If you’re new to this game you may not be aware of the First Law of RC Airplanes. That’s the law that says “There are two kinds of planes: those that have crashed, and those that will crash.”
There’s another law that says “Perfect planes have to crash now.”
Some say that the fate of model airplanes falls under the jurisdiction of the mysterious and bad tempered leprechaun Murphy O’Dangit. Legend has it that he once built a perfect model airplane and left it on a chair, and his little sister sat on it. To this day, Murphy O’Dangit takes his anger out on model pilots who unwisely attempt to fly perfect airplanes. That’s why it’s so nerve wracking to fly a new, perfect plane for the first time, and when such a plane meets a bad end the pilot can usually be heard calling out his name.
The photographer who shot this photo claims that it depicts the mischievous leprechaun of RC at a popular flying site. If you look carefully you can spot him hiding in the bushes, waiting for an opportunity to inflict his mischief upon an unsuspecting pilot.
If this is a real leprechaun then where is his pipe, you’re probably wondering. These accounts are all hearsay of course, but as one might expect, this particular leprechaun favors glue fumes over tobacco. Not only is he mischievous, let’s just say the ball in his slip indicator isn’t always in the middle.
What does this have to do with your new airplane? An imperfect plane creates less of a disturbance in the continuum (doesn’t inspire leprechaun envy) and can therefore fly for a long time before fulfilling its final destiny. Every builder wants a perfect plane, but a perfect plane can’t stay perfect. If you stick with the hobby long enough you will start to notice little things happening to perfect planes. Sometimes the propeller pokes a hole in the wing during the car ride, or the stabilizer is broken off on the way out the door. This is not always a bad thing, of course. Once you understand how it works you will feel a sense of relief upon discovering such defects before the maiden flight. If the plane is still perfect when it’s ready to take off, beware the wrath of Murphy O’Dangit.
Some guys try to cheat fate by deliberately puncturing the covering, or by breaking a stick and re-gluing it. But one way or another your plane will get what’s coming to it. Murphy O’Dangit is watching you, and unintentional damage can’t be prevented by cheating.
Some say that if you fly a plane in which you have no emotional investment Murphy won’t hear you. So if you didn’t build the plane, or if it’s an old hand-me-down, or if you are just taking a turn with a friend’s cherished treasure, the stakes aren’t so high. Consider this old Aerostar trainer, which was given to me by a friend:
Before he gave it to me, another guy gave it to him, after it had sat in the attic for an unknown number of years, where it was placed after its initial role as a primary trainer, presumably to avoid embarrassment. Those with sharp eyes will note the poorly formed leading edges, the un-rounded fuselage corners, and the non-overlapped covering film. It may be hard to discern because of the more recent field enhancements, but this thing was ugly when it was new. This plane was obviously allowed to survive because it was given to me, I didn’t build it, it was already an ugly plane, and apparently Murphy already had a temper tantrum with it before I came along. I fly this plane all the time. I fly it more often than I fly my own planes. But no matter what happens, it just won’t die. Last week it suffered a defective elevator servo, which is usually a death sentence. I took the controls from my son and even took off and landed again before diagnosing the servo failure, and it still didn’t crash.
A lot of people doubt this theory about perfect airplanes, but I’m telling you there is something to it. I’ve heard of perfect planes flying for years without incident, but I’m skeptical of these claims. People make up a lot of stories, so don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
This website is devoted to the construction of RC planes, so you may be wondering why I am telling you about Murphy O’Dangit. Am I telling you not to build your own planes, or at least not to build them well? Let’s just say that as a builder of RC planes, you may want to think twice about trying to achieve perfection. Those who are hung up on perfection are never happy. I believe that you will enjoy this hobby a lot more if you forget about the idea of perfection. More fun is in store for you if you strive for an 8 out of 10 and move on to the next one. A model plane is going to crash sooner or later, so make sure your heart and soul aren’t in it when it does.