Originally appeared in R/C Report magazine in November 1996
By Robert Osorio, The Flying Penguin
Greetings to all you fellow travelers on the road of derision and strife. This is my premiere column for this (ahem) fine journalistic venue (okay Gordon, you can take the gun out of my ear now). R/C Report's editor Gordon Banks, after reading some of my material (most of it written in chalk on the walls of my previous residence), thought I'd make a reasonable addition to this collection of malcontents he's organized. He made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and as I have no other commitments at this time I figured I'd give it a try. So now that Gordon's bailed me out of that jail in Tiajuana (honest, the girl told me she was sixteen), he figures it'll take me at least a year's worth of columns to pay him back. Ah well, things could be worse. Mimi, pass me another Tequila Sunrise....
Gordon gets a little uppity if I don't include a photo or two with my articles (I tried to slip through a few from girlie magazines, but Gordon pulled 'em - spoil sport). This photo is of Rob Lynch and his magnificent Bob Violet Ultra Viper. Rob works for R/C Hobbies in Sunrise, Florida where he's a wiz behind the counter. Rob always treats us to a show when he comes out and flies - a true virtuoso at the sticks.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to talk about myself. I graduated from the school of Hard-Knocks with a P.H.D. in stupidity and a B.S. (lotsa B.S.). I have four sterling qualities to bring to this column. First off, I fly model planes (when I manage to stay out of jail). Secondly, I have a wicked (some would go so far as to say sick - but not to my face) sense of humor. I believe humor is the single most important character for a human being to possess in this life.... it makes all the other crap just barely tolerable. Thirdly, I have no reluctance at all in reporting on the stupidity of others, or myself for that matter - especially when it's worth a laugh. Lastly, I'm a compulsive liar - so there's endless possibilities for writing material there.
I'm sure you're all asking yourselves "Why the Flying Penguin?". Glad you all asked (except for you there in the back - I saw you - I'll speak to you later). Well, you see, when I was growing up I used to watch a lot of Monty Python (maybe too much, on the evidence). My favorite sketch, the one that would always put me into hysterical fits, was the "Penguin On Top of the Television Set". Every time that Penguin exploded, I just laughed so hard I wet my pants (you guys really wanted to know all this real personal stuff about me, didn't ya?). Anyway, I started collecting Penguins soon after that: Penguin pencils, ashtrays, seat covers, shower curtains, sweaters, T-shirts, light switch covers, writing paper, soap, candles, glasses, mugs, lawn statues, underwear - it's just amazing the crap you can find to satisfy almost any obsession (and we modelers all know about obsession, don't we?). Between the planes and the penguins there's just not a whole lot of floor space left in the house - which is just the way I like it, as I hate vacuuming. Years later I started an R/C Newsletter in South Florida, and of course, the only name that came to mind was... The Flying Penguin.
I've been writing the Flying Penguin for three years now. It's whole purpose was to circumvent the actions of some truly asinine public park employees. You see, my flying field is located in a public park in South Florida (come on down and visit us sometime - just write "I'M A GERMAN TOURIST" in big white letters on the hood of your car, and we'll show you a real good time). It's by far one of the best flying fields in the area. Most of the others are nothing but grass strips and mud bogs (heli pilots in our area tend to bring a boom box with them and play that Wagner piece from the movie "Apocalypse Now" while they fly at those fields - "...it's just a flare! It's just a flare!"). Anyway, these morons who manage the park had a nasty habit of tearing want ads off the flying field bulletin board. You see, there seems there's a law that prohibits vending on county property. That's all well and good - the purpose of this law is to keep people from just setting up a table and selling anything they want to (hot dogs, cokes, pipe bombs, assault rifles...). Trouble is, these numbskulls took in into their tiny heads to interpret this rule as also prohibiting the placement of want ads on our bulletin board. This led to a rather hysterical turn of events which involved pilots posting ads on the board early in the morning (to get as much time in as possible), and then park employees coming by in the evening to tear them down (our tax dollars at work!). The ultimate insult, though, is that there's an outdoor shooting range in the park as well (not too far from the field either. On some days it sounds like anti-aircraft fire). A quick visit to the gun range lobby reveals the ever present bulletin board with - AHA! - want ads posted. Ads for gun shows, ads for people selling guns, ads for people wanting guns, ads for people who want to borrow a gun to shoot their brother with and then give it back...
