Wiki Ninja

Tragic RC Helicopter Death in Brooklyn Park


This picture is a frame from a prior FPV flight conducted (safely) by the victim.

A 19-year-old model helicopter enthusiast was killed Thursday when a toy helicopter he was flying struck him in the head, a law-enforcement official said.

This is really sad. I cannot fathom being the father standing next to him.

Pilot culture can appear slightly morbid from the outside. We tend to reflect on and rehash accidents more than non-pilots. I think reflections like this are good for safety culture in amateur UAVs too.

I recently constructed carbon/XPS blade-guards for my 20 lb hex... Sometimes during the tedious machining I doubted it was worth the time.

Some may cite the kinetic energy danger in a helicopter rotor vs. multicopters, but the longer you fly, the more likely it is you'll know someone who's had an accident on a multirotor. The more accidents we have, the more we promote the "drones are usually dangerous" misconception. Consider: this WSJ article has a QAV500 FPV video as it's lead media. Concepts distinct to you and I will be conflated by the public.

Let this incident scare you, and be careful.

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  • With multirotors we have a high proportion of people flying who have little or often no prior r/c experience. These folks couldn't get a big trad heli off the ground, but they have no difficulty launching, with the flick of a switch, a six pound rock a few hundred feet in the air.

    I completely disagree with you and here is why.

    Anyone can buy a prebuilt kit for a quad or a heli with no prior exp your argument is invalid and tasteless a man died =(

    This guy was like the AMA poster baby he was better than anyone will ever be on this entire website at 3d and you mar his memory with squabbling its almost 100% certain this death was due to mech failure. People can die driving a car do we argue over how unsafe they are nope!

    My deepest sympathy goes out to family and friends of Roman Pirozek Jr.

  • Wiki Ninja

    Today's NYPost cover is grotesque. Green annotation text is mine. Amazed they didn't call it a drone.


  • Excellent, excellent post Oliver.

    I agree, that it *seems* to me that Tradhelis have fewer, but more serious accidents, for many of the reasons you point out.  One of the main reasons is that a new pilot, acting alone, is unlikely to get one off the ground, or not for long anyway.  Therefore, they *must* join a club, and typically fly only at the club, receive instruction, and where the public is safely kept away.

    The ease of use of multi-rotors however, leads lots of complete newbies to fly them, who then do silly things and we've had lots and lots of accidents.  Luckily, due to the fact they are less dangerous, there haven't been any deaths.

    On the other hand, I believe there has been a pretty rapid increase in occurance of deaths caused by large helis recently.  This is, IMO, due to the increasing popularity of XTREME heli flying as you see on Youtube.  But this shouldn't necessarily be used as an argument that UAV Helis are dangerous.... I mean, they are dangerous, and must be treated with respect.  But just as there are ways to handle guns safely, there are also ways to operate guns safely.

    These XTREME 3D pilots are essentially playing Russian Roulette.  We should not point at somebody who lost a game of RR, and use that to conclude that it's impossible to handle a gun safely.

    Arguments about this event are starting up all over the internet.  Many are defending the pilot saying things like "Don't jump to conclusions and blame him.  You don't know.  It could have been an equipment failure."  Well, that is exactly the point.  When you fly fast and close, there is little room for error.  Also when you push head speed faster and faster, you are putting more and more energy into those blades.

  • Admin


    A permanent safety sticky is a very good idea and I would like to solicit inputs from members via pm.


    TCIII Admin

  • This terrible accident should not be used to argue that multirotors are somehow safer than trad helicopters. They both have their dangers and both can kill. Yes, I'd rather have a multi run into me than a trad heli, but I sure wouldn't want a multi running out of power or brains anywhere over my head, especially if I didn't even know it was there.

    The fact is that there have been very, very few serious accidents involving large trad helis. One reason for this is that people who fly them have usually worked their way into r/c slowly, learning many skills methodically. Along the way they have been at least heavily  exposed if not absorbed by a strong and prevalent culture of safety that surrounds traditional r/c.

    With multirotors we have a high proportion of people flying who have little or often no prior r/c experience. These folks couldn't get a big trad heli off the ground, but they have no difficulty launching, with the flick of a switch, a six pound rock a few hundred feet in the air.

    As multirotors become easier and easier to fly and as more and bigger firms market them, and as prices drop, we will inevitably see more and more accidents. It could easily get to the eventual point where trad heli flyers will want to distance themselves from a bad safety record of multirotors rather than the other way around. It is up to us, and very much in the interests of this hobby (or potential profession), to acknowledge the inherent dangers and to do what we can to educate people early on.

    This Web site fails in that regard, IMHO, by not having a permanent "sticky" safety section linked at the top of the pages as many other r/c sites do. As it is now, some of us here issue the same safety advice over and over, and each time a few people see it and then, like everything else posted to these forums and blogs, it sinks out of view.

    Fly safe -

  • T3

    "Check these manoevers he's doing. Remember this is actually closer than it appears since this is GoPro footage. At 4:25, remember that's inverted."

    Inverted is no more dangerous when you have the skills to fly inverted. I got to the point where hovering upright tail in seemed foreign and scary to me. But yes, flying towards you is more dangerous than not -- but more fun.

  • We all know the risks and we choose to defy them by acting as safe as possible but accidents will always wait to happen no matter how careful we are. If we do think about how many thousands of people are into this hobby and how many accidents do occur, the number of serious accidents compared to other hobbies and recreational activities is still pretty low and awareness is pretty high about this models regardless the fact most of the outsiders refer to them as toys. 

    Words really can't express this unfortunate event. My condolences to the family of this fellow pilot.   

  • Here is the video of the event at IRCHA this year. Dude was really lucky, and really fast on the Throttle Hold.

    But simple fact is, you fly like this, eventually something will happen.

    This video here is, well, the heli is pretty amazing.  And they're flying it nice and slow.  But it shows that it's flying close-in that really raises the risk.  Skip ahead to 2:00.  Lucky lucky guys.  Things can happen really fast.

  • IMO, having the option for it is a nice idea, but it shouldn't become mandatory to use.  They do have drawbacks, aren't necessary to operate safely, and don't even make the machines perfectly safe anyway.  

  • Maybe is time for quad makers to sell some blade protections as well.

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