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Author Topic: Me and My Dad....Patterns  (Read 1230 times)

Offline Shug Emery

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Me and My Dad....Patterns
« on: April 18, 2018, 08:56:22 AM »
Patterns. They are everywhere.  Patterns in my clothing, in my eating habits, in my juggling practice, in daily routines. Now I see them in the sky and in my dreams.
One of my patterns is to go on a yearly cleaning and organizing binge on some part of our home. This year I laid siege on my studio that I call the Nut-Hut. There is a loft over the front end of the Nut-Hut where I stash things that I want out of sight. These are thinks I don’t want to throw away as I know that I will re-visit them someday. So up into the loft they go and I pretend they no longer exist. Kinda like hiding a candy bar from yourself in an attempt to maintain that youthful form. Discipline can be ruthless.

Now that I was clearing space I had a massive pile of toys, props and gizmos to hide from myself. So up into the clandestine loft this pile needed to go. As I set my ladder and leaned into the loft to make room the first thing I grabbed was a styrofoam piece with a sheeted wing from a control line kit I had started 20 years earlier. Iflipped that top off of the foam and stared at smooth balsa sheeting and this partially finished wing from my control line Prowler stunt model.  I crawled the down the ladder cradling the wing and set it on my work table. This was unfinished business and a tone went off in my brain and deep down in my soul. Completion of the Prowler was going to happen. The game was afoot.

Twenty years prior I was dabbling with model aviation. Flying remote control, control line and rubber powered models. The reason for the twenty year lag was that my wife Meg had asked me when our daughter just a baby if I could take up a hobby that took less time away from the home. I was out at the flying fields for hours. You modelers know how that goes. Since Meg always gave me my personal time had never, ever asked me anything like this before, I complied.

Back in 1988 I had strolled into a hobby shop distracting myself from what I really need to be doing and as I looked around saw a Cox control line airplane. I pulled it off the shelf and as I held it my thoughts went back in time to a day when my Dad, a former Navy Chief for 24 years, came home from his job at a local lumber company.  He bee-lined down the hall and dashed into my bedroom then quickly returned to the foyer.
We crossed paths in the den as he headed for the kitchen for chow-chow on crackers. I headed for my room to see what the deal was. On my bed sat a Cox Stuka control line kit. As I stared at it on my bed my scalp tingled and a thrill went through me down to my toes. This was not my Dad’s usual modus operandi. If I wanted something like that I would need to earn it through labor or good grades. How, I asked myself did I earn this prize? So I went to ask him.

OK…let me back up a bit. I had learned early that if I had a science project at school and wanted to get something like a model rocket to get the class outside as I launched an unlucky white mouse into the sky to the joy of my classmates, then I would go to Dad. Not Mom. I would ask to be sponsored on this school assignment by pleading that a hands-on project like this would guarantee me a better grade than if I did a written report. He was all for better grades and was always willing to go along with my ideas. Anything to see me excited to learn.
Dad also new I was full of blarney.

So we would drive to Science Hobbies which was all the way across town in our home of Charlotte, North Carolina. As we would pull up into the parking lot we could see telescopes, model planes and rockets hanging in the windows. It helped my cause that this was called Science Hobbies and not Just Have Some Fun and Distraction Hobbies. Dad would hold the door for me and we would slowly walk in and both of us would separate and walk around in wonder. The wooden floor creaking with out furtive steps. Our heads would be tilted back looking at all the awe-inspiring items hanging from the ceiling until our necks cramped. We would pass in an aisle and grin and nod and keep exploring. Dad always took me to the telescopes. He would tell me that a telescope would make me smarter. This was from a man that made us play Scrabble as we just may learn something by playing. He was good at the game.
I’d make my way to the Estes model rockets and pick my craft and then walk to the aisle my Dad would be in. It was always the control line airplane kits. He would be gently picking one up handling it like an egg. Sliding it back into its place on the shelf he would reach up and tug on the skin of his neck. I’d seen that neck skin tug move a million times. Usually when he was looking at a menu in a BBQ joint.
I would break his trance by informing him that I had made my selection and we would go over the price and discuss what else was needed to ensure my good grade in 8th grade science class.
As this was a school project no chores were required. The deal was that I see it through and do all I could to make this assignment count for a good grade. Apply myself 100%.
One thing was for sure. Dad enjoyed the trip to Science Hobbies as much as I did. Though he had no assignment at the lumber company that would allow him to purchase a telescope, rocket or control line kit to improve his sales or boost his commissions.
We would then wrap this trip up by going to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream shop. They had his favorite ice cream, Licorice Voo-Doo. We would sit in the car and lick and scrape our cups clean and make a pact to not tell Mom or my sisters about this side trip. 

