The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Day I Quit

Our hobby is like an affair, a dangerous thrilling passion. Its pulls us away from our responsibilities to play the fool, it costs us money, sanity, and oh does it cost us patience. It teaches us, it makes us better people, and it keeps us out of trouble. As it loves us it threatens us, and all we hold dear. It is passionate, exotic, full of challenges and taunts, moments of exceptional pleasure and sheer anger, joy and terror. And on some days, it makes us mad as hatters. And yet we are drawn to it, and like the proverbial moth to the flame it burns us for loving it so.

I hate it with a passion that keeps bringing me back.

I finally maidened the 10cc Spitfire. First flight, she took off wonderfully and flew like a gem. Very little trim needed. I put her through my first flight tests. and everything was perfect. The engine ran flawlessly in all phases. She performed basic flight maneuvers well, stalled a bit intensely but predictably. After about 10 minutes I decided on one more power off stall, gear down throughout the entire first flight. She stalled dropping a wing harshly, I recovered and she clipped the tallest tree on the field and dropped like a stone into the creek.

I quit right then and there.

I found her in the creek under the tall trees, the wing separated from the fuselage, floating wheels down but intact, and the fuse hanging vertically right next to the wings, only the cowl under water. The receiver was dry as were the switches and the remote cut out. The engine and the ignition were under water. At first glance she is surprisingly undamaged. The wings were torn off whole and the right wing was fine, the left one apparently is the one that hit the tree. The outer 10 cm has a dent, and about mid way in the leading edge is crushed. The fuse has a few cracks, especially large one near the tail, but internally a bomb went off and several of the frames and the stringers are completely gone. The cowl intake on the bottom was sheared and the cowl would need to be replaced, though I could do the glass repair. It wouldn't take much to fix her. And that's just it. I was bummed, but really, I have zero interest in rebuilding her. Zero. But thinking its just a phase, I stripped all the parts (all of them survived, except I think the ignition), and I stashed the fuse and wing in storage in my workshop. The engine started and would run, but like it was poorly tuned, and its behavior changed as it ran. I suspect the ignition did not take the bath well... the spark wire covering is frayed, but the ignition looks otherwise fine.

Before her flight, during pre-flight checks.

After the recovery...

The wing looks pretty good. The landing gear would not retract or extend, but after things dried out they work fine. 

THe underside. 

The fuse looks well too, but internally took quite a beating.

This crack looks innocent enough, and should be easy to repair but it will be extensive work.

When the wing came off if took a lot of the internal framing with it.

I've take all the electronics and servos out, and they all work fine. I removed the engine. The plane is back to its shell...  I already have a project in mind, and its the reason I decided not to quit.

By the way, I forgot the name of the kind man who was there and helped me bring her back, risking the poison ivy. Thanks so much for your time, kind words, support and timber bashing!


  1. One also has to ask, what are the chances of actually crash landing in that creek. It reminds of where I used to fly, the remains of the old Down Ampney airfield in the UK. There is a monument at the very end of the runway to commemorate the fallen from the Battle of Arnhem which I swear contained a magnet which attracted models to it at high speed. Another way of looking at it is "Sods Law"!

    Pick up the pieces, calm down, take a break and resume:-)

  2. LOL! Right? The creek winds through the eastern edge of the field in the woods, and the big tree I hit does stand next to it. What I thought was magical was that the wing was in the water under the fuse, which was standing up in the mud in the creek like a dart, the tail just caught in a branch that likely kept the major electronics out of the water. Go figure!