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Old May 22, 2011, 09:00 PM
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Jumpjet101's Avatar
United States, CA, Santa Clarita
Joined Jul 2007
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My lost plane story & how far would you go to recover it?

My lost plane story is below if you care to read it. But I started this thread because I wanted to know how far would you go to recover your plane?


I was flying a couple days ago when I completely lost video. It did not slowly fade out like normal but quickly faded away within 2 seconds and never came back. I immediately triggered the autopilot but not the RTH. After making a few adjustments to my ground station patches with no results, I hit the RTH switch so the plane would come back.

I know I was out at least 1.5miles away when I hit RTH. So I waited, and waited and after a few minutes, I still did not see my plane. By that time I got really concerned and figured it should have been back by now. Making few more adjustments to the ground station and driving around with my patches on the roof of my car trying to pick up a signal, I got nothing.

I was flying in an area where there were several mountains and I realize that my altitude was set at 500ft as usual and never had any problems with that. Well it never occurred to me that there were some peaks that were in excess of 500. When I was flying, I was at least 1000ft or so. I figured when I hit the RTH, the plane went down to 500ft and clipped the top of one of the mountains. But I still had no idea where it could have been. It could have landed anywhere within 3sq miles.

Night came quick and I had one last hope in finding it. As night fell, and since I have lights on my plane, I was hoping that I had enough battery left to turn on the lights so that I would be able to spot it from a distance. Driving around with my light switch on my TX, I did not see anything. Battery was probably dead by then. So I called it a night.

Next day I did some fly overs with my other FPV plane. I covered a lot of ground but came up empty. After several attempts I called it and figured it's lost.

Next day came, I figured I'd take one more shot it. I got my bicycle out and did some riding on the fire roads up in the mountains. Road a few miles, took out my binoculars and started scanning the area. Did that several times and long behold, my plane. It was pretty far out so I couldn't be 100% sure that was it but what else would be sitting at the top of a mountain with my color scheme? I took the fire road as close I could get but was still at least a 1/2mile away. I was able to confirm that was it. So I was excited that I found a needle in a haystack but it was shortly lived after looking at the terrain.

Drove home and checked out Google Earth to try to find the best way to get to it. Things didn't look good. Either way I would have to do some climbing and walking through some tall, thick brush. My other option was strip my other FPV plane and throw it on my heli, attach a hook and go fishing. I decided to try to walk it first to see how bad it was. I found a small trail, or somewhat of a trail with a bunch of overgrown brush and walked it for about an hour. After an hour of walking I started to give up and turn back. As I was walking back, I looked up and saw it sitting about 20ft up from the overgrown brush trail that I was on. I started to get excited again until I started to climb up the side of a hill. The overgrown brush came up to my neck as I got closer to it. All the while I'm hearing things rummaging in the brush. I figured I came this far, I might as well go for it, so a few more feet and GOT IT! I then slipped back down to the little so called trail that I was on, dusted myself off and looked at the plane.

I had a burned up motor and a broken nose. Not bad! Now trying to get back down. I had to use my GPS to find my way back. After an hour to get back to my car I finally showed a sign of relief.

Brought my plane back to the hanger to check things out. The battery was completely dead and I figured I'll toss it but first I tried charging it up (NiMh) to bring the volts back up and lipo once the volts reached 3.80. It charged up to my surprise. I did a stress test pulling 16 amps for a few minutes and the voltage stayed strong and that's with over 130 flights. Wow, got to love those Nano-Techs! Everything works except the motor. I guess when RTH was triggered it burned up the motor when it hit the ground. Only body damage was to the nose. It's a Stryker so it's easy to replace that. Everything else works, even the camera tilt.

So that is my story. After doing all of this, a question came to mind and I am wondering how many people would go through this much trouble to get their plane back. Should I have just called it a day and left it up there? Hmm, well I didn't get to try my last resort option with my heli, but maybe that's a good thing. I didn't need two of my aircraft sitting on the top of the mountain.
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Old May 22, 2011, 09:08 PM
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Toysrme's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Jun 2002
2,970 Posts
i think most people established in flying r/c would. if you can see the plane, you'll do whatever it takes to get to it!

we once spent 3 days looking for someone's .40 trainer over 15 acers (non fpv). everyone saw it, but no one knew what happened to it after it got behind a rolling hill. middle of the 100*F, 90% Alabama summer in waist high grass. it got found tho. typical .40 sized trainer. it just loafed along into the ground, bent the gear a little, had some grass in the carb.

we cleaned the carb out with a q-tip charged the dead nicd pack & it flew just fine afterwards.
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:01 PM
OSUFPV - KF7VFT
Corvallis, OR
Joined Apr 2010
1,778 Posts
FMKit plane tracker in mine. Coupled with ground recording it makes the chance of a successful plane recovery high. Only downside is having to wait up to 45 mins for it to begin transmitting, but while I'm waiting I try to get close to where I think it went down by the ground recording.

