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Lost Phantom, you're never going to believe why

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by FredMurtz, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. FredMurtz

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    I was filming the sunrise at a local lookout point. No wind. Phantom 1.0 with upgrade board and H3-3D. Have about 50 flights experience and have flown this spot 5 times before. 4 flights with the new gimble and board with no issues. I had 10 sats, hovered for a minute to make sure on home lock and flew off in GPS. I was going to make 3 passes over the lookout. On the way to set up the 3rd pass a young coyote stepped out from behind the wall, startling both of us in the early morning light. The young coyote yelped and momma popped out with her hackles up, I guess she thought I was after the youngin. At the same time I'm trying to keep an eye on the Phantom and turn it back. Then 2 more coyotes popped out and started to circle me. I had pepper spray on me and I grabbed it out of my pants cargo pocket just in case. We did a kabuki dance for a few moments and then the coyotes finally took off down the hill after a guy walking his dog. I yelled out a warning to him and went back to paying attention to the Phantom.

    I knew I was in trouble now as the Phantom was way out (600 ft), and getting low on battery. I could see the lights and turned it back and saw the 1st battery warning light flashing. I took off running down the trail to get closer to the Phantom thinking it might be out of range. I figured I would never get it back up the hill to where I was in time so I kept it heading for a dirt field below me. Where I was flying there are no homes but off to the west there are homes in an upscale community. About that time the Phantom hit the 2nd battery warning level and went into hover. I hit RTH and nothing. It started a slow descent into the 1st row of houses and looked like it was going to land in a front yard or on the street. I marked the spot with a fir tree and a peach colored house and jumped in my truck and raced down to the street below, maybe 1 minute elapsed and NOTHING. I drove the street thinking I needed to get it before someone ran over it or picked it up. Nothing. By now I'm scratching my head. I went back up to confirm where I thought it went down and saw dog walker and he confirmed about where I had pinpointed it landing. it was 6am and there was no one else out.

    I waited until 7:30 am to start knocking doors to ask if I could look in some backyards. I spent hours scouring the neighborhood an nothing. I went home and got the binos and started searching trees, rooftops etc. The issue was these are million dollars homes and they have very lush terraced backyards on the steep hills there and it's a nightmare to search from the ground. Rattlesnake territory too. One guy who lives across from the street is a Phantom owner and he let me access his big lot to look down from the other side. By now I have every neighbor looking and have left notes on all the homes with no one home with my number if they find it. I also have my number on the Phantom. Still nothing. The neighbors have all been cool about helping me except one who said the someone had been flying a drone over them to spy on the backyards, maybe to burglarize. I think he meant the other phantom pilot that lives above him, i had never flown near the homes before.

    I came back at 5pm and looked again with different light and nothing. When it got dark I thought I might see the red light blinking so I got up high and glassed and nothing. An ACR Firefly survival strobe would have worked out great here, they can be seen for miles. I had just also looked at the GPS units fearing just this scenario.

    So now I'm trying to get another Phantom owner to do a flyover to check from above. Bummed is not the word, devastated is more like it. So close, yet so far. With the sprinklers coming on in the morning twice now I'm screwed on the Go PRo probably, If a gardener finds it I'm SOL from my experience.

    Anything I should have known or have done? There was one moment a neighbor and I thought we had spotted it while glassing from the lookout. 2 white things sticking up from some thick ground cover. We both raced down to get it and I was smiling like a butcher's dog only to find a white deer lawn ornament. The 2 big ears sticking up looked just like 2 arms of a phantom minus the props.

    The pic shows the flight until it hovered and descended in what appeared to be straight down. As you can see I had good LOS of where it went. The worst fear is someone saw it land and snaked it and went back inside their house.
     

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  2. ATOMSK

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    awh man, that sucks. Maybe someone will call you soon....
     
  3. ProfessorStein

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    I assume you checked the other side of that roof, there?

    It seems kind of unlikely that someone nabbed it. For one, so early in the morning. For two, from my experience, anyone who stumbles upon a downed Phantom will stand there for several minutes just scratching their head trying to figure out what the heck it is... and yet it seems it's familiar enough there's an almost universal understanding that the bird is practically useless without the "other piece" (the RC). So it seems like, unless you have someone in the neighborhood who really has it out for you (and it doesn't sounds like you do), it's likely still out there somewhere.

