I'm sitting at the Rally of the Giants in New Smyrna Beach, FL, trying
to look like I know what's going on. (I don't know why ... I guess I
want to fit in, not call attention to myself, look cool ... who knows.)
But before long, I can't help myself. "Oh, look at that!" "Why is it doing
that?" "How fast is it going?" "Where's the smoke coming from?"
I question out loud, for anyone to answer. And someone always does. I
pay no attention to whom, because we're focused skyward, craning our
necks and shading our eyes to watch humongous radio-controlled (RC)
airplanes whirl and dive and zoom and spill at the DeLand Municipal
I find I'm alone in my ignorance. Those around me chatter
enthusiastically about the nuts and bolts of their game. It turns out,
they belong to the Deland FL Golden Hawks RC Club. All fly the RC
planes as a hobby, yet pilot the real big planes in real life (well,
some retired from the air a few years back). They're super savvy. And,
super absorbed by the planes overhead.
So what happens next surprises me.
As the sky fills with RC planes (like the one above shown before take off), in drop 10, 11 no 15 skydivers, all
swirling and circling many hundreds of feet above the planes. We're
mesmerized by the spectacle.
I'm clicking away taking pictures when PLUNK. My camera dies. RATS!
I lay it in my lap, wiggle the controls, try to turn it off. Nothing.
No response. I look up in exasperation and see an odd sight: one of
the RC planes, a replica of a World War I biplane lays IN PIECES on
the field right in front of us. WHAT? WOW! HOW?
My pilots are oblivious; they're still rubber-necking the skydivers.
LOOK! LOOK! I holler. The men come to attention, eyes forward and
immediately a buzz entwines them. "Did you see it go down?" "Did
anyone see it?" Does anyone know what happened?" "What happened?"
They exchange possible causes while we watch a rescue vehicle -- a red
golf cart pulling a wagon -- whir onto the field, collect the plane
remains and whir off.
They dispatch one of their own to bring back some answers. While they
wait, the crash talk begins. Not all have cracked up their $1,000
investments. But most have. One did it multiple times. Ouch.
The scout soon returns, reporting "too many maneuvers" did the biplane in. It's a casualty of the sport. No chance of repair. Oh well.
With the excitement over, chatter replaces the buzz.
And they all look skyward again.