By LINDA KOEHLER

lkoehler@tnonline.com

I just thought I'd give you an update on my future Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

As you already know, I bought Harry a radio control helicopter for Christmas two years ago. He got so good, he began to feel he wasn't being challenged enough. Enter ... the Blade 120 SR Fixed Pitch with flybar.

Then he went on the Internet and started watching what other radio control helicopter fliers were doing and wanted to kick it up a notch.

Enter ... the Blade 130X Collective Pitch flybar-less. Of course, it needed a radio upgrade as well.

While I encourage his hobby, believing everyone should have one, he sometimes drives me nuts.

Here is an actual conversation the Saturday before Memorial Day. I'm trying to make a pasta salad and dessert for a picnic that night. Harry is in the computer room relaxing and watching videos.

"Honey, come here," he demanded.

"I'm in the middle of something," I responded sweetly, with my teeth clenched.

"I know you're busy, but if you really love me, you'll come here."

OK. Let's just stop here a moment and examine this whole scenario. I'm up to my elbows in noodles, roasted red peppers and chopping onions, my eyes furiously watering with a snot ball on the end of my nose threatening to drop into it all. I've been up since the butt crack of dawn baking and cooking, my feet hurt, I've got two loads of laundry to fold, a cake to frost and I'm grumpy as all get out.

And I'm supposed to drop everything and run into the computer room so he can show me a video he's watching of some yahoo flying a remote helicopter. And he dares to use the guilt trip of "if you love me."

I personally don't think you should use the "if you love me" trump card unless it's a matter of great importance.

Like, "If you love me, you'll give me a kidney," or "If you love me, you'll promise to care for me in sickness and health, until death do us part."

So when I heard, "If you really love me, you'll come here," I was about ready to enforce the "death do us part" because I knew he didn't need a kidney, and the last time I checked, he was healthy as a horse.

That was the Little Devil sitting on my left shoulder speaking. The Little Angel on the right whispered in my ear, "He does so much for you and he asks so little of you, surely you can spare a few measly moments to see what he wants."

Muttering under my breath because I hate it when I give in to the Little Angel against my wishes, I carefully laid down the knife I was holding. I didn't think it was a good idea to take it along with me to the computer room. Hard to say what the Little Devil might have whispered in my ear as I stood behind my dear husband.

So what was so important I had to drop everything and rush to his side?

"Watch this," commanded my liege as he hit the "play" button of a video.

I wanted to feel angry at him for thinking watching the video was more important than what I was doing, but after the first few seconds, I was in total amazement at what a young man could do with a radio control helicopter.

His name is Tareq Alsaddi and is a world champion. It's easy to see how he earned that title.

"Now watch this. Watch this," Harry said excitedly.

Tareq flew his helicopter upside down, lowered it so close to the ground it could mow the grass with its blades and then just held it there in a hover position before zipping off backward, making it look like a really fast flying fish.

Very impressive.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what my husband aspires to do.

"I think to get really good, I'm going to have to send for a flight simulator," he informed me.

Ahhhhh. We came to the crux of the matter ... justification for a new addition to the helicopter hobby.

I went back to my boring pasta salad while Harry the Hopeful Helicopter Pilot ordered online a Phoenix R/C 4 Flight Simulator.

The following Tuesday it had arrived.

That night after dinner as I was doing dishes and cleaning up, I heard some alarming sounds coming from the computer room.

Vavavavavaroooooooooom ... Crash! "Damn!"

Vavavavavaroooooooooom ... Crash! "Damn!"

Vavavavavaroooooooooom ... Crash! "Damn it!"

Unable to contain my curiosity, I wandered into the computer room. I watched as he revved up his helicopter, lifted off, and cringed as it almost immediately crashed ... mightily ... pieces flying everywhere.

"Um, you're doing an awful lot of crashing in here," I casually observed.

"This is definitely harder than it looks. I've got a lot of practicing to do," he grinned happily.

All I can say is, he'd better practice long and hard before he attempts to do anything Alsaddi does, because unlike a video simulator, one crash in real life is going to be one crash too many.

So far, I'm still hearing a lot of "Vavavavavaroooooooooom ... Crash! Damns!" out of the computer room.

I'm practicing too ... "Black Hawk down! Black Hawk down!"