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May 15, 2006, 07:17 PM
Will fly for food
davidjensen's Avatar

falcon attack

I was minding my own buisness flying around in circles when out of the sky a falcon dropped 2 to 3 hundred feet and latched onto the leading edge of my 3M Esprit. This is the second time falcons have attacked this TD ship. This last time left scratch (tallon) marks on the top leading edge of the left wing . 5 Weeks ago I had a 66" golden eagle go after my 48" BD5 sloper for over 2 1/2 minutes. Here is a video of that encounter.

I'm thinking I need some bird repellant.
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May 15, 2006, 07:26 PM
Soaring Circuits
rcbrust's Avatar
I've had encounters with red-tail hawks quite often. They seem to be especially ornery in the Spring. Just the other day I had gotten my DLG into a good strong thermal and a red-tail dove on me from higher up. He dove on me a half dozen times or so until he finally ran out of energy. Luckily, I was able to avoid contact. I wasn't going to leave that good lift! He finally settled in under me but my lighter wing loading won out and I slowly climbed away from him. He left in a huff. Hopefully I embarrased him.

May 15, 2006, 07:45 PM
doobie doo
skewbe's Avatar
Very cool. Worth losing a few chunks of plane over IMHO.
May 15, 2006, 08:01 PM
Hit my smoke....
Hostage-46's Avatar
Spring time is mating season, they seem to get frisky this time of year here in TX.
May 15, 2006, 10:51 PM
more kW, more problems
trashmanf's Avatar
thats totally awesome, is taht at um, discovery park?
May 16, 2006, 03:25 PM
Fly R/C writer

Yeah, we got 'em, too!

So, this was just last Sunday, and although we did not get the big fella angry at us, he certainly didn't mind this Onyx flying formation with him.

Mike Lee
May 16, 2006, 04:18 PM
Will fly for food
davidjensen's Avatar
The Eagle video was shot with a digi camera at Ft Casey St. Park on Whidby Is.
May 16, 2006, 04:26 PM
What's wrong with heavy?
dephela's Avatar
Sounds like you need to improve your situational awareness.
Being aware of birds in the area will give you a better chance to move away before they get interested, preventing reoccurences.

May 19, 2006, 12:51 PM
Nimble with Gimbals
Awesome picture, Mlee. That's really a great shot.
May 20, 2006, 04:59 AM
Registered User
THAT is one wonderful video: CONGRATS!

Years ago I was living outside Nashville, a region of consistently good thermals all year (best sometimes in winter: greater differential temps), and resultingly a migratory raptor flyway. At one point I was even raising a Red-Tail, until the Feds took her away, saying the local wildlife officers who gave me permisson didn't first officially get THEIR Federal permission, only verbally. These raptors, mostly Red-Tails and Golden Eagles, plus a few Bald Eagles, did not exhibit territorial behavior in this area for practical reasons. There was a local flock of vultures and at least one male Red-Tail who lived on a hill about 1 km from the Middle Tenn. R/C Society's large flying field where I'd often fly sailplanes and admonish the rednecks for chasing the birds with their powered models; the birds were far more skilled in the air, so it was not really a problem for the birds, and I guess it kept their blood flowing. My favorite high-start sailplane back then was a Hobie Hawk with my own revised/improved washout (reduced at tip, increased farther inboard) ... and a bright RED tail. A male Red-Tail who lived on the hill about 1 km from that field in Percy Warner Park (the home field of Hobby Lobby as well as the M.T.R.C.S), came to know and love flying with his super-HOT new girlfriend with the BIG red tail ("Oh Baby, Oh Baby ..."). We spent perhaps 3 hours of thermal time together over a period of about 2 years. He would often fly out from the hill (at great danger to himself: read on) when he saw my car and patiently wait for his friend to come out of the trunk and out of the narrow white foam box, wait for me to set up the high-start, wait til I decided a thermal was approaching and then play with the Hobie (me) until I reached max visual altitude, usually about 300-400 meters (a tricky task for me). My favorite way to get down fast was inverted; he followed upright with slightly retracted wings. When I had to relinquish the frequency he'd go away. Unfortunately, several times a redneck-controlled (I distinquish rednecks from Southern gentlemen!) RED powered plane would then hit the sky, and my bird friend would immediatley reappear and unhesitatingly fly up to it in a friendly manner.... only to be attacked (unsuccessfuly, so long as I observed) by a hostile gas-burner. I would use whatever epiphets I felt wouldn't get me killed (they all have guns nearby) and remind them that these are protected birds and a Federal offense to harm them. One time I was test-flying a member's new sailplane for him, and the plane was joined in the thermal by a hawk (I could normally find more and better thermals than they, knowing the field and keeping a 4-dimensional map of the air currents in the field with my larger brain; most of the time, after I got perhaps 300 total hours of thermal stick time, they'd much more frequently come to and take my thermals than vice versa). Then we noticed something dark and narrow falling from the plane, and, seeing the bird over the plane, my friend went running after what he assumed to be the canopy the bird had knocked off. The hawk and I (figuratively) continued circling up, soon joined by several of his feathered comrades and we all soared and played. Several minutes later my friend returned with QUITE a surprise: it was a large, stiff elliptical leaf, obviously plucked from the hill the hawk started from --the only trees nearby with those leaves -- with a perfect hole laterally offset from the center, exactly hawk-talon size. This event was witnessed by many. Clearly the hawk found a perfect-sized and shaped leaf to stably tumble-rotate, carried it 1 km to the glider and dropped it over the glider, offering it an easy toy-target to catch. My expert falconer friends had never heard of this behavior, but were neither surprised, as eagles play "catch a fly is up" with sticks over holes in the ice. The assumption is that no one ever noticed this with Red-Tails before because it would have to be a very inept hawk who could not catch such an easy target long before it got close enough to the ground for people to see. By the way, one way to get birds off your tail is to get on theirs; I did once, the bird waited about 10 seconds, then EXACTLY duplicated my maneuver (right Immelman) and got on mine; I acquiesed, dropped and he flew on .... Lee
May 20, 2006, 05:33 AM
Good Better Best quest.
olmod's Avatar
Originally Posted by davidjensen
I was minding my own buisness flying around in circles when out of the sky a falcon dropped 2 to 3 hundred feet and latched onto the leading edge of my 3M Esprit. This is the second time falcons have attacked this TD ship. This last time left scratch (tallon) marks on the top leading edge of the left wing . 5 Weeks ago I had a 66" golden eagle go after my 48" BD5 sloper for over 2 1/2 minutes. Here is a video of that encounter.

