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Old 11-15-2005, 02:15 PM
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Location: Lincoln, NE
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Default RE: Club Members insist on flying solo...

I think 50+Airyears hit the nail on the head. We all do something different in this hobby and we all have unique field needs and flying conditions. The key is we all need to understand these differences, be courteous and all will be fine.

I fly pattern so I can explain from my standpoint my preferred flying conditions. This may shed some light on the situation. Our field can be moderately busy as we have 120 members. Our club rules limit planes in the air to six, but I generally will not fly if more than two are already up. I personally tend to prefer to be the only plane in the air when I practice. It's not ego, or to show off. It is so that I can fully concentrate on my flying without worrying about other planes in the air. It's just that simple. In addition, pattern ships are not cheap and $3K is not unheard of for total flying $. They also take hours of flight time to dial in and to become comfortable with. The idea of losing your primary ship at any time, especially days before a contest, is terrifying.

The solo flight is a combination of risk management and the desire to seek quality practice. This is not meant to belittle other pilots or to boast our ego. I know most pattern pilots have a bloated ego, but we must have a lot of self confidence as we are in a very competitive solo sport. If you can get past that, we really are a friendly, likeable odd lot. Pilot skill has very little to do with the situation. Pattern sequences are flown in a back and forth manner at a constant distance. This means flight against the field pattern. This could be potentially disastrous as we are using the field "differently" than other pilots. Actually, one of the most dangerous situations is two pattern planes flying the same sequence… I’ve witnessed the results and had to clean my shorts.

Our desire for open air in no way gives us rights different than other members. We all have the same flying rights to the field. I will practice with other planes in the air with pilots I know, but we communicate at the flight line and indicate where we intend to fly with the intention to stay out of each others way. I.E., I'll typically be out 150 meters, the other pilot will indicate they intend to stay in close, etc. There are pilots at our field who can't seem to play by these "rules", in such a case, I land. No hard feelings, I just wait until they are done flying then I go back up. I also will fly at times I know the field will be slow such that I can easily solo fly without any issue.

The key is courtesy. I never insist to be alone. I may ask to fly alone, but you can always say no and I will wait. When not flying I return the favor by helping new members solo, trim out a fellow pilots plane, fix an engine for a newbie, etc. This give 'n' take seems to work well at our field and I have never heard any negative comments about our pattern crowd. The same basic idea should work for any other SIG or pilots that have special flying conditions. Enjoy your hobby! Cheers.
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