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Tragic Accident

Telegraph Report

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Erfolg20/04/2010 12:01:45
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Being a safety sceptic, a report in the Telegraph newspaper on Monday, is a sobering reminder that some risks are real.
 
80 mph Model plane kills man
 
A pensioner was killed by a remotely controlled model plane which flew into the chest at more than 70mph.
 
The 84 year old man, who has not been named, was at an airshow in Brittany, France with his wife on Saturday. The plane, which had a 4 ft wing span, had spun out of control, said an inspector. Police said that they have confiscated the plane and are investigating "what appears to be a tragic accident".
 
I draw no conclusions other than think that some risks are real. Many are in the mind of some. Yet get the balance wrong and the consequences and frequency of accidents can be unacceptable.
 
Erfolg 
A.A. Barry20/04/2010 12:35:03
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That is sad, ..what was he doing in the planes flight line.... "in the chest" a little bit odd, he must have seen it coming....... dunno.......but again all care must be taken,
A.A.Barry
Richard Wood20/04/2010 12:48:59
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That's not good to hear, very sad.
It's of little comfort to his family, but in general model fliers are very
aware of safety issues & bad accidents like this are rare,
but we must never take safety for granted.
 
It's regrettable that many motorists and especially idiotic motorcyclists
pay no heed whatsoever to other road users or safety & use public roads
for their own irresponsible, high speed, highly dangerous antics & cause
many needless tragic accidents.
 
Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator20/04/2010 13:24:13
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Any accident like this is obviously tragic and we all feel for the man's family and I'm sure we in particular, as fellow flyers, feel for the poor pilot who must be wracking his briains to think if he could have done anything differently which might have a avoided the accident.
 
As Erfolg says it makes you realise that some risks are very real and present dangers. I think its very important for the future of our hobby that we are never seen to be complacent about the risk. We have to appear "professional" and competant at all times. The trick is of course do that without robbing the hobby of its fun and getting too "job's worth" about it.
 
Our club flys in country park - open to the public. One thing that never fails to amaze me is the public's own apparent complete disregard for their own safety. We've recently had people allowing toddlers to run onto the strip, folks allowing their dogs to chase planes and best of all one guy standing at the end of the srip (upwind) with his camera so he could "get a really good photo of the planes taking off" and another group who decided to set up their picnic directly under the final approach path, just before the threshold to the strip, because their youngster wanted a clear view of the models as they land! You can lead a horse to water etc.
 
BEB
Pete B - Moderator20/04/2010 13:40:35
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I've just trawled the French online papers and here is a summary of what I've found:
 
It seems to have been a significant model exhibition, taking place in a village hall with flying outside. It takes place every two years and this was the 25th. All types of modelling is shown and there seems to be 60 clubs or more involved.

The exhibition was abandoned after the accident, the flying part of which which seems to have been taking place in front of about 50 people. The victim was 84 years old and was hit in the throat and chest by the 1.20m span model and died at the scene. His wife and a 9-year old were taken to hospital suffering from shock.

The pilot, in his 30's, apparently lost control of the aircraft for unknown reasons, according to the organisers. He, understandably,  has taken it very badly.

Still in shock, Alain Personnic, the president of the organising club, said they have to face the situation. Two days after the accident, he said he would hide in a mousehole if he could. He said he was within 2 metres of the victim. "If the plane had fallen one metre in front of us, it would have fallen in the pond/lake, which would have made everyone laugh, but it didn't". "There had been no problem with safety, all was correct and normal rules observed, but the aircraft was very fast".

"One doesn't know what happened, an investigation is being carried out by the Gendarmerie. All I can say is that it is an extremely rare accident. The last time something similar happened was in 1980".

The display, which had been 9 months in preparation, was authorised by the sub-prefecture and the display was conducted according to normal rules, including flying at a regulated distance from the public.

"It is too early to say whether the exhibition will continue, we must deal with this first".
 
"Regarding the club, the situation is complicated. We have an obligation to continue to run the club, but our priority is to obtain, in conjunction with the Mairie (Town Hall), counselling for the youngsters in the club who witnessed the accident".
 
A very sad day for aeromodelling and I'm sure our thoughts are with all involved.
 
Pete

Pete B - Moderator20/04/2010 14:11:16
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A statement has been issued by FFAM, French equivalent of BMFA:

"This exhibition was organised by a static model club (plastic models, wooden boats, figurines, etc), Le Club des Amis Maquettistes de la Presqu'Ile (CAMPI), which due to their static modelling, is not affiliated to the FFAM.
 
This exhibition gives space equally to R/C boating demonstrations on an outside pond as well as full-size military vehicles.
 
For the aeromodelling display, CAMPI, having taken appropriate advice, obtained authorisation from the Sub-Prefecture. A Flight Director is a normal requirement of the authorisation. CAMPI had the necessary insurances. All safety measures were scrupulously respected, such as flight lines, radio frequency control and barriers, etc.
 
The flying demonstrations were carried out by Le Club Aeromodeliste de Quimper et Cornouaille which is not affiliated to the FFAM. The pilot of the aircraft involved is a member of this club but is not the holder of an FFAM licence.
 
