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Mar 19, 2014, 07:28 PM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Baron G58 - Maiden NOT A Success!


My friend and builder of the Baron and I found an opportunity and decided to maiden the Baron yesterday. The field is HUGE open space but not maintained in any way. It's actually the run-off parking lot for a racing track in our area.

After preflight checks (well what I thought was a good preflight check), it was time to kick the tires and light the fires. I had picked a fairly smooth initial runway where I estimated it wouldn't get too bumpy until past V1/rotate.

Once I hit V1 I placed a normal amount of back pressure and she acted like she didn't want to take off! It felt nose heavy or just really, really heavy! It floated as I fought to keep her in the air and establish a steady rate of climb when I had to abort. She landed okay but bounced and ended up in a rock pit of sorts. These rocks were about the size of very large potatoes. The front nose gear collapsed as did the port side retract housing area. The nose flew off and sustained cosmetic damage.



It was a total walk of shame and I was devastated. Not just for me, but for my friend who has 30+ hours of build time in her. After we brought her back, I noticed the elevator was at a large amount of down. Could have been from the impact but I checked photos we took right before the maiden and the elevator shows the same amount of down!

Could it be in my haste to maiden while checking control surfaces, I forgot to double check the trim/neutral position? It seems that this was the cause of the crash. The elevator - although had control movement - was stuck in a severe down trim position. This would explain perfectly the fight I was having with her to get off the ground and climb.

My friend's analysis:

Maple Valley Remote Control Airplane Safety Board (MVRCASB) Review

I have been up since 3:10am and I believe that with all the data we have at hand and some "tests" I did this morning before work that I have a reasonably good explanation of what happened during the maiden. SPOILER ALERT: I am 100% certain that the Pilot Error was NOT the cause of the crash.

Here's the complete analysis:

WHAT happened? The Baron sustained extensive landing gear and wing damage after an aborted takeoff attempt.

HOW did the damage happen? On roll-out from the aborted takeoff, the aircraft encountered severely uneven/rutted ground which caused the aircraft momentarily leave the ground and then strike the ground nose-first which collapsed the forward gear and damaged the main gear and supporting wing structure.

WHY was the takeoff abort landing area inadequate for landing? Questionable pre-flight takeoff and landing area scouting by the pilot and co-pilot. WHY was the takeoff aborted? Video evidence shows that while the aircraft reached adequate speed during the takeoff run to become airborne, sustained stable level flight and/or sustained rate of climb was not achievable.

WHY was sustained stable level flight and/or sustained rate of climb not achievable? Photos of the aircraft prior to takeoff show a significant amount of elevator "down trim." This down trim would cause the aircraft to pitch down significantly when the control stick was in a neutral position. This phenomena would definitely make the aircraft "feel" like it was too heavy or not set up to fly. Video evidence of the crash confirms this as noted by "porpoising" during the brief airborne period cause by easing of elevator back pressure after rotation (normal pilot response for steady level takeoff).

WHY was the takeoff attempted when a control surface was visibly misaligned? Questionable pre-flight checks by pilot and co-pilot.

WHY was there significant elevator "down trim?" Tests conducted after the incident shows that significant force and/or an impact to the elevator can cause the elevator control connector to "slip" thus resulting in a misalignment of the elevator relative to neutral position.

HOW could the elevator control connector slip? The elevator control connector is attached to the main elevator control rod (the rod that connects both halves of the elevator) by a collar with two threaded holes. One threaded hole uses a hex-head set screw to friction hold the collar to the control rod.

The elevator control connector (which is actually a long screw) is threaded through the other threaded hole in the collar 180 degrees from the threaded hole with the set screw in it. Because the elevator control rod is inside the fuselage and is opposite the control connector, it can not be adjusted once the control connector is threaded in to the hole. Therefore, the level of "secure fit" of the collar and elevator control connector is dependent upon the ability of the control connector to hold against the elevator control rod.

It was observed during the build that this was a design flaw but all reasonable precautions were taken to make sure the connection was solid (i.e., thread lock was used and connections were checked and re-checked to make sure control authority was maintained).

Now for my end-theory. I think when we were driving to the field, the Baron slid forward during a turn or stop and the elevator hit the back of the driver/passenger seat divider. This is not an insignificant force (think of a 16.5lb bowling ball rolling around the back of your car).

