How to crash someone else's RC airplane (with photos) LONG

Photos inline -
I was out flying my .45 Big Stik
formatting link
with a few
friends at a local Santa Rosa CA abandoned airport on Sunday. My friends
solely fly electric, while I do both glow and electric. After flying for
a few hours, we decide to call it quits as we were going to make a
flight in my friend's new Cirrus. As we were packing up, a guy drove up
the muddy road/path to where we were based (we walked in). He hopped out
and said, "Hey, I could hear you guys flying from my home, a few miles
to the east. Will one of you fly my plane for me?"
This was an odd request, and my friends pointed at me and I said sure
before seeing what it was he had built. I walked around to the back of
his van and introduced myself as he was pulling out a very nice looking
hot-rod of an aircraft. Take a look -
formatting link

Though a little intimidated at this point, I was also excited to get to
fly such a hot rod. I was thinking, "Hey, if it has wings I can probably
fly it!" :)
But still I wondered - why would someone buy a $300 kit, a $125 motor,
plus ??? for the radio, receiver and servos and then spend the time to
build it only to have someone else fly it? He explained that he had been
flying electric park fliers for some time, and had decided to move into
the fuel + aileron world. He had already built two other gas guzzlers
and crashed both of them upon take-off. There were actually still bits
of his crashed planes scattered along the runway. We asked why he didn't
first progress to an electric RC with ailerons, and he merely shrugged
that off and said he wanted to get a *screamer.*
So, we started up his .65 *screamer* and spent a few minutes tuning it.
During pre-flight, I noticed firstly that the controls were activating
the wrong servos. Hmmm, maybe cause #1 for his first two crashes? We
took off the wing and fixed that problem. After running the engine for a
few minutes on the ground, some of the cowl screws started backing off,
so we tightened them back down and I started my taxi. -
formatting link
- Once in the
air it was business as usual and I was able to get it trimmed out
without any extra adjustment to spare. She started to make an odd
clanking sound, and it was time to bring her in for her first landing. -
formatting link
- No problem!
The sound was the muffler hitting the cowl - so we tightened the muffler
(as it was rotating on the shaft), and I took it up for it's FINAL
flight! I was pretty comfortable with his plane after a few more minutes
of flight testing. I started looping and rolling it, along with a few
hammer heads and higher speed passes. It flew pretty good, though I
could tell that the CG was a little too far aft of where it should have
Disaster strikes! On what was to be my final low pass, the elevator
stopped responding. No, really. :) I would admit guilt if I thought I
had made a mistake. This photo, taken just milliseconds before the crash
shows the elevator in the neutral position even though I had the control
still pulled back -
formatting link

The planed smacked the concrete (what a sound!), leaving three big gouge
marks and slid 25 yards to where I was standing. Without moving from
where I was standing I put my foot out to keep it from sliding into the
rest of my gear on the ground. Here's the mark where it hit, and you can
see the plane further in the background where it came to rest -
formatting link
(look at all the
balsa on the ground!).
I just stood there in disbelief. The last moments kept running through
my head, and I kept muttering, "It wouldn't pull up, it just wouldn't
pull up. Oh my god." The owner really seemed indifferent, and told me
not to worry about it. Truly amazing. My friend Ryan reached down and
wiggled the aileron wherein he noticed it wasn't connected. We took the
wing off, and sure enough his home-made clip (he lost the original) that
connects the servo to the control rod had come off. We weren't entirely
sure at that point if the clip came off before or during the crash,
though the photo clearly shows that the elevator was non-responsive.
The plane is toast and the engine block is cracked near where the main
shaft connects to the prop. Post-crash photos -
formatting link
formatting link

Here I am, crowned king of the day -
formatting link

I'll leave it to you to find a moral in my story. This was the first
time I have really crashed and destroyed an RC. I'm not beating myself
over it, and though I feel bad for the owner of the wrecked plane - I
still found some excitement from the crash. :) *evil grin*
Here are all the photos from the day. The series starts off showing the
flight we took in the Cirrus SR22-G2 later that day.
formatting link

