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Psychology of RC flying

Old 12-04-2011, 10:10 PM
  #1  
abufletcher
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Default Psychology of RC flying

On Buzzard Bait's thread about using gyros I posted about how I often felt strangely "connected" to my model in an almost physically real way:

You're also right that we RC flyers are at a disadvantage in many ways compared to pilots sitting in a full-scale aircraft. We don't have our inner ear to tell us what's happening (and going to be happening). That said, I'm often amazing and how much I do 'feel' what the model is doing...almost as if it's being 'transmitted' back to me through the stick movements. There are definitely times that I've felt almost dizzy when the model didn't take the path that I expected it to in a turn. It's like my brain is expecting a certain outcome and when the motion of the model doesn't match my expectations this mismatch can actually make me feel a bit weird.
This is a topic that might be interesting to explore further. What are your thoughts of what runs through out brains when we're flying...other than the occasional "sheer panic."
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:17 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

This is an interesting topic. Mainly because anyone who flies RC has to do it, have it, operate with it, whatever the is actually is. As was mentioned in Abu's post, we have no benefit as RC fliers of the visceral connection granted to pilots of full scale machines, so we are left with a tricky substitute.....our vision. So quite often we find ourselves, (at least I do) projecting ourselves into and around our machines 3-dimensionally as they fly. This telepathic like link, although based on mainly vision, (and sound I guess due to engine noise etc.) is the only thing keeping that little machine humming safely through the skies. Break it, and all is lost, loose it for a few moments, and great danger can ensue, and in many ways it's almost like entering a focused trance, until your wheels touch the safety of soft grass, and the beautiful little creation comes to a rolling stop, and the spell is broken.

Strange phenomenon really.

ZZ.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:28 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Maybe not being so mystical about it but I do understand the concept of having a "feel" for the plane.  For me, there are some days when I'm "in the groove" and the plane and I are in perfect sync.  Other days, not so much.

I have a theory though.  One thing I tell beginners is to remind them that there is no rigid "flight plan".  Don't fight the plane.  If you want it to go somewhere and provide that input but it goes somewhere else, change your intent, don't horse the plane back.  (I'm talking about maneuvers, not crash avoidance.)

I think what is in play here is our sense of the subtle motions that our planes do, probably from a wind gust or an input that wasn't just right.  Our brains subconsciously pick up on those cues and we compensate, feeling very proud of ourselves in the process.

That's my philosophical thought for the day  
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:47 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

On several occasions I've had the opportunity (well...had the opportunity forced upon me) to continue flying without being able to see the model. A couple of times the model went deadstick and dipped down below the visual edge of our field, which is on an old terraced rice field. Rather than just throw in the towel, I kept "flying" and on these occasions I believe that made the difference between a total loss and a "rough landing" with minimal damage. On another occasion, my model dropped down behind a stand of tall bamboo and for several seconds I couldn't see it but gave it a bit of up-elevator and some throttle (and a bit of aileron) and suddenly it popped back up into the sky. Another time I got distracted for a moment (trying to look at my watch) and when I looked back to where the model should have been it was nowhere to be seen. I quickly scanned the air close to the ground but couldn't find it anyway. I knew it hadn't had time yet to hit the ground, but I just couldn't find it anywhere in the sky. But the whole time I held in mild up-elevator and a bit of aileron hoping this would keep it in the air. After what seemed like an eternity, I checked at a much higher altitude...and there it was slowly cruising around in big circles way up high like a glider.

So it definitely seems possible to fly a model that we can't actually see! At least for a few seconds.

And, yeah, on days when I don't feel right, I just pack up the model and go home.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:49 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

I also wonder what it is that gives me the sense that a model is "heavy" or "light" in the air. I swear sometimes I can "feel" the G-forces through the sticks!
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:07 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

The future of RC:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40L3SGmcPDQ&feature=related[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNkkuMO5l7A&feature=related[/youtube]
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:08 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Look at the topics in psychology entitled 'action at a distance'. Very interesting reading!
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:13 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

We are all crazy as a loon following a lemming.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:26 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

I also wonder what it is that gives me the sense that a model is "heavy" or "light" in the air. I swear sometimes I can "feel" the G-forces through the sticks!

