I recently had a phone call from a well known manufacturer/importer who was faced with the need to acquire a 'B' proficiency certificate for display purposes and wanted details of the SMAE training scheme. The first thing I did was to ask him just what he thought the one had to do with the other. It seems that his club had made enquiries about the Achievement Scheme and were under the impression that it was necessary to undergo the Training Scheme as a means of gaining proficiency certificates.
Well now, I wonder just how many more people out there have the same impression. The above club had contacted the administrator of the Achievement Scheme (who is also the originator of the Training Scheme) and been told that he was too busy to come along and give them a talk on the Training Scheme. He did suggest someone else that they could contact.
Granted that the coincidence of identity may give rise to some confusion, it does seem strange that the two systems should be confused in this manner. A lot of water has passed beneath the bridge since Dick Pavey and Jack Frith originated the Achievement Scheme in 1978/9. The Training Scheme is a recent introduction aimed at helping newcomers to the hobby. It would be a little late to make it a part of the Achievement Scheme at this stage.
You may wonder why someone had not informed them of their mistake, but did they ask the right question? It would seem that many people have the two schemes confused - and not only the uninformed.
Perhaps it's a reflection on the current state of society that the non-existence of a linking document between two unrelated systems gives rise to the thought in the minds of some that it is a sin of omission rather than a non-requirement. Or, in simpler terms; just because it ain't there, don't assume that no-one could be bothered to do it!
Another recent phone call queried the use of the 'new' crystals with a certain brand of equipment. Now, this is going to be confusing, because I can't name the equipment, but bear with me. What we need to establish is just what is meant by 'new'.
The equipment concerned is imported into this country by two different organisations. One of these importers has been producing certain items in this country - including crystals. Meanwhile the original manufacturers began producing crystals to a higher tolerance. For reasons which need not concern us here the importer who had been producing their own crystals have now introduced these (the higher tolerance type) as 'new' crystals. Let's recap, we now have three different types - old and new genuine types, plus the locally made copies.
At just this time, we were blessed with six new frequencies (60 and 81-85). Now there has been some speculation as to whether existing equipment would work satisfactorily with these new frequencies which lie outside of those for which it was originally intended.
If you are already ahead of me, you can see just what a wonderful set-up we have here for all manner of confusion(s)! New frequency or new type? How about new frequency and new type?
To return to that telephone call. The actual query was whether it was alright to use the new frequencies with existing equipment, but the modeller concerned was taking information regarding the new type as being relevant because, when he asked, he said 'new crystals'. It is quite normal for the average modeller to say 'crystal' when he actually means 'frequency'. So, 'new crystal' can mean 'new frequency'. For some reason, the perveyors of radio equipment are unable to comprehend this and ignore it. There is a fortune to be made by the first manufacturer who actually understands the mind of his customers!
This effect does seem to be some phenomena of the modern(?) age. The word 'tranny' for instance can now mean transmitter, transformer, transistor, portable radio, or possibly umpteen other items I don't know about.
Some might have us believe that the real answer is to educate the customer. You are welcome to try, you may have to teach them to read first!
On the subject of frequencies and education, how about the following little tale:
Picture a pleasant summer evening. Our hero is a member of a club which has the use of a local companies sports field and has ventured out to try some modifications made to a helicopter. While the model is in the air, a couple of other flyers arrive and one of them approaches to check the frequency used.
It transpires that the helicopter is on 73 and one of the new arrivals is on 72. The chopper is now on the ground with the engine ticking over and its pilot requests that the new arrival should wait until he has finished since he will only be a couple of minutes.
"Why, it won't interfere, will it?" is the reply. Whereupon, the rather elderly transmitter is switched on, its aerial is erected to full length and the owner advances on the helicopter, waggling the sticks! He was actually bending over the model by the time its owner managed to stop the motor!
Believe it or not, the man still does not know what the models owner was shouting about. Just in case he reads this (and for anyone else out there who may be as ill informed, or stupid), lets try to put him right.
If there had been any interference effect (which is highly likely), the most probable result would have been to open the throttle. With luck, this would 'merely' have wrecked £1000 worth of helicopter. Without luck, it would have killed 1, 2 or 3 people standing in close proximity. OK?
If it had been a fixed wing model, the model would have started to move forward - which would have been dangerous enough. Someone could have got a large chunk taken out of his leg. If no-one had been in the way, it might have been possible to switch off the offending transmitter and stop the model before it became airborne. With a helicopter, it would have lifted off almost instantly - straight into the interfering transmitter. There is a good possibility that it would have travelled sideways - just about at head height - for some distance.
The moral of the story is that you can write as many rules as you like; you still cannot cater for sheer stupidity.
I feel that congratulations are in order for the SMAE's latest labour saving initiative. In an age when it is fashionable to create more work for all and sundry, it is refreshing to see that someone is still thinking of others.
The scene is Kimberley House on an average morning. The postman arrives with a sack of mail for our governing body. "Bumf for SMAE", he cries.
Ah, but that is now all in the past. He now cries, "BMFA"! Wonderful.