After the R/C model airplane crash

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, you had an accident with your favorite radio controlled model airplane.  Now what?  Do not despair, most of the time even severly damaged model aircraft can be successfully repaired and will fly again.

The first thing to do after crashing the model is to carefully search the wreckage for parts that still look repairable.  Pay special attention to the on board radio equipment and disconnect the battery pack and turn off the switch. Also, remember to turn off the transmitter ( prevent the batteies from becoming discharged).  If the receiver or battery pack was seperated from the fuselage, make sure you find all the major components.  Today’s technology has developed a very durable, almost indestructible radio system.  It almost always will be serviceable after a crash.  Just be sure to check it out thoroughly to make certain that it still works correctly before flying with it again.

Carefully clean all dirt and debris from the engine.  It may be necessary to disassemble the engine and clean it thoroughly inside and out.  When checking the engine avoid the temptation to flip the prop over and over.  Doing so can cause severe damage if dirt and sand has entered the carburetor or exhaust port.  It is a good idea to have the crankshaft checked for straightness.  Even a slight bend can cause vibration at high rpms.  Depending on the nature of the accident it may be advisable to have someone with more experience verify the condition of the engine.

On to checking out the condition of the fuselage, wing, and the tail section.  The true extent of the damage to the plane may not be readily visible.  You may have to remove some areas of the covering material to examine the internal structure.  If the wing looks intact and the covering is not torn, gently twist and slightly flex it to see if you notice any crunching or rattling parts.  If you hear something moving around inside, remove the covering and inspect the damage.

After assessing the damage, you can make a judgement call as to whether it is worth rebuilding.   The engine cowl and windshield ( if the model has one) can usually be purchased from the model or kit manufacturer.  Estimate the amount of balsa and plywood that will be needed to replace the broken parts.  You will be able to get a reasonably close estimate as to the cost of the materials required to get it back into original condition.  Usually you can salvage the engine, radio, and servos and those items make up the most expensive components of the plane.  It will be your call, but you might be suprised how quickly and inexpensively you can get your radio controlled model plane running and flying like the accident never happened.  One important tip: when you first build or assemble your model be sure to keep all drawings and manuals just in case an accident happens.  See you next time.