You are using "The Force" young Jedi.

ZZ.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:47 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Otrcman posted the following very insightful message and with his permission, I would like to share it with you:

My take on RC piloting is that we create a model in our minds and are really only using the real model to update our "mental model". In other words, we create this imaginary model, then control it while watching the real model. The mental model fills in the gaps where our visibility is hampered by such things as rapid attitude changes and flying toward ourselves. This is particularly apparent when we fly at great heights or when for any reason our visible link is temporarily obscured. I suspect that we have far more gaps in our visible perception that we ever realize. Our mental model continues to fly as planned until we regain a solid visible link. To me, this is why I get an occasional "thrill" or adrenaline shot when I make a maneuver and then my next clear vision of the model shows that it is not in the same attitude that I expected it to be. Also, gusty wind upsets us in the same way that snow on a television upsets our watching pleasure. Using a rate gyro is like taking the snow out of your TV program.
This precisely mirrors how I see RC flying. We're actually flying "in our heads" and when we turn that virtual model in our head, we hope to see the actual model making a corresponding movement. When that happens we feel in tune with the model, when there's a discrepancy between the plane in our heads and the plane in the sky it feels wrong....anything from slight dizziness to outright shock. This discrepancy between the inner and outer models can become extreme when we "lose orientation."

Some flyers may strive for that "perfect flight" where the mind and the model are in perfect sync. Me, I think I prefer a slightly bumpy ride...it keeps me awake!
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:31 AM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Here's another way to look at how we fly RC models:

Flying is a "closed loop" control system. By this, I mean that we make an input, then see the response, and then compare the response to our expectations, and adjust our next input. Seeing the response is the feedback element in the loop. You can compare this to moving the mouse on your computer screen. Move your hand in the direction you want the arrow to move, see the arrow move (how far,how fast, what direction) and then make additional moves of the mouse until you see the pointer arrive at the spot you wanted it to be. You can't position the arrow on the computer screen with your eyes closed you need feedback. So it is with flying a model airplane.

But I think there is an additional dimension to flying a model airplane. Not only does it move in three dimensions, but it also rotates about all three of its axes. Far more complex than moving the arrow on a computer screen up-down and left-right. In addition, we have the problem of not seeing the attitude (axis rotation) of the model as easily as the computer arrow. Remember the initial problems that you had not knowing whether you were banking toward yourself or away from yourself ? And how about flying toward yourself and having to use reverse roll inputs ?

Add to this complexity the problem of intermittent visual contact with the model. Every time you blink or the sun flashes off your model or the direction of bank isn't quite clear you are losing your feedback signal. The mental model helps to bridge those visual gaps. Abufletcher described a frighteningly long episode of no-feedback when he flew behind a stand of bamboo.

To cope with all of the problems above, I think we build that "mental model" to fly in our brain so that we know where to expect the model to be and what attitude it will be in when we reacquire a good visual signal. We are using the mental model to supplement our intermittent lack of visual feedback and all of the other feedback cues that we would bet if were were actually sitting in the cockpit. And when we see the model and it's not where or as we expect it to be, that's when we get one of those little thrills in the pit of our stomach.

Dick
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:13 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Hell's bell's, and I thought I'll just snuck off to the flying field on a nice day to go and fly a plane to relax and enjoy myself for a couple of hours..... , man....

I'm sure there are modellers thatcould easilyend up with their planes controlling them... I know of one or 2.....

Me, I would be too nervous to fly again.....

