As I stated in one of my earlier posts, during my pilot development I learned how hard it can be to find a plane that has landed in the woods, tall grass and other places where you can't see it. Fortunately there are aids for this kind of situation.
I lost my Aerobird when a huge gust of wind carried it over deep woods and I
was too inexperienced to deal with it. Even though I was certain I knew where
it went down I could not find it. I bought another Aerobird and fly it often.
When I moved on to gliders I started flying a Great Planes Spirit 2
Meter. I got into trouble and it went down into heavy woods and brush. I
went into the woods to find it. Fifty feet into the woods, trying to decide
how to proceed since the area the plane went down could not be seen from a
trail, I heard Beep Beep Beep. The plane was about 150 feet away in heavy
tree growth. I had the plane located and out in 10 minutes. Believe me,
where it had landed I likely would not have found it.
The difference was a little device you put in the plane that gets attached to
the receiver. If you turn off the transmitter, the thing starts beeping
loudly and you can hear it from quite a distance.
This is what I use in my Spirit Sailplane and several of my other planes.
It hooks to any channel or it can share a channel with one of your servos. It
has the connector to pass through to the servo.
This will work in any plane with a 72 MHZ receiver. This is the one I
recommend to everyone.
Low Voltage Watch
In addition to helping me find the planes, the Digi Alarm also monitors my
battery pack voltage and sounds an alarm if the pack voltage gets below a safe
level. This is especially valuable on my glider. If I catch a good thermal,
I could be in the air for over an hour, so a pack that tested good on the
ground could run low during the flight.
Channel Conflict Test!
As a test to make sure no one is flying on your channel, turn on the receiver
only. If the device does not go into lost plane mode then someone else is on
Here are five I have not tried, but look interesting.
lost Model Locator - $10
Does one job, but does it well, I hope.
It is called the Be Found from GWS. - $15
SkyKing RC Lost Model Locator - $20
RC Reporter - $24
A bunch of features
For 27mHZ planes like the Aerobird, Firebirds, etc
My Aerobird does not have a conventional receiver that I can connect to. The
electronics and servos are one integrated circuit board. No place to connect
one of the above locators. On the Aerobird I use a key ringer.
www.keyringer.com One of these on the plane and one stays in my pocket. If I
am looking for the plane, I click the one in my hand and the one on the plane
Every plane I ever own will have some kind of locator and battery monitor from
now on. Of course you only need one. You can move it from plane to plane,
but at $15-30 they are cheap enough you can put one in every plane and forget
For really long range finds, measured in miles, there is the Walston system.
The plane unit is about $150 while the tracking unit is hundreds of dollars.
This is good for clubs, especially sailplane clubs. If your sailplane costs
$2000, a $150 transmitter is worth the cost.
Many pilots don't know about these devices. Now you do!
Here are some other tips you might find helpful: Six Keys to Success
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Last edited by aeajr; Apr 06, 2006 at 11:18 PM.
I was at our field one day. One of our experience pilots was flying a Mountain Models SmoothE. Nice plane. But he messed up and dropped it into about 3 acres of 12" high grass. He had a good bead on it but after 30 minutes, could not find it. I went over to help.
Another 30 minutes goes buy and we give up. Had been a nice plane. Lithium batteres would be trash in a day or so and the brushless motor and controler were worth a good $125. Not ot mention a Hitec Electron 6 receiver and 4 HS 55 servos.
As we are walking back, there it was. We had been looking about 50 feet too deep and working our way deeper, for a long time.
Now all his planes have locators. Get in the general area, turn the radio off and BEEP BEEP BEEP, walk right to it.
Works well for planes on the top of trees. ( nasty trees, attacking poor airplanes ) Sometime the leaves really hide them. I lost the Zagi slope soaring wing on top of a canopy of beautiful 50 foot trees. I could hear the plane but still could not find it for 20 minutes. Finally, a flash of light caught the shiny tape surface and there it was, in the tree I had been going around for a good 10 minutes. I could hear it clearly but jsut could not see it. If not for the locator, it would have been hopeless.
