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aerobird crash report

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Old 12-02-2003, 10:24 PM
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shams42
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Default aerobird crash report

My plane and I have had an interesting few days. I took my plane with me to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. My dad has always been interested in model planes -- he used to take my sister and I to the local field to watch when we were kids -- but he's never owned one or flown one. I was hoping to coach him through his first few flights. He refused to take the control, insisting that he'd crash my plane. He did have a good time watching me fly it, though. We went to the field several times while I was home.

Thanksgiving was rainy and windy so there was no flying. The day after that was rainy and windy as well. Finally, on Saturday, the skies were clear and the wind was calm. My fiancee had come to visit me at my parents' house. So my dad, my fiancee, and I grabbed the plane and headed for the field. I had been trying to convince her to give it a try for some time, and she finally agreed. So I got the plane up in the air, gained some alititude, and passed her the control.

The first thing that happened was that the plane turbned abruptly and started diving toward a bunch of trees..

There was no time to think.

The plane slammed into a tree, about 40 feet off the ground. It started to fall out, but got caught by the tail. Uh oh.

In hindsight, I can see several mistakes here. First, I shouldn't have given her the plane in pro mode. I used pro mode on my second flight and have always found it easier than sport mode. Second, I should have let her operate the plane during launch. Yes, she might have crashed it, but it would have been a comparatively gently crash from a low altitude, and wouldn't have ended in a tree. Third, I shouldn't have given her the control while the plane was coming toward us. That was probably the biggest cause of the crash. I'm sure that what happened was that she tried to steer AWAY from the trees but ended up steering toward them. The nose dropped when she turned, and she wasn't prepared for that. When she saw that the plane was losing altitiude, she applied full throttle since I had told her that full throttle is used to climb. To her credit, she did kill the motor before impact. I think that she would have had a good chance of recovering it if those darn trees hadn't been there.

As we approached the site of the crash, we saw that the battery had been ejected from the plane. We found it on the ground about 50 feet away from the site of the crash. The plastic connector had sheared off. The exposed wires had apparently come into contact with one another, because the battery had a large burn mark on the bottom. It was one of my 8.4v batteries, too.

Walking back to the plane, I found the fractured remains of the cockpit canopy and the foam that forms the battery tray lying on the ground.

The three of us spent over an hour trying to get that thing down. No dice. It got dark, and we had to go home.

I felt bad, but she felt worse.

The next day, we drove to the field (in a state park) several times to see if the plane was still there. It was. I put in a report at the park office and told them to call my parents if it ever came down. Then I went home. Not 10 minutes after I got home, the phone rang. A park ranger had recovered my plane!

Picked up the plane and inspected it for damage. The tail boom was still solidly attached. The motor was still in place. The circuit board had broken loose. I took the plane home and fixed her up in about an hour. I salvaged most of the canopy and reattached it with 3 small zip-ties. I used silicon caulk to reattach the circuit board and the foam. I adjusted the control lines back to neutral. Everything looked good.

I threw the plane in the car this morning in a rush and broke one of the tail feathers. Doh! After I got home, I put on my new tail and took it to the field. I didn't fly right. It didn't want to climb. The nose kept wanting to drop. I landing and adjusted the tail angle several times. It helped a little, but not enough.

I think the plane is nose-heavy. I probably didn't get the circuit board into the right position, and that silicon caulk has probably weighed the front end down.

Since I can't really adjust the CG by moving things around this point, I have added a small counterweight to the tail boom just in front of the tail feathers. I took a 12" section of fine solder and wrapped it around the boom, and then taped it into place with strapping tape. I hope this fixes the problem. It's supposed to be calm and dry tomorrow, so I'll take it to the field and see how it flies.

I'm really happy that I took the time to reinforce the motor mount and tail boom areas as described in these forums. I'm sure that the motor would have broken loose if I hadn't.

Matt
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