Interestingtopic guys

Cheers

Bundu
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:01 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

-There's no question we have to be focused to fly our planes well, especially in adverse conditions. My perspective is usually from the "pilot's" view. We rely on visual feedback, but we're also aware just how much throttle, elevator, ailerons, and rudder we are using at a particular moment. Our thumbs are part of our feedback loop.
-An example of a different perspective is night flying. At night I can only see some lights occasionally; I can't see the shape of the plane at all. After I adjust to the lights, I turn off all but the red and green nav lights and a tail strobe and continue to fly loops, rolls, snaps and inverted. You have to train your brain to accept this perspective. I'm sure lots of folks do the same thing.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:47 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

ORIGINAL: otrcman
You can't position the arrow on the computer screen with your eyes closed you need feedback.
But, you know, after hours and hours of computer use, I find I real can move the cursor pretty much without looking. I just use the visual feedback to fine tune the location. And I'd be surprised if I'm not doing the same most of the time when flying. Also, to a very great extent most models are "flying themselves" on a moment-by-moment basis (sort of like a horse knowing where to go) and we're just adding little guidance inputs now and then.

Remember the initial problems that you had not knowing whether you were banking toward yourself or away from yourself ? And how about flying toward yourself and having to use reverse roll inputs ?
I remember trying to consciously learn "rules of thumb" for these situations like "move the stick towards the low wing." But that logical approach never really helped me. It took hours and hours of "flying" in RealFlight (often while watching a movie on TV) before the control movements started to become intuitive.

Add to this complexity the problem of intermittent visual contact with the model. Every time you blink or the sun flashes off your model or the direction of bank isn't quite clear you are losing your feedback signal. The mental model helps to bridge those visual gaps.
Again I agree. In fact we might think of the "feedback loop" as being like a movie which is actually just flickering individual frames. The higher the "frame rate" the better. But even with the sort of frame rate using in professional cinema, the moments of time we "see" are only a fraction of the total time. Our brains fill in the considerable gaps. To take this "psychology" stuff even further social scientist Gregory Bateson explored the "limits of the mind" and asked where our bodies stop and where "the world" begins. If used the example of a blind man walking along a street with a cane. Where is the limit of the man's body. Is it the man's fingertips? Or was it the tip of the cane? Or did it extend yet further?

Another aspect of this topic is how we scale modelers deal with the "fear" of flying these creations of our that we've in some cases spent years building.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:21 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

I always kinda wanted to try using a head mounted eyetracker while flying to see what was going on with one's eyes when they're flying. I suspect it might be interesting to compare someone that's new and someone that's pretty experienced. Never quite got around to doing it though because the thing is something of a pain to set up. Unfortunately, don't know that the thing can be made to function anymore, so won't ever get a chance to do it.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:40 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

Abu you just got me thinking.. and then laughing.
I was picturing a sensor in the plane that would send back info to the radio..this would put in accurate feed back to the gimbals..equal to a full scale plane.. then I pictured a massive failure on the plane.. the gimbals mashing back and forth on the transmitter with THUMB breaking energy.. hahaha
that would be strange to see, and even stranger.. to feel.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:21 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying


ORIGINAL: Bundubasher

Hell's bell's, and I thought I'll just snuck off to the flying field on a nice day to go and fly a plane to relax and enjoy myself for a couple of hours.....

Guess those days are over!!

I've often wondered how it is that: Even though I know the plane is banking left coming toward me, I see it banking right going away.... and then make the input. [:@]

WOW, now I need to see a psychologist....[]
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:29 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

This thread is too deep.
I know that when I am at the field Im in heaven, relaxed, having fun, not worried, and in full contact with my flying model, I think is 2.4 mHz,not telepathy or psychology.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:33 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

I think there are some guys that think too much about how they are thinking.

