Last week in Colorado a 46% scale RC plane flying a demo at a charity event at a private airfield got clipped by a full scale biplane with two people in it. Apparently, the video has been taken down from Youtube but there is a short article and a copy of the video over on Jalopnik (I have attempted to embed the video above). You should probably watch the whole video and read the article to get a sense of the event and the airfield before jumping to any immediate conclusions regarding blame.

I think this is a decent indicator of the complexities and responses you can expect when incidents like this eventually occur that involve amateur, unpiloted vehicles...the general aviation guys will say "get those toys out of our way!" and the UAV people will probably say something equally one-sided.

You guys with a lot of experience at managed RC events will probably see a lot of things that I don't see. The FAA is investigating, of course, and I imagine that there will be plenty of blame for just about everyone involved by the time the report comes out. A few feet one way and it would have been a near miss we might never have heard about and a few feet the other way would have produced multiple fatalities that might have defined the future of this hobby.
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  • Was there any problem in RC Planes schedule of running?

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    I find this video very relevant to this community for few reasons IMO.
    1. Though most of us are UAV enthusiasts now but we are/were RC pilots primarily and some of us are real pilots too. Separating UAV hobby from RC will be impossible unless we stop using RC controls in this hobby & alienate our selves from RC/FPV community..
    2. These things happen , can happen and will happen. Who is to blame , where and how is another story..
    3. Read " Sense, and avoid " as "Use sensibility and avoid mixing/overlap of two activity( manned and unmanned)."

    Imagine the RC plane in this incident was demo amateur/DIY UAV and had this happened , what were the implications?!! Even without loss of life , this would have generated even bigger noise and attention. So , should we / DIY UAV ever participate in such event even if invited to do so? If so , what are the possible steps/ risk mitigation plan?

    BTW hovering 30% RC plane presents better visual perspective to the Biplane's pilot than it would have been flying straight/normal IMHO. Biplane approached from back of RC pilot view, so hang the spotter if there was one.
  • My Thoughts,

    Our AMA Field is the Runway of a Farm - the owner is a pilot and also a RC pilot. Actually many of the RC pilots are pilot, flight trainers, or otherwise in the same group.

    Lessons to learn might include:

    1. Pilots cannot see "Parked" airplanes. - Hovering your plane reduces your visibility to zero; it should not be considered "Cool" to do so. Fly the damn thing.
    2. Runways are like the gravel ramps on steep hills - their primary purpose is to land planes - some of which may not be powered.

    Don't Hover $8K on a Runway.
  • Most important thing, every one went home safe. Most important. I agree that having both in the air at the same time just wasn't a poor judgment thing but really REALLY bad operating scenario. Who was responsible. I think we have to look farther back than the video can show. Weeks or possibly months before to look at the event even took place to see that genesis of this one. Day of the event, well I do feel the manned pilot failing to call in a low pass could have been better but the real bur under my saddle is the ground control failing to scream bloody murder at the manned pilot to pull out. The manned AC can't see the RC and the RC pilot can't take his eyes off the RC plane to fly away from the full size AC. Like a traffic cop at an intersection, he is ultimately responsible for the operation of that field. I have been at too many events that I've spectated and helped put on to feel that either pilot was at fault. Now this is the part that I may be completely wrong on but it really did look like the RC pilot, following the directions of the fella' with the radio's instructions may have wound up flying into the path of the AC. Not sure that is a correct perception or not. The RC was over the tarmac and shortly after the fella' with the radio leaned into the RC pilot saying something, the RC moved to over the grass. I may be wrong about that. Just very glad every one went home safe.
  • Incident seems very relevant to me. Reminds all of us to be careful!
  • For the record, this is not an accident is the sense that a full size Pitts accidentally collided with a RC plane at an airport. It was a pre-arranged airshow where this guy was hovering his plane and the Pitts was supposed to do a fly-by. Apparently it was all coordinated by the "air boss" who you can see in the video with the radio.

    Anyway, it cr*ap what they did. The pilot violated a few FAA law, the RC guy violated a few AMA rules, and the event and people involved will have to answer to the FAA for awhile.

    I personally think it's tacky that the dude was worrying about his $8000 plane while someone (or more) could have died.

    It's still worthy to have this post here a reminder to us all to be careful with what we do as UAV DIY'er because if you cross the line, thing like this will happen. - died Resources and Information. is your first and best source for all of the information you’re looking for. From general topics to more of what you would expect to find her…
  • So why didn't the camera person who obviously was aware a full scale plane was flying down the runway (since he trained his camera on it) alert the RC pilot & spotter guy with the radio?? And forget the balsa/foam RC plane, the significant event was the runway incursion with 2 people on it that could have been hit. Something is 'rotten in Denmark' here................something was planned that went wrong or else the whole thing is Blair Witch crap!
  • Let's take it positively. Even if it is not, strictly speaking, a UAV-related video, I think there is nothing wrong with that video, as long as it helps people think about 1) the implications of having UAVs sharing airspace with recreational and commercial planes in the future and 2) effective sense&avoid solutions allowing everybody to fly safely all together.
  • The relevance of this thread to me is just the picture of what could happen when an RC scale plane collides with a full scale plane. In this case the full scale plane was very lucky if everything was ok with them. If a 2lb motor or battery came through your windshield at 100+ mph, there is still plenty of opportunity for a bad outcome. If nothing else, this should be a sobering reminder that our community must put safety and separation from full scale aviation as our utmost highest priority. There are many special circumstances with this particular video of course and we can debate all day long who screwed up in this particular situation, but I think the point is that bad things can happen ... even to good people trying to do the right thing. It's good to have a healthy proportion of fear/worry about this as we fly our own aircraft. I'm a member of an RC club and even though our field is not possible to access by full scale airplanes, we have people buzzing us too low all too often, and we have planes flying in the vicinity all the time ... up to a couple per hour if the weather isn't bad. Like it or not, we do share the skies with other folks who have a bit more at stake than us. And even though this video doesn't play well with the narrative we would like to present to the world, it's something we can't be afraid to discuss.
  • Chris A, I think the borderline between regular RC-airplanes and UAVs are pretty thin, partly thanks to the like of us, (DIYers). Therefore I thank you for not closing this thread down. I think this kind of incidents is highly relevant, because it is a good illiustration of the worries that the manned aviation world is holding against us.

    However, what I wanted to say was that I am not shure any of the pilots was neccessarily to blame for the incident. It appears from the video there were some sort of airshow going on, and the the problem could also have been due to poor communication. Which in turn could very well have been under the responsibility of others, e.g. the local or sentral air traffic control, airshow management, etc.
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