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This is me at 3am wishing I had way to get to the flying field when the sun came up. Seemingly little things like this mean way more these days.
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Managing My RC Time

It gets compressed when you know about the end

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

Posted – 8-2-2013

One of the more unpleasant quirks of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's is that it loosely defines the end of your life. You don’t know exactly when that will be but it certainly is not as far off as we might hope. There is something focusing about having the “get your affairs in order” conversation with a doctor.

I initially returned to RC (radio control) flying to use it as a brain exercise and in that regard it works great. Lots of concentration is required to keep what your eyes are seeing converting to what your fingers need to be doing to maintain flight. But, being at the flying field has other benefits that I had not anticipated.

First the people are great to be around. They are friendly to newcomers and there is little class warfare in the ranks despite the wild disparity in the aircraft we fly. One of the things I enjoyed about RC flying in the past was helping others learn and that has been a great source of satisfaction for me now as well.

I find that even when I am alone at the flying field, which happens quite often, I still feel better. I can spend hours doing touch-and-go’s to hone that skill or work on using specific controls. Whatever I am doing, including just sitting back and enjoying the outdoors, being at the flying field makes me feel better. When I am at the flying field I don’t get the feeling that I am wasting some of the time that I have left. I may not be doing much during those moments but I am out of the shop, I am outdoors and I am at a place that is welcoming and safe for me. That feeling is increasingly rare these days and no matter how often I go to the flying field I look forward to the next time.
About a year ago I decided to limit my driving for fear of winding up someplace I didn’t intend to go. Another reason was the escalating frustration and confusion I was feeling in heavier traffic where it really helps to know exactly where you are and where you are going, two things that don’t come together so easily these days. I do drive to the flying field by myself because it is a simple trip that does not include the busy streets of the city.

It is hard to explain the frustration of doing something you actually enjoy to fight the Alzheimer's then not be able to get there to do it.
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Now having my time at the flying field limited by having one car in the family is frustrating on a level I had not expected. Finding blocks of time that I can escape with the car to go to the flying field can be difficult. With the end of daylight savings time approaching evening flying is going to be out of the question for several months and that represents a major reduction in potential flying time. I worry about that reduction as I feel better when I am able to fly because the concentration both focuses and clears my mind. I feel as though something that is benefiting my fight against Alzheimer's is becoming more and more out of my reach.

Buying basic transportation is a simple thing for most but for me it now seems almost like when I bought my first 59 Pontiac Bonneville. It was huge then and would be huge now. When I was 16 years old getting that first car was the path to my independence. Now in my 60’s with time closing in on me, transportation feels like a ticket to that same independence. A simple vehicle would also let me get to that place that feels good and keeps my mind perking along which is as good of a therapy as anyone has to offer right now. We can fly RC virtually all year round in this area and that could give me an edge in this fight that I don’t want to give up - if I can get to it.

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