Bob Jennings’ gorgeous, mammoth, own-design BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 gets hurled into the wild blue at the Power Scale Soaring Association’s event at the Great Orme, Wales on October 8th and 9th, 2022. Is it our imagination, or is there a de Havilland Comet buried in there somewhere? Also, check out this month’s ‘The Trailing Edge’ article, where we’re featuring more photos of this amazing aircraft. (credit: Phil Cooke)

In The Air

Back down the rabbit hole.

Terence C. Gannon
The New RC Soaring Digest
6 min readOct 31, 2022

Some number of issues back, I provided a warning in advance when I was about to head down the rabbit hole on some sort of technical matter or another. This is another one of those times. For those who are not interested in my salty thoughts on the Zuckernaut, scroll down and have at the new issue. You’ll find plenty of interest, without a doubt. On the other hand, for those who are ready for a techy ‘ramble round the houses’, cinch up the five point harness and hang on.

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

For those who think that good writing accompanied by superior photography is enough for a world to beat a path to your editorial door, think again. For all the hours devoted to producing the New RCSD, only 51% of these hours are devoted to actually creating or curating all of that good stuff. Fully 29% of this same precious and finite resource is devoted to what the social media les enfants terrible call ‘discoverability’. In other words, hanging up your ‘digital shingle’ in various places where you think potential readers may just see it at some point. And when they see it, be sufficiently intrigued to reward you with a click to see — and maybe even read — some of the story behind that click.

These ‘places’, of course, are the various social media platforms most or all of which you will have heard: in the case of the New RCSD, the primary ones are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and our mailing list. We have, for some time, had a process in place which allows RCSD (in a GPDR-compliant manner, of course) to determine from which of these platforms a reader is coming when they arrive at RCSD’s doorstep to view and read a story. Here’s the headline: 52% of the stories read on the New RCSD start with the reader seeing the article on Facebook and clicking on it. As I like to say, all of the other digital shingles are tied for last — the percentages are so small as to be too small to care much about. But not quite.

Based on this simple fact, it would seem that without Facebook, we would have half as many readers. If you add in the other social platforms, which make a puny contribution by comparison, we would have only a third of the readers we have today.

At first blush, this might seem like the deal of the century: all the benefit and it costs absolutely nothing. Not one thin dime. In all of the 23 issues to date, we have spent not one penny with Facebook. But as Paul Newman was to have said: “If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”

Facebook is ‘free’ like broadcast television is ‘free’. I’m not saying the you buy every new fast food advertised on TV just when you’re hungriest but somebody is, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many of exactly these kind of ads. So it is with Facebook, for which there is $39.4 billion† in profit screaming your eyeballs — when eyeballing Facebook — are the conduits for money leaving your pocket and winding up in theirs. Exactly how it does is irrelevant but if you think you and I are the exception to the rule—thinking everybody else is a sucker, just not you and me well, I’m sorry, we’re both wrong.

So while Facebook is the molotov cocktail torching the fabric of our society and taking democracy with it in the bargain, should we take consolation that as we all go to hell in a hand basket we think we’re getting a bunch of cool stuff for free?

So where am I going with all of this? To be candid, I’m not exactly sure. However, should we as a society decide that despite social media being ‘free’ we’re still paying way too high a price for it in so many ways, then we need to take another path. If that beautiful pipe dream were ever to come true, then there is just one pretty significant downside:

From whence will many of our future readers come?

And what will you, the reader be prepared to pay — if anything — when you (hopefully) arrive at our threshold? Dare I dream for just a very tiny fraction of your $5.05, which is what every human on Planet Earth contributed to Facebook’s profit in 2021. After all, these pennies would pay for something you consciously want as opposed to — just spitballin’ here — whatever further mayhem Facebook has in mind for it.

A Question for the Hive Mind

The New RCSD recently received an intriguing enquiry for which nobody around here had a ready answer:

It’s a commercial requirement for an autonomous sailplane with 40–50kg payload capacity and auto-soar capability. Of course, there are the very successful HAPS-type vehicles like the Airbus Zephyr, but the enquirer said that approach as “too fragile” given their intention is to do a type of flight research in adverse weather conditions. Under non-disclosure they described what they are contemplating and it looks pretty cool.

Based on the requirements as I understand them, the aircraft would be a full-strength ‘scale up’ of the largest carbon-fibre RC sailplanes out there, or a ‘scale down’ from a full-size sailplane to get to the target payload. If you’re aware of anybody who either has or is working on such an aircraft by all means please get in touch and we’ll try and connect the interested parties.

On With the Show, This Is It!

Just in case anybody is wondering, whenever I wrap up one of these monthly tomes, in the back of my mind I always hear the Looney Tunes theme. Y’know the one which features Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on stage belting out:

Overture, curtains, lights,
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart

For those who don’t have a clue what it is I’m talking about, I have linked the classic ‘toon in Resources below. I howl every time I see it.

And with that, I’ll offer my deepest thanks to all of this month’s contributors — this is a really special issue — and a extra special thank you to you, the reader.

Finally, I’ll simply bid you all fair winds and blue skies,


  • Statista — The source of the Facebook profit information referenced in this article.
  • On With the Show, This Is It! — The classic Looney Tunes intro theme.
  • — Cover photographer Martin Pilný’s website.
  • VVmodel — Cover subject Vašek Vojtíšek’s website.

Cover photo: This month’s elegant, contemplative cover photo was taken by Martin Pilný at a local F3G competition held in Litomyšl in the Czech Republic on 9th July 2022. It shows Vašek Vojtíšek checking the weather conditions before the start of the next round of the competition. Martin’s description of his equipment setup: “Nikon D500 + 70–200 f/2.8E FL”. You are welcome to download the November 2022 cover in a resolution suitable for computer monitor wallpaper. (2560x1440).

Disclaimer: While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest, the publishers are not legally responsible for errors in its contents or for any loss arising from such errors, including loss resulting from the negligence of our staff. Reliance placed upon the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest is solely at the readers’ own risk.

Here’s the first article in the November, 2022 issue. Or go to the table of contents for all the other great articles. A PDF version of this edition of In The Air, or the entire issue, is available upon request.