Deskilling of Hobby - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:52 AM   #1
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Deskilling of Hobby

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I wanted to just post some observations I have been having with the RC hobby in general. I will do my best to not make this a rant or offend anyone but I have noticed in the past few years a huge decrease in overall knowledge and skill. It seems that more and more people are getting into RC flying with cheaper and cheaper gear and not learning enough before moving up.

When I started there was no hobbyking, and arfs were fairly poor. For the most part you had to build to fly and that did a lot to weed out the uncommitted so to speak. It also meant if you had to buy radios servos engine etc you had to buy more quality stuff. Then after doing all this building you had money and a lot of TIME invested so you we careful, took your time and consulted others for help. When you did something wrong you would rebuild and learn from your mistakes. I am very proud that I worked hard, flew 1000s of flights and learned the hard way. it makes each flight special that I got to where I am by working hard.

It seems like in the last few years the hobby has blown wide open, BNF airplanes, cheap cheap gear, electric motors, foam planes and 3 axis gyros has made it easier and easier for someone to jump in with no skill at all. I have been getting very frustrated flying lately due to the volume of students showing up with cheaper and cheaper gear looking to learn to fly. Instead of 3-4 students that stayed in the club we now have 30 students or more a year who want to learn with small foam airplanes and get their wings. Once they do they leave the club for the parks and soccer fields. The other route is that people get a plane learn to fly then spend some time on the simulator and believe they are an expert. Sure they can fly on the simulator but in real world situations the panic and freeze. I have seen tons of crashes and had to save 10 plus airplanes last year from people trying to fly planes they are just not ready for. It is no offense to them, they simply have just started flying and can get through the basics with a trainer and want to fly big gassers, jets, 90 sized helis etc. Couple that with them believing gyros will save them and IMO you have a recipe for disaster. I know technology can make life easier but it sure makes people believe they are better than they are. I personally think if gyros take off there the hobby will totally fail long term. If everyone's airplanes fly themselves, why bother flying at all. My worry is on top of burning out all the experienced pilots and instructors the risk factor of a serious crash is going up.

I know its everyone "right" to do what they want but I guess I am just burnt out from constantly having to help everyone at our field and other (phone, email, pm's) because they are trying to rush into planes they are not ready for. I feel like a broken record saying "well i wouldnt just yet", "you just got your wings why would you buy a 30% extra" etc...

The thing that gets me the most are the "experts" guys who have just started flying (or have been flying longer but are constantly putting planes in) who will give everyone all kinds of advice and know everything about the hobby but when the students arnt looking they are asking the most basic of questions and when the wheels leave the ground they are hollering for help because there plane is gonna crash. Makes for a long day with little flying for the members who are bombarded for help.

I have lost numerous instructors because they cannot get a day of flying in without being smothered with questions etc.

Sorry for the rantish tone. I just don't get the same amount of fun out of going to the field anymore. I almost quit last year and already this year it has started even worse then last year.
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Last edited by YoungestPiperCub; 04-29-2013 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:56 AM   #2
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

Subscribed, quietly this time.

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Old 04-29-2013, 10:10 AM   #3
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

I feel for you as I have been in the Instructor position years ago where you got no time to fly for yourself and you spend all your time fixing up stuff at the field getting it ready to test fly for others.I now have my own field and actually would not mind the odd new flier. My thing with the BNF and receiver ready stuff is people advance along with out any building experience.Then down the road they decide they want to build something but it is a more advance plane.They have never built but they can fly decent so there is no way they want to build that trainer kit that actually teaches them the basic building skills they will need to build the more advanced construction of the more advanced planes.Heck they do not have the skills to assemble a basic ARF so they are frustrated and carry on with the BNF ect and eventually they seem to fade away.I think building is such a important part of the hobby.Many years ago you would go to the bigger funflys (for me it was Bawlf) and we would all be itching to see what everyone had built over the last year.Now it is all arfs and I am guilty of this myself as it just seems life is always busy.Hang in there !
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:24 AM   #4
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

I'm subbed to this thread......I hear ya Kevin and Dennis, I've seen the same and it mind boggles me with this sorta attitude from a new comer into this field. Building is a major element and ground of this hobby but unless you don't build it, you can't feel the same or have same connection about it. Yes these ARFs, PNP, BNF stuff including new quadcopters has flooded the hobby and minds of most new comers as they tend to think they know it all which actually works against them and they end up piling so many planes into the ground, yet there attitude is "Oh i'll just go and buy another one!", well try to learn the basics first that will take you very long way, but no they can't be bothered....Some think, if they assembled an ARF, they have build a plane, well NO it's assembling all major components of a airplane together NOT BUILDING an AIRPLANE from ground up!.....Good thread!
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:28 AM   #5
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

Subscribed. Will just say that this hobby sure can teach you humility. About the time you think you have it all figured out, something else happens.

