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HomeAircraftHelicopterAerial Photography and Video › Disorientation drill
03-07-2008 12:03 AM  10 years agoPost 1
wlfk

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uk

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Got disoriented the other day and crashed my T-Rex 450 AP rig. It shook me a little, as I'm not so used to crashing any more.

First problem was I let it get too high and it was just a silhouette. Second problem was that, for whatever reason, the tail hold seemed to fail - at least briefly. Then it started responding normally again, as far as I could tell. Normally I'm fairly happy flying like this, but I was no longer sure whether the helicopter was pointing forwards or backwards.

3 things I did wrong...

1) I have it ingrained in me that altitude = safety. Without consciously trying to do so, I gained altitude, making the orientation problem worse. I had plenty of altitude so I now think I should have either lost or maintained altitude.

2) I used the rudder, and pointed the nose back away from me (flying tail in). I knew which way the helicopter was pointing because I knew which direction the tail had been pointing in. Had I trusted my knowledge of the heli orientation and flown backwards towards me, I would have saved it. As it happened, I kidded myself that I might actually be flying nose-in and I tried all kinds of stick movements to try and regain orientation. It was taking pictures all the while, so I now know it was tail-in.

3) I still don't really know what caused the tail to lose lock. I was flying in moderately windy conditions with an hs81 servo on the tail. because the 3153 was waiting for spare parts.

1 thing I did right...

Eventually I just hit throttle hold, before it could get any closer to property. I was being somewhat conservative - or so I thought. But as it happened the heli was further away from me than I'd actually thought. The two cancelled out, and the heli landed somewhere reasonable.

1 thing I could have done...

I think I should have tried turning the tail to where I could see it, then flown sideways towards me. That way there's no uncertainty about nose-in/tail-in where the silhouettes appear the same. If you end up inverted or on the heli's side, then you lose altitude quickly so you can infer that aspect of orientation.

Future crash drill (comments welcomed)

Don't lose your head. If you're that high up then you have time. (If the heli's that far away but doesn't have altitude, why aren't you standing closer (OK - perhaps it's over a lake etc...))
Don't gain altitude unless otherwise indicated.
Turn the tail to the left/right - doesn't matter which way - so that the orientation is unambiguous
Fly back home
Go and have a cup of tea.

Not proud of it as I thought I knew better than to fly outside of my limits, but thankfully only harm was to the heli and camera, which wasn't too badly damaged. A learning experience.

K

A bit like a kite, but 500 times more expensive

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03-07-2008 05:03 AM  10 years agoPost 2
nooobs

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03-07-2008 03:47 PM  10 years agoPost 3
trackhead

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utah

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I remained calm and turned the heli slowly. Then I knew which way the heli was oriented
Key. Remain calm, wait a second, then react. Speaking from disorientation crash experience about 14 months ago.

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03-07-2008 05:43 PM  10 years agoPost 4
AceBird

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Utica, NY USA

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Everythings Left:

Orange ball to the left, tail to the right (which is left rudder) and slight left roll. You can do everything to the right if you like.

So far I only had to do this once with my gasser when I was first learning and it scared the sh$t out of me. It seemed like the heli was caught in a thermal and took it up 400 ft in no time at all. It was a very windy day as I recall.

Ace
What could be more fun?

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03-07-2008 06:20 PM  10 years agoPost 5
wxyz

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calif*, U know where

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HS-81's on tail rotors burn out very quickly. Brief loss of tail rotor authority is the first sign of burnout.

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03-07-2008 10:52 PM  10 years agoPost 6
wlfk

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uk

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So perhaps I should trash that HS81 now? Seems a shame - I had been keeping it for a plank.

Another idea - perhaps a really bright LED on the tail with a viewing angle of about 20 degrees. Might have to have 3 in line pointing up, down and back.. That way you would always know when you were tail-in.

If you wanted to be really clever, you could have red/green with different directions of polarisation and keep them yellow to remain horizontal.

K

A bit like a kite, but 500 times more expensive

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03-07-2008 11:56 PM  10 years agoPost 7
KarbonBird

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Australia

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I am often up around 60M with my T-Rex 450 and it definitely looks like a speck at that altitude. Whilst I have highly visible noodles fitted, orientation is nonetheless difficult at times. When the heli has beeen hovering for a while and I'm not sure of orientation - I dip the nose sharply and wait a few seconds to see which way it is heading before levelling out again. Because of the altitude there is plenty of room for a descent and that way you are bringing it closer to you and also getting an idea where its nose is. This has worked for me successfully for me for a while now.

