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Trials and Tribulations of a Hobby

Posted by Tom Benedict on 19/09/2013

One question I’m often asked when I’m out doing KAP is, “How many cameras have you destroyed?” So far the answer is none. A lot of what goes into KAP is making sure you’re safe. Not just to your gear, but to the people and the things around you. I have had some impacts at higher speeds than I’m comfortable with, but so far my cameras have always come away intact.

Kites can take damage, too. I’ve replaced my fair share of spars, and have patched more than one sail. This is par for the course. And while it’s possible to lose entire kites to trees or to broken kite line, so far I’ve escaped that particular tragedy.

Put it all together and it’s possible for me to lose well over a thousand dollars on a single flight if something goes horribly wrong. Between the kite ($100-250) the camera ($850 new) and the rig (about $300 rolled into it right now), it’s substantial.

All of which puts some perspective on this:

Raptor Gone

It’s my first complete loss catastrophe with RC airplanes. The unfortunate bird is my Raptor 2000 Advance from R2Hobbies. Earlier in the day I had a hard(ish) landing. Afterward I checked all my control surfaces, but forgot to check the notoriously fragile tail for fractures. It turns out the left surface had broken loose. When I re-launched, the tail feather wobbled enough for me to see something was wrong. I did everything I could to bring it around for a landing, but before I’d completed the turn the feather snapped off entirely, and the airplane went into a building.

No damage to the building, but my ego took some damage and the plane was almost a complete loss. The left wing is still intact, provided I can glue the wing tip back on. The rest is gone.

I pulled all the electronics out last night, and to my surprise I found everything survived intact: 6 servos, 40A ESC, receiver, motor, and even the prop all came through unscathed. (The battery dead-shorted on landing, unfortunately. No fire, but no battery either.)

So as bad as it looks, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been. And certainly not as bad as a KAP accident. The plane was $120. That’s half the price of my Dopero, and only slightly more expensive than my Fled – two of my low-wind KAP kites.

While I’m still disappointed, it’s not the end of the world. It’s par for the course with this hobby. The same is true of most hobbies. This one just seems to be a little more spectacular when things go wrong.

I had a good month of Getty sales, which helped put me back in a good mood. After a couple of days of asking around on the RCGroups forums, I’ve got a Phoenix 2000 glider on its way along with a Thermal Scout from Winged Shadow Systems and a 5.8GHz radio link to get audio vario information on the ground. But that’s a post for another day.

– Tom

5 Responses to “Trials and Tribulations of a Hobby”

  1. Reminds me of the old adage: ‘there are 2 types of model aircraft’… but can you get your bucket cheap skyhook to lift a camera?

    Keep flying!


  2. Tom Benedict said

    Hahahaha! The old adage is true!

    As for lifting a camera, most certainly. But I haven’t found RC airplanes to be all that good at aerial still photography. For that, give me a kite every time. But airplane videos are fun to make.

  3. Oh this is so timely. Just had my first decent flying session yesterday, plane needs to be rebuilt of course, so I thought I’d revisit your RC plane posts. I guess every crash is an opportunity – new plane!

    • Tom Benedict said

      Yeeeeah… It’s an opportunity I wish I’d missed out on. But I’m looking forward to the new plane.

      The part I’m really smacking myself on the head for is what I said to myself right before I put it in the air: “I think this is the last flight of the day.”

      A couple of days later, a new thread showed up on, listing all the stuff people wished they’d known but had to learn the hard way. Guess what showed up more than once? “Never say to yourself, ‘This is the last flight of the day.’ They always end in a crash.”


      Ah well. I learned. And I'll be more careful with the new plane.


  4. Hey Tom – long time no talk!

    Had a similarly catastrophic crash with my foamcore plane I spent the last two weeks of summer building. Battery slipped during hand launch, and the CG shift was enough to cause a hard nose-dive into the ground. Didn’t have time to rebuild before grad school started, so it’ll have to be a winter project.

    Just catching up on all of your posts – really enjoy your writing style. Brings me back to my summer at CFHT

    All the best,

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