13 year old killed by model airplane - RC Groups
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Apr 16, 2003, 11:04 PM
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13 year old killed by model airplane

This is why we really don't call them toys.

This was very short on details.

It's very sad that this had to happen.


London Telegraph

Girl, 13, killed by model plane

A schoolgirl has died after being struck on the head by a model plane as she walked through a park with her mother and younger sister.

An aircraft with a five-foot wingspan, being flown by a 55-year-old south London man, flew over the family group, appeared to stall and then dived, striking Tara Lipscombe,
13, in Dartford Heath park on Tuesday. Her mother, Jane, and her sister, Rachel, held the Wilmington Grammar school pupil until paramedics arrived. She was airlifted to
hospital but died there.

North Kent coroner's office said that an inquest will be held.
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Apr 16, 2003, 11:08 PM
He wasn't always evil
AirVenture's Avatar
Very sad indeed. I can't even imagine being the pilot or the parents of the daughter.

This was a rather large model also...60" I wouldn't even think about flying something that size (minus a glider) in a public park.

Apr 16, 2003, 11:21 PM
Registered User
A terrible and tragic occurance. My deepest sympathy and prayers for the family.

Another case for not flying in areas that are used for activities other than model flying. Never but never fly over people in any situation.

Apr 17, 2003, 12:25 AM
Fiberglass dont bounce???
RandyK1's Avatar
Out of respect for the familey and the pilot, I think everyone should think about this before thay fly, it could save a life. Be aware of ALL the things around you when you fly. I know I will be more carefull from now on.....R....
Apr 17, 2003, 05:15 AM
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Mark Sanders's Avatar
Dreadfully Sad ..........and a wake-up call for all of us that fly where ever other people are.
Apr 17, 2003, 05:27 AM
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MattLarson29's Avatar
According to the article, the plane was a .52 sized sport ship, and the field was sanctioned for R/C flight. It appears that the airplane flew soem distance prior to hitting the child.

This is a photo of the type of airplane involved:
Apr 17, 2003, 08:07 AM
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Bill Glover's Avatar
There's another thread about this (started yesterday); as already mentioned and as per the BBC news link ... this tragic accident happened at a designated model flying site.

The last UK fatality was 4 years ago in March 1999, also at an official flying site. The 11 year old boy who died then was a club member. A major factor in that accident was a PCM radio which had been left in the default 'hold' setting, i.e. the flier hadn't set 'failsafe' positions for the controls. Critically that meant the model remained at high power when control was lost (probably due to a frequency control error, i.e. another TX on the same frequency was switched on):


Some of the other factors in the accident are mentioned in an earlier BMFA safety bulletin:


I started flying r/c in 1975 and can only remember 3 previous UK fatalities:
  • a flier crossing the strip was hit by a .20 powered model landing deadstick (club site)
  • a child was hit by a .35 powered trainer (club site)
  • a hang glider had a mid-air with a slope soarer

Obviously even one accident is too many, it's vital that fliers learn from past mistakes and that these issues don't get forgotten.
Last edited by Bill Glover; Apr 17, 2003 at 08:10 AM.
Apr 17, 2003, 08:10 AM
Hacker motoren rules :)
Philip Thulin's Avatar

that is quite a large plane...

I wounder if I could continue with this hobby after an accident like that if I were the pilot...
This is realy tragical and lets make the best to prevent further accidents like this!
I know I will be more carefull when flying, or not fly at all in areas where people are walking close by...

Apr 18, 2003, 01:53 AM
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BING!'s Avatar


I suppose the best thing to do about this news item is to find out what happened. How did the pilot lose control? What can we do to avoid these sort of accidents.

I saw a Turbine powered scale jet lose radio control over a public park next to our flying field two weeks ago. The plane hit a palm tree and fell to the ground. Luckily nobody was hurt. The onboard telemetry of the plane showed that it had lost the radio signal some 3 seconds before the crash. The PCM fail safe and the turbine's CPU shut everything down and set everything to neutral.


P.S. I've noticed that my Castle Creations BL speedos shutdown when I turn off the TX.
Apr 18, 2003, 02:07 AM
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Peter Khor's Avatar
Turbines in a public park ... bet AMA should have something to say about it.
Apr 18, 2003, 05:27 AM
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flyfalcons's Avatar
Originally posted by Philip Thulin

that is quite a large plane...
It "ain't nut'n" compared to many planes being flown at clubs these days. 25-33% scale aircraft are routinely being flown, and those can really cause serious damage to structures as well as people. Planes get larger than those even, but 25-33% seems to be the largest plane that most average modelers fly. As tragic as this incident is, hopefully it might persuade some folks to consider setting up aircraft with receivers that have failsafe functions. Even if it doesn't eliminate the the possibility of pilot error, it would help minimize damage to all parties in the event of a radio failure.
Apr 18, 2003, 06:40 AM
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Bill Glover's Avatar
The Acro-Wot is an absolutely typical 'club' model ... 58" span and usually flown on a .46 or similar. Been around for ages, probably one of the most popular sports/aerobatic kits in the UK:


There's a larger (71") version called the Xtra-Wot, but these are more specialised and a rare sight on club fields:


Failsafe is a good idea, but as mentioned the first UK fatality was caused by a small (.20 powered) model landing deadstick, gliding straight & level under full control.

The big problem is computer sets (usually PCM) that are left in the default 'hold' mode - as per the link posted above, if interference occurs after takeoff the model will remain on full throttle till it crashes, despite "being fitted with failsafe". That's how the previous fatality in the UK happened. The BMFA surveyed club fliers operating PCM sets and found that almost eighty percent of them didn't understand the difference between the 'hold' and 'failsafe' modes ...
Apr 18, 2003, 07:08 AM
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GAS plane in a park?

Hello fans:

I don't understand why a public park is mixed with "GAS" R/C planes?

I fly mostly 15oz. light weight foam R/C models and I will take great care in how I fly even though they are light weight. I recall during my training days that I purposely crashed them when a couple of times the model got real close to parked cars and people.

I fly in a large 10 acre field among very populated area such as a very large hardware store chain and across a mall, next to a very busy four lane road. I take off and land all of my models in the open field and not anyway near the park side.

Lets be safe out there!
Apr 18, 2003, 08:39 AM
Registered User
Terrible accident that is a lifelong disaster for all invoved.

I am still amazed at what is sold as a parkflyer and thus by implication can be flown where the public are. The banner ad to ezone today was for a Moby Dick - 6.5lb model of 6.5 ft. span that was being sold by Hobby_Lobby as a Park Flyer. To me this is plain irresponsible. What do others think - & please don't tell me it won't fly very fast. My experience is that ALL out of control models can crash very fast!

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