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  • How well do you crash?

    Greetings. I've searched and searched but can't find tips for pilots on what to do when you crash. We have all had to deal with it, for a variety of reasons. Some more than others . I just thought that tips for folks new to the hobby on what to do when it all goes to pieces, literally, would be helpful and might keep 'em in the game until they get some flight time under the wings. Throttle safety, transmiiter, receiver, battery do's and don't s, etc. Looking to a more seasoned pilot than myself to remember way back to when they used to wrinkle birds and provide some sound, safe advice :cool:. Maybe a blog would be better? Please share any and all the safe things to do, like kill throttle immediately, and the rest of the good advice that is sure to follow. For me, the key to where I typically crash (an alfalfa field), is making sure I have all the pieces before I walk away, or leaving a marker so I can find a missing 1" piece of cammo foam later. Please share your knowledge. Thanks.

  • #2
    Fun topic!

    As many of you know, part of my job involves evaluating aircraft to and past their failure points. "Controlled Landings", "Dirt Naps", or an "Aggressive De-Kitting" are all part of the territory. The first bit of advice I give to my students brand new to the hobby is "Don't be afraid to crash --we all do it!". If they're less afraid to crash, they're less tense, more alert, more respectful of the aircraft and potential hazard, and ultimately they learn habits that promote a more SAFE and FUN experience in the wide world of RC flying.

    I'm a strong believer in the adage "Fail to Plan... Plan to Fail". Beginning a flight having already visualized what you'll do in the case of an in-flight emergency is always a prudent plan, and could minimize damage should the worse occur. In the same way that I begin each flight with a flight plan, I'm also prepared mentally for certain worst case scenarios. These scenarios depend on the aircraft, so it's important for pilots to consider what kinds of risks they're taking with their specific aircraft, be it a gasser, an EDF, a jet, a seaplane, a multi-engined aircraft, etc. Some of these risks overlap and some are unique to a given aircraft. If, for example, I'm flying a twin engine aircraft, I mentally practice what I would do if one of the motors failed. The moment an engine fizzles is not the moment you want to be thinking for the first time "What do I do now?" By then it needs to be instinctive. In the context of a twin loosing an engine, throttling up the other is almost always a death sentence.

    Regardless of the aircraft, here are a few actions and thoughts that ideally occur between an in-flight emergency and when the aircraft reaches the ground. The prevailing mindset should by "Fly through the crash."

    1) Immediately upon detecting a failure, whether it be a dead battery, failed servo, smoked ESC, loose wing, etc, immediately call out "Emergency!", "Heads up!" or something similarly unmistakable. Notifying people around you should be your first concern.

    2) Assess your aircraft's disposition. Is it definitely going to crash? If so, call it out, and do your best to avoid people or property. Is it possible to avoid a crash? If so, maintain adequate airspeed and head for the nearest flat clearing away from people or property. If your airspeed is too low and you can't make it to the runway, don't get greedy making that final turn. Just keep it flat wherever it's pointed. I've seen so many aircraft cartwheel while stalling on the final turn because the pilot didn't want to keep it flat. Swapping landing gear is cheaper than replacing an entire plane. If you can make it back to the landing, call it out and do so. Remain calm. Spotters are helpful in these situations because they can talk you through your approach and confirm the runway is clear while you concentrate on bringing the aircraft down safely.

    3) If for whatever reason the aircraft doesn't make it back down on its wheels, then prepare yourself for a walk out to retrieve it. I always bring my radio with me, and toggle my Throttle Cut button so I don't bump the throttle stick while walking. Don't turn your radio off, either. If your radio is set for failsafe and the battery is still plugged in at the crash site, your motor could spin up and do even more damage there.

    4) I tend to hustle out to crash sites, because you never know if the battery is damaged and may start a fire at any time. If you crashed in a pond, then disregard this step.

    5) Upon reaching a crash site, the first thing to do is recover the battery, if it is an electrically powered aircraft. Disconnect the battery and inspect for damage. If damaged, see our Knowledgebase blog article on proper battery disposal.