The impact caused the elevator control connector to slip on the elevator shaft resulting in effective down trim position. If we did see this when we took it out of the car, we would assume that the control surface moved (common when transporting in a car) and that it would return to neutral once the radio was turned on.

There was still enough "grip" between the control connector and the elevator control rod to move the elevator when the control surface check was performed (again, we probably say the elevator move but didn't notice the down trim). The rest, so they say, is history...


We did record the takeoff and crash. I may post it but right now I'm too depressed about it. Just thought I would keep ya'll up to date on what happened. The plan is to repair the damage and try again as soon as she's ready.

This time I will make sure the DANG ELEVATOR IS AT NEUTRAL OR SLIGHTLY UP at the neutral position!!!!
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Mar 19, 2014, 08:21 PM
3D Junkie
ZacFlyer's Avatar
I hate to hear that. But knowing you build amazing planes, I know you can fix it.
Mar 19, 2014, 08:58 PM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Thanks, but the amazing planes are built my friends. I just paint and fly.

But yes, we will get her fixed up and she WILL fly!
Mar 20, 2014, 08:37 PM
3D Junkie
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Good luck and have fun!
Mar 20, 2014, 08:55 PM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Thanks! Rebuild is in progress! Cheers!
Mar 22, 2014, 12:26 PM
The Shetland Flyer
RoryG's Avatar
Really sorry to hear about your Baron Aros, hopefully she'll be in the air soon!

Best of luck,

Rory
Mar 29, 2014, 08:57 AM
How's the wind today?
Rcbyair's Avatar
Never a dull moment in your blogs Todd. Nice to hear you guys are getting her ready again. All the best!
Steve
Mar 29, 2014, 10:54 AM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Sad but true Steve!

She's almost back to pre-maiden attempt shape. Finishing up the nose gear section and nose, and she will be ready to go. There will be no same mistake twice. She's gonna FLY or else!
Mar 29, 2014, 10:21 PM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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We finished up the wiring, everything is working properly. We ended up getting a new center wing piece from RC Aerodyne instead of trying to epoxy the bejeezus out of the original piece which would have just added more weight to an already hefty girl.

The elevator issue has been completely taken care of. Chris made sure of it. I checked, and indeed it is a modification NASA would be proud of.

There's only about an hour left of work to do tomorrow and then she will be back in re-maiden condition! The re-maiden won't likely happen until a couple weeks as the builder is going on vacation (unless the weather and conditions are right for a maiden this week!)...

We are both so anxious to see a successful maiden. Chris has many hours in this build and no doubt has it become a labor of love so I feel this plane is just as much his as it is mine.
Mar 30, 2014, 08:09 AM
Registered User
struggleforlife's Avatar
I hadn't seen this report yet.

Sorry about the initial maiden. It's one of those things you blame yourself for ('if only I had checked...'). I guess we've all experienced these.
But hey, mistakes are a good part of the hobby.

Good to hear the plane is back in flying condition. Looking forward to the re-maiden report!
Mar 30, 2014, 10:47 AM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Thanks! Yeah, I'm sure we've all had our moments...In this case the pre-flight check wasn't as exhaustive as it should have been due to my anxiousness to maiden and my brain being tricked into thinking the trim settings were fine since I had checked them days before. DUH!!

(slaps forehead)
Mar 30, 2014, 07:08 PM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Here she is, almost as good as new! We taxi'd her today and everything seems ready to go. We tried to re-maiden today, drove to the school (the soccer field is the largest open area we have around us that is in better shape than the field we attempted the original maiden) but alas, soccer was going on so it wasn't in the cards. Hopefully Tuesday will work (weather looks good)...I will post video/photos of the re-maiden hopefully within a few days.
Mar 31, 2014, 03:32 AM
Registered User
struggleforlife's Avatar
Looks good.
Let us know how it went!
Apr 01, 2014, 06:49 AM
The Shetland Flyer
RoryG's Avatar
The elevator looks fine and neutral in that pic Todd! She's looking as good as new, good luck with the remaiden

I lawn darted my all-composite e-soarer the other day, lots of split fibreglass around the canopy but luckily no other damage. She's heading south to be fixed and the whole canopy / nose area is being redone with kevlar. I really wouldn't know where to start fixing a composite fuselage, but I suppose if I fly them I should learn!

Good luck again,

Rory
Apr 01, 2014, 09:39 AM
Shameless Warbirdaholic.
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Boy if we ain't crashin' we ain't flying' isn't that right?


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