On June 30, 2000, Joseph Balabon, age 57, residing in Mays Landing, NJ, a Computer Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration successfully completed the 1st U.S. R/C Flight School’s 5-day Primary flight training course, becoming the School’s 800th student trained!
Joe began flying Radio Control model aircraft 25 years ago. Commitments and a high crash rate then caused him to leave R/C for 20 years. Having recently returned to R/C, he stated that his reasons for attending the Flight School in Shawano, Wisconsin were to learn how to fly with a Plan, procedures, consistency, and to be able to land in the right spot.
Joe reported that Soloing back home was a great HIGH(!!!), when on July 2, 2000 he successfully flew his Sig Kadet LT 40 in winds of 15 to 20 mph--comparing them to “a mere Wisconsin breeze.” Arriving at his flying field, he did not say a word to the 15 guys who were standing there commenting about the wind. Joe acquired his frequency tag, and with no one flying, walked to the center of the strip (runway) to check his visual references and note the wind. After a pre-flight/radio check and then taxiing to the centerline, he reports the rest was “text-book”-- rating 85% of his turns flat (level), maybe losing a few feet at times, then greasing (smooth) the landing. He taxied back to be met by questions as to what he was doing when he walked out on the runway, and what was his secret to flying in the wind? To which Joe replied, “praying,” and “what wind?!” (An inside joke among those who attend the School.) As he was leaving the flying field, he noticed that a few of the “experts” were standing in the center of the strip just as he had done.
While Joe aspires to fly Jets, after getting in some more practice, he hopes to soon return to Wisconsin and take an Aerobatics course.
(Paraphrased from Joe's e-mail report back to David Scott after taking the Primary Solo course)