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Old 04-29-2013, 10:55 AM   #6
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

In my mind it's a good thing. If you get 100 new BNF pilots and 25% remain in the hobby you have 25 new pilots. If you have 6 new guys who build there own plane and go that route you have a max of 6 new pilots.
Hobby Zone is the one that has lead this great push for ARF and BNF I don't think thy even make kits.
Most of the park flyers never join a club anyway. just fly on there own or with there buddies.
No need to be bitter just be happy a new generation is taking up the sport. And it's for them to decide which way the sport will evolve.
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:49 AM   #7
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

I, too, am worried about all the artificial fail-safes in the planes today. The gyros only give a false-sense of security and when they fail, then what? It's one thing to be able to call out to someone for assistance (which Kevin mentioned) but what if you are by yourself?

I'd suggest a couple things:

Start the beginner memberships in the fall and teach building over the winter:
Pick a model that the club is comfortable with people using to learn on and build them as a group. You can still allow for some options (eg choice of motor, servos, radio/receiver, MonoKote colours, etc.) but the rest would have to be from an approved list. Work with one of the local hobby stores to secure some kind of package deal - so they get the repeat business and maybe the members get a discount on their purchase. As this isn't 'flight training', the club could probably charge for this course.

Educate both the new flyers and the local hobby stores:
Work with the local hobby stores to point new flyers at your club to suitable planes. Whether they are kits, ARFs or RTR, give them an 'approved' list so people don't get stuck with inappropriate planes for your club. There's nothing worse than telling someone they have a model that they can't do Wings training on after they've purchased and opened it.

Restrict the planes you'll train on:
I'm not sure if MAAC has rules on setting restrictions but it's for the good of the club and the flyer. I know there's a typical restriction on requiring a 4 channel with a recommended wingspan but why not restrict it to a specific list of brands/models?

Graduated Wings program:
I saw so many people last year who just wanted to get their wings so they could fly on their own. Most were safety conscious but others that were plain reckless. I think a more graduated license might be best where they have to stick with a high-wing trainer for at least 6 flying months. After that point, they could do a second test to allow them to move up to fly basically anything. I know this doesn't follow the MAAC Wings program but it would save the clubs and the flyers a lot of headaches and crashes.

Flyers, thank your trainer:
I've seen how draining training nights can be on the trainers. I purposely kept to the training night schedule so as to allow for the trainers to have their own flight times. In the end, I saw other who started after me get their wings whereas I ran out of time. I didn't mind, getting my wings wasn't a race - it was a matter of learning and being safe. I appreciated each trainer I had last year and thanked them at the end of each flight. MAAC has restrictions on charging for training (I'm not mentioning this to start this debate again so don't!), so offer to pick them up a coffee, buy them a beverage or even a meal sometime. It's a repetitive, boring task but at least we change it from a thankless job to one that they get thanked for.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:32 PM   #8
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

Another bummer of helping out is that people get easily offended when you tell them what they aren't expecting to hear from an experienced flyer, they think you are just disrespecting them and their abilities, when all you are trying to do is save them a little disappointment and sometimes money, not to mention the safety factor, even when you try a be real nice about it.

Also as mentioned in a previous post about showing gratitude to instructors. Even a little means a lot, a few years ago I had a guy buy me a years subscription to MAN magazine, I was just thrilled. I mean that's a little much, but even a coffee or lunch sometime means so much for sure.
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:35 PM   #9
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

1. A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
a. The process of developing.
b. Gradual development.

Sorry to say it folks, but the times: they are changing.
I too have seen the large influx of fair-weather fliers, especially those that are clueless and just bought a complete ready-to-fly package from their LHS or hobby king or wherever.

We have come a long way since the day when I first started in RC around 1974. Prior to that I was flying control line in schoolyards.
I wish I was a kid today instead of the 70's when I first got into RC. Yes, I had to build my own planes. I had to buy my own radio, and a separate motor. In those days that was a lot of money and I had to buy each piece separately. A lot of time, money and effort had to go into my planes just so I could get the satisfaction of flight. Today, anyone with $200 can get a complete ready-to fly foamie. What's wrong with that? I've met many newbies that come for help after they wrecked one or two trying to teach themselves. That's just the way it is today. I have accepted it. I actually kinda like it.

Now look at where RC is headed- Cheap foamies, easy to fly, FLIGHT STABILISERS. Used to be a day when helicopter flight was limited only to the best of fliers. Now cheap entry level multi-rotors fly "hands off" easier than ever. Almost no skill is required, its almost laughable.

Talk about "Deskilling the Hobby". Now that the first batch of AS3X equipped airplanes and AS3X radio control receivers are hitting the market, you will see a lot more people learning to fly on their own. Deskilled? It depends how you want to argue it. Yes, people who use AS3X DEFINTELY will not be able to handle your or my plane that has no stabiliser. But the other side of the coin will see noob's learning to fly on their own with a greater degree of success than they have now. A more stable airplane will give them more time to learn to fly before crashing. Maybe even to the point that they wont need any instructors

That's the way things are now. I like it, and there's no way to go back.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:47 PM   #10
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Re: Deskilling of Hobby

There might be less kit and scratch building, but deskilling? It seems to me that actual flying skills have progressed to quite a high level, with introduction of 3D flying. Planes have never been more high performance and high cost.

Lets just have fun and not take it too serious.
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