At this time, the FFAM has no further information and has not been contacted for advice by any authority". 
 
Clearly, they are distancing themselves at present, but it would make sense for their knowledge to be taken into account in any investigation.
 
Pete
 
Erfolg20/04/2010 14:42:58
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For us modellers, this type of situation is very difficult. If we can put to one side emotion's, and just consider the risks and consequences, a number of arguments can be made.
 
Risks are not equal in our (the populations mind) in acceptability. Risks are generally accepted at government level. Risks are more often and not understood by most of us. Risks are not accepted/accessed on a truly rational basis by us all.
 
It is as bizarre, that most of us would be surprised to be told that the risk of death was greater from hospital residential treatment  which was not related to original condition per annum, compared to road deaths. As until recently the goverment was principally focussed on road deaths.  We would also be surprised to know that many government sponsored activities, where the cost of preventing a premature death cannot be passed on, are routinely subjected to an analysis where the cost of reducing the risk is numerically accessed against a fixed value assessment. Following from this government accepts that there is a value for a live (this is a formalised procedure).
 
Many people will undertake high risk sports, horse riding, snow skiing, hang gliding etc. without great concern.
 
Most of us (myself included) are less than toleratnt of incurring risk from which I gain no or little benefit, and have no voice related to being subjected to that risk.
 
For us modellers model flying exhibitions are a dilemma. Most of us believe that model demonstrations, give pleasure to some members of the public, can attract more to the hobby and provide pleasure to most modellers. The down side is that there is an increased risk, compared to no event. Somewhat Draconian solution in removing risk.
 
The real dilemma for us, is that or standing and commercial value is low to both the goverment and public, that any issue can result in unwelcome restrictions. Potentially resulting in reduced freedom to pursue our hobby at private locations.
 
It suggest to me we have to be far more careful than other hobbies. The death of a number of riders of horses, even involving the public is tolerated. I am not sure it is so for us. 
 
 
 
 
David perry 120/04/2010 17:27:05
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Yup, it all comes down to tax revenue.  I wonder what the model aeroplane industry is actually worth?  Not inconsiderable I should think, given the energy the chinese expend on blowing foamies out of factories left right and centre.
 
Erfolg20/04/2010 17:59:41
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The value of the model trade, should be relatively easy to assess, in ball park terms. The BMFA says it has over 36,000 members. If we were to assume that there are twice as many who are not members, that would be 76,000 modellers. A nice round figure for aeromodellers is 80,000.
 
If we assume that an average spend per month for modellers is £50, then the over a year, that would be £600 per annum.
 
If modellers spend typically twice as much, then it is £1,200.
 
Almost there now. The spend would appear to be between £48m to 96m. Of which the government could get about 50% based on Vat, NI, rates (for modelling businesses). From a national perspective, we do not exist financially to the government, so I guess it is as a political force we need to exist and I guess that is where the BMFA and trade bodies come in.
 
I suspect the toy industry dwarfs us. I certainly seem to spend far more on my grandchildren's toys.
 
If you do not like the numbers just adjust them.
 
All this convinces me off, we cannot afford public accidents, that arouses the official bodies and government out of their well earned slumber.
 
Erfolg
Chris Card20/04/2010 19:45:08
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It's terrible to hear about this kind of accident, let's hope lessons are learned and changes which prevent a future reoccurrence can be made.
 
By the way can we keep this thread on topic and avoid comments about the behaviour of motorcyclists, which really don't have a place in this thread?  Thanks all. 
Tim Hooper21/04/2010 09:02:12
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That members of the public will get injured or die at a model show is an inevitability, given that we fly fast-moving (and sometimes faulty) models.  All we can do is minimise that risk as far as possible, but it'll never be 100% safe for spectators unless they stand behind a model-proof barrier.
 
We all know that any model on a flypast is a heartbeat away from crashing at any time, and there's no way of predicting in which direction it'll go.
 
My sympathies for everybody concerned in this accident.
 
tim
Erfolg21/04/2010 09:39:18
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Tim
 
I hope that organisers of public model flying shows within the UK are able to organise flying and manage risk to a level where the probability of any incident is "vanishingly small".
 
Again with emotions to one side, the consequences to the UK aeromodelling activities of such events happening in the UK, could be onerous, may even put at risk flying at all, in the extremis.
 
Having worked in a industry which had a constant PR battle, it is apparent that risk, frequency and consequences of incident, has no correlation with public perception and public approval/acceptance.
 
As one who is a safety sceptic (particularly as generally managed within the UK), I can see the need for all organisers of events. If the BMFA has any justifiable roll with us modellers, this is one. I hope that they will take a lead, and constructively help and advice in this area, in addition to present activities. 
 
Maybe all could benefit from the industrial approach to risk assessment and management. Using Hazop studies, risk tree (Pascal) analysis. to understand what could be the, consequence, frequency, for public displays
 
Normally I would dismiss the above approach as "to over the top", relative to incidents. Yet again I have fears that within the UK such an incident could damage modeling disproportionate to the event.   

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