I got up at 7:30am on Saturday morning itching to get to the flying field. The weather over the last three weekends had been atrocious for learning - sunny, but constant 20mph plus winds. Definitely not weather for me to be flying my LT-40! I'd been watching the weather all week; Sunday was going to be a write-off due to a thunderstorm front moving in (equalling the all-time record of 13 thunderstorms in July for Chicagoland) but Saturday was going to be warm and sunny with clear sky's lasting all day!
My batteries were charged and I was ready to go. I loaded the plane into the car (have you ever tried getting a 70" wingspan aircraft into a Nissan Altima? There's definitely an art to it) and started the half hour drive to the field.
I got to the field at 9:00am, eager to carry on with my training. Normally at this time in the morning there are a few club members flying, but this morning I couldn't see any cars I recognised in the parking lot. When I opened my car door the reason became aparent: the wind came blasting into the car straight out of the South.
Well I wasn't going to drive all the way to the field just to drive straight back home again, so I loaded my plane and field equipment onto my cart and walked the half mile through the forest preserve to the flying field. One and a half hours later, after sitting and watching the horizontal wind-sock pointing directly at me, I broke down my 'plane and went home resigned to the fact that the Chicago weather was going to mean yet another weekend on the ground.
Sunday morning came much sooner than I expected due to the fact that I'd forgotten to shut the blasted alarm off. Oh well, I was awake so I may as well pop downstairs, eat some toast and read the Sunday newspaper. I got downstairs and suddenly realised that there was sunlight streaming through the family room blinds. I thought it was meant to be stormy?
I stuck my head out of the front door and found a warm summer morning with barely a breeze blowing. Five minutes later, after getting a day-pass from my darling wife and due to the fact that I hadn't unloaded my plane from the day before, I was in the car and heading to the field. I pulled into the parking lot half expecting to be greeted with swaying trees and empty parking spaces. Not today! Three or four of the regular 'mobile hangers' were there.
What followed was a great morning of flying. I managed to get six flights in, practising my clockwise and anti-clockwise pattern, flat figure eights, take offs, landings, touch-and-goes, and rudder-elevator flight. My club has a very structured flight training programme: every 'newbie' gets a training card on which are check-boxes for twelve different areas of flight proficiency ranging from ground checks and safety protocols through in-flight manouvers to the obligatory take-offs and landings. Well what do you know, by the time the storm front finally arrived at 11:30am I had multiple ticks in all the boxes. One handshake from my instructor later and I was passed for solo flight!
A big thank you to all the instructors at PropMasters R/C Club who have worked so hard at creating and maintaining an excellent flight training programme. Special thanks go to Marv my primary instructor who must have taken a good couple of hours out of his own flying time to help me get to this point.