    6) The rest of the steps are fairly obvious. Pick up the pieces, go home, test the electronics before deciding if you'd risk using them in another aircraft, dust yourself off, and take out the glue and get back in the game!


    I will add that one of the most valuable habits to do AFTER a crash is the post-crash analysis. Use the crash as a teaching moment. Was the cause preventable? Did you reverse your ailerons, or forget to tape down that servo wire in front of the fan, or forget to CG the model properly, snap roll or lost orientation, or did you puff a battery or overamp an ESC? Learn why and adjust your actions so it doesn't happen again. Was the cause out of your control? Failed servo, mid-air collision, etc? Reassure yourself that crashing is part of the hobby, and if this is your first one, tell yourself you've just joined an esteemed group of dirt napping professionals. We welcome you.


    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent advice Alpha, you have pretty much covered it all! Only thing I would add is that if you are flying a plane with retracts, keep them in the up position until you know for sure if you can make it back to the runway. Retracts generally survive a crash in the retracted position, and will almost certainly be destroyed if extended.

      In addition, if you crash or have an engine stall on the runway please move the plane ASAP. I crashed my F-14 and Durafly Spitfire because the runway was blocked by a broken airplane and people crowded around the wreck and I ran out of battery trying to wait for them to move. Just because your airplane was destroyed does not mean that other pilot's models are not at risk because of it. At the least, if the wreck is too destroyed to be cleaned up quickly, move yourself off of the runway!

      Comment


      • #4
        Excellent posts on this topic, I would add don't rush to fly...check your transmitter switches as well as your aircrafts control surfaces, landing gear and battery voltage before every flight.
        TiredIron Aviation
        Tired Iron Military Vehicles

        Comment


        • #5
          Don't fly at clubs. What is the etiquette on this topic at a club field? Is it like golf, where you get five minutes to find your pieces (ball), otherwise get on with it and get out of the way? Ten minutes? What's that like? Are there judges with scorecards? Is it a six point or ten point scoring system? Almost want to join a club to find out . Yeah, right...

          Comment


          • #6
            A time limit for retrieving all the pieces? I would never join a club like that or I would quit and ask for a proportional refund. That's ridiculous!
            I consider crashes as something usually unexpected, unplanned and (most of the time) beyond the pilots ability to do much about. Other than checking the equipment (eg. range check, switch positions, control throws and stability response if so equipped), there's not much we can do about "dumb thumbs" and malfunctions in the air. You deal with these as best you can and generally, there's not much you can do but be an observer and watch it all unfold, watch where all the pieces fall and go pick up what you can find. I find it humorous to see a pilot immediately after a crash, go running out to the plane at full tilt (I'm guilty of that myself). The plane's down, rushing out to it isn't going to reduce the damage (unless the crash caused the field to catch fire).

            A cute story that happened a couple of weeks ago. (Stop reading if not interested.) We were all flying our Radians (4 of us in the air) and one of us said he had no response to the plane, no control. He realized his TX battery was too low and it just quit. The Radian went into "failsafe" and started to Return Home, where upon, it just circled overhead. It would continue to do this until the flight battery died. During this time, the rest of us had landed. I got one of the fellows to yank out his TX battery and bring it over. We all use Spektrum so the connector would be the same. I turned off the TX with the dead battery, quickly replaced the dead one with the good one, turned the TX on and the plane re-established communication, went off failsafe and he landed it without incident. It was a great save. Not all failures can be salvaged like that. We were just lucky.

            Comment


            • #7
              I would add these two small suggestions to some already great and comprehensive posts:

              Always keep a bag handy; it makes collecting the bits and pieces an easier proposition ... and never disgustedly throw a crashed plane away immediately after gathering the pieces. It generally looks worse than it is. Even if you are just not "into" fixing it right away, set it aside and forget about it for awhile. Then come back to the carcass after letting it marinate for a while. You will probably find that it is totally repairable after all. Especially so if it is a foam composition model.

