Why Free Flight? Such a philosophical question often elicits an even more philosophical reply and to attempt to answer this challenging proposition one needs to determine what happens to free flighters that definitely does not happen to participants in other disciplines of our hobby, so by identifying and eliminating those, what remains should form the core of a meaningful answer.
To some degree or other all aeromodellers have dexterity and building skills, knowledge of materials, adhesives, structures, aerodynamics and meteorology, appreciation of stresses, some piloting skills and a desire to do things better than before. Aeromodellers across all the disciplines compete against others to be the best, or at least be better than the next person, or to steadily improve their own ability and because these things are common to all disciplines, none of them can figure in a meaningful answer that relates to the original question. Why Free Flight?
So what is left? Well, perhaps some or all of the following could figure in the answer? A higher level of personal fitness than for other disciplines, more and better navigating skills, a willingness to abandon immediate physical or electronic control over our model in the certain knowledge that one must still exercise aerodynamic control by ones ability to plan ahead to make the model fly by itself. A unique appreciation of how warped flying surfaces are critical to the success, or otherwise of a model flying free. Yet part or all of these factors still do not answer the question satisfactorily, they merely contribute to the truly elegant reason at the core of our participation in this crazy thing.
For me, it comes down to just one thing! "Adventure". Ask yourself, as I have, when did you ever hear a Control Line exponent tell you a story of adventure that occurred whilst hanging onto the handle for dear life? How many Radio Control specialists can relate tales of endurance against the odds that tests a persons resolve up to and sometimes beyond ones physical limits? How many space modellers (not really free flight is it?) have ever had a true adventure watching their amazing creations go straight up and straight down? How many RTP guys have ever experienced the thrill of launching into the teeth of a gale whilst trying to calculate the odds of survival? Not that many I wager. Yet after a normal outing to say - The Nationals - in the pub or at the campsite, after a day of derring do, most Free Flight Modeller will have a tall tale to tell about their adventures that day. Note "Adventures" in the plural. So what are these adventures?
Well! We all know how it goes! Model gets away in lift, DT pops on time but model continues to ascend. Model seen eventually to ground after 17 minutes. Modeller on bicycle races to edge of field and tramps the hedgerows looking (and listening ) for lost soul. Model eventually seen in tree too high to reach and too flimsy to climb. Modeller returns to base to collect long poles to winkle model from tree. Model saved and returned to flight line. Modeller repairs damage as best can be, only to launch it again into possible oblivion. Its raining and model gets pretty wet this time. Now its on a hanger roof and Modeller persuades local staff (eg Airfield Fireman) to climb up and rescue. More repairs and its time for a fly-off. Modeller decides not to set DT in great anticipation. Model loops after launch and buries itself in concrete. Modeller breaks out reserve model and launches successfully to win the competition with a magnificent flight Out Of Sight upwards. Model is returned to modeller after 3 weeks in the boonies as a result of a telephone call from a friendly farmer. That's the good news. The bad news is, it went through a combine harvester first. At the next meeting, modeller is flying an identical replacement, but this time although the adventure will be different it will be oft repeated in the bar or the campsite, ad nauseam, for years to come.
So there you have it. Is this true adventure or simple insanity? To help you decide why not read some of the autobiographical tales of the romance and adventure of Vintage Rubber Powered Free Fight according to the "Crazy Rubber Band" penned into this website via the Model Airplane Archive? I think you might be amazed!
Whilst writing and publishing these stories I came across some unusual aeromodelling lexicography (words or phrases) that do not appear in the "Oxford Book of British Lexicography" (Wow! Is that real?) but they make sense to me, probably because I think I invented some of them and thought a lot about others before using them. Either way, you can find them scattered around my essays and are listed with their geneology and definitions on the next page
More answers here
Why Free Flight? (Click for other FF'ers Answers)
Martin Dilly asked me to contribute to some publicity material regarding the question - "Why Free Flight" - I duly replied but as with such contributions there is propensity for it to languish in a black hole or be bundled with a mish-mash of other inputs. Trawling thro' my files, it re-emerged and upon reviewing it, it seems a pity for it not to see the light of day in its original form and style on my chosen format. Here then, along with some unusual aeromodelling lexicography on the next page is the personal viewpoint of someone who never flew any other discipline than free flight. Other FF'ers Answers here