If it feels good, do it.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:43 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying


ORIGINAL: foodstick

Abu you just got me thinking.. and then laughing.
I was picturing a sensor in the plane that would send back info to the radio..this would put in accurate feed back to the gimbals..equal to a full scale plane.. then I pictured a massive failure on the plane.. the gimbals mashing back and forth on the transmitter with THUMB breaking energy.. hahaha
that would be strange to see, and even stranger.. to feel.
Sort of like my kids' Nintendo 64 controller had a vibration module that let them feel (in a crude way) what was happening in the game! But, yeah, I agree, I probably don't want to be in MY models!
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:47 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

ORIGINAL: DustBen
I think there are some guys that think too much about how they are thinking.

If it feels good, do it.
Occupational hazard, I guess. My son is always telling me that I never give him a simple answer. I tell him that simple answers are almost always incomplete answers. It's certainly true that you don't need to think about any of this stuff to have a good time at the field. I just think it's fun to think about how it all works sometimes.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:50 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

I usually fly ahead of my model. That way I have what I want to do on the next pass "queued up" It takes practice to do that. It can be done though. Most things are now "automatic". Been flying over 20 years and average about 600 flights a season. Most are just boring holes in the sky. Some are practicing landings and approaches. some are trying to lay three to six loops in the same position. Some are trying to figure eight at ten feet off the ground at full throttle using most of the field. The flight depends on how I feel at the moment I take off and how much other traffic is in the air.

The one thing my instructor told me when I first started. "Take offs are optional. Landings are Mandatory." So I practice landings regularly. I very seldom botch a landing anymore. I can land the bird right where I want it. (usually straight out in front of me within six feet of a straight line.)" I won't hesitate to power up and go around if I do not like something.

Practicing can make any pilot better. Then it is not thinking. It is automatic. Pure instinct.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:17 PM
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ORIGINAL: RCER88
I usually fly ahead of my model. That way I have what I want to do on the next pass ''queued up''
I usually don't plan what moves I'll be doing ahead of time. But it's still vital to stay mentally ahead of the model. Sometimes I'll just know that I'm lagging a bit behind...and if I feel this way, it's time to land.

Most things are now ''automatic''.
A lot of my flying boils down to muscle memory, but I try to push myself to do new things. One thing that I find incredibly difficult to make myself do is to put a model into a dive. There's just something unnerving about purposely pushing the model towards the ground. Most of my "practice" probably looks pretty boring to my clubmates. I'm not doing fancy aerobatics or zooming back and forth. For the most part, I'm just making slow circuits and some lazy figure-8s but in my mind I'm pushing myself to make the model do just what I want it to do and while a turn might look perfectly normal to anyone watching, I'll know that it was off.

...and how much other traffic is in the air.
It's taken me a while but I've now learned to enjoy flying with other models in the air. There's something about the additional mental challenge of keeping at least loose track of where the other models are that makes my own flight more exciting. Honestly, I'd like to play some follow the leader type games but I don't know if there's anyone else at my field who'd be interested in doing this.

Practicing can make any pilot better. Then it is not thinking. It is automatic. Pure instinct.
Trying to "think" what to do while flying is almost always the surest way to get into trouble.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:27 PM
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Default RE: Psychology of RC flying

You of all the posters IMO have answered the question. There are only two types of pilots. The first being the natural wich is an exception to the rule and the second is the text book variety. Ninetynine percent of model and full scale pilots are of the second class. I flew aerial targets for the military for sixteen years and during this time I meet and flew with two natural pilots. Practise makes perfect and in the world of modeling this is the key to sucess. Even in the world of rc helicopters you find natural pilots and most of your factory sponsored pilots fit this discription. I have flown all types of models from gliders to helicopters however I always started chasing the model ending at the point were I was in front of the cockpit. It only became fun when I managed to rest in the cockpit. All phases to this point were nothing but practise.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:36 PM
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ORIGINAL: flycatch
You of all the posters IMO have answered the question.
What was the question? In any endeavor there are always people who seem to be "naturals." They seems to do effortlessly what others have to strain to do. But I've also learned that many of the people who seem like "naturals" are just people who've paid an awful lot in practice dues over the years and we just don't know it.
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