              Amazingly informative post there BTW Alpha! Thanks.

              Comment


              • #8
                While most of our club is flying ARFs these days, we have some old timers who have, or still build from scratch. Depending on the size of the plane, they will put a folded plastic trash bag in the fuse as they are building. Then if they crash, there is a trash bag waiting for them at the crash site. Sounds a little fatalistic, but I think it more meant as joke with a practical punch line.

                Good advice in the above posts. It is amazing how many folks don't do even the most basic of pre flight checks of their aircraft. Then they are surprised when something that could have been caught on the ground fails in the air.

                Our club keeps a dry chemical fire extinguisher and first aid kit on the flight line, and I also have them in my truck for when I am flying away from my field. I'm glad to say I have never needed the first aid kit, but the fire extinguisher did come in handy once. I miss that PZ T-28;-)

                I think one of the more important things to do when another member crashes, especially if it is a new flyer, is to be upbeat and remind them, crashing is a part of this hobby. I've seen flyers with decades of flying under their belt crash during the same session as a newbe crashes. The frustration is the same for both, but you may need to reassure the newbe that there will be more planes and better flying days lay ahead.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are two types of pilots. "Those that have crashed, and those that are going to crash". I must say I do like your heading Alpha "Fun Topic". It's only fun when it's isn't your model that crashed. Yes, it happens to everyone. Even world champions will have crashed models during there career on the way to the top, and even when they get there they still crash. Most of the advise has been offered above so I'm not going to repeat it.

                  The only thing I will say though when it comes to a crash. Check and recheck the radio, if you are in any doubt about anything. DO NOT use it again until it has been sent to the radio manufacturer or agent for test and repair.

                  While on the subject of a crash. Hands up all those who have lost a model in long grass or a corn field perhaps. If it happens again try this for a search. I've known this idea work on more than one occasion.

                  So the model is lost in long grass or crops and you have searched high and low for it and you can't find it. You've even had friends helping and you still can't find it. You will require another model and one or maybe two people to help you.

                  You will know where you were standing when your model crashed or disappeared into the long grass. The other model that you have you are now going to fly over the area where you think the first model crashed. Your two buddies are going to look in the area over which you are circling. In most cases if you fly over the area where you think you crashed you won't be far off. I've known this method work several times while looking for a downed plane.

                  Martin.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One member of our club recommends packing a plastic trash bag in the fuse - for packing and carrying the parts back to the pits more quickly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have been flying since 1977....but radio failure isn't something one plans.....this was ONLY 2 months ago. And she left home that morning with such great promise...
                      I know it's not really a piloting crash, but the result is the same....tears and garbage bags of bits....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A most interesting topic, and one that I am intimately involved in!! I tend to fly low, fast, and inverted. The old saying is, "When inverted, down is up, and up is expensive"

                        All airplanes have an expiration date, and when that date comes, all you can do is accept it, and move on. Alpha gave all the best advice already, but I want to add a few things. As he said, always take your transmitter with you. This comes in extremely handy if you go down in a field and can not see the airplane. I wag the sticks around when I think that I am getting close and listen for the servos. I have found a lot of planes this way, in corn fields and soy bean fields, that otherwise would have been un-recoverable.

                        To save your speed control a lot of trauma, make sure that you kill the throttle before impact. Once you are certain the death spiral has been engaged, and there is nothing more that you can do for the airplane, cut your throttle!! This will do several things for you. It will stop the torque of the motor, which may help you to recover, it will slow the plane down, and lessen the impact, and it will save your ESC from trying to spin a prop buried in the dirt.

                        Remember, if your airplane stalls, and one wing drops, the usual response is to try to correct it with opposite aileron. If the plane has stalled, the best course of action is to complete the roll, and not try to make the plane stop the roll. By adding opposite aileron, you are trying to make the plane do something that it does not want to do, and can find yourself in an unrecoverable spin. Help the plane finish its natural movement, and the results will usually come out in your favor.