Love those plane locators. Saved me hundreds of dollars in planes and parts and countless hours of searching.
Be a good pilot, of course, but stuff happens. Be ready for it and a minor incident can remain minor.
Speed is the enemy of the new pilot, but if you fly too slowly the wings can't generate enough lift, so there is a compromise here. The key message is that you don't have to fly at full throttle all the time. Most small electrics fly very nicely at 2/3 throttle and some do quite well at 1/2.
Im a newbie but i spend ages on simulators. I am like the best pilot ever on the sims, but as soon as I take off i get all nervous and go crazy and crash. Do you have any ways to get over nerves?
"Im a newbie but i spend ages on simulators. I am like the best pilot ever on the sims, but as soon as I take off i get all nervous and go crazy and crash. Do you have any ways to get over nerves?"
I am very much a novice myself. I only have about a dozen solo flights under my belt and about 3/4 of those flights have ended in unplanned landings. Thank the Lord for foamies!
Anyway, I find that it helps to have a flight plan in mind before I take off. That way if I stick to the flight plan I don't get confused as easily as to which way the plane is oriented and which way I next want to move the stick. Concentrating on my plan helps keep me focused on the plane and there are less negative thoughts to make me jittery.
My latest screw up: I flew way too late into the evening and I could only see the plane when it was up high and close. Being the ace pilot that I am, I decide that I need to keep the plane close (which requires me to turn much tighter with way less time between turns and fly too low). I start to lose a lot of altitude because of all those tight turns. Next thing I learn is that you can't see the plane hardly at all once it's below the tree line in the ever dimming light. I learned a lesson the hard way. The plane will fly again but I got to reflect on my foolishness while I spent a few hours repairing my Zagi Fixx (not all that durable of a plane IMHO).
Last edited by Lost_Dawg; May 09, 2006 at 10:59 PM.
As mentioned above a flight plan is a big help.
When you are learning, repetition is your best friend. And focusing on one, or just a few skills in a procedure will help you master that procedure. When you learned to play baseball, you had batting drills. Stand in the box and take 100 pitches and try to hit them. Don't run! Don't do anything but hit. Now let's work on catching. Play catch for hours. Great fun and a huge confidence builder. So it is with flying. Practice till it is fun, with no pressure and no nerves.
Launch and Land
Launch, or take-off, and landing are the hardest skills you need to learn. If you can't master these, none of the others matter. I used to do launch and land drills for hours. Some times I still do, especially if I have a new plane. Here is how to break this process down.
Launch, fly straight out 100 feet, then power down and land. Take the long walk. No turns, no loops, nothing fancy. Just get to know how the plane lands. Do it 5 times or do it 50 times, but do it till you feel confident you can do this 3 part drill right every time.
Launch, Circuit, Landing Pattern and Land
Now, launch, climb to 50 feet, make one circuit around the field and land. This way you are working on your landing pattern and nothing else. Don't climb high and don't focus on anything else. For this drill don't get above 50 feet. Just launch, go around and land. Land 50 feet in front of yourself. Don't try to put it at your feet, not for this drill. In fact, if you put the wind to your left, you can turn to the left to launch, fly the circuit and land from your right. This is how it would be if you had a runway. In this way you never fly directly toward yourself and you never fly directly away from yourself.
If you have a runway and wheels, then do touch and gos. This also helps you work on throttle control as you climb out at full power, then power back so you don't climb too much, cruising speed for the circuit then power down for landing. Know your plane and repeat the process over and over till it is automatic.
OK, we have landing down pretty well. Maybe we have spent 3 sessions of two hours each and all we did was launch and land. Hey, landing is no biggie any more. You can do it your sleep.