Well, yours truly, long time advocate of the right to free speech (as long as I'm the one giving the speeches) took it upon myself to be the righter of wrongs and the vanquisher of evil. I fought back in the manner of the proudest of American traditions - by skulking around behind the backs of my enemies. Thus was born the Flying Penguin, a means to circumvent authority, snub my nose at the establishment and inflict my razor sharp repartee on the wicked (you can also use it for toilet paper in a pinch). So now I look for stupid stuff to pick on, because there's certainly enough of it to go around in this world, and I need material to write about anyway. There's not going to be a whole lot of informative information in this column, or much that's serious - that's not my style. Mainly I'm here to report on the moronic happenings surrounding our hobby, vent my frustrations (and some of yours perhaps) and basically have some fun (generally at someone else's expense). Don't bother sending me derogatory letters complaining about my columns, as I don't read my mail anyway (I let the dog sniff it for explosives and then eat it).
For instance, why the hell can't they just leave me alone at the flying field? You'd think by now that people would recognize that menacing countenance on my face as a desire to alienate one's self from human society in general (while nursing a hangover the likes of which medical science has yet to explain). You see, what it boils down to is that, when I get to the flying field... I just want to fly. I, like most of you, have resorted to this hobby to get away from, for a short time at least, the cares and worries of the day to day world (as well as my wife and kids). I don't care who's running for Butt Kisser to the Club President, or that the treasury is a little short this week because the Treasurer went out on a drinking binge last Tuesday. Don't bother me about donating my time to fix the fence or that the bathroom toilet is backed up (if the coke machine is broken though, you've got my attention). I certainly couldn't care less if the wives are having a bake sale (usually with brownies of a sufficient density as to rival the toughest of building materials). I don't eat my own wife's food, so why should I eat theirs? I don't care that the grass hasn't been mowed - my landings always run off the end of the runway anyway, and something has to stop the plane. I'm happy that the payphone is broken - matter of fact I'm the one who broke it, so my boss can't find me on my day off. I pay my dues, NOW LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!
... And the last thing I want to hear about is another contest! A week never goes by when I'm not accosted by the club Contest Nazi, who tries to strong arm me into entering some sort of competition. Hell, I'm gonna start flying real lousy soon on purpose (lousier than my normal flying, anyway) so that maybe this goon will leave me alone from now on. Actually we don't have contests anymore, we have Fun Flys or Fly-Ins. Politically correct language has actually caught up with the hobby - I tell ya, Armageddon must be around the corner now. So anyway, the Contest Nazi is trying to explain that it's a "...low stress thing" and I "...won't actually be competing". Then he tries to make me feel guilty by telling me it's for a charity, or a new shelter, or a coke dispenser that doesn't work more like a slot machine....
Don't get me wrong now, if you like to fly in contests then more power to ya, 'cause I like to watch you guys fly (and crash - especially that part). I try to catch Top Gun whenever I can and my hat's off to those people who can fly under that kind of pressure. I'm just saying that I don't want to compete in one myself. It's all I can do not to go after half the people I meet with a chainsaw on some days as it is. I certainly don't need to deal with the stress of a contest on my day off. I do my fair share of goodie two-shoe stuff anyway. I pick up the trash, I help people setup their engines and I teach the newbies to fly - although I admit I can be a little intimidating sometimes...
"LEFT! LEFT! You idiot!"
... too much caffeine perhaps. You might even talk me into mowing the lawn on a very rare occasion (well, I've lost eight mufflers to the green monster anyway, might as well go look for them sometime...). Just drop the contest thing, okay? I just want to fly...
BOB'S TOP TEN THINGS THAT REALLY TICK ME OFF:
#10 - Pilots who buzz the pits.
# 9 - Planes with no mufflers
# 8 - A guy who wants to fly my plane after he just totaled his and wants me to help him "shrug off the shakes"
# 7 - Guys who fly with radios made in the stone age
# 6 - Guys who taxi their planes to the car
# 5 - Guys who land their planes on my car
# 4 - Guys who drive over my plane with their car
# 3 - People who ask me to do a loop around the overpass
# 2 - Guys who own more than one Ugly Stick
# 1 - Heli pilots who walk back to the frequency board to take their pins down, but don't impound their radios