Locating downed models

You know the problem you’re blasting around the sky looping and rolling, spinning and flicking your favourite plane this way and that, the models behaving perfectly when SILENCE !!! your engine suddenly stops dead, that’s right you’ve run out of fuel two feet up in the middle of the corn field. The only thing is to do a hurried landing out in the middle of the field. (The other option is to crash in the normal manner)

So what now? That’s right you stomp off into the corn to find your plane muttering and mumbling about how you should have fitted a larger tank, or been ten feet up instead of two and you would have made it back to the patch no problem, when you realise that you don’t really know the exact location of the model and so you spend the next half an hour wading back and forth through waist high soaking wet corn only to find that you walked past the model on the way to the search area, frustrating ? You Bet.

So what to do about it, just how do you go about locating that downed model accurately and quickly ?

Well this is the method that works for me.

It works at its best with three people but can be quite successful with two or even one with a little care.

Most importantly don’t move from where you are standing until you have done the next 4 things

1: First of all you must take a sighting from the model to a fixed point of reference on the horizon. This sight line will be from your position, through the models position & onto the point on the horizon.

2: Now ask any other flyers if they saw your model go down and if they did instruct them to stand still and take a sighting in the same way that you did.

3: Now you need a volunteer to walk out into the field and be guided by the two people who have got the line on where the model went down.

4: Guide your volunteer down your sight-line until he crosses the sight-line of your helper, at this point the model should be at his feet. SUCCESS !!!!

If there are only two people able to do the search you must guide your helper down your sight-line until he gets to the model. Your helper must keep looking back to you to receive instructions on how he is following your line.

 Now if you are on your own it is slightly trickier.

First you must take your sighting from the landing point to a fixed point of reference on the horizon.

Next you must mark the spot where you are standing preferably using something tall and visible from a distance, (your transmitter with it’s orange frequency flag on the aerial, you have got a flag on your aerial Haven’t you ?)

You must now take with you another marker and head out into the field along your sight-line to the point where you think your model is. When you get to the point you think the model is and you can’t see it you must place your marker and start a systematic search of the area.

Starting from your marker you start searching in an ever increasing circle until you find the model. If after this search you cannot find the model you must go back to your first position (where you were when the plane landed) and check that your marker in the field is in the right place and then repeat the search again making any correction to the position of the search area.

The most common error when searching is judging the distance to the model. It is usually much further away than you thought.

If you know of a better method to find downed models, for example, camera’s on other aircraft or mowing the whole field until you find your plane or just building bigger models that won’t disappear in the corn, please don’t keep it secret write it down and send it to me.

David Probert


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This Site is maintained by David Probert, Committee Member for Alport Model Flying Club.