RE: EXPENSIVE HOBBY
From a more philosophical point of view, when ARFs first came out, I thought they would ruin the "quality" of people the RC (airplane) hobby attracts.
I mean, compared to a lot of hobbies in which people can simply "buy their way into," crafting airplanes was always an area that took these qualities to succeed:
1) an appreciation for the creative process
3) willingness to learn (and help others)
A craftsman must have these positive character traits.
This means you really had skimmed the cream of humanity so to speak when clubs and SIGs formed. Model clubs were always the sort of places you felt at home. You could count on folks returning lost items (to complete strangers), and people going out of their way to help. Granted there are exceptions, and many (if not most) clubs today are still this way. But I think it takes one longer to reaize this appreciation nowadays.
Also, when people crashed their planes, the majority of people who understood what it takes to make such a thing fly would always sympathize, and NOT look forward to crashes like NASCAR fans do. I'm not saying NASCAR fans are bad people, but they probably really don't have appreciation for the losses involved. Sure, crashes are spectacular, and as long as nobody gets hurt, they're amazing and almost fun to watch. But in the airplane hobby, it's a lot easier to laugh and care less crashing an arf you didn't build.
The only thing left in the instant ARF world along these lines for me is the fact that people who aspire to succeed in R/C flight will often have appreciation for the difficulity involved, so there is still dedication and a willingness to learn. The very nature of flight itself inspires, and that usually keeps axe murderers out of our ranks. So I'm seeing a lot of people buying ARFs in my club, and if they stick around a few years, we end up with the same quality of folk we used to have anyway. It's just the "hazing period" is a little longer.
Now, without the creative process needed to create the things involved, what is left is skills of integration >> also a good thing to have and refine.
Hobbies are good in general for weeding out shall we say , "undesireables." But I always thought R/C airplanes (and SOARING in particular) had the sort of people I wanted to hang around with most.