                        I hope this helps you guys out, and remember, it is better to have flown and crashed, than never to have flown at all!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yeah, I never crash, because I'm such a good pilot. You know, my skills are second to none and, everybody wishes they could fly as good as me. Just too bad, there's only one me. (I'm also full of Blank)!!! We all know that guy, the guy who always blames the airplane. Couldn't be something I did, it was the wind! Crashed airplanes are an absolute in the RC hobby. Part of it, should be; I had the opportunity to fly that Corsair! Not, that pile of junk fell out of the sky on me. That's like, a telephone pole moved in front of my car, caused me to crash. The best advise when a crash results from flying is. Try to determine exactly what went wrong or take responsibility for the event. Because in any event, it just happens to us All. If your not crashing; your not flying. Enjoy the sport, we are all "Big Boys now". :D

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Honestly it's better to crash it then have it broke in transit or accidentally smacking a surface while loading. But to crash, heck at least it was in the air before death! Thats how I look at it

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well and if you crash, go big or go home lol. I've retired a few planes that needed new airframes that way. Went vertical until it stalled and it had so much glue it wouldn't recover and I knew it wouldn't. Boy did it hit hard lol!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Fortunately I haven't had too many catastrophic crashes. But the ones other than a belly flop of some sort were just a matter of collecting as much of it as you can find and as Alpha said clean up the pieces and see what's salvageable.
                                Lipos are more sensitive than most realize. Even dropping them from waste high can compromise them. When in doubt trash them.
                                If it's a bad crash and an electric, get to the model as quick as you can and remove the battery ASAP and place in a safe place. I've seen too many electrics burn to the ground by damaged batteries. We keep a bucket of sand, heavy leather gloves and stick with a claw on it to yank the battery from the wreckage. Better to tear up a little more plane than have it burn up with all your radio gear. Lipos can reach 750 degrees so be careful. More than one club member has burned his hands or fingers trying to save a plane from a burning Lipo.
                                IF you think you have dirt in your motor, don't turn it till you blow it out. If you hit nose on most likely the shaft will be bent anyway.
                                If It's a nitro or gasser fire isn't much of concern but they too can burn. Seen it plenty. The main thing with a nitro and gas engine is dirt. Do not turn over your engine when picking up your wreckage just to see if it still turns. If it's full of dirt, most likely, it will score the bearing surfaces inside. Place it carefully someplace where it won't turn till you get it home and can carefully disassemble and clean it. Whether the engine is damaged or not doesn't matter if you find out at the field or after you get it home.
                                If you fly around water you can dunk or spray your receiver and all other electronics with "CorrosionX". It's a liquid that will dry and protect your electrics if they get dunked. CorrosionX is also good when cleaning your guns! An excellent rust inhibitor.

                                Some people think I'm being glib when I say "Fly it like you stole it!" or "If you can't afford to crash it leave it at home". Basically, as has been said, if you think you're going to crash you probably will. It's a psychological thing. We pilots often get accused of arrogance but it's more accurately confidence or the "can do" attitude. Fly with confidence!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Alpha.MotionRC View Post
                                  Fun topic!

                                  As many of you know, part of my job involves evaluating aircraft to and past their failure points. "Controlled Landings", "Dirt Naps", or an "Aggressive De-Kitting" are all part of the territory. The first bit of advice I give to my students brand new to the hobby is "Don't be afraid to crash --we all do it!". If they're less afraid to crash, they're less tense, more alert, more respectful of the aircraft and potential hazard, and ultimately they learn habits that promote a more SAFE and FUN experience in the wide world of RC flying.

