Deadly RC Helicopter Accident in Switzerland

As reported by

A 41 year old male was found with heavy injuries to head and arms by a walker in Mauensee Luzern Switzerland. The helicopter of type Gaui Formula X7 was found next to the body and collected as evidence by the police.

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 11:35am

Oh my...  scary stuff.  Man...

I've seen so many arguments about relative safety of multi-rotors vs. helis.  Too many heli pilots will argue that a multi is just as dangerous as a heli, but it just isn't true.

Comment by John T on July 11, 2013 at 11:45am

A good friend of mine was learning to fly a TRex 600 I think when it crashed.  The blades snapped off and cartwheeled through the air to embed into the door of his barn... right next to his young daughter who had been watching from a distance.  

Thankfully, nobody was hurt.  He doesn't fly big helis anymore.

Comment by Morli on July 11, 2013 at 11:46am

Multi  = multi times the danger however the  props being much smaller carries less energy when it encounter body parts like finger  or head. So fatal it may not be in most case still is dangerous IMHO.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 12:12pm

Multi is still dangerous, but not as much as a heli.  It's an odds thing... I'd think a 600 is 75% likely to kill you if it hit you.  A multi less than 5% unless it was falling directly on your head from 100 feet up.

It's like the difference between crashing on a motorcycle, or in a car.  Both *could* kill you, but one is much more likley.

Comment by Andreas on July 11, 2013 at 12:21pm

I have only flown smaller helis (maybe 300 size?) and I was not that scared of the blades as they seemed very light. But on any crash the heli seemed to dismantle itself from the kinetic energy.

Are the blades from 600 and up helis pretty heavy?

Comment by Gary McCray on July 11, 2013 at 12:53pm

I have a friend who fly's medium size helis.

Whenever he is flying I am standing well and directly behind him.

And I wouldn't be even that close if I didn't trust him as a competent heli pilot.

Those blades carry a tremendous amount of inertia and if they get loose they can go straight through you.

And the inertia they carry while flying is potentially completely lethal.

That said, multirotors are dangerous too and the bigger they are and the sharper their carbon fiber props the more dangerous they are.

For the big ones, the term flying lawn mowers truly fits.

At this point in the game multicopters are all fly by wire and that is actually a safety factor that makes them generally easier to control than a lot of the helis out there which are manual or gyro only control.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 1:16pm

600 size blades, I wouldn't say they are terribly heavy.  Only about 125g each.  I also would say they aren't at great risk of flying off, even in a crash.  At least not on modern blades.  I've broken about 10 sets, and have never had one go flying, not that I can remember?  The blades have a high tensile steel wire embedded inside them for just such reason.  

It's just the speed they're turning, it's a lot of energy.  I had my large heli tip over, right on the ground, just tipped over, and the blades hit the dirt.  They left two strakes in the dirt.  24" long each, and 4" deep.  Right through the grass, the root structure, and into the top soil.  That's a LOT of energy.  I don't think a man with an axe could do that.

But that's what taught me respect for the machine.  My flights in my relatively safe back yard are extremely limited.  Only if nobody else is outside, and only at very low altitude.  Just test hops.  When I fly it at the field, I am standing back 50 feet, and I try to limit hovering nearby to the bare minimum.  Especially when the blade disk below 6 feet. When I test in the back yard, I'm behind a wooden railing.  At the airfield, behind the MAAC mandated safety fence.

It's all about minimizing risk.

Still, I had a bad accident in early May when I preparing for AVC.  Long story short, I lost control, and crashed it in the parking lot of the club field.  Could have been people there.  I'm actually almost surprised they didn't kick me out of the club.

And that's a big part of the reason why I didn't fly the big one at AVC.  The spectator situation was very unsafe.  Even with the small one, at one point I had to tell the camera man and announcer to stop getting so close to it.  And don't surround it, stay behind me so I know where to crash it if something goes wrong.  Sorry, but my primal instinct if something goes wrong is to get it away from me, and if you're standing on the far side...

In my talk at Drone Con, I opened with the the warning that the big ones are not toys.  It's very true, but people don't understand that.

Comment by Justin M on July 11, 2013 at 2:17pm
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 2:21pm

Yeah, that type of flying to me... it's like juggling chainsaws.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on July 11, 2013 at 2:21pm

Multicopter = Shallow cuts. Painful but not deadly. Worst case you might lose an eye.

600/700 class helicopters = Deep cuts and blunt force trauma. Very much deadly.


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