Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Runaway radio-controlled airplane returned

FOUND: Stuart Lightfoot's 2.8m blue and white semi-scale model has been returned after it went missing during a flight on September 10.

Stuart Lightfoot's 2.8-metre radio-controlled airplane has been found after two weeks missing in action.

The blue and white semi-scale model never came home after a transmitter malfunction during a flight last month.

Lightfoot, of Te Aroha, said the plane was based on aircraft from the 1930s and would have cost $2500 to replace.

He has flown the model plane every week from a location west of Matamata, performing rolls, loops, flying upside down and working on mastering the "knife-edge", which is flying with wings vertical.

During the last flight, he knew there was a problem soon after takeoff and the plane sailed higher and higher until it disappeared from view. Inspection of the transmitter revealed a broken aerial wire, which meant the plane lost transmission once it was more than 100 metres away. A 20-minute flying time meant it could have come down almost anywhere in the Waikato and Lightfoot issued a call for its return.

Luckily, it was found by two boys riding their motorbikes in a farm paddock property in Walton, owned by Rebecca Carter. There is damage to the fuselage and rudder, the landing gear has been torn off and a wing broken in half. It would take a few months work and $200-$300 to repair it, he said. Lightfoot said he was relieved to have the plane back.

"I didn't realize it had become such a big part of my life."

Lightfoot started flying gliders in the 1950s, followed by Cessna and microlight aircraft. In recent years, the 89-year-old has stuck with model airplanes, which were his first interest. "I've always been in modelling, I've had models all my life, since I was a boy," he said. 

- Source:    http://www.stuff.co.nz

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