So let me get back to the point, that Stuka on my bed. This was the day I found that I got my artful ways from my Dad. In his desire to get his fingers into a control line handle, he used me to make this plan transpire. Dad knew that if he bought the Cox Stuka for me and told Mom I had earned it by being a hard working boy, that he would get get his chance to finally fly a control line airplane. Way to go Dad. Artful.

Now the wait for Saturday to arrive so we could go and fly. I had cancelled all Saturday plans with my friends. We had a day planned of throwing dirt clods at each other and falling into creeks.  As fun as that always was it could wait.
Saturday came and as was my Dad’s way, he pushed open my bedroom door early. Most Saturdays it was to inform me that I could get up now and get my chores done or sleep in and drag it out all day. He was good at dropping that nonpartisan guilt trip. But this Saturday was different. I was sitting up on the edge of the bed dressed and ready to go when he pushed open my door.
We drove up to Paw Creek Elementary School and headed out to the asphalt multi purpose court. We walked side by side from the car to the court silently to prepare for the flight of the Stuka. That Stuka even had a bomb that could be dropped while in flight. I was tense with excitement. My lips were tight. Dad hooked up the stringy lines to the plane and tied off the handle. Now to get this Cox .049 engine going. I asked my Dad if he had ever done this and as was his normal answer he said “Yes Dooga, I sure have.” He called me Dooga. I never knew why but I loved that nickname and only he called me that.
In retrospect I figure my Dad had seen control line planes flown at Navy bases in his military career but he had never actually gotten to fly one. That was going to change today. I would be his pit-boy and if all went well would get to fly too. We hunkered down over that Cox engine hooking and re-hooking that battery. Flipping and flipping that prop. Flooding that engine. Dad’s knees were creaking and popping and sweat was dripping off the end of his nose. He was lightly humming and grinning the whole time. Never will I forget the sound of that .049 wanting to start. That “nnererererererrrrrr” sound that would tease us for the next half an hour. We would keep reading and re-reading the starting instructions. Checking the proper starting procedures. I would see that photo of a boy smiling and the words Action Packed Stuka on the box and anticipation would move me deeply.  After a while Dad said “lets walk away for a while” and we went over to the monkey bars and he made me do some chin ups. I did two chin ups. He made a clucking sound in his throat.

Back to the Stuka. We crouched again and Dad exhaled loudly and primed the engine. I connected the battery clip. Flip, flip flip and the Cox screamed to life and kept running. I had that Stuka clamped so hard in my hands that my knuckles were white and on a red-haired boy that takes quite a grip to get those white knuckles to show. We both stared at each other waiting for the engine to die as we unclipped the battery. That engine kept screaming. Then we realized this was it. The moment. Dad was going to fly some control line.
 
He pushed up from his hunched position and made his way out to the handle hobbling like an ogre. By the time he made the thirty feet he was striding gracefully. He bent and picked up the handle, stepped back to tighten the lines, moved the handle up and down, look at me and nodded his head. That was my cue to release the Stuka. I let it go.
The Stuka rolled from my hands and then went straight up. In that brief moment of time a lot was going on around me. There was the noise of that engine screaming and the smell of castor oil burning. My Dad now back-pedaling with his arm waving like he was fighting a wasp. Never had I seen him move so briskly. The shiny black Stuka heading skyward. Me still squatting on the hot tarmac, mouth agape. The Stuka inverted in a loop never even traveling more that ten feet forward from where it had launched. I could see the red cockpit. Dad still moving backwards, arm flailing and getting smaller in my line of sight. The Stuka now behind where we had set it to launch and coming down nose first. The Cox engine going abruptly silent with the sound of plastic shattering and dancing across the asphalt. The silence that follows a model airplane crash is deafening. It leaves a ringing in the ears.
My Dad's panting could be heard as he stood there with the slack lines and handle held tightly in his big fist.  There was just for a moment a disappointed look on his face. Just for a second. Then he grinned and laughed and whooped.
As I stood looking at my Dad and knew I had just witnessed this man, a Navy Chief, a tough guy with a gentle soul fulfilling a boyhood wish. I had gotten to share that moment and see him briefly as that boy with a new toy that lit him up from inside. True joy. His eyes were shining.