                                  I'm a strong believer in the adage "Fail to Plan... Plan to Fail". Beginning a flight having already visualized what you'll do in the case of an in-flight emergency is always a prudent plan, and could minimize damage should the worse occur. In the same way that I begin each flight with a flight plan, I'm also prepared mentally for certain worst case scenarios. These scenarios depend on the aircraft, so it's important for pilots to consider what kinds of risks they're taking with their specific aircraft, be it a gasser, an EDF, a jet, a seaplane, a multi-engined aircraft, etc. Some of these risks overlap and some are unique to a given aircraft. If, for example, I'm flying a twin engine aircraft, I mentally practice what I would do if one of the motors failed. The moment an engine fizzles is not the moment you want to be thinking for the first time "What do I do now?" By then it needs to be instinctive. In the context of a twin loosing an engine, throttling up the other is almost always a death sentence.

                                  Regardless of the aircraft, here are a few actions and thoughts that ideally occur between an in-flight emergency and when the aircraft reaches the ground. The prevailing mindset should by "Fly through the crash."

                                  1) Immediately upon detecting a failure, whether it be a dead battery, failed servo, smoked ESC, loose wing, etc, immediately call out "Emergency!", "Heads up!" or something similarly unmistakable. Notifying people around you should be your first concern.

                                  2) Assess your aircraft's disposition. Is it definitely going to crash? If so, call it out, and do your best to avoid people or property. Is it possible to avoid a crash? If so, maintain adequate airspeed and head for the nearest flat clearing away from people or property. If your airspeed is too low and you can't make it to the runway, don't get greedy making that final turn. Just keep it flat wherever it's pointed. I've seen so many aircraft cartwheel while stalling on the final turn because the pilot didn't want to keep it flat. Swapping landing gear is cheaper than replacing an entire plane. If you can make it back to the landing, call it out and do so. Remain calm. Spotters are helpful in these situations because they can talk you through your approach and confirm the runway is clear while you concentrate on bringing the aircraft down safely.

                                  3) If for whatever reason the aircraft doesn't make it back down on its wheels, then prepare yourself for a walk out to retrieve it. I always bring my radio with me, and toggle my Throttle Cut button so I don't bump the throttle stick while walking. Don't turn your radio off, either. If your radio is set for failsafe and the battery is still plugged in at the crash site, your motor could spin up and do even more damage there.

                                  4) I tend to hustle out to crash sites, because you never know if the battery is damaged and may start a fire at any time. If you crashed in a pond, then disregard this step.

                                  5) Upon reaching a crash site, the first thing to do is recover the battery, if it is an electrically powered aircraft. Disconnect the battery and inspect for damage. If damaged, see our Knowledgebase blog article on proper battery disposal.

                                  6) The rest of the steps are fairly obvious. Pick up the pieces, go home, test the electronics before deciding if you'd risk using them in another aircraft, dust yourself off, and take out the glue and get back in the game!


                                  I will add that one of the most valuable habits to do AFTER a crash is the post-crash analysis. Use the crash as a teaching moment. Was the cause preventable? Did you reverse your ailerons, or forget to tape down that servo wire in front of the fan, or forget to CG the model properly, snap roll or lost orientation, or did you puff a battery or overamp an ESC? Learn why and adjust your actions so it doesn't happen again. Was the cause out of your control? Failed servo, mid-air collision, etc? Reassure yourself that crashing is part of the hobby, and if this is your first one, tell yourself you've just joined an esteemed group of dirt napping professionals. We welcome you.

                                  Outstanding advice! Fun read

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would say this was a pretty successful crash. Like I read earlier in this post, Go big or go home.

                                    For those wondering what happened the video explains it all. Believe me that was a hard pill to swallow. Only the 3rd flight. I think I said in the video it was the 3rd flight that day. Actually only 3 flights total.

                                     
                                    My YouTube Channel

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      A question that begs to be asked ............................. What's the difference between a "good" crash and a "bad" crash?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by xviper2 View Post
                                        A question that begs to be asked ............................. What's the difference between a "good" crash and a "bad" crash?
                                        A bad crash is something the pilot dreads and tries to avoid. A good crash is the same one, just observed by the guys lounging in the pits .

                                        Comment

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