If the question is if it's way up in a tree or somewhere like that I have a slingshot with weights at the end of high test fishing line to snag the plane or shake it out of the tree. And I'll do that as long as it takes to pull it down.

Blues
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:08 PM
Postcards From The Purple Edge
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United States, OK, Sand Springs
Joined May 2007
3,919 Posts
I don't think I could stand to know where it was and not go and get it.

kendall
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:09 PM
T#0
PilotKeeg's Avatar
Steamboat Springs, CO
Joined Aug 2010
623 Posts
On my 3rd FPV flight I ended up flying behind a small hill and losing complete control. It was pretty far away through dense terrain so it took probably 20 minutes to walk to the crash site. I was flying a kit built balsa plane and it pretty much did a vertical dive into a wooden fence so there wasn't much left of the plane. I had to strip out the vitals because I could only carry half of the splinters back.
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Old May 22, 2011, 11:11 PM
Post # 20 million
Kev.au's Avatar
Joined Aug 2009
2,636 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toysrme View Post
i think most people established in flying r/c would. if you can see the plane, you'll do whatever it takes to get to it!
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuppertn View Post
I don't think I could stand to know where it was and not go and get it.

kendall
Yeah, i was thinking the same.

If i could physically see my plane, i would try and recover it.



You're brave, possibility of bears and mountain lions would have convinced me not to go look for it hahaha. I'll take snakes and skippy over bears & lions any day


Cheers, Kev.
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Old May 23, 2011, 12:02 AM
Registered User
USA, NY, Yonkers
Joined Aug 2002
1,636 Posts
About a month ago I crashed my skywalker. I had a 2.4ghz rc system with a booster and a 900mhz video system. I also had a dragon osd with RTH and a new 540tvl camera. I had flown this skywalker at the same location for 4 months and never had a problem. I would fly more than 2km and let the RTH fly the airplane back.

On this particular day I powered up my system and took off as usual. At 120m high and 1km away, the failsafe engages and the RTH kicks in (first time this has happened). I have used the RTH before so I did not panick, I watched at the plane began its turn towards home. I fly in an area that has an inlet from the ocean with thick trees and shrub on both sides. At 1 km, I was just at the edge of the trees and water line. Suddenly the RTH disengages and the plane spirals toward the ground. The video cuts out and I just stood there hoping it would show up. With no video signal I realized it must have gone below the treeline which means it crashed but I did not know exactly where.

I had a general idea of where it could be so I took off through the wooded area. I had no idea what was in the woods but it was near a public beach and picnic grounds so I hoped that meant it was not dangerous. It is amazing how clear you hear every little sound when in unfamiliar terrain. I got to the other side of the tree line and there was the airplane sitting about 100-200ft out on the water. The water is not the type you would swim in, it looks mossy and there is no real way to tell how deep it was. Luckily the local college has a rowing team and they practice there all the time. I saw one of the rowers in her kayak. I ask for her help and she got the airplane and brought it in for me.

The wing had broken where the spars ended (skywalker) and the front (everything before the wing, including both batteries) was missing. All the electronics were recovered including the camera. After testing everything it turns out that the esc had overheated and shut everything down. The loss of power caused the loss of a ppm signal from the rc receiver to the RTH system. It turns out that the esc (in the compartment under the wing) had not given any problems before because it was being flown during the winter with temps below 40 degrees. The day it crashed the temps were abnormally high in the 60's and caused the esc to overheat.

I am now building a new skywalker with improvements for cooling the esc and a UBEC. Lesson learned.
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Old May 23, 2011, 12:47 AM
Outta Sight
Australia, WA, Joondalup
Joined Jul 2008
936 Posts
Well done Jumpjet, you were lucky.
I would put meself in the same boat as the others, if I could see it, then its coming home with me, simple as that.
I once spent 3 days getting a plane out of a tree, ruined it in the process, but i got it.

A word of advice, if you had to restart that Lipo with a nimh cycle charge, then it's shot.
It might work for now, but it WILL die on you, and soon.
Dont risk it, retire it and go with a new one. You cant trust it anymore.
Or if you do use it only use it in a plane that is flown in line of sight.
Last thing you want is that battery causing another failure 2 miles out.
R.
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Old May 23, 2011, 02:56 PM
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Daemon's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
28,936 Posts
If I can see it, I'll do whatever it takes to recover a plane. Just be prepared for
anything if you're hiking for it. Bring water, hiking stick, a snack, warm jacket, hat/gloves, cell phone,
long nylon cord (can tie to a rock or water bottle and throw over a branch to get
a plane out of a tree), etc.

