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At last, a crash!!

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Vision Discussion' started by disjecta, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. disjecta

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    This morning I wanted to go shoot a newly developed outdoor shopping mall that has a retro movie theater. When I looked out my bedroom window, there was a little fog but I figured that would add to the atmosphere. My car was frozen over but I didn't think twice about it, got the scraper and scraped the half-inch-thick ice right off. I packed everything up and was soon on the road.

    When I got to the mall, the parking lot across from the theater was abandoned, perfect. The big sign that should have lit up the letters "Regal" now only read "al", the other lights were already burned out. Crap, oh well, I thought I'd get the shot anyway. I did my preflight check and got a good GPS signal. I had 10 satellites, perfect.

    Before long, my bird was in the air. The fog was really soupy by now but I didn't care. I shot a little video and then took a still. The lights on the Phantom looked dramatic in the fog above me.

    All of a sudden I heard that erratic buzzing you hear the moment you realize there is a swarm of bees flying around you. I looked at my iPhone feed and then looked up and could see that the Phantom was descending. I hadn't given her that signal. In fact, my fingers were not even on the sticks but she was coming down anyway. When this happens, there comes a moment, kinda like when you are in the middle of the road and a huge truck is about to hit you. You become paralyzed. I thought about trying to catch it as it headed for the ground but the props were spinning and I didn't want to potentially injure myself or the Phantom.

    I watched as she landed with a thud followed by little white plastic shards flying this way and that. My first thought was the legs had buckled and my camera had smashed. I turned everything off and rushed to see the damage. Luckily the only casualty was two broken props. I didn't see her tip on her side when she landed and I have prop guards on. I did notice that the props were covered in ice so it may be that the impact coupled with their frozen state just shattered them.

    So here are the things I learned that I want to pass along:

    1. The ice on my car was pretty thick (a less than subtle warning) so I should have rescheduled my flight.
    2. Even though my weather app said it was 34 degrees F, my car thermometer said it was 28 degrees. I should have paid more attention to that.
    3. When there's fog, there's moisture and freezing cold and moisture makes for a bad cocktail that will negatively affect your Phantom.
    4. If in doubt, do a couple of minutes test low down and over grass or something soft. My Phantom would have dropped no matter how high or low it was and if I had performed this test, I could have avoided the crash. Granted there was a greater possibility of it getting frozen higher up. This leads me back to heeding points one and two.

    I was lucky the damage was minimal. The issue here is not that you can't fly in freezing weather, you just can't fly in freezing weather with a lot of humidity.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. CaptainChet

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    Maybe you should read up on icing and airplanes. RC 'pilots' think their aircraft are different than the airliner I fly. They are not. They are subject to the same weather forces and icing is a killer in airplanes. Most airplanes and certainly the Phantom are not certified for flight into know icing conditions. Also, perhaps you should read the aviation weather forecast and NOTAMS about icing in the area. Why I have always stayed away from RC pilots. They are not pilots, they fly toys and think they are pilots. The Phantom will change that.
     
  3. outlaw704

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    This is very interesting. I am sorry to hear about your crash, it's the first report of icing I've heard of on this forum.

    Can you describe what the ice build up on your props looked like? Was it frosty looking like the inside of an old freezer or was it more shiney and clear like an ice cube?

    In the commercial aviation industry we use our deice or anti-ice systems any time the temperature is at or below 50*F (10*C) and there is visible moisture.

    Your experience is an excellent observation for the rest of us. Thank you for sharing. I hope your Phantom is up and flying again real soon!
     
  4. Pull_Up

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    Yep, the low pressure on the upper side of the blades can drop the temperature substantially - so if you have high humidity coupled with low ambient temperatures it's a recipe for ice to form pretty quickly.

    Glad you seemed to escape relatively lightly. Thanks for recounting your cautionary tale - it's great for everyone to be able to learn from things like this if they weren't already aware of the dangers.
     
  5. Pull_Up

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    Wow! Way to help out by sharing your excellent knowledge in a constructive way! As an aviation professional I would have thought you'd applaud sharing both best-practice and incident reports - and human factors, too ;) The Phantom isn't "certified" to fly in any conditions - it not being subject to any national or international certification requirements, of course. It's also not an airplane (or aeroplane). It also isn't carrying pax (no self-loading freight here), so let's keep a little perspective.

