Gary Townsend Timeline

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17 flights
473 days
Sun, 3 Apr 2016
Not specified on Align Trex 550E
I decided to only take the Trex 550 today so I could further test and play with the SK720BE and GPS2.

In general the unit did its job as it did before during my 1st testing session with the setup. Also, the software update in the GPS2 definitely cured the height variation that the heli was displaying during position hold during my 1st testing session. It rescued from all orientations, but there were problems. I had my spotter with me, and we only tested the rescue system when there were no people or obstacles within or close to the flying area.

Problem 1) The height at which the hard deck was activating was varying. It was set to 9 metres, but the rescue sometimes kicked in a few metres lower than this, and on one occasion during rolling it even rescued way higher, perhaps more like 15 metres at a guess.

Problem 2) This next part is quite serious in my opinion. On three occasions the hard deck rescue activated, but height and position control didn't work, resulting in the heli flying without the pilots (me in this case) stick inputs controlling the heli. Now it is true that after a hard deck rescue is complete, the pilot then needs to flick the GPS switch to manual to take back control, and for the 1st two incidents this is what I did, but for the 3rd one I flicked the wrong switch. There are various built-in safety aspects which shut off the rescue system altogether so that it doesn't attempt a rescue in the first place when something about the heli or the system isn't right, such as very high vibration, or loss of GPS lock. The flight data shows 17 to 18 satellites so the GPS lock was very good, and the super bright LED was blue. As for vibration when it gets too high, the system is supposed to make the super bright LED flash red. I have no idea what caused the position and height control to fail after the initial/orientation part of the rescue.

I've read that other rescue systems which don't use GPS control, only lockout control from the pilot for about 2 seconds, or like the NEO whereby you regain control by moving the sticks (which I've read is a problem for some). The problem with the Skookum SK720BE and GPS2 hard deck rescue that I experienced, was that you have to manually flick a switch to take back control. This is actually a good thing when the rescue system works as designed, since the heli rescues, yaws to tail-in, and holds position (but gains altitude).

Anyway I crashed whilst locked out of control during a partial and failing rescue attempt, since the GPS was not holding the helis position or controlling the height. If it had been on a 2 second preset and given control back it wouldn't have happened, but the point is, it shouldn't need to give back control if it works correctly. I understand that it's designed to disable the rescue functionality when something is wrong, but making some kind of attempt and locking out the pilot indefinitely until a switch is flicked is dangerous, and not as designed either.

More details can be found here: (Someone else started the thread since they also had their SK720 and GPS setup go wrong. My post is #3)
262 flights
410 days
Tue, 17 Feb 2015
Not specified on Align Trex 550E
Was going beautifully, heading for a 4 star. A gentleman called Phil was there, and watched my heli fall straight down from about 65 to 75 feet high. Absolutely gutted. I'd just put the VBar back in it after robbing it for the 450L for testing purposes, and it was flying extremely nice indeed. I was taking no risks, just doing my usual stuff quite gentle and at a height which was very safe for me. So what was it you're wondering, well only if you've not looked at the video already. For the first time I had a soldered joint fail, which was the red wire in the esc plug. This actually would have been the first EC5 soldered joint I ever made just over a year ago only a few months after I started flying helis. At that time I was using a 25 watt soldering iron. What a twat I am for not realizing it wasn't enough power. These days I use a 100 watt iron for tinning the wires (if they're not already tinned) and a mini/pencil blow lamp for the main soldering. Anyway the damage is probably about £150 to £200. One main blade cracked, swash tabs might be bent, ski's snapped, canopy crushed (but was already damaged anyway, I actually had a new one in the boot which arrived from Fast-Lad today), one tail blade cracked, boom bent, torque tube gears stripped, servo to swash links bent, haven’t checked tail mechanism, but probably some damage there as well, and at least one servo seems completely seized up. I’m having a few beers for the first time in over 6 weeks, so feeling quite dizzy about now. Good night fellow dudes :) So next time I'll be using an Ultra Guard, but I was in such disbelief this time, I probably would have just watched it fall anyway. Honestly I was waiting for it to rev back up.

2 flights
2 days
Sun, 15 Feb 2015
Not specified on Blade 450X
Started off quite foggy, then got very foggy, and then cleared towards the end of the session. Overall very enjoyable, feeling comfortable, but my tick-tocks today were diabolical. Halfway through my 450 flight one of the links from the swash to the blades came off (never to be found) and it went crazy and dropped to the floor, but I easily had time to hit throttle hold so the only real damage was my old canopy now needs replacing. It was great to see Richard, Neale, and Mark. Richard's tick-tocking circuits, tight continuous pirouettes, rolling loops, and some rainbow move transitioning halfway through, all looked very well flown, impressive. I only wish I’d had more packs and more time, as I missed seeing Neale's 700 fly, and was really in the mood to stay and fly some more. So a really great day :)
55 flights
23 days
Thu, 22 Jan 2015
Not specified on Blade 130X
My first recording session with the GoPro. It was a little foggy, but perfectly okay to fly, and I've managed to remove most of the fog using the camera software. Not my best session recently, but okay. I've selected some of my favourite clips from today's flights for the video. There are two crashes of the Blade 130X, and the one at the end is replayed in slow motion. My piro flipping is getting a little lower, but still needs a lot of work to make it look neat.

176 flights
200 days
Sun, 6 Jul 2014

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