    I wouldn't feel so bad, though. It does seem like you made the right choice in turning your attention to the coyotes at the sacrifice of the Phantom. I don't know too many pilots who would've done any different.
     
  4. FredMurtz

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    I glassed the area (roof and trees) from 3 different angles and nothing. With different light too. I'm assuming the phantom went straight down once I lost sight of it behind that house roofline. There is a yard to the left of that house that has a lot of tall hedges and that is where I want to fly over to check. Another member here is coming out with his P2 to fly over and take a peek, thank you Philllp.

    I had such a good LOS where it appeared to land i figured it would be easy to find, my big worry was how did it take the landing. I was dumbfounded when I drove up and down the street and nothing.

    The hunt continues.

    Sat image of search area. X is where it appeared to go down. #1 is where I think it is in the tall thick landscaping. #2 if it was further away then it appeared would be my next guess.
     

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  5. Chriserl

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    If I might add I've had a few planes go down and there always farther away then you think. I was taxing a tail heavy plane not intending on taking off when the wind grabbed it and put it over my house and a road. After that was a creek and a marshy area so I kept it up long enough to clear all that and then cut the throttle and put it down in a field. I was sure it was just past the marsh and searched for a day assuming someone grabbed it. Last ditch I walked to a little hill 200 yards farther on and there it was at the bottom on the other side.
     
  6. Keeper of Maps

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    That's quite the story! :)

    You might want to ask people to look in their swimming pools. I can see a couple of them in the last image you posted.

    Good luck!
     
  7. UrAwFuL

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    Nice story, and sorry for your loss.

    Did you try extending your search range further?

    Was there any contact information on it?

    I hope you find it!

    EDIT: I would like to add that you should probably check-in with local listings (places like Cragislist) if anyone has found your Phantom.
     
  8. isky172

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    Could the coyotes have taken it? Family dog thinking it was a bone, perhaps? Bummer, regardless.
     
  9. PB30X

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    Don't forget to look high in the trees.. And like someone else mentioned, hoping your depth perception (perceived) is slightly off and do a line of site search (bubble) before concluding stolen or nabbed. Don't give up!! Best of Luck, and hire some coyote hunters lol...
     
  10. OI Photography

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    Fred, that's NOT what I wanted to hear about your Phantom, I truly feel awful for you. I wince when I hear any flyaway stories, but when it's a Phantom I've gotten familiar with the taste is even more bitter :(

    I wish I had some better advice for you, but like others have pointed out it's too early yet to give up...my gut tells me it's still sitting out there somewhere just waiting for you to stumble on it. Having someone help you with an aerial search is probably your best bet right now so I'm glad you found a local to give you hand.

    I'll be eagerly awaiting your "found it!" post tomorrow ;)
     
  11. FredMurtz

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    My cell and reward info in on the outside. Jean from the forum here came out and we got a quick look in 2 yards before it got dark. We found a bright white object in the middle of the brown grass patch in #1 search area that looked good but we couldnt get close to it with the trees. The owners were not home again to let us on to the big property. When we looked at the video on my laptop it appears to NOT be my Phantom. It's was long and rectangular but pure white like my Phantom. Something to consider if you camo or paint a Phantom, how easy will it be to spot if you do lose it. I met more homeowners and gave them my contact info. I feel I'm close, just need to peek in more bushes and under stuff. Jean was very helpful to come out from LA in rush hour traffic to help, a 2 hr one way test of nerves on the I-10. He even offered to help this Friday when we have more time in good light. If the Phantom landed in the yellow/brown grass patches that means no sprinklers and no water damage. If it landed in the green lush areas some of it is drip irrigation which may not damage the Phantom. A lot of it is sprinklers too. Ugh.

    Get a GPS is all I can recommend. Jean uses one called Tracker 2 I think it was. He got it off Craig's list for $50 and it's a $10 monthly service.

    I need to check the pools better like it was suggested., we really didnt look the close in them. I also need to finish searching the areas I marked and then push out more. I would think if it was out in the open someone would have found it by now. I'm bit reluctant to post on the local Facebook group that I lost it, it might trigger some thieves to go look for a free one.

    On the positive side, I've met a lot of new friends and all the neighbors are great there. We let the owners of the 2 homes know tonight what we were going to do and they said no problem. Some came out to watch Jean's Phantom fly. One guy wants to know where to buy one.

