Thread Tools
Apr 28, 2004, 10:44 AM
Registered User
Thread OP

Things I have learned from loosing my plane.

Over a month ago now I lost a plane in a cloud and never saw it again. It was worth $500 and had some of my best stuff on it. I figured I would loose another eventually, but I thought it would be a while yet and be something I could blame on technology. It hit me a lot worse than the couple cheap ones I lost while I was still learning to fly decent. Here are some of the things I have learned from this round.

Contrary to my previous expearience with underpowered parkflyers, you really can get too far upwind with a decent plane.

The pencam sd's ability to take a picture nearly every second spoiled me on cameras that can't.

As a replacement to the Futaba RX I lost, I got a Hitec Electron 6. Dispite being a decent receiver, the Hitec doesn't filter bad signals. Combine that with a lost model alarm and you have to strip your servos to find the plane in the brush. I shoulda got the Berg

Having a second plane and camera that uses the same channel as the lost plane really isn't a healthy choice for recon while the lost plane might still have power.

Although the concept of "If you're going to play, you have to be prepared to pay" was well known to me, it was still a shock to loose $500 to a cloud rather than something obvious like mechanical failure.

Overconfidence got me in trouble again.

Audible lost model alarms have a short range and may not be able to be heard over ambient noise. I'm not sure I would have heard the beep from inside the car as I was driving around trying to find it.

Outrunner brushless motors are blissfully quiet. This is great until you really wish you could listen for the motor sound to re-aquire the location of the plane.

Uneven, marshy, forrested, rural areas with many dead end roads are bad places to look for a lost plane.

Getting to potential plane resting spots found on recon photos may be SERIOUSLY harder than it looks from the air. *Curse you beavers and your stupid pond!*

What goes up must come down, but you may not get to see it happen.


I've been thinking ... what about spraying the plane with something smelly in case it gets lost, and then sending out the bloodhounds. Would that work?
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Apr 28, 2004, 11:03 AM
Veni, Vidi, Fragoris
djslack's Avatar
I don't know, then you're stuck with a smelly plane. Maybe a stink-bomb crash capsule instead? That way, the smell only happens if you experience shock loads over 2 G's from an impact (or something like that)...

Sorry for your loss, fdisk. It happens to all of us sometime, and that's the risk we take sending up our expensive toys to speck height or beyond. Here's hoping you've now lost your quota and don't have to lose any more...
Apr 28, 2004, 11:09 AM
Registered User
Good points !!! When I first started AP I used to go to extreme altitudes, (for a RC plane) and scared the crap out of myself getting on the ragged edge of losing it. All kinds of things happened like eyes start watering, wind/thermal starts pulling the plane up higher, lose orientation and/or little kids start asking questions distracting you.

After a while I just figured it wasn't worth it to go so high with $700~$1,000 worth of equipment onboard. To me the risk was too great, so now I "try" to keep it down to a sane altitude. Plus most of the time when your up that high taking pictures everything below you gets pretty small in the pictures anyway. Getting up high is great for big landscape shots though .

Unfortunately a plane up high can cover a lot of real-estate before it quits flying. You might might over work those poor bloodhounds before they find it
Apr 28, 2004, 11:21 AM
Here's an idea: go to your local wildlife agency and ask if they have any old radio tracking devices. A friend of mine got a bunch of them from the state DNR office to track box turtles for a science project.

They have several different sizes of tracking devices. They've got some really tiny ones used on bats, all the way up to ones used on deer and moose. Most of them have nonreplacable batteries, and most of the time they just throw them away before they actually end their useful life.

Perhaps you could get one of them and mount it to your plane. Then you could enlist their help if you lost your plane, or you could use your own scanner and directional antenna to find it.
Apr 28, 2004, 11:36 AM
Old Timer
California Condor's Avatar
The free flighters use trackers on even their rubber powered models.
<[email protected]>
Apr 28, 2004, 12:24 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
I am seriously considering a Walson or other such system in the future. In the past they cost more than my plane, but this time it would have been worth it.

