I don't remember how I discovered remote control airplanes, but I certainly remember my first setup. My family didn't have much money so getting the .40 sized nitro trainer I really wanted was out of the question. This left the reasonably priced Gentle Lady kit (I do not think there was an ARF back then but I would not have been able to afford it). I was probably around 10 - 12 years old and I remember being so excited for it to arrive. The days just dragged on and on, but finally it arrived and I remember opening the box and just staring at all the little pieces of wood and thinking how the hell am I going to do this? I knew it was going to be a kit, but I was a little shocked what that meant. It is just a box of balsa wood, an instruction manual, and a huge sheet of paper that you laid the wing on.
I remember initially starting to build this in my room and it pretty much took up the whole floor. You needed something solid to build it on and pins to hold stuff in place while you glued it together with CA / Super glue. I still remember the smell of that glue, accidentally gluing my fingers together about 50 times, and the thick layer that would accumulate on my fingers and thumb. I got no help from my parents and the project really started to drag on. Eventually I had to move it to another part of the house because it was not working in my room (this had a 6 foot wing span). I got the rear horizontal and vertical stabilizer built as well as some of the fuselage and parts of the wing before my parents started looking for someone to help me finish this. I was so thankful for the help because it had been many months and I was nowhere near getting it completed. It turns out that a teacher at my gymnastics camp named Bronson was into RC stuff and was willing to help me finish it. My dad took me over there and he helped me finish the frame, then helped monokote it (I picked out black and grey), and finally get the Futuba attack 4 radio installed. There is almost no way I would have gotten this far without the help.
As an adult (I am 33 as of 2013) it is easy to forget how excited you could be for something like a remote control airplane. Thinking back, I remember the extreme levels of excitement - there was nothing I wanted more in the world than a remote control airplane. After months of painstaking work (remember I was pretty young, so it was pretty damn difficult for me) and lots of help, I was finally able to fly the gentle lady at Murchison Field near the house I grew up in. It had a huge hill that you could somewhat slope soar or catch the occasional thermal. I got the training I needed and never really destroyed the gentle lady, it just slowly degraded until it wasn't really functioning anymore. Most flights didn't last much longer than a minute or two, but I remember the perfect day or two when everything aligned and I was able to fly it along that ridge for what seemed like hours. I will never forgot the gentle lady and the help I got as a kid that helped fulfill my dreams of flying RC. I have never really grown up, I still love this stuff and look forward to helping my kids learn all about it. Maybe I will have them build one when they get a little older just to see how it was in the "old days" when ARF and RTF were out of reach or did not exist. Only the rarest of nerds will ever understand how serious I am when I say I probably would have given a finger for a parkzone RTF Cub or indoor QR-1 drone when I was a kid..
If you have the desire to subject yourself to the pain of building a balsa model glider, you can still get this classic kit from amazon HERE if you want to put some character into your drone lifestyle.