    However, on the broader points you make I do agree - but I wasn't ever a hot jet jockey, just a "pretend" pilot flying GA ;) - certainly NOTAMs, TAFs and METARs can be very useful for anyone flying anything. But if you're buzzing a plastic toy a couple of hundred feet in the air then I think you can maybe let a bit of the commercial or even GA pre-flight planning standards slip, hmm?
     
  6. disjecta

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    Some good advice. Thank you.

    Outlaw704, the ice was shiny but kind of soft. It had coated the entire length of each prop, like little sheets.
     
  7. outlaw704

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    Sounds like Clear ice. It can build up very quickly, especially in the 28* to 35* range. It can be very heavy, adding significant weight and disruptive airflow.

    I took this photo last month in Toronto of one of my engines - found during preflight immediately after the inbound flight in similar conditions that you describe during your flight.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. mmotown

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    Good post...I wouldn't have thought about that. I would have only thought about the rain.
     
  9. gpauk

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    Wow -- fascinating photo... Does not look healthy!
     
  10. disjecta

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    Yep, that's what it looked like
     
  11. CouesWhitetail

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    Thank you for sharing the details of your crash....great warning for everyone!
     
  12. havasuphoto

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    I have a Commercial Helicopter Pilots' Certificate, and CFII Rotorcraft....stopped counting at 9000 hours, and after 23 years, I retired from flying.

    I fly a Phantom!! Wanna know why?? My back is so bad from all the years of poor posture flying Helicopters, that I have severe back problems now, and can only stand for less than 5 minutes before one of my legs goes numb. So, I get to fly a "helicopter", via remote, with FPV.

    I'm very familiar with aerodynamics, especially rotorcraft. What the OP encountered, was obviously Ice Fog/icing conditions.
    However, the Phantoms have a very highly loaded rotor disc system. So, even a tiny bit of frost, may be enough to stall the blade, causing a rapid descent.

    Don't assume too much their, Captain. Some of us have "been around the block" a few times. And, we're only here to help people.
    IF, I can help prevent 1 person from crashing their Phantom-then I'm satisfied. I try to give to this site, as much as I learn/take-and believe me, I've learned a lot.

    Just because I'm a retired helicopter pilot, doesn't mean I'm an "exceptional" Phantom Pilot-I'm not!! But, I have enough aerodynamic and aviation knowledge to keep me out of trouble, most of the time.

    I've never "avoided" the RC folks. When I came in to land for fuel-I would watch them do tricks with their helicopters, like flying loops, and upside down...thought it was pretty cool. My EC-135 couldn't to that. Although, flying on auto-pilot with a glass cockpit, SPIFR was a blast ;)
     
  13. disjecta

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    Very well said and very humble of you. I posted all the details about the crash as a cautionary tale for other flyers. Like you, if I prevent one crash by someone else, it will be worth the time and effort.
     
  14. havasuphoto

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    You may very well be the first to crash do too "inflight icing"....But, as you saw, once the blades have any ice on them, the Phantom pretty much turns into a brick ;)
    Lucky it was just a few props.

    And..that's why I live in Arizona :)
    Hate the cold...makes my back ache even worse.
     
  15. kingcat200

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    The sort of people I try to avoid are egotistical types who have to call them self Captain on a toy aeroplane forum or refer to the aeroplane they are paid to fly by an employer as MY Aeroplane generally followed My First Officer and My Crew.
    I have some great RC mates who could match or exceed technical expertise of many a full scale pilot. Not to mention CRM and Human Factors as mentioned by another poster.
     
  16. disjecta

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    Love your post :D It made me laugh but I agree with your points completely.
     
  17. kingcat200

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    Thanks Disjecta also thanks for a great original post that we all can learn from
     
  18. gfredrone

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    The S3 toggle in position 2 activates the prop heaters for deicing. Sorry I couldn't resist...
     
  19. El Rey

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    Regarding the split second decision to catch or not catch the Vision if you're near it when it descends - that's a tough call.

    Depending on the speed of descent, and whether it was descending in its correct flight position,
    I'd be inclined to grab the struts/camera area with both hands.

    Realize it's a risky move if you happen to miscalculate. I do have prop guards on which
    I hope would minimize that risk.

    Maybe I need a Falconer's glove!
     
  20. OI Photography

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    There's a vid on YT somewhere (can't find it now) of a guy who sent his 550 straight up in to a bank of fog on a cold day, and sure enough it came plummeting down a few minutes later...and he did catch it by hand. Which was nuts because the props were still turning, and a 550 has lot more mass and unpleasant angles and edges coming at you than a Phantom.