Roland, doing initial charging of a lipo on NiMH program does not automatically kill it.
I've recovered plenty of lipos that way, and the key is just to be really
gentle with the current for that first recovery charge. No more than 1C, usually
only 1A or less during initial recovery charge while it's under voltage. Switch to
normal lipo program when the voltage is high enough to be recognized as such,
but continue the charge at less than 1C until it's full. Then after do some stress
tests, pulling high current, and see if the voltage sags more than usual. Run it out,
and re-charge and watch it closely to see if it puffs up a lot. If it does, discharge it
and throw it away. I've had some that don't puff up, but they won't deliver a lot of
amps, so I use em for ground station power.

ian
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Last edited by Daemon; May 23, 2011 at 03:04 PM.
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Old May 23, 2011, 03:34 PM
Engineer for Christ
IBCrazy's Avatar
Amherst, VA
Joined Jun 2006
10,542 Posts
I have actually gone as far as to make a propellant powered grappling hook. It's basically a modified Spud gun that fires a sequenced rope for retrieving planes out of the trees. Luckily, I've never had to fire it off... yet.

I have recovered a plane via FPV fly over. Walked out of the woods with my plane in two parts... and two ticks.

-Alex
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Old May 23, 2011, 03:37 PM
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Jumpjet101's Avatar
United States, CA, Santa Clarita
Joined Jul 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
If I can see it, I'll do whatever it takes to recover a plane. Just be prepared for
anything if you're hiking for it. Bring water, hiking stick, a snack, warm jacket, hat/gloves, cell phone,
long nylon cord (can tie to a rock or water bottle and throw over a branch to get
a plane out of a tree), etc.
I should have been more prepared for that hike with all the above mentioned items, but I didn't have anything. All I brought was a stick to fight off any wild animals. I didn't expect to be out there that long and go that far but I just kept going and going and before I knew it, I was well in over my head.

I agree with most people here that say that they would do whatever it takes to get it back. It would just kill me to know that I can see my plane ($$$) but can't get to it.
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Old May 23, 2011, 03:53 PM
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Daemon's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
28,936 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumpjet101 View Post
I should have been more prepared for that hike with all the above mentioned items, but I didn't have anything. All I brought was a stick to fight off any wild animals. I didn't expect to be out there that long and go that far but I just kept going and going and before I knew it, I was well in over my head.
A textbook example of how most people get into life threatening survival situations.

ian
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Old May 23, 2011, 06:00 PM
Just clumsy. Oh, forgetful too
MikeTheCrash's Avatar
undefined
Joined Jun 2008
3,423 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumpjet101 View Post

All I brought was a stick to fight off any wild animals....
Oh that's funny Bear vs man with stick hmmm

If you move to the UK, you only have to worry about squirrels

I lost my twinstar when flying at a meet. I drove back down there twice and covered over 25Km trespassing on foot.

a few months later I had a lightbulb moment and realised I'd been looking in the wrong place. I drove down there again and 3 armed military policemen escorted me around their "testing facility" and I found it!

It all worked OK but for the sealed camera lens was fogged up inside and eventually the GPS rusted.
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Old May 23, 2011, 07:10 PM
Outta Sight
Australia, WA, Joondalup
Joined Jul 2008
936 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
Roland, doing initial charging of a lipo on NiMH program does not automatically kill it.
I've recovered plenty of lipos that way, and the key is just to be really
gentle with the current for that first recovery charge. No more than 1C, usually
only 1A or less during initial recovery charge while it's under voltage. Switch to
normal lipo program when the voltage is high enough to be recognized as such,
but continue the charge at less than 1C until it's full. Then after do some stress
tests, pulling high current, and see if the voltage sags more than usual. Run it out,
and re-charge and watch it closely to see if it puffs up a lot. If it does, discharge it
and throw it away. I've had some that don't puff up, but they won't deliver a lot of
amps, so I use em for ground station power.

ian
Yep, I agree Ian, and what you have found concurs with what I have experienced as well. I didnt mean that if it is recoverd with a nimh charge then it is automatically unusable from then on.
Some you can get some use from, but it will be nowhere near what the original performance would be if it was not discharge totaly flat.
If the Lipo comes back to life it is damaged for the rest of its days.
I have found that performance tapers off after the 'fully flat' event and if the lipo is fully flattened again there is less chance of recovery a second time.
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Old May 23, 2011, 10:49 PM
Orlin the fpv-a-holic
bigo66's Avatar
Joined Dec 2010
196 Posts
Here's my story Had to walk through a field of rattle snakes! Not smart

Lost Easy Star FPV, Crash and Recovery! (4 min 55 sec)
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