They'd have to be decent for me because it has to work for a good distance in uneven terrain. The other option would be a multi-point setup like Extremeone described a couple weeks ago where the LMA receiver is on a second plane and that downlinked back to you.
Apr 28, 2004, 01:34 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
I had this one so high yesterday all I could see was the sun glowing thru the right wingtip! I was sore afraid I couldn't get it down without breaking it!
Did get it down.. won't go THAT high again!
Apr 28, 2004, 02:09 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
My loss wasn't high. I believe I accidently made it out further than I was high because I was in the mindset that I didn't have to worry about my plane making it too far in 12+ mph winds. I was just kind of zoning out watching it, and when it winked out I realized I was only looking out at a 45 degree angle. I'd guess the clouds must have been only @ 500-1000' that day and real thick at the bottom.
Apr 28, 2004, 02:39 PM


Fdisk, you've realized our worst fears. Did you have your name/phone# written on it? Provided it landed without too bad a thud, those recovering tools might have done the trick. When it gets away from you, always look further then you think it went.When I lost mine once, this was the case, and that was a low down flight too.
Apr 28, 2004, 03:26 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Yes, I had a printed sticker with my name and number so they could read it and the LMA should have been beeping if it survived the decent. I asked some locals if they heard any beeping and they said no.
Apr 28, 2004, 10:41 PM
Am I registered?
Randy Due's Avatar
I had wondered why we haven't seen anything from you in a I know. Sorry for your loss. I got a sinking feeling just reading about it. I can only imagine how you feel. Hopefully you will be able to replace everything just like you would want it and never have to go through that again. I haven't lost one yet, only momentarily lost sight and luckily regained it...a couple of times. After reading this, I think I may start keeping closer in from now on.

Apr 28, 2004, 10:43 PM
Do you have a dog?

I've seen dogs locate missing things in the past.

Just a thought.

Apr 29, 2004, 06:52 AM
Registered User
Thread OP
No. No dog here, but I'd consider getting one if it could find my planes. Maybe it could also act as a perimeter warden.

For some reason this one really made me not want to talk about AP for a while. I think I was questioning what the heck I was doing loosing $500 like that. Even so, I started planning my material replacements right away. I had no faith that it would be found and I didn't want to second guess myself out of getting another brushless. I just had to figure out how much I could scrape up and what I could get with it. That is how I ended up with a Hitec RX instead of the Berg. It was just enough less to make me think it was a deal and I didn't even consider that it would have less features being a dual conversion.

Another funny thing I learned ...

I still had my Great Planes LMA which goes inline with a channel and beeps if it doesn't see any action for 60 seconds. I put that on the Hitec so it would be able to go off without turning off the TX and wasting the plane. I tried it on the elevator and quickly realized I don't use the elevator all that much. Now it is on rudder and usually only goes off when I am getting ready for takeoff.

I'm still not chafing at the bit to go out and do an AP run like I used to be. I'm hoping that first 70+ pic run with a pencam will inspire me. I hope this weekend will have some decent weather.
Apr 29, 2004, 08:10 AM
Restful User
Jacques Flambeau's Avatar

Yes to all the above. When you fly a "working" plane doing AP you have to realize that you aren't flying the pattern at an AMA field and you can and will lose equipment from time to time. "You" in the collective sense, not you as you. Give the ground conditions where we have to take off and land at as well as the weather conditions we have to fly in to get a particular shot it's a risky business. Be careful but write it off as part of the cost of getting images if you lose a plane.

Apr 29, 2004, 08:39 AM
Isaiah 40:31
Fdisk- So sorry about the plane. Totally miss the pictures from you recently.

2 things that I do after finding my plane after a 5 hour search when I fly high too darn high and lose it.

I tie a 30 foot streamer on the end of it. If I lose sight of it temporarily, I may be able to spot it on the way down or if it does go down I have 30 feet of streamer to look for instead of my 32" plane.

I have 1 side of my plane plastered with the hologram stuff that is on trophies. If it turns one way or the other the sun will way me up to see it.


Quick Reply

Thread Tools