The joy of flight (and other rants)

Once again I find myself musing over the hobby and what I need to do to rediscover some sort of enjoyment from something I’ve done since I was a boy. We’ll start with a little story…

I live in constant pain. I’ve had countless surgical procedures on my spine ranging from minor nerve injections to major surgery. Each problem I suffer leads to something new: I have “arthritic changes” in my shoulders, so my neck is shot. The destabilizing effect of the spinal surgery has damaged my pelvis and hips, so my legs are numb. The list goes on.

It took a while to get my pain medication under control so, once you factor in the stress of family, finances, and living a million miles from any sort of support network it is unsurprising that a few years ago I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression.

Still reading? Well done and thank you to you if you are!

Flying is my release. I think the only time I am truly happy is when I am on operations with the drones or working out some sort of technical problem in the workshop. The funny thing is, when I’m in the thick of it on a job I can go the whole day without even thinking about pain medication. Preoccupation, cognitive tunnelling, call it what you like – my flying mind is the state of mind that feels most like me, and I’m a better person for it.

Why then am I not enjoying my hobby? Am I being too hard on myself, trying to force myself into things that I probably can’t sustain? I can go to the flying field and not talk to anyone the whole time I am there. I must come across as a right wanker sometimes. Part of it is because I just don’t see why every sentence should start and end with “fuck”. Part of it though is because I tend to feel disconnected with what everyone else is doing. In recent years, even when not a UAV related flight, my activities have been outside of what the rest of the club is doing – FPV wings, multirotors, autonomous flight. I rarely turn up with just a 3 or 4 channel plane and a few batteries.

The marvellous Josh Bixler from Flite Test tells us that flying is always best with a friend. I don’t really have flying “buddies” – my life doesn’t allow time for a regular weekend type hobby anymore. On top of this my mental state has caused me to become progressively more introverted. I simply don’t know how to talk to people anymore – unless it is something I am really passionate about (and even then I tend to talk AT people rather than TO them).

What next? I actually feel like I should go back to the beginning and start again. I don’t really enjoy buying ARTF models (although the right ARTF has a place for a quick fix), so I feel I need to invest more time and effort into building. I recently wrote a post that foam was “ruining my hobby”. I think that was a little harsh. Building in foam board is quite enjoyable sometimes and gives a lot of satisfaction for little outlay. One day I hope it will also be a good way to get my kids involved in the hobby. I love gliding but I really need to not waste my time and money building gliders that I can’t fly at my normal field. The old designs are also a fascination of mine so maybe a relaxed Lanzo Bomber build would help me to find myself.

If you’ve made it this far then you’ve done well. I really don’t need sympathy and it is unlikely I will react well to unsolicited “advice”. What I think I need is human interaction, friends even – and a little bit of fun back in my hobby.

Until next time…

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