Flying Lines Editor's Notebook

By John Thompson

April 2013

Modeling thought for the month:

"Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."
-- Will Rogers

It's what got all of us involved in control-line model aviation: The incredibly beautiful sight and sound of a CL model in the air. Flying Lines photo.

The Flying Lines philosophy: It's all about fun

On a recent day at the Eugene Airport, our local flying field, a father and son stopped in to watch the Eugene Prop Spinners control-line flying session. The boy was about 12 or so; they’d driven out to the airport to look at planes and happened to see us flying models.

They stood near the circle, and I could overhear the reactions of the boy, who clearly had never seen a model close up. As one of our club members put a big, growly stunt plane through its paces, hearing the boy’s “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Awesome” as the plane bottomed out the wingover and snapped off the corners of a square eight took me back to a schoolyard when I was about 12, for the first time seeing a big black Nobler hit the bottom of the wingover. It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen up to then -- and to this day watching a five-foot wingover pullout gives me that thrill. When I saw that Nobler fly in about 1962, I became a control-line modeler for life.

As usually happens when a spectator drops by our field, one of the Prop Spinners members chatted with the father and son, explaining about CL models. He also told them about the website where they could find out lots more about this fascinating hobby -- Flying Lines.

Yes, FL is mostly the news organ for the longtime CL hobbyists in the Northwest, but it’s also a gateway into out fabulous hobby for newcomers such as that father and son who spotted some models flying on a Sunday afternoon. FL also is the primary window into Northwest CL model aviation for visitors to the website across the United States and, truly, around the world.

That thought promoted me to spend a few paragraphs offering an explanation of the underlying philosophy of the Flying Lines website -- which is more or less unchanged since Flying Lines began as a printed newsletter in 1979.

FL’s purpose has always been twofold:

One, to provide a network that links CL modelers who are scattered far and wide across the vast Academy of Model Aeronautics District XI and British Columbia, the region we define as the Pacific Northwest. The idea is that keeping modelers informed and connected is a benefit to everyone individually and to the health of the hobby as a whole.

Secondly, the goal has been to provide a positive, uplifting view of CL model aviation for the general public. What I as editor want visitors to the site to see is a picture of how I view CL model aviation: A fascinating, fun and wholesome activity, participated in by people of all ages and walks of life. We like airplanes, we like flying, and we enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with flying together. We like to compete, but in the end, what we most enjoy is having fun with model airplanes.

There’s no end to the variety in CL model aviation as a casual hobby, and there’s no end to the fun and challenge involved in competition. One trait of CL modelers I’ve always enjoyed is that, hard as everyone tries to gain an edge in competition, the very best competitors always immediately explain their “secrets” with everyone else willing to listen -- so it’s not really an edge at all but the fellowship involved in pursuing the hobby together.

So that’s my view of CL model aviation: Good people flying fascinating models, engaging in spirited, good-natured competition and sharing “secrets” in the spirit of joint discovery.

I guess there’s a third aspect to FL’s underlying philosophy: CL fliers are a small fraternity, widely separated by geography. We competitors see one another every few weeks, usually at some location far from home. In the vast ocean of world events, we’re a few people crowded into a very small boat. We float together, or we sink. CL flying simply cannot endure fragmentation or strife. We have to work together for the common good of the hobby, or we will lose it.

So, in all of the ways mentioned above, FL attempts to emphasize the good and positive about the hobby.

Though Flying Lines has from the start been a labor of love by myself and Mike Hazel, my partner in flying and reporting of Northwest CL news, the content of the newsletter first and now the website has been provided by modelers in every discipline of the hobby. The pages of FL are open to anyone who’s willing to share their knowledge, experience, humor and skill with the rest of us. I think of every member of the Northwest CL flying community as a member of the FL staff.

I publish almost every article I get on all sorts of topics, and I provide pages with links to club newsletters and other club information as provided. The various topic pages -- history, crashes, hobby shops, shop tips, etc. -- are filled by the contributions of the FL “staff.” The result is variety and a vast supply of useful information about our hobby.

Notice that I said in the paragraph above that I publish almost every article or newsletter I receive. What kind of article or newsletter would I not publish?

I’ve tried to answer that question in the Flying Lines editorial policy that has been present on the website since its beginning. In a nutshell, the policy is that material accepted for publication on the FL website must be related to CL model aviation, and it must not contain obscenity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material.

It’s impossible for such a policy to anticipate every possible example of what might be submitted that would be inappropriate for publication on the site. There’s a line, and where it’s drawn is somewhere in the editor’s judgment.

How often is an article or a part of an article or newsletter rejected? In the 36 years of FL newsletter and Web publication up to this point, I have rejected probably less than a half-dozen items as inappropriate. It’s very rare, but it does come up from time to time.

A couple of recent submissions have brought this issue to my attention, because I’ve had to make some tough judgment calls, which is part of the reason for this explanation of the FL editorial philosophy.

Anything about CL model airplanes and CL flying is accepted -- provided that it is in keeping with the editorial policy and the FL philosophy of portraying CL model building and flying in a positive light. And, because it can be viewed by mothers, children and outsiders to whom we wish to present a positive image, it must be G-rated.

That gets to the meaning of the somewhat vague term, “other inappropriate material.” What’s inappropriate for Flying Lines? Here’s a quick list: personal attacks, harsh criticism of others in the hobby, public airing of local or personality conflicts, disputes, accusations, insults, profanities, pinups, politics, religion and other matters not related to CL flying, and anything else that portrays the hobby and its people in a negative light.

Though I have sometimes been able to work with authors to fine-tune their message, the routine chores of producing this website are extremely time-consuming. Therefore, I am not able to spend much time negotiating with authors over appropriateness of the content of their submissions. It’s pretty much either OK for publication or not.

As mentioned above, the issue of appropriateness of content comes up very rarely -- but the mission of FL to present CL building and flying as a positive, uplifting activity remains constant.

So, my hope is that we can all focus on the fun of the CL hobby, both on the field and in print here on Flying Lines.

Let’s go flyin’!

Questions or comments always welcomed. E-mail John Thompson

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