Thursday, June 24, 2010

Black Children, Bicycles, and Helmets

"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots."
- Aviator Expression

According to the CDC, Black children are at the highest risk for suffering a head injury than any other ethnic group in the United States. And every summer, I am reminded of one of the major factors as to why this is the case. It never fails: whenever I see Black children outside on their bicycles, they seldom wear helmets. And when I ask the children why this is the case, they always respond with the same excuse: "I am good enough to ride without a helmet."

My frustration is not with them, but with parents that allow their children to ride outside without a helmet. And if you are a parent that allows your child to ride a bicycle without a helmet, then yes I am talking about you! If a child does not want to wear their helmet, then they should not be allowed to ride a bicycle. Period. Bicycles are not toys. They are transportation vehicles, and all transportation vehicles have safety precautions. Cars have seatbelts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes. Bicycle helmets are an integral part of making bike riding safe. When a rider gets on a bike without a helmet, then that bike rider is making an unnecessary risk.

Why it is so widespread for Black Children to ride without helmets is something that I am sure could be examined, and root causes could be found. But no possible reason is a valid excuse. Bicycle helmets do not cost as much as bicyles. Helmets can cost as little as 12 dollars from K-Mart or Target. If you buy a bicycle, then you should buy a helmet.

A helmet can mean the difference between living a normal life and living in a vegetated state. It can mean the difference between having full intellectual capabilities and having a loss of cognition due to brain injury/shrinkage. But most of all... a bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.

In addition to the revolutionary improvements to the design of Rogallo gliders, helmets played a huge role in making Hang Gliding a safe sport.

Take a look at this video...

This is a Hang Glider Pilot that forgot to do a hang check, which is a procedure that hang glider pilots perform before every flight to make sure that they are properly hooked into the hang glider. The pilot could have lost his life because of this mistake. But fortunately, he only received a concussion. What saved his life? His helmet.

There are thousands of pilots in the USHPA, and only a handful of injuries each year. Be assured that one of the reasons for this is because of the adamant usage of helmets by all pilots on USHPA flying sites. On the other hand, bicycle-related head injuries are far more common, resulting in 3% of head injuries in the United States. Why? Because there are more bike riders that ride around carelessly with no helmets.

So if you are reading this blog and you are the parent of a young cyclist, then buy them a helmet and make sure that they wear it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review of the Falcon Jet RC Helicopter

This is a review of the Falcon Jet RC Helicopter. I owned this helicopter a few months ago. I use owned in past tense because it met its fate at the hands of one of my students. :)

From my category of 1-4, where
  1. Beginner
  2. Novice
  3. Intermediate
  4. Advanced
This would definitely fit as a #2. This is an easy to fly RC helicopter if you've flown them before. It's not for someone that quickly panics when a helicopter suddenly shoots upward, or someone that has not grasped the concept of when to use light touches. A pilot should definitely spend some time flying Air Hogs RC's before moving up to this one. It is a fairly durable RC Heli, but it will break. The tail and tail rotor are especially sensitive and will come right off with a hard-enough impact. The screws that hold the outside casing of the body are also rather sensitive and will break (although this does not interfere with the ability of the heli to fly).

The RC Controller sticks can break quite easily.

This helicopter can be especially beautiful to watch in flight, as it has various different color lights that will light up during flight. Flying this RC helicopter at night in the dark can be a mesmerizing experience.

It flies forward and backward very smoothly and is fairly easy to trim. It turns gently as well.

You can purchase this RC Heli from Bestbuy for a very affordable $29.99, and it can be found online for an even cheaper price.

Grade: B-

Review of the Air Hogs Sharpshooter

I've been preparing a list of RC helicopters that can be flown by pilots at 4 levels (Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced) for an upcoming website. Most of Air Hogs Helicopters would belong in the beginner category. There is one in particular, the Air Hogs Sharpshooter, that I have purchased and flown over the last month, that would serve as a good helicopter for absolute beginners to begin to develop the dexterity that is needed to advance in RC pilot skills.

Air Hogs rates this helicopter as an intermediate helicopter. However, the only real difference between this helicopter and other helicopters that are rated by Air Hogs as beginner is that it can fire two orange missiles upon pushing a red button on the right side of the controller.

  1. The motor power is just right for the beginner. It is not so powerful so that it can provide an overwhelming amount of lift to the beginner, who is still learning to do basic tasks such as adjusting the trim of the heli, as well as make basic position changes
  2. The controls are fairly responsive. As long as you face the helicopter at all times, you should have little problem with getting the helicopter to respond to your commands.
  3. The laser remote allows the pilot to easily fly in formation with other helicopters.
  4. The helicopter is extremely durable and is able to take an enormous amount of punishment. My sharpshooter has flown through a variety of indoor air current conditions. My girlfriend even flew it into her ceiling fan! My students have ran it into walls on numerous occasions. And it still works. This is important, because the beginner RC pilot is going to crash... numerous times, and crashing a helicopter and breaking it beyond repair is a discouraging experience.
  5. One set of batteries can provide numerous flights and charges. The controller uses battery power very efficiently.

  1. The missiles fire at a considerable delay. That could be annoying to anyone that's playing air combat with a buddy. It's not a big deal to me because I bought it for educational purposes, but Air Hogs should work on that if their main selling pitch for the helicopter is it's ability to fire missiles.
  2. The drawback to having a laser controller is that the response time of the helicopter can slow down as your angle becomes more obtuse. You have to face and view the helicopter at all times in order to get the most efficient response time with the helicopter.
  3. The helicopter, like most Air Hogs RC Heli's, does not move backward. It naturally drifts forward, and you have the option to turn the helicopter left and right. I don't expect super-extensive maneuverability with beginner RC Heli's, because the beginner should not concern themselves with acrobatic maneuvers before learning how to perform basic flight maneuvers. However, it would still be nice if these heli's could move backward, as this is a skill that the RC Pilot must understand as they move forward.
Overall, I like this helicopter and would recommend it to anyone that wants an affordable introduction to flying RC Helicopters. For the beginner, it is worth every penny. It also makes good party entertainment for all ages.

Grade: B+