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Making model flying safer

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John Cole03/09/2007 18:53:00
615 forum posts
24 photos

I recently contacted David Ashby; his review in October 2007 RCM&E of the Pilatus PC-9 kit showed a picture of the spinner; the caption read:  " .....  And don't you just love that spinner?".  I Emailed him on this, as it seemed to me that such a sharp-pointed spinner was contrary to BMFA safety guidelines. 

 His reply was: "Now I think about it, it’s a rule that’s flouted regularly. Why not leave a forum thread on our website to see what others think?".  So I did. 

But I also looked to see how many of the threads referred to model safety; only 5 contained the word.  Does this mean we give lip-service to safety issues and ignore the BMFA rules when we feel like it?  Does it indicate BMFA are in a world of their own?  What do YOU think? Specifically what does Mr. Boddington think?

David Ashby - Moderator03/09/2007 19:42:00
10939 forum posts
1682 photos
613 articles

Thanks John, by the way I'm not sure that Mr Boddington visits this site but anyway.. 

Just to get some fact up here at the start of the thread -

Page 27 of the BMFA manual says..." it is recommended that rounded spinners or safety propeller nuts of the domed type are fitted to internal combustion and electric powered models and that gliders and pusher powered aircraft noses should also be rounded (no needle noses)"

So is a 'recommendation' just that - a recommendation, or should it as John says, be followed as a strict rule?



Erfolg03/09/2007 21:17:00
11565 forum posts
1274 photos

John get a life

We now live in a world, where mini roundabouts are installed on our streets to improve safety. At my local mini, there has been a number of accidents, cars colliding side on, cars running into the backs of others. The local road department has no record of any accidents at this round about. It is a complete sucess. What was the problem you ask. Well, a stolen car ran into a lamp post, whilst racing another car (untraced). The driver was killed, oh, if that mini round about had been there, a life would have been saved, or would it.

John if you are really into eliminating or reducing avoidable risk. Ask yourself, should I fly  model aircraft. It is up to you.

But do not tell me what to do. I can make my own judgements. 

Sick of do gooders


Myron Beaumont04/09/2007 08:06:00
5797 forum posts
51 photos

Erfolg & Jetsome

Couldn't agree more . Can anyone Tell me why "they've" been labelled

  Do-Gooders !

Better term for aviators would be  Spoilers !

Right up my street  this

GRUMPY MYRON  Watch someone try & spoil my day AGAIN  wearing a suit !!

Tim Mackey04/09/2007 10:21:00
20920 forum posts
304 photos
15 articles

I have to agree with most of the above, and feel the spinner thing in particular is over the top. I also expend far too much of my money on kit cars, and the legislation regarding so called safety issues regarding SVA licencing is beyond belief. Even lamp lenses and door /wing mirrors etc have to conform to a particular radius - avoiding anything which may be construed as "sharply pointed" but honestly, the end result is just silly stuff. If I or anyone else is ever hit by a 1 ton+ object in motion, the shape of the indicator lens will be the last thing to worry about - and as for a sharp spinner on a R/C aircraft....well same thing really. Considering that around these parts, tractors with huge great metal hay spikes pointing staright in front are regularly seen driving along narrow roads, one wonders where the legislators priorities are. I do however regualry cringe on flightlines and pit areas, at the site of many a chap standing nicely in line with a fast spinning prop. I was taught and dont need reminding to ALWAYS stay behind the prop. 

Erfolg04/09/2007 11:57:00
11565 forum posts
1274 photos


I certainly agree you regarding large vehicles. My daughter when working in A&E (during her training), said that any collision with a bus or (truck) by a pedestrian, was almost certainly a death (even at low speed).

You have a point on the flight line, there can be improvements.

I think we should consider how and when do people have accidents. Are the occurrence of accidents sufficient to really worry? Are the accidents totally unique  to the operation of model aircraft. I suspect compared to other activities, riding horses, hill walking, golfing, that model aircraft operation compares favourably in the low risk category.

However we should not be reckless, and continue to consider what we do. Whilst keeping things in proportion and balanced (risk to benefit).

Some will demand the elimination of all accidents. I believe this is impossible. Many industries and government routinely decided if measures should be taken by determining the cost of improvement against the frequency of event. This is done on a daily basis, it is not done only for extraordinary events.

I have also noted that some of the worst offenders are the first to point a finger of blame at others.



wlfk06/09/2007 04:04:00
97 forum posts

Erfolg... You're right in pointing out that many activities are more dangerous than flying. As a hang-glider pilot, I used to collect lists of statistics about hobbies that were more dangerous than my own. These included a number that my mother was quite happy for me to take part in, including fishing with my grandfather, and riding horses. Incidentally, the last I heard was that drowning is the single greatest cause of hang-gliding fatalities. Mostly people flying from cliff sites without checking the tide.

