• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

A Sad Tale of Woe and a Broken Elevator Control Horn

A while back I was given an old Hobbico Avistar. Not long ago I finally got all the bits I needed to get it in the air. After flying it a few times as a trike, I decided that it had to be a tail dragger. It wasn't long before it was my favorite plane, or nearly so. Yesterday, after running seven tanks of nitro in the morning, I went back to the field in the evening to fly the Avistar some more. Sadly, my joyous flight ended rather abruptly when the elevator control horn broke. On the way down from a stall turn I gave some up elevator to level out. I briefly had up, and then no elevator at all. I know it wasn't radio because I was able to cut the throttle. I watched in horror as my stricken plane fell like Icarus from the sky. Our field is adjacent to the county gravel pit, so you can imagine the soil type... From at least 50 ft it plummeted, elevatorless, into the rocky ground. I hesitantly walked to the crash site and found nearly the entire front of the plane removed by gravity and the unforgiving soil. The only thing keeping the engine and firewall in the proximity of the fuselage was the throttle linkage. The wing was at least 10 ft from the point of impact.

I didn't have a camera with me, but here's the aftermath.

The wing has one broken rib and the horizontal stabilizer was broken on the right front side corner. The right side of the fuselage was scattered in many pieces. The front wing dowel and the windscreen were nowhere in sight. The sides of the fuselage had cracks that ran as far back as the rear of the servo tray. The vertical stab was also knocked out of place. It was saddening to see it smashed to bits on the ground. Fortunately, since I was able to cut the throttle, my old OS FP40 survived, seemingly unscathed (with the exception of some dirt, but it will easily clean up). I picked up every single piece I could find and did the walk of shame back to my car... I then made a second trip out and looked for even more pieces. I did manage to find the windscreen and dowel, after walking concentric circles around the impact crater.

Being a bit obsessive I had to see if I could fix it. I spent many hours last night and this morning fitting pieces together to try to get it back together. At first I thought it was hopeless, but then pieces started to fit. The right side of fuselage, in the picture, is assembled from about 15 different little shattered bits. This was the point where it started to look hopeful!

By 1500 this afternoon I was out of glue and had it largely back together.

It still needs some work, but I am out of glue and I also need some bits of balsa to finish it. I had to make a new firewall, the old one was missing some key parts. Using the old one, I approximated the shape and sanded and trimmed until it fit properly.

I was planning on re-covering it, I guess my plans just got accelerated. Now I need to decide on a color scheme. It still needs some balsa grafts in a place or two, but it is largely back together. I will add a couple of strategic gussets in the fuse as well. In places where the inner framework was completely broken, it needs some additional stiffening.

It's such a good plane, I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. