Safety Issues and Concerns
Macon Aero Modelers Safety Thoughts August 2010
Half Way Through the Summer and Some Observations..
Safety Coordinator, Macon Aero Modelers
At the midpoint of our flying season I’d like to discuss some issues I’ve observed over the past month. We’ve gotten lax in our safety practices and it could cause an incident. Also, remember you set the example for our new members!
First, we still have members who fly without first posting their AMA membership card on the frequency board and taking the respective 72 MHz or 2.4 GHz (red) pin. Why is this important? Simply put, it’s a matter of flight discipline. Posting your AMA card should be the first thing you do when you get out of the car! The posted card and vacant pin tells your fellow Macon Aero members of your intent to fly. It also assures you that the pilot flying out there is a member of AMA and thus has liability insurance should his or her plane crash into you or your car. Think it can’t happen? We’ve all seen incidents where a pilot loses control and the plane goes down.
Second, I’ve observed members flying from one end of the chain link fence to the other. We have flight stations—they are marked—we need to use them. Members flying from the flight stations may not notice another member who may be at the far extreme of the fence. It’s also harder to hear a member stating they have a “dead stick”, need to get on the field, or some other issue. Once you get your aircraft in the air, move to the flight station.
Third, many of us are flying more powerful electric models. I remember several years ago everyone at my former flying club was thrilled with 11 volt, 2100 mAh 3-cell batteries. Now 18 volt, 5000 mAh 5-cell batteries are common. The motors are bigger and they swing bigger props. I was recently introduced to the Maxx Products High Current Arming Switch. It allows you to connect the battery, close all hatches, move the plane into take-off position, and then arm the system safely. It prevents the inadvertent throttle input from turning the prop until you are ready to fly. Likewise, by pulling out the connector you disarm the plane and then can move it safely off the field. It makes my Mud Duck and its 18-inch prop much safer for me to handle. I’m sure there are other good arm/de-arm switches out there—my point is to use something in addition to pulling the battery leads.
This summer has been especially hot and humid. Dehydration should be on your mind and you should bring water or some other refreshment to replenish your fluids. We try to stock the refrigerator with bottled water. We only ask that you donate to the funds cup to help with the cost.
The last issue I’d like to highlight is the care, transportation, and charging of LIPO batteries. Let’s ask a few questions. Do you transport LIPO batteries to the field in a “fire-proof” container? Do you charge LIPO batteries in your garage? Do you charge them in a fire-safe container? The excellent safety article on page 85 of MODEL AVIATION, July 2010, suggests the use of a ceramic container such as the Battery Bunker or a LIPO sack when charging, and the use of metal ammunition cans for transporting batteries to the field.
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