A half-scale remote-control airplane collided with a real aircraft over a Colorado airport last weekend. While there were no injuries, the incident exposed the growing tension between pilots and model aircraft enthusiasts and their ever-larger RC aircraft.
The collision between the real and $8,000, 46% giant-scale remote-control aircraft occurred on August 14th at a small airport in Brighton, Colo., outside Denver. As you can see in the video below, the RC plane is hovering above the runway ten to 30 feet from the ground in a vertical position, with spectators nearby. Suddenly, a single-engine biplane goes for a low pass over the runway and splits the RC craft in half. The full-scale aircraft suffered "significant" damage, but was able to land. You can see the original video, which has now been taken down from YouTube, here:
Here's how the owner of the RC plane describes it on the Flying Giants enthusiast forum:
Ok Slick bro's ya ready for this $hit. Bad news. The Slick is dead !! She was hit by a full size Pitts Special, Iv got pics & video I will be uploading real soon, Cory, and me went to do a demo for a childrens charity event at a real airport, and I was hovering on the deck and down comes a full size Pitts , dude and his wife were flying in it, and he procedes to do a high speed on the deck pass without clearing with the flight boss and wham !! He made an emergency landing, leadingedge of his bottom wing has a 1'X1' foot dent, and is not flyable. Dumbass could have killed himself and his wife pulling crap like that, No clearance with control whatso ever, and all I got was im sorry. Now im out $8000.00, but I got an apology which is worth nothing,
Blame for the incident hasn't been officially set, but there's an ongoing FAA investigation and an initial report about the collision with the plane, which was a two-passenger, single-engine Acroduster biplane according to the FAA.
"The event last Saturday took place at a private airfield. At a minimum they could have filed a NOTAM (Notice to Airman) alerting pilots of radio controlled operations at the airport during specific times, and if they were to allow those operations on or near the runway, the runway could have been closed," said FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer. "In all cases with regard to radio controlled aircraft interfacing with manned vehicles, the manned vehicle retains the right of way."
Even if the pilot of the RC aircraft was at fault, there's actually no law regarding the operation of remote-control aircraft near airports, or anywhere, despite the growing popularity of giant-scale aircraft as large as eight feet in size.