    Thanks for all the help, especially OI Photography, he's been guiding me along with my mods and upgrades. I'm from Mizzurah and stubborn as a mule as they say so it will be awhile before I let go of this.
     
  12. OI Photography

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    Go figure, I grew up in Columbia till I was 10 or so. Genetically descended from some of the most rabid Tiger fans there are.
     
  13. locoworks

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    does the architecture round there have any houses with hidden valleys in them?? two gable ends side by side so the roof is like an upside down W?? it could be totally out of sight from the ground. keep your eye out for someone selling off phantom spare parts in the region too.
     
  14. FredMurtz

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    The roofs are all pretty step clay tile, to me the Phantom would have slid off and not got stuck on the roof unless it got hung on a vent. There are some 2nd story balconies I need to check on that I can't see from below. More aerial recon will help eliminate them. Maybe the Phantom Gods will miracle my sorry azz too after what I went through with the upgrade board and tilt control lever. :mrgreen:

    Nothing on Craig's List. If the quad did make it to the steep hillside with all the trees and overgrowth we looked at tonight, finding it may be the easy part. That area is going to take some rappelling gear to get into. Does anyone offer a heavy lift service for hard core extractions like the big army copters? Here's some video of that steep and deep.

    [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSv6exzMqgM[/youtube]
     
  15. paulajayne

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    At 3.31 middle of shot - what is that?
     
  16. Flyinhigh

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    Thought it was supposed to return within 5 feet of take off if u lose signal or get to far out
     
  17. ProfessorStein

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    It is, and does, Flyinhigh. But if you read his description, the Phantom ran out of batteries. No advanced programming in the world is going to be able to bring it home if it's outta batteries. It's a Phantom 1, so it doesn't have the intelligent batteries and, thus, likely doesn't incorporate the 1st battery alarm which would've automatically triggered a Return to Home.
     
  18. FredMurtz

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    I noticed that too, thanks paulajayne. Need to get access to the property to left in video to walk that area. I have left them 2 notes now. No one is answering the door yet there are dogs running around and the lights and TV appear to be on. They are new owners so no one knows them but neighbor said he sees people coming and going. Weird. We rang the buzzer, honked, flashed our car lights etc.
     
  19. FredMurtz

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    Day 3. I was able to get access to the steep n deep property where we saw the white object last night with Jean's Phantom. It turned out to be a big piece of irrigation pipe. The owner was great and helped me look, she was a smoking hot 30 yr old in yoga pants. I almost forgot about my lost drone. :mrgreen: I did take a bad spill into some thorny citrus trees and bumped into a huge sleeping bobcat. When the big bush started vibrating next to me I knew something was coming out and I was just hoping it wasnt a mtn lion.

    I was able to clear two more homes that were in the last part of the flight path before the Phantom disappeared. I've covered maybe 80% of where I think it could be and that includes if it went further than I thought it did. I'm usually pretty good at marking falling objects from upland bird hunting. I can usually get ballpark so this one has me stumped.

    Had one false lead that had me going for a sec. I've enlisted all the kids on the block to make it a treasure hunt with a big reward. THere must be 30 of em helping me now. Kids are very observant. If you ever want to know what's new in the neighborhood, ask a kid. Anyways, one boy tells me his friend found something weird in the backyard the day I lost my drone. My ears perked up. I asked him which house and took off thinking this was it, the lead I've been waiting for. Turned out the kid just got his story messed up. His friend told him about me looking for a drone in their backyard and he thought we had found one.

    ALmost all the yards have been trimmed by the gardeners, I missed talking to one. Most speak Spanish and I'm not very fluent in SPanish. I would think after 3 days I would have heard if anyone honest had found it. Gonna see if Jean can fly this FRi with his Phantom again, that is about the only hope I have now. I rechecked some pools just to make sure and nothing.

    I miss my PHantom and want to go fly it. Now when the brown truck rolls up with stuff I've ordered for it I just sob into my hands as the UPS guy comforts me. :mrgreen:

    the hunt continues.......
     
  20. ATOMSK

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    you've got some rough terrain that it could have gone down in. I would think the best bet is to have your friend look with his drone.

    So, there is no chance it came back to the home point? I've crashed mine twice and if it can get back up in the air, it does all on it's own!