 2, also tried their hand at neophyte flying the beguiling planes. And they did it with much more ease. Still, even they admitted to problems mixing up the lefts and rights.
“It’s fun,” said Danny Cheney, 14. “But I get confused from left and right.”
And Nolan Moore, 11, said his experience was “pretty good,” but it was hard to turn. Moore has never personally been on a full-sized plane. “And I…