Refurbished Runway has first crash!

Well that didn't take long did it? Actually it wasn't a full sized aircraft. Before the runway was completed, and on a Sunday morning while the airport was still closed to air traffic, I took my brand new, five foot wingspan, P-51 Mustang radio controlled plane up there to give it, it's initial trial by fire. This plane is a 1/5 scale version of the venerable fighter escort plane from WWII. It was the plane that made it feasible to shadow the bombers all the way to the heart of Germany and give them protection all the way in and back home. It was used almost exclusively by the Army Air Force at the time.
It took me a long time to lower myself far enough to build an Air Farce(just kidding) plane after being an old Navy guy for 20 years, but, what the heck, I'd run out of Navy A/C to model. Besides, this is one fine looking plane in anybodies estimation.

So off I go with all the necessary equipment needed to get one of these babies in the air. Big battery and starter to get it cranking over, big portable air tank to fill the small air tank inside the fuselage, this to make the retractable landing gear operate,fuel cans and pumps,a fully charged radio system, Tx. and Rx. First off I have to attach the wing to the fuse which is done by two 1/4 nylon bolts. Then it is charge the air tank and then fill the fuel tanks. Lots of tank stuff with this plane! Now it's time to take a few pictures of this baby before engine start. After the photo op was complete, there was no way to delay this any further. Turn on the Tx. and then the Rx. Run all the control surfaces through their complete range on high and low rates. Yup they all work fine, throttle also. Okay, pull the prop thru a few turns, crack the throttle, apply the heat to the glow plug, push the starter against the prop spinner and press the switch. It only took about ten seconds of cranking for that OS MAX 1.20 four stroke engine to fire and settle right into a nice idle. Run the engine up to full power and set the needle valve for high and low operation, run the flight control surfaces through their full range of motion again and it is time to go. She is sitting right on the centerline of the runway, so with a smooth steady push to full power and a little rudder to keep her straight down the runway, off we go. After about 15 feet the tail comes up and I let her build up a good head of steam before I gently rotate her into the air. Damn, this thing flies like a dream! A climbing left turn to keep her in close so I can see what it is doing, and I am at about 50 feet altitude with the gear still down, 'cause I'm afraid to let go of any levers just yet to flip a switch! Just as I turn town wind and get level, it becomes deathly silent up there in the air next to my beautiful bird! As in a real plane, when that fan out on the front of the plane stops generating a breeze, the hard sweats immediately start behind the controls! Same thing here. What to do? Try to put it back on the runway is the first thought, but realize that I don't have enough speed or altitude to stretch out the glide. This thing is heavy too! It weighs about 15-18 pounds when fully loaded. So the only option is to push the nose over to see if I can generate a little airspeed, but this thing flies like a brick when all forward motion is suspended. When I pushed the nose over, it used up all my altitude in about 2 seconds, and my hard flare didn't do much to arrest or even soften it's contact with the ground. She plowed into the ground, thankfully about a foot of soft wet mud, and snapped off both of the extended landing gear and buried the engine up to the back of the crankcase! Twas actually a spectacular landing! Kind of like some of Herman's!
After wading thru the mud and retrieving all the various and sundry pieces, it was determined that actually very minimal damage was done to the wing structure and that it could and would be repaired rather easily. Which it has been as of this writing. Just waiting for new decals to arrive before flight number two.

So I am claiming the rights to the title of, first takeoff, first landing(close but not on), and first aircraft incident(read, crash) on the newly refurbished BI Airport. Also the second of each category as I flew an electric powered Islander around for one flight also.

Oh yeah, why did the engine quit you may ask? Well after getting her home and all the mud dug out of the airframe and in the engine room, I discovered that the fuel line from the fuel tank to the fuel pump on the back of the engine had come off. No gas, no go, no fly, result? CRASH!! Oh well, off again very soon I hope! TIFN


Everett said...

I tried for an hour to get a picture of the plane in here, but either me or my computer is to stupid to make it work!

Sam said...

Ah, your beta version is giving you trouble. The way I do it is to insert a picture when posting (not sure if beta is the same). There is a picture icon and you have to click it and find your picture on the hard drive. Cameras have some terrible file names so I sometimes rename my favorite pictures like "plane1.jpg".

So no Picassa or other stuff needed if it works like I think.

By the way, nice story. After all that trash talking about the Army Air Force, what do you expect? LOL, Navy-boy!

Anonymous said...

Dateline BI: Airport has second crash! This time it's the terminal recontruction project that crashed at the school last night. Seems RIAC didn't get enough constructive input from BI before it presented its' preliminary version of what a new terminal would have looked like. Hard to believe the old terminal is as good as it was made to sound last night. Did you know it has a "classic New England diner"? Are those "classic New England bathrooms" too? More like archaic... And how have we survived all these years without more hanger space? Hanger space "needed to repair all the wrecked aircraft..." Back to the old drawing board. Maybe we could get RIAC to fund repairs on the Beach pavillion instead and then when the airport terminal crumbles under foot the Island can pay for a new terminal..that'd be fair, or would it? The weather may be boring lately but the meetings aren't.

