Chopperpix – a brief history (part 3)

8 01 2009

The gas powered helicopter that I had pinned my hopes for making Chopperpix a success was always a work in progress. On that fateful day of June 4, 2005, I took the machine with me to a “fun fly” at a local airport where other r/c pilots were flying their planes and helicopters. I needed to fly the helicopter without the camera mount or camera a few times while I was working out some issues, and what better time to do it than on a huge full-scale airport runway? When I showed up with the helicopter, it was noticed by everyone because it was so large. It had a nearly 2 meter rotor span, and had a mighty presence in the air. On the second flight of the day, I was doing some higher altitude passes from left to right, and back right to left. At the end of one pass as I commanded it to return back towards me, there was a electrical failure of the tail rotor assembly. Instantly the machine began to spin wildly. The only thing I could do to stop it was to execute an autorotation (un-powered descent). Of course, I’ve done many autorotations, but none with the helicopter’s tail out of control. The machine descended quickly. There was only about 3 seconds of reaction time to save it, but I failed. It impacted the ground with a thud that nearly ended the dream of making Chopperpix a reality. I walked over to it, and realized it was almost completely destroyed. The countless hours of building it, tweaking and practicing with it – gone. Worse yet, it hadn’t made a dollar for me yet, and because of the financial situation at the time, I could not afford to repair or start over.

That day I thought the dream had died. I mourned the loss of the machine nearly like the loss of a loved one. It was a crushing blow that I simply could not believe had happened. After bringing the remains home, I kept going inside the house, and then going back to the garage to see if it really did happen. Yes, it did. It was over.

It took a year before I finally got over that crash. I put the helicopter on a shelf in the garage and left it, not to be touched for nearly a year, which when I did I promptly fixed it and sold it. I was done with it, or so I thought. But I couldn’t get the r/c helicopter bug out of my system altogether. I still flew my aerobatic machines as much as possible, still “training” for that someday when maybe I could make it all work out and Chopperpix could be the reality I dreamed of.

Check out part 4 for the final portion of the story…




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