On the wonder of flying things

Do you remember how, in this post, I might have mentioned that I think I need a flying car? My son had build one out of Lego and proceeded to spend a good 597 seconds explaining all the features and extolling the virtues of said flying car.

He was so in love with his flying car (which, I might mention, took far fewer Lego pieces to build than it took seconds to describe) that he went on and on telling me about it.

He was so in love with his flying car that by the time he finished telling me all about it, I was sort of in love with his flying car too.  A lot. Enough to want one of my very own.



I think I’ve changed my mind.

Our young man recently turned 12 and for his birthday, his father bought him another flying thing. Not a bird, oh no! He bought him a quadcopter. You’ve seen them, I’m sure — remote controlled helicopters with 4 equal-sized rotors instead of one large and one small. They are odd looking in the extreme, some of them. They are expensive in the extreme, some of them. You can get Bluetooth enabled programmable quadcopters with video and still cameras capable of doing all sorts of stunts and capturing all sorts of images.

Like what your roof looks like. Or what your tree looks like when seen from overhead. Or what you look like, head tipped up towards the sky, remote controller in your hands, mouth smiling widely as the copter hovers overhead like a bizarre sort of bumblebee.

We didn’t buy that model.

No, we bought a much simpler (and cheaper!) version that does have a camera, but you have to take the micro-SD card out and download the photos to your computer. No live streaming over Bluetooth, no sirree. No live webcam of your amazing flying skills and spectacular scenery.

Which is probably a good thing.

The first time we took the quadcopter out of the box, we managed to get it to go a little bit up in the air before it crashed into the coffee table. Then the bookshelf. Then the television. It got stuck in the loops of the carpet. It got stuck under the ping pong table. It drifted lazily a few inches above the floor with one motor not activating as much as the other, giving it a very definitive sideways tilt. And then giving it a very definitive crash, with rotors popping off and everything.

Luckily, the rotors pop back on just as easily.

The next time we flew the quadcopter, we flew it outdoors. A little afraid of losing it, and with the battery already half used up from our previous flight, we didn’t get very far. Though we did take a lovely photograph of the blurry gray expanse of road in front of the house (right before coming in for a crash landing on that very same pavement right in front of our house).

The third time we flew, we had a little more success, finally mastering the fine art of gaining height and steering well enough to keep the quadcopter from crashing into landing on the roof. Though we apparently still suck at the landing thing and had to reinstall the rotors more than once after coming back to earth more forcefully than we intended.

The fourth time, K ventured out with a dear friend of ours who happily engaged in an hour’s play. He, being adult and male and rather engineering-minded (and having not spent his own money for the quadcopter), was willing to push things further than this cautious Mama was, just to see what was possible (and much to K’s delight).

Together they flew high and fast and far, zipping this way and that, taking photographs and hoping they turned out to be something more than a blur of pavement.

And then they landed the quadcopter in a tree.

They rescued it with a hockey stick and kept flying until the battery gave out, and K couldn’t be more delighted with his new hobby. He can’t stop talking about it. Or flying it. Or talking about flying it. Or talking about the photographs he took while he was flying it.

He is so in love with his quadcopter that after listening to him go on and on and on for about 587,692 seconds this time, I am sort of in love with it too. Though after listening to him tell me in great detail (and with much laughter) about all the times and all the places he has managed to crash his quadcopter…

…I think I can do without a flying car, thankyouverymuch.

At least until they figure out how to take the plunging-wildly-to-your-doom part of flying cars out of the equation.


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