RC Pilot Blamed For Collision With Biplane

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The NTSB blames the operator of a large RC model for its highly publicized collision with a full-size biplane at a fly-in in Colorado last Aug. 14. In its final report, the board says the RC operator flew the model outside the area designated for RC operations at Brighton Van-Aire Estates Airport before it was struck by the SA 750 Acroduster homebuilt. The NTSB described the biplane's maneuver as a go-around but video shows it was done at high speed and low altitude with airshow smoke on. An earlier report by the FAA says the biplane pilot reported he turned his smoke on to increase his visibility while he did the go-around. The biplane's lower wing was damaged but the pilot was able to land safely. The RC model was destroyed. The NTSB said the model was getting out of a vertical prop thrust hover when it strayed over the active runway and outside the RC box, but it suggested organizers of the show shared some responsibility for the incident.

The report says the organizer of the event briefed the RC pilots before the show and warned them to stay east of the active runway but it questions whether the separation between the two zones was policed effectively. "While the event coordinator was monitoring the radio for traffic, it was not clearly communicated who, if anyone, was providing spotter duties for the radio controlled airplane operator prior to the collision," the report said.