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Jul 26, 2014, 08:45 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

A Near Miss, and a Proposal

I was at the field Friday AM doing some bungee-based flying with Ed Currier. Maybe 8 other electric plane pilots were also flying. I had launched and was standing at the Western edge of our landing zone grass when a pilot launched his electric from over by the shade structure. The flight path was apparently not directly over my head, but it was close to that.

While I had my eye on my own plane I heard his plane's motor start up and climbout. Then without warning the plane dove with motor still on--whamo!--right into the ground literally 3 feet behind me. The plane was totaled and I was very lucky. Ed is my witness--it was a very close call.

The Problem

I have always felt uneasy having electrics (or any plane) launch right over people on the ground. There are a number of failure modes--like the loss of radio control that just happened--that make a powered climb dangerous when people are directly below. But I see this kind of launch all the time. It's a serious accident just waiting to happen, and today one almost did.

A Proposal

The solution is pretty simple: add a safety rule that forbid pilots on our field from launching directly over ANY person on the ground. We have a huge field; all that is required is a little thinking, then walking to a safe spot before you launch.

Chris B.
Last edited by SoaringDude; Jul 26, 2014 at 08:52 AM. Reason: typo
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Jul 26, 2014, 10:03 AM
Registered User
Chris_Lake's Avatar
Chris makes a very good point here. I believe at an AMA approved flying site, there is to be a pit area and a flight line that no one flies behind and that no one stands in front of to where a properly flown aircraft can't hit anyone or thing. Maybe powered flight pilots should take their plane to a "safe zone" before taking off maybe to the area south of the glider launch area where the winches are set up.

I see this kind of thing happening all around where I live (Ripon) with the onslaught of 2.4 park flyers getting into the hands of people not knowing proper protocols. This type of flying I see here where I live gives ALL of us a black eye with the public in general. As club members, we should all know better than to fly over people. These aircraft we enjoy are NOT toys!
Chris L.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:46 AM
Registered User
I hope you enforced the safety concepts that were violated and approached that reckless pilot with disgust and anger. There ARE no excuses. Now that motor gliders are very popular, a flying site HAS TO have a launching area safely away from potential victims. I have seen even more problems, like pilots turning on a motor glider, and keeping it live and beeping within inches of an unsuspecting person. I have seen test run-ups of motor gliders, inches away from potential victims.

This is NOT allowed at POWER CLUB fields. You should see the strict safety rules enforced at the Modesto Flyers Unlimited Club who have a fantastic and SAFE flying site at Woodward Reservoir, near Oakdale. They even have a paved runway, and float plane flying cove.
Jul 27, 2014, 05:54 AM
Detail Freak
target's Avatar
Everything except the disgust and anger......
Jul 27, 2014, 07:34 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Did I mention my entire life flashing before my eyes after the impact in the OP?
Jul 28, 2014, 08:10 AM
E sailplane thermal hack
Interesting that you brought this up just now Chris. I was at ALES comp this last Sat. With my young soaring Protege Noah who proceeded to trounce his mentor, ME!!!, by taking forth place with his modified radian , he was only one in top five NOT flying a moldie. Oh so back to my story. We decided to fly the weekend so we came back Sunday morning, we were flying our DLGs AND our Electric Sailplanes. Later in morning a guy shows up with some foamy electrics NOT sailplanes. He was flying in far south area of field well away from us, he told us he was a begginer, anyways one of planes he was flying was one of those cheap banana hobby specials, while I was waaaaaay up watching my Sailplane, I heard his electric wind up,, ( sounded quite powerful) go up ,,,,,,,, then SPLAT!!!!!,,,, fortunately about 100ft away,, but still quite unnerving while concentrating on flying my sailplane. I've been to the field a number of times on non contest days now,, and on just about every occasion witnessed guys flying NON sailplane electric foamies. I was wondering ,, does SVSS condone this??
Several of the pilots I witnessed seemed to be beg
giners. Maybe as poster above suggested we should have clearly marked flying areas,, and probably big signs explaining the rules and zones,, normally I'd be Against this kind of stuff,,, but for safety we probably should have something like this.
I've been to Roseville RCs club site out of Lincoln
AMOS,, they have an excellent field that's suitable for both power AND sailplanes, they have a HUGE fabric runway big enough for turbines (I've seen them fly there)
And also a big grassey area to the southwest of runway that the E sailplanes use. Several of their members fly E sailplanes. ALL of them coexist safely cause of the clearly marked pilot areas and flying zones AND the Large signs explaining how it all is supposed to work.
Also no one that isnot a member is allowed to fly there unless accompanied by a member.
Should WE be doing that???????
With the advent of ALOT of people having acsess to very cheap electric foamies, and because many, but not all of them have very little experience, maybe we should consider this.

Ps edit : is it possible that only ONE serious accident COULD shut down the field??
Last edited by Airman74; Jul 28, 2014 at 08:19 AM.
Aug 05, 2014, 10:18 AM
Registered User
Dudley Dufort's Avatar

It's a County Park

Hi Jerry

You raised some appropriate questions in your post. Since no one has responded to those in over a week, I'll take a swing at 'em.

The single thing to remember and the answer to most (all) of your questions is that SVSS does not OWN the Grasslands Regional Park nor do we have any exclusive right to use it. As a public Park it is open to everyone for any purpose that is not prohibited by Yolo County.

Another point to keep in mind is that we have no "policing" authority over people who use the Park. While we may not condone certain activities, we lack any authority to impose our preferences over others.

The best we can do is to politely advise others if they are violating a County Ordinance or behaving in a dangerous or reckless manner. We can also notify the Park Host or call 911 if the activity is especially egregious.

Hope this helps.

Aug 05, 2014, 11:16 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Hi Jerry,

Dudley's response seems 100% directed at the case where the offending pilot is not a club member; it also presumes the club has no safety enforcement responsibility for non-members on the field during fun fly days (which is at least somewhat arguable given the fact we have posted rules).

However, your "serious accident" question can also apply to the case where the offending pilot is a club member; in that case the club clearly has some responsibility since all members have agreed to abide by our safety rules, some of which are broad enough* to cover incidents like the one related in this thread.
* Safety Rules and Guidelines, article III, "...each pilot is charged with the basic responsibility of making sure...that the pilot always uses appropriate safety etiquette to avoid hitting anyone..."
Might be a good idea to discuss this at our next club meeting.

Chris B.
Aug 05, 2014, 07:54 PM
Registered User
Dudley Dufort's Avatar

Chris Is Right!

Great post Chris!

SVSS is very fortunate to have you as a member. You are undoubtedly the smartest guy in the club. Your astute insight and thoughtful solutions to our vexing problems should always be given the utmost consideration.
Aug 05, 2014, 08:38 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Since this is such a serious safety matter, and because I don't want this thread to turn into anything other a healthy dialogue and exchange of opinions on the topic, I've (conditionally) decided to close the thread. I do think this matter is important enough to continue at our next meeting.

If you are a club member and you want to continue this discussion, then please either just start up another thread, or send me a PM and I'll consider opening it up again.

But, for the good of the club, it would be best to keep the discussion on topic at our next meeting. IMHO it's too important to do otherwise.

Chris B.
Last edited by SoaringDude; Aug 05, 2014 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Decided to conditionally close down the thread

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