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After You Crash a Model Airplane

April 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 230

Crashing a radio control model aircraft is unfortunately an event that happens to even the best of pilots from time to time. Following are some useful procedures to follow after you crash a model airplane, to include the initial damage assessment and a list of easy repairs.

The most important first step after you crash a model airplane is to remain calm. Anger or excitement will not help with any of your follow on actions. While despair and frustration are normal reactions to this incident, they will not in any way assist with getting your model airplane back in the air again.

Once your model goes down, it is imperative that you locate the airplane. Often a model will crash some distance from your flying field. The best action right after ground impact is to lay your transmitter on the ground with the antenna pointed in the exact direction of where the model was last seen. This will establish a clear line of approach to the model for the search party.

When you arrive at the crash site, take time to gather all the broken bits and pieces of the aircraft. No item is too small to recover and take back to your workshop. Take time to perform a thorough search of the area to locate all portions of the aircraft.

Once your emotions calm down and you start the refurbishment process, you will be surprised at how easily smaller pieces can be carefully fitted and glued into place. Reassembly saves a lot of time compared when compared to making a new portion. Do not attempt any aircraft repairs at the flying site. Wait until you return home and can perform a complete survey of the airframe.

Once you are home, find a place to work. Even if you own and operate ready to fly RC model planes, set up some sort of workshop to do these repairs. Use a large, flat table and carefully lay out all the aircraft parts and pieces.

Visually survey the entire airframe, to include wings, fuselage and tail section. Note any and all cracks or other breaks in the structure. If the model plane is made from foam, small chips and cracks can be filled in with epoxy glue or repaired with some packing tape.

Larger cracks may require removal of some covering material to properly glue the broken piece. If the break is part of a load bearing section, such as a dihedral spar brace, you may need to glue in a new piece of reinforcing balsa or plywood to ensure the integrity of the fix.

There is no set procedure for these inspect and repair tasks. Instead, you make an educated guess on the fix needed and proceed from there. If in doubt, add reinforcing material, even at the expense of extra weight. These actions will become more intuitive as you gain experience.

Carefully inspect the control surfaces. Ensure that hinges are not loose, broken or binding. Verify the controls can move freely. Control rod linkages may be bent. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to return the rods to their proper shape.

Examine the motor mount to ensure the engine is securely in place. The nose section of a model airplane typically bears the brunt of an impact with the ground. Damage to this area can be subtle. Double check that all engine mounts are intact. Review the engine's alignment regarding the proper amount of right and down thrust.

After a model airplane crash, I recommend replacing the propeller. The prop is always under a lot of stress during normal operation. The sudden forces applied to the propeller during a crash can cause hairline cracks that are very difficult to detect. These defects are a safety issue should the propeller fail at a later time. A guaranteed remedy is to dispose of the suspect prop and fly with a new one.

Perform an end-to-end check of the radio system when the aircraft repairs are finished. Have a helper hold the airplane at a distance from the transmitter. Make sure the controls operate freely, with no jitter or response lag that would indicate internal damage to the flight electronics.

The last step after the airplane crash is the test flight. Treat this flight just as you would any first flight. Ensure the weather is good and the flying area is clear of conflicting traffic. Take your time and make the first flight with some easy circuits around the pattern before moving on to more advanced maneuvers.

In summary, it is invariably a wise move to pick up the pieces after a model airplane crash and attempt to make repairs at home. What appears to be an unhappy disaster at the crash site can become much more recoverable once you stand back and make a measured assessment in the workshop. As you gain experience with crash damage repair, the task becomes easier with each future attempt.

Tim McKay is an expert radio control model airplane designer, builder and pilot. Find more free information on building tips, Tim's published plans and over 30 RC aircraft instructional videos at: =>

Source: EzineArticles
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