“Don’t be where the propeller can get
Very good. Anyone else?
“If the propeller does get you, make
sure there’s someone else around to give
Excellent. Class dismissed for recess.
Name That Tune
Rudy Nielson sent me a story about
beeps and bumps. He wrote:
“My new Super Falcon 120 has a
Tacon Big Foot 160 motor on 12 cells,
putting out about 50 volts of power to
a 15 x 10 prop. That is a lot of thrust!
After a nice flight, I put the batteries
to charge and flew my trusty old Sig
“Now it was time to fly the Falcon
again. This big plane still makes me
nervous. I installed the batteries, carefully
connected the wires, pumped up the
retracts, and set the plane on the taxiway.
“To arm this plane, you must set
the throttle at half speed, turn on the
receiver, plug in the ESC, and a musical
tone is emitted. The problem was that
when I turned on the transmitter at
half throttle the screen said “throttle
warning” instead of the name of the
airplane. It was still set for the Kougar
and the throttle servo was reversed.
“I missed the significance of this, and
moved the throttle to idle, when a second
musical tone should be heard. All I got
was a beep beep. Tried a second time and
again, beep beep.
“I should have stopped right there
and shut it down and figured out the
problem! Instead, I impatiently gave it
full throttle, which was really idle because
of the reversed servo. At last the musical
tone was heard and I immediately moved
the stick to idle.
“I should have restrained the plane
while arming it and testing the controls
just as I would do with a gas airplane.
You can guess the rest …
“The result was that the plane
immediately went to full throttle and
blasted down the taxiway and across
the runway. I pulled a sharp up just as
it reached the grass, at the same time
I wiggled the throttle and found that
it slowed as I moved the throttle up.
The plane went into a stall 20 feet off
the ground and the best I could do was
try to recover and belly flop into the
ground. It was damaged but repairable.
“Boy, did I learn from my mistake!
These new transmitters have remarkable
technology that allows us to fly multiple
planes, reverse servos at the touch of a
button, and do numerous other things,
but if we act foolishly they will bite!
“I am going to manually change
the servos in all my planes so that
they all work the same, so if a mistake
like this happens again, I will end up
flying a plane that is out of trim, but
not uncontrollable. And, of course, I’ll
restrain electric planes while arming
them and testing the functions.”
Rudy’s experience is far too common
these days. Even a smart, experienced
pilot can become confused by today’s
complex radio systems. It’s worth
slowing down and checking things
during preflight inspection.
Please send me your close-call stories
and tales of adventure and disaster.
Sharing them with the world turns
an accident into a lesson for the rest
of us. You can choose to be famous or
anonymous, depending on how badly
you goofed up!
87 Model Aviation MARCH 2014