Happy, crash-free flying!
Reply to
Randy Wentzel
Loading thread data ...
Thanks for sharing, Randy--nice photos from both parts of your day.
The moral is to thoroughly scrutinize all connectors on new planes, no matter who they belong to.
And on formerly crashed planes being returned to service after repair.
Oh, and check servo trays on new and repaired planes.
And be sure to plug ailerons back in after field-work.
Don't ask me how I know so much about all these things. :o(
Reply to
Martin X. Moleski, SJ
The Moral is: ALWAYS do a preflight, especially if someone else built it. Dr.1 Driver "There's a Hun in the sun!"
Reply to
Nice looking plane & cool crash :) From them pix it looks like there were a bunch of building errors - that aileron hinge looked pretty glue-free. If it hadn't gone in on that dive, it probably would have fallen to bits on its first high-speed snap.
Reply to
Randy, nice photos and write-up. I have smucked a few planes I volunteered to fly and unless you carry out a full inspection of their airworthiness, unexpected things can happen that are not always attributable to pilot error. Obviously, a faulty connection was the culprit and may have been revealed had the wing been removed but not necessarily. Enjoyed your post!!
Reply to
Forgot to mention that I have experienced a person that builds like that. Spend some time in the pits correcting problems, land after one lap to correct problem. 5 laps, loose muffler. Landing, wheel falls off.
Randy Wentzel wrote:
Reply to
jim breeyear
Randy, Your story highlights the effort we MUST put into preflighting a newbie's plane. They come to the field 'ready to fly' with the darnedst things wrong starting from not enough charge in the battery. I ALWAYS ask when the battery was charged and for how long, THEN I put an ESV on it. If it is not at least 4.9 volts, the plane does not fly without a charge to TX and RX batteries. While that is going on, I review the other of a long list of things that beginners do wrong. The least time it takes me to prep a beginners plane for its first flight was 1 hour. I have had several I sent home because the work needed was well beyond field repairs and adjustments.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Reply to
Heck, I'm still getting the hang of crashing my *own* plane! :)
I had this problem this past weekend. Being very green, I neglected to check all the connections in my trainer after it's first crash. On the second flight, I lost the elevator and it took a nose dive. Turned out that the elevator servo had broken loose during the previous crash.
Some lessons I learn the hard way....
Reply to
Matt Senecal
Ok, so with all this input of check this and check that, does someone have a link to a pre-flight inspection list of details for newbies to check on their planes that might include construction checks as well as prep items?
Reply to
There are a couple of guys in our club who test fly for people who don't feel comfortable flying a new plane. They do a complete pre-flight and sometimes the plane owner is sent home to fix something. Their position is, If it not right, I won't fly it. This has worked out pretty well over the years with one notable exception. A guy who was not a member, didn't know how to fly (We learned later), and nobody knew, brought his first effort out; a 60 size Spitfire. He gave us the "Aw shucks guys, fly my plane and I'll join." This is where "No good goes unpunished" really applies. The pre-flight went OK and the test pilot took it off. Without enough altitude or air speed, the prop, spinner and drive washer exited, stage front. Turning around was out of the question so the test pilot kept it straight. Unfortunately, there was a barbed wire fence at the end of the property line. The plane wouldn't clear, so he had to either put it on the ground or strain it through the fence. He managed to get it on the ground before hitting the fence but the plane suffered some minor damage. The owner first accused the test pilot of intentionally crashing his plane. When that didn't work, he accused him of incompetence. (You should have done a better job of not crashing). Since then, we don't fly planes for non-members, period. Bill
formatting link
Reply to
I meant to write that he had wiggled the the "elevator" and noticed that it wasn't connected. The ailerons were working just fine. :)
Reply to
Randy Wentzel
Well I am one of the few instructors we have in my club here in Denmark. and I often check and fly beginners planes, if they are members or not I dont care, I will help all kinds of people. but one line I always repeat and make sure the owner understands: I will do my verry best !! but if ANY thing happens to your plane, no matter what, I am not to blame !
in most cases bad construction or bad materials or misunderstanding of how to construct stuff are the MOST rare reson to a crash, the more experianced the tester are, he will find 90 % if this problems, but some things are hidden inside the fuselage or inside the wing servo mounting, then bad things happens, so make sure the owner understand the way this stuff works. I recal a senario that went to court !!! about exactly this.. it was a SUPER expencive jet plane, that went to bits and nothing more... so maybe in USA with all the lawers and crasy court cases, it is a good idea to have a prewritten agrement that the owner and tester sign, BEFORE flying ??
sorry for the spelling it was typed rather fast.
Yours Thomas Scherrer
formatting link
Reply to
Thomas Scherrer
Several Morals come to mind. "Dont fly a stranger's plane" "Dont assume a strange plane is built properly" "Dont fly a stranger's plane"
Must be nice to be in the bucks enough that he could just shrug it off like that. The other two crashes dont seem very mysterious now, do they? I usually test fly my Dad's planes for him but have only flown a stranger's plane once. Meaning somebody that approached me at the field. I have flown other club member's planes on occasion but prefer not to. Might lead to my crashing it. Might lead to me spending more money cos I gotta have one.
Reply to
Fubar of The HillPeople
All disclaimers were said before I flew it. :) I would still fly a stranger's plane, but next time I'll impliment a thorough pre-flight inspection (as suggested). *Stuff* happens, though stuff can be prevented too!
Reply to
Randy Wentzel

Site Timeline

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.