But on the whole, I'd argue that safety legislation is a good thing. Accidents can often be avoided, and when they do occur their severity can often be reduced. I'd argue in particular with Timbo about the kit cars - maybe pedestrians who get hit by buses don't make it. But as a cyclist, I've had two collisions with cars at speeds over 20mph, and walked away from both. Pedestrian injuries are considerably reduced by measures such as recessed wind-screen wipers, space between the bonnet and engine block.

We also have to contend with the fact that other people's acceptable levels of risk are not our own. Some people really would make the decision to go for a walk in the park rather than flying dangerous model aircraft. And it's pretty rough justice if they get impaled by someone whose acceptable level of risk differs.

My motto is to do dangerous stuff as carefully as possible. You can still be cautious and have fun.


Erfolg06/09/2007 09:16:00
11565 forum posts
1274 photos


I think that measured and proportionate action to reduce risk is precisely what Timbo is talking about. 

I will add cost.The legislation that controls motor vehicles is designed in such a way that, individuals pick up the cost, not large well represented groups. I am sure that this is the reason that regulations which could improve pedestrian safety are not introduced. A significant number of accidents occur with public transport in limited access, central/pedestrianised areas, which involve public service vehicles. Buses and trams could be regulated to less than 10-20mph, in these areas. There overall shapes are not pedestrian friendly. Yet government does nothing.

It is possible to cite many other instances, where much could be done, but is this the forum.I find it curious that Autobahns are safer than Motorways. Yet "safety people" will stand on their heads rather than acknowledge this fact. Safety is often driven by a set prejudices, as by fact. Reports are re-drafted until the right conclusion (balance) is reached.

By and large most model flying does not included the public. The public often has to or accepts risks from others (commercial aircaft, nuclear incidents, chemical spillages, transport). Yet the risk we present from a historical perspective is very small. That is why any incident involving model aircraft is noteworthy and may be reported in the national press. Any reduction we can reasonably achieve will probably have no stastistical impact on the number of unfortunate incidents.

Yet, I would argue that we are all responsible in limiting risk to ourselves and others. We should and do need "good practice guidance", but from balanced opinion. Definatly not from "Safety Warriors"

I to have been a cyclist, club member, competitor (now only cycle to the shops). I have been hit by a car pre rounded edges, I survived. Two acquaintances of mine, hit by buses did not.

Please lets keep things in perspective.

If the present commom sence balance is discarded in favour of safety committees and advisors we will need.

a) Safety cloothing (approved) to fuel and operate models

b) A predefined operating plan, in accordance with safety procedures, signed of by safety advisor

c) All people and equipment not directly involved in the operation of the model, removed to a defined safe distance.

d) A flight line clearly defined by a visible and preferably physical barrier, with safety approval certificate

e) Inspection of model, equipment and certification to verify compliance with safety bye laws, by an independant suitably qualified person

f) This list would be endless when written by "Safety Centred" individuals

A  suggestion to all you guys who see me and others like me as threat, go set up your own club, lecture, write procedures, undertake safety audits, safety inspections for each other and maybe fly?



Bob Cotsford06/09/2007 14:37:00
8152 forum posts
449 photos

"A  suggestion to all you guys who see me and others like me as threat, go set up your own club, lecture, write procedures, undertake safety audits, safety inspections for each other and maybe fly?



I think you've hit the nail on the head for flying on private land .  On public land, ie parks, not a field with a right of way path along one side,  then a measure of care is needed, but nothing more than common sense really such as keeping a watch and advising straying members of the public that there's a real risk in walking across the take-off area.

Erfolg06/09/2007 19:41:00
11565 forum posts
1274 photos
I would always advocate a measure of care, towards yourself, club members, the public as a whole, in addition to the environment.

What I am finding objectionable, is the increasing number of people and individuals, who know what is best for others and seek a measure of control. Unfortunately there objectives are often couched under the safety flag. If you "do not do this", or "take that action" your are socially irresponsible, appears to be a favoured tactic.

There is very little sense of balance in some parts of British society at present. Yes we must be responsible, risk cannot be eliminated, other than ceasing the activity.

A foreign relative who was visiting this country recently found it unbelievable the chaos on our roads, with miles of traffic cones, limited contractor activity. I told him it was for safety reasons. His reply was "safe working is not necessarily efficient" but "poor safety is inefficient" and you guys have managed both.  

Yes, I believe in safety, but we all need to balance risks, benefits and safety .


