A Sad Tale of a Beautiful P-47 Lost Due to Battery Failure
August 5th 2006 was a sunny, hot, humid Kentucky day. I was attending my local Warbird event held annually. I was enjoying the day flying my Ziroli Beech 18, my Mig 21 and my newly finish Meister Scale P-47. The wind had picked up towards the end of the morning and I elected to fly the P-47. The p-47 really doesn’t care much either way if it is windy or not. There was no flying and I was asked to do a little demonstration with the big beast. I love putting on a show, so I fueled her up, cranked the big Quadra 100 and taxied out.
I really enjoy the feeling I get watching that big hunk of metal (okay, balsa wood and glass, but it looks like metal) screaming down the runway with that deafening Q-100 turning a 26-10 prop. As it growled by us, I gently lifted back on the stick and we were air born! I could hear the awe of the crowd (many seeing model airplanes for the first time) as I rolled, low fly bys, and other maneuvers in my routine. I felt good and really enjoyed the moment until out of my crosswind turn, turning upwind, the plane jerked to the right. I gave full left aileron and the plan immediately snapped to the left. I knew that I was going to loose the plane and retarded the throttle to idle. Nothing! The plane dove into the ground spinning to the left at full throttle. It took about 1.5 seconds to spin in from approximately 600 feet.
I only knew that I had lost all radio communication with the receiver. I immediately asked if anyone was on my frequency. Of course no one stepped up. I went to the CD and asked if anyone was registered on my frequency. He said I was the only one. Walking out to the crash site, I asked the “gents” helping me not to touch anything. I wanted to give a good look to see if I could find the culprit. The crash site consisted of about 100sq feet of balsa, wiring, servo remains, etc. However, I noticed my two batteries. Battery 1, a 2700 NiMh pack bought new for this plane showed what looked like the remnants of a slow burn. Battery 2, a 1500 NiMh bought new for this plane showed no sign of wear. Not even a scratch. I almost dismissed this as an impact explosion, when I noticed the foam packing about 7 feet opposite the batteries. The foam told the story! You can clearly see that point of concentration on the slow burn as the burn marks get lighter. Battery number 1 started a slow burn and locked out my system in doing so. I had battery 1 in the batt plug on the receiver and battery 2 on channel 7 in the receiver. Two separate high end JR switches, and two battery monitors. I bought a battery backup system from Dino but couldn’t find the time to put it in. Playing Monday morning Quarterback, I should have put it in.
If you are flying large aircraft, please consider a battery backup. This would have saved me countless grief and hours lost on building this plane. You can get these from Aero-Accessories from the mid 50s to the mid 80s depending on how many bells you want. Seeing that an extra 70 bucks would have saved my plane, I think it would have more than been a well worth insurance investment.
Plans are underway to re-build another Meister P-47. I will keep you all informed of my progress. Please learn from my mistakes and seriously consider (if you haven’t) looking at two batteries, two switches, a battery back up for your large aircraft. For the relatively small extra investment, you can rest assured that in case of a battery problem, you have a much better chance to fly your plane safely to the ground.
Keep ‘em flyin!