InsideIslander said...


Is it any surprise that the pavilion is falling apart? That is what happens when the government attempts to take over something that the private sector should be doing.

The town had the right idea to lease the pavilion out for all those years. They were guaranteed a check every summer. I do not know what the specific terms of their past contract were, however they likely had to commit far fewer resources to the pavilion than they do now.

Look what has happened. The pavilion has fallen apart just like the town docks. Any time there is not accountability, as in our town, and there is not the profit motive like a private tenant would have, most government works turn to crap.

Now if the town was not making any money of the pavilion, but it provided better service to the users of it, the situation would be acceptable.

However in this case: the town is making less money, the infrastructure is falling apart, and the services provided to the uses are deplorable.

We should take notice at what happened to Mother Russia in their failed socialist experiment. The similar big government control that brought Russia to its economic knees, is the cause of many of the town problems. As the great Ronald Regan said (paraphrase) "Government is not the answer, government is the problem."

The town should privatize everything it can. The road contract, the town docks, the pavilion...I'd even venture to say that the school should be privatized with oversight. The roughly 50k we spend per pupil is enough to send every kid to some of the most prestigious private academies in the nation. We could, with a little creativity have caliber of education here on BI.

Contracts to privatize can be worded to mandate strict standards, which if are not met by the tenant, the contract can be voided.

The town should more concerned with increasing its local empire building, than it should be with providing top notch services and value to the tax payers.

Sam said...

The school thing does need to be clarified because folks are saying it is $50,000 per kid. Let's say the new school is expected to last 20 years or more - I mean the existing school is really old, right? That means that over the pay-off period on the bond the school will turnover those K-12 students at least twice.

I mean, the math simply does not support the $50,000 number. It is pure hogwash.

InsideIslander said...


That is the operating budget for the school, Sam.

That is before the debt service for the new School is added on.

There are roughly 100 students enrolled at the school (may be mistaken but it is close to this number).

Do the math and then add on what the projected debt service is on the new school.

Heck, don't even add on the debt service and you have $38,000 per pupil.

That is still enough to send the kids to excellent prep schools such a Wheeler and Moses Brown.

I am not knocking the idea of a local school. It is good for fostering communuty development. However, we should be getting much more for our money than what the school has given us.

How are things run down there in Texas, Sam?

Anonymous said...

What should we be getting ,that we are not?

Everett said...

Hey Sam, "really old" huh? I guess 'cause it is only five years older than me, I am guilty of that assertion of "really Old" too! BAAWAAH! Thanks a lot! I'll get ya!

Sam said...

Hey Everett, were they like wearing Pilgrim hats and stuff back then? LOL!

We all know that building a school on a resort island like BI would be quite expensive as compared to the mainland.

But let me put on my accounting hat and say that one needs to take a look at the how long it takes to pay off the bond, and how many students were enrolled during that time. You're counting the average number of students in school in a given year, where I would add more each year (life cycle cost benefit analysis).

A very simple example would be to start with 100 kids and a 20 year bond note. Each year let's say 10 more kids are in the school system, including "new" ones in 1st grade and all the tranfers. Ten might have gradiated but after the first year, those were served by the school too.

So ten new kids over 20 years is 200 "new" students, which you add to the current population to equal 300 students. That would be a much lower per-student investment ratio, I'm sure you would agree.

The other way to do this is to add up the annual expected payments for a single calendar year, including debt service. This should be a public document that outlines the expected payments for each year until the bond is paid in full. Each year should be the same payment amount unless they did some tricky accounting with the bank. Now you can divide by 100 to get a feel for how much each student costs (cost margin analysis).

But that number will still be high I agree.


The Warbler said...

Huh, and here I thought you just stuck a little battery or two into a plane, picked up the controls and buzzed it around a few times. Guess I learned a thing or two.

Sam said...

Hey Everett, that's not a bad idea like telling people how you make them kits and planes and put the power to them.

You know Warbler, some have no power and are throw planes (a really tough competition category, large wingspans). Of course you know about rubber band props, right? Some have electric motors, the larger ones. But the gasser, mainly a mixture of alcohol and gasoline, is the El Supremo.

Let's let Everett tell his story but my neighbor was a model plane nut, throw planes (some with 3-4 foot wing-spans) and the big gassers. A "gasser" is a one-piston engine you have to align with the propeller at the nose or on each wing, a one-inch lawmnmower engine if you will. They are very LOUD when run.

Well you throttle them up to take off they basically sound like the Banshees. Then full bore and they're off the ground. You wanna see an old man smile, just go help Everett launch a big honking gasser. Don't worry, these folks know that landing can be quite bumpy, and if you have most of the pieces parts, all is OK.

So what was yer first gasser, Ev?

Everett said...

It was an.049(really tiny) Olhson and Rice on an 18 wingspan balsa plane made of flat sheets of balsa cut to look something like a plane. It was a control line plane that made you go round in circles till you either ran out of gas, altitude, or puked from getting so dizzy! Ah fun times at Ridgemont, err, Block Island High!

Sam said...

I bet they don't let you do that no more at the basketball games, right Everett?