It’s not a UFO landing site—
just FOD under a lawnmower.
Claude Vest’s story is in the
Foreign objects wreak havoc
Claude Vest sent me a great story about his lawnmower adventure. It was a serious matter that could
have been worse without his level-headed response. However, his way of
telling it struck my funny bone, and now
I feel bad about being so undignified.
Claude was mowing his 3-acre yard—
the same as many of us do at our flying
fields. A scrap of wire got tangled in the
riding mower’s blade and overheated
a bearing, but he couldn’t see it and
kept on rolling. When the bearing got
hot enough, it started igniting the grass
There was Claude, happily mowing
away, and leaving a little trail of
fire across the yard! He eventually
noticed the situation and called the
fire department to get the turf and the
mower fires extinguished.
His wife, Lisa, is a smart lady. She
filled some water buckets and set them
near the burn area, knowing that a
spontaneous reignition was possible.
Sure enough, flames reappeared four
hours later and had to be doused.
Claude said, “Weeks later, that is the
Many club fields are maintained by
club members. There are plenty of
ways to get hurt by power-driven lawn
equipment, and Claude can testify
that incidents can happen in strange
ways and when you least expect them.
Because he and his wife handled this
matter so well, you have a great story to
read and a lesson to learn.
Foreign Object Damage
Have you ever heard the term foreign
object damage (FOD)? Claude’s mower
fire was caused by FOD, which is a big
deal in the full-scale aviation world.
Aircraft factories and service facilities go
to great lengths to prevent FOD.
Before working inside an airplane,
mechanics sometimes have to empty
their pockets into a tray. One stray coin
dropped into a critical system could
mean big trouble. Have you ever seen
a runway or carrier deck
being “walked” by a
line of people shoulder
to shoulder? They are
looking for any little bit
of debris that could be
sucked into an intake or flipped into a propeller.
Our model aircraft are vulnerable to FOD as well, but the damage might be to the
pilot instead of the aircraft. Even at idle, a propeller or rotor can pick up wire or a
carelessly placed tool and make problems for anyone nearby.
Keep your pit area tidy, with nothing close to the propeller or jet intake. And
of course, this is another good reason to wear safety glasses when working around
I got another good laugh from the instruction manual that came with a new RC
RTF electric-powered model. Apparently, computer translation has not yet been
perfected, because this booklet was for entertainment only.
“Aircraft flying just finished, the battery is also very hot, do not charge the battery
cool down, such as when recharging, the battery is charged, after some hot, cool
down and then have to wait to play.”
Okay, I think I get that. Don’t charge or fly if the battery is hot. Fair enough.
“ 3 Important! If the aircraft or objects on the card to the tree, to immediately put
the throttle to a minimum. If you do not minimize it, the aircraft is still in constant
81 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2015 www.ModelAviation.com
SAFETY COMES FIRST