Martin McIntosh07/09/2007 22:57:00
3085 forum posts
1119 photos
The current BMFA guide does not specify a minimum spinner radius- don`t ask me why. Martin Mc., BMFA examiner.
wlfk08/09/2007 03:09:00
97 forum posts

I'm not sure that our hobby is so innocuous. True there aren't that many fatalities, but neither are there that many fliers... And most flying happens on designated sites. Absolute figures aren't really a good measure of whether or not something is dangerous. Lumps of steel flying around at high velocity are inherently dangerous, especially when they also act as magnets to any small children in the area. Or dogs.

In my view, the best approach to safety is something the BMFA does anyway: bulletins of accidents and 'near-misses'. Far more memorable than reading lists of 'donts'. And more likely to be relevant too.

As a sideline, now that 2.4gHz is available it's possible to go fly anywhere, whereas before it was advisable to fly at a designated site to avoid being shot down / shooting down others. I wonder whether this will actually cause more conflict between fliers / members of the public than in the past...


Allan Jordan08/09/2007 11:54:00
495 forum posts
Morning all, How many of you have seen this notice "AEROPLANES BITE FOOLS" it is quite common to see it in RAF PLANES ps. It's not an official notice. Most of us abide the rules and we don't need a reminder!Regards to you all Allan J>>> TTFN
Lord Lucan09/09/2007 10:36:00
30 forum posts

I would remind you all that the BMFA handbook is written will all forms of model flying in mind.

Quite correctly, if you get hit by a 1/2 scale extra head on the shape of the spinner is the last of your problems.

Get hit in the face by a rubber powered indoor free flight model and the spinner shape might make all the difference between "ouch" and a scene out of the battle of hastings.

That's probably why it's a recommendation, not a firm rule, as it's applicability depends on the situation in hand. Modern safety speak calls it "risk assessment". Pragmatic, sensible people call it "planning ahead".  

Erfolg25/09/2007 13:42:00
11565 forum posts
1274 photos

Lord Lucan

Your words are what I call getting things into perspective.

It is worth noting that at the speeds we all fly at there is no aerodynamic advantage from a needle point nose. Contrary to our perceived expectations this shape of nose will tend to generate (be the source of) substantial turbulence in any yaw type situation.

I think we do need to recognise as you imply that mass and velocity are the fundamental units in determining the energy or momentum. The shape is important in how the force is transmitted. To that end a uncovered crankshaft end, with retaining nut, is of as much concern as a spinner.

How about that propeller, should it be nylon, carbon fibre or wood?

Spinnered off


Tim Mackey25/09/2007 13:55:00
20920 forum posts
304 photos
15 articles

Well... IMO

Nylon will probably flex more so the cut will be a little crooked, but still hurt

C/F will not be so giving, and will probably take the bone too

Wood, will probably break as it hits the bone, but leave lots of red splinters too

Bob Cotsford25/09/2007 14:04:00
8152 forum posts
449 photos

I have a problem with carbon fibre - nothing I can provide evidence for, just intuitive feeling that something revolving at up to 15k revs shouldn't be made nigh on indestructible. Fibre reinforced nylon and wood both break fairly cleanly, so they won't act as a rotary saw.

Lord Lucan25/09/2007 19:08:00
30 forum posts

True, carbon fibres not far off metal when it comes to chopping things up.

The trouble is with nylon is that it tends to break leaving a sharp edge at the tips, which would turn into just another cutting edge.

Wooden props probably still need more force to break them than most bones.

Anyone care to be a volunteer for some practical tests?

Thought not. 

Graham King05/10/2007 09:45:00
98 forum posts
20 photos
Do you all not think that the Health & Safety boffins have gone over the top in this country?  What has happened to good old fashioned Common Sense?  If someone trips while walking on the pavement , to my mind its their fault.  They should have watched where they were going, but instead they have to sue someone.  Health and Saftey seems to be just another excuse to get some money without bothering to work for it, and to provide well paid jobs for the busy bodies who like interfering in other peoples lives.     You go to the toilet in a pub, and you see signs saying "Now wash your hands"!!!     does anyone  really  need telling that?   Or are these signs for children - if so, they shouldn't be in a pub in the first place.   Model flying is no different.  All we need is some common sense.  Its rather obvious not to fly towards people or livestock. Its obvious not to crowd round someone starting an engine.  Its obvious not to put your finger in a spinning propellor, but some clubs have these busy bodies who insist on spelling it out for everyone, and act like they own the club.  Come on Britain!  We are supposed to be a leading nation in the world. Lets get our act together and behave like one, without having someone having to wave little bits of worthless paper around.
Tim Mackey05/10/2007 13:32:00
20920 forum posts
304 photos
15 articles

yeh kinda reminds me of those stupid pointless and hugely expensive motorway / D/C matrix signs which only ever have futile messages like " dont drink and drive" "dont use your moble whilst driving" and so on. Like the drink driver is gonna take any notice of that !!

I always ask myself when driving past...... "why are you telling me this - I dont do it, and those who do will just ignore it"

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