Dad walked over and we surveyed the aftermath. He said to me ”Well Dooga, we can’t go home yet. I told your Mom that we would be gone awhile. Pick up the pieces. Lets go get a BBQ sandwich and some home-made ice cream.”
So we did. We were happy. Father and Son. It is a moment I think of often. A cherished day.

Months later we made it back to Science Hobbies and bought a balsa wood control line kit and glued it up and put that Cox .049 from that Stuka on the nose and got that engine to pull a plane around in some circles. Dad was happy to watch me from the car with a warm Falstaff beer in hand. He left the flying to me and my buddy Kent pitted my plane.

That control line plane I held in my hands in that hobby shop in 1988 mentioned at the beginning of this tale was indeed purchased that day. I could not quit flying that small plane. It stirred memories stored in my heart. Later I went on to buy and build a SIG Akrobat that I bought in St. Thomas Virgin Islands while Meg and I where performing on cruise ships. 
Flew home with that kit between my knees on an airliner. After that I built a SIG Banshee. I had so much fun flying these planes and learning a few stunt pattern moves. The pull of those planes on the lines tugged at something inside of me. Whenever flying control line it always felt like my Dad was nearby watching me fly from outside the circle.

To this day when I fly control line stunt I feel that my Dad is looking on. Though knowing him his thoughts are more than likely on a good BBQ sandwich with red slaw. But I am just thrilled to be able to feel his presence and share some fun with him.

Shug
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Offline john e. holliday

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2018, 10:56:15 AM »
This is one of the best stories I have read yet.  It sure stirs a lot of memories.  I still miss my Dad even though he never built or flew a model plane.  He was a craftsman to me though as he could take a vacant lot and build a house for some one.  Thanks for your story Shug. H^^
John E. "DOC" Holliday
10421 West 56th Terrace
Shawnee, KANSAS  66203
AMA 23530  Have fun as I have and I am still breaking a record.

Offline Shug Emery

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2018, 02:54:29 PM »
This is one of the best stories I have read yet.  It sure stirs a lot of memories.  I still miss my Dad even though he never built or flew a model plane.  He was a craftsman to me though as he could take a vacant lot and build a house for some one.  Thanks for your story Shug. H^^
Thanks for reading about me and Dad.
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Online mike waldron

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2018, 04:40:14 PM »
Good stuff Shug..   You seem to always have a way of making me smile..  I'm blessed and still fly with my Father and hes 80...   Come to Huntersville and fly with us in may!

Mike

Offline Shug Emery

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2018, 04:42:08 PM »
Good stuff Shug..   You seem to always have a way of making me smile..  I'm blessed and still fly with my Father and hes 80...   Come to Huntersville and fly with us in may!

Mike
I want to come every year but always on an annual backpacking trip with my best friend from life. We still have snow here...my skills are diminishing!
Hope to fly with you again sometime.
Shug
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Offline Chris Fretz

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2018, 08:08:38 PM »
That sure was entertaining to read! I should be going to bed but I couldn't stop reading this. Just as entertaining to watch your control line videos too.

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Offline Shug Emery

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2018, 08:17:53 PM »
That sure was entertaining to read! I should be going to bed but I couldn't stop reading this. Just as entertaining to watch your control line videos too.

Chris
I re-read it from time to time and grin about that day.
Can't wait for the snow to melt here so I can get out on the handle.
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Offline Chris Fretz

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2018, 08:22:16 PM »
I re-read it from time to time and grin about that day.
Can't wait for the snow to melt here so I can get out on the handle.
I hear ya! Spring is taking its good ol time this year! Got some new and improved airplanes I'm dying to try out.
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Offline john e. holliday

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Re: Me and My Dad....Patterns
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2018, 09:29:53 AM »
Well here in my area we had some snow last Saturday.  My problem is when its warm enough to fly its windy.  Did put up a flight a couple of weeks ago and was wishing I hadn't.  Lost count how many 8's and loops I did and when the engine quit I dove for the ground.  Did not even think of trying wind flying. D>K
John E. "DOC" Holliday
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AMA 23530  Have fun as I have and I am still breaking a record.


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