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03-08-2008 02:04 AM  10 years agoPost 8
Seablade

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earth

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One thing I'm doing on my heli's is having a standard color pattern the same on each heli.
Green on Starboard and Red on Port. (i.e. Green stripe on starboard fuselage, green monokote on starboard side of the vertical stabilizer, green noodle on starboard landing gear skid, etc., etc.)

Skinning the sides of the vertical stabilzer helps me as I see that fin sticking out away from the fuselage and it helps know which direction it is pointed.(also planning on putting Maxi-light clear inside the skin on the v. stab, hoping it will light it from within adequately to be of practical use on last flights of the day!)

The Spartan Lipo Guard G4 has a nice bright LED that goes in the same spot aft on each heli so it is clearly seen and pointed down so that helps as well. (That is definitely distance related so it helps when it's close enough to see in daylight!)

"Vini, Vidi, Velcro"

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03-08-2008 02:45 AM  10 years agoPost 9
eyeinsky

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Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Still working at the lower altitudes 250'AGL my self and for the hover I prefer RH side on but will do LH and tail in. Just added some visual aid to the machine my self but can see how we could get into trouble with sky cover and the sun. That's why I all way use my polarize glasses.

Is any one using strobe light on the tail?

Hard job competing with gravity.

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03-08-2008 04:07 AM  10 years agoPost 10
nooobs

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03-08-2008 01:42 PM  10 years agoPost 11
AceBird

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Utica, NY USA

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perhaps a really bright LED on the tail with a viewing angle of about 20 degrees.
You'll never see it. You would be better of with a reflector on the the tail and shooting a spot light at it from the ground. Possible a laser pointer would work.

Ace
What could be more fun?

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03-08-2008 01:45 PM  10 years agoPost 12
Seablade

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earth

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Vario has a flashing strobe set. I think this has too much EMP to put near your other electronics. Have to carry a 9vdc batt., more weight.

One guy is using the survival strobe off a life vest. There is the style that is shaped like a fat pen, you can pull the strobe head off and mount it away from the electronics out on the tail and locate the two "AA" battery source in towards the CG. The strobe head is near the length of the tip of my thumb to the first joint(perhaps longer) and considerably fatter! ACR is the manufacturer.
WestMarine.com will probably have it online. There are style made smaller, but the battery is sealed in and non-replaceable. (it only has to work for 12 hours, after that it is not a concern!)

I haven't checked to see if there are any regulators to drop Rx battery voltage low enough to 3vdc to power the "pen" style or the Vario setup.

"Vini, Vidi, Velcro"

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03-08-2008 01:47 PM  10 years agoPost 13
eyeinsky

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Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Rosauro

"Yup wider is better" I think the saying goes. Before when I flew tail in or nose in it was hard to see looking up. That is why I prefer side on at the higher AGL's. With the fwd mount tends to be a little less stable than the under slung mount, that can get you into trouble if you loose orientation. I took a little weight penalty but I think it was worth it in the end. One issue that I notice straight away was some vibration from the pool noodles that noticeably affected video quality. Just removed the pool noodles and the problem went away. I may try smaller pool noodle with smoother profile or just remove them for shooting video.

Conclusion; it was a success and I will keep them for now.

Hard job competing with gravity.

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03-08-2008 02:06 PM  10 years agoPost 14
rerazor

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Mich.

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I would recommend to get used to looking at the rotor disk/tail for orientation instead of the landing skids/noodles. If you plan on using a 360 pan mount you will be in for a big surprise.

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03-08-2008 02:38 PM  10 years agoPost 15
eyeinsky

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Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada

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rerazor

Yup that is correct. But for now I use this heli and I look at the machine as whole unit. I try not to look at the camera that is my Camera guy’s problem. My main goal is to point and provide a sable platform. If I had the reason to make the move to under slug mount I would probably go with gasser setup with retractable landing gear but for now I will just rotate heli if need more than 180 pan.

Hard job competing with gravity.

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