Staying Upwind - Little or No Wind
If staying up wind is a problem, or if you tend to fly over your head, or even worse, if you let the plane get behind you, focus on that. So, launch and get at least 100 feet of altitude and do nothing but focus on keeping that plane at least 100 feet up wind of you. Fly circles, fly square patterns, whatever, but hold 100 feet, no more no less, and keep it up wind. After a couple of hours of this, it will be a non-issue.
Avoid flying directly toward yourself. Fly big circuits, big circles or oval race track circuits. Just don't fly directly at yourself. You can turn with the plane so that you are facing the same direction as the plane, as if you were in the pilot's seat.
If you pick one skill and focus on that and work it till you can do it reliably, you take the complicated process of flying and break it down to simpler parts and work on each part by itself. As you learn to keep the plane in front of you in calm conditions, then try it in a bit more wind, perhaps 5 mph, then 7 mph, then 9. Just launch, 100 feet, stay up wind, set up landing pattern, and land.
Flying Toward Yourself
Launch, climb to 150 feet and get the plane up wind from you a good distance. You want to have the time to turn directly toward yourself and hold altitude and turn well before the plane gets within 50 feet of you. The plane should not get closer than 50 feet. Mark it on the ground for reference.
Fly up and out, turn toward yourself and fly. Plan where you will turn, then make the turn to your left, the plane's right, and do this in a pattern, a circuit, over and over. Now do it to the plane's left, over and over. Now alternate so you can project yourself into the plane. You are the pilot the seat! If you wanted to go "that way" which way would you move the stick, if you were sitting in the pilot's seat. Do it till it becomes boring, then do it some more.
Then finish off with a circuit, staying up wind, align and land. So easy!
Don't do loops! Don't do rolls!
If you master these, then I have one more for you. GLIDE!
How well does your plane glide? You need to know. If you have a motor failure, if you run the battery down, you will have to "dead stick" land the plane. This is called gliding. Get to know how your plane glides!
Climb out to 150 feet+, get it as high as you are comfortable to fly. Now, slowly power back. Fly a circuit at 1/2 throttle. Fly a circuit at 1/4 throttle. Now fly a circuit with the motor off and glide. Can you fly a whole circuit with the motor off? How about half? One leg? 50 feet? Practice till you can control the plane as it comes down from your peak height to about 50 feet with the motor off the whole time.
How long can you stretch this? 10 seconds? 20 seconds? A full minute? Longer? It all depends on your plane and your skills.
We have a climb and glide contest at our club. Climb for 2 minutes. Get it as high as you like, but once you power off you can not reapply the throttle or you are disqualified. Now you must glide for 4 minutes and land, exactly on the 6 minute mark and land so you come to rest in a 3 foot circle. Can you do it?
To fly this long power off, you probably have to find some thermal lift, but that is not the point of the drill for today. The point is how long can you glide and can you set up for landing and land successfully with not power at all. Do this and you will never panic if you lose the motor. Its is just that glide drill. I have done that 100 times. No biggie.
Master these skills and you can go play with loops and rolls and all kinds of stuff.
Good job pilot!
Too much wing is bad! My first fly-a-way was thanks to an 9-mph wind. I turned during flight and it kept turning, it wouldn't turn right and it flew away, It was myfirst airplane, a Hobbyzone Firebird commander 2 RTF and I had flew it only 3 times. It costs 84.95 and our money just flew away.
Now you know to read the friendly manual.
The first time I tried out my scratch built kite plane, *motorized rogallo wing* I broke the tail boom when I nosed over too hard at the same time a gust of wind hit the sail... that day, it was really windy and I was trying to take off in a bad wind. also, I think I had my controls reversed so when I tried to fly up, it nosed down, and pulling back on the stick made it almost do a partial loop which ended up in a very sharp turn into hard gravel... Since then, I've fixed the model I made, and she flies like a dream once I got quite a few hours of practice in.. I'm still learning btw, so it's never ending.
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