I'm thinking I need some bird repellant.
some years back i resorted to painting large eyes either side of the nose,it certainly helped possibly it may work on the wings also, it does for butterflies.
May 22, 2006, 05:25 AM
If it flies - it's good
Fred_L's Avatar


I fly slope aircraft at a coastal site in a national park south of Sydney and we regularly get raptors cruising up or down the coast during the day. We get sea eagles (fish eaters), wedgetail eagles up to 2m wingspan, kites and hawks. The hawks seem to see the aircraft as target practice and they come in so fast you don't see them, but they just rocket on by.

The video of the golden eagle looks very much like what we have happen. I think that if the eagle really wanted to take out the aircraft it would hit it quite hard to make a impact on the prey and disable it but the eagle seems tentative.

The sea eagles and the wedgetial eagle we see usually arenít interested but sometimes they take a look (maybe they havenít eaten yet) and then descend with talons extended. I find that a loop gets them off your tail as they won't fly inverted (at least ours won't) or descend to a height closer to the flight line and they are uncomfortable getting down so low close to people so they break off the attack (but that golden eagle didnít seem to mind getting down low).

Sometimes I think it is a game for them as they don't press home the attack even when the pilot is surprised and takes little or no evasive action.

However having said that one guy did get his balsa scale Mustang grabbed by the tail and the eagle flew off with it for about 50m then dropped it but the elevator was damaged and the aircraft went in and got more damage.

A competitor out west here said his built up thermal glider was grabbed by both feet of an eagle at the leading edge and the eagle leant forward and took a large piece out of the nose, like it was trying to inflict a fatal blow, then released the plane which had torn covering on the inboard sections, but he got it down OK.

Last edited by Fred_L; May 22, 2006 at 05:30 AM.
May 22, 2006, 05:31 AM
If it flies - it's good
Fred_L's Avatar
Oh yes, and I printed up an image of a wedgetail eagle head and put it on the nose of one of my foamies, but it doesn't seem to attract them or scare them off.

May 22, 2006, 05:47 AM
Registered User
Fred, I agree: it does look like a game, or at least a learning experience, and the bird, which I'm guessing to be an immature Bald Eagle because of the lack of feathers on the lower legs (the head and tail feathers would become white at about 2 yrs), could easily have taken out the plane at any time. Such play is how they learn. Lee
May 23, 2006, 06:06 PM
Launch high. Fly low.
my mini floh was attacked by a hawk today at the lake elsinore slope. there are now 2 holes on the right wing-- easily fixed. it was fun dog fighting with it for a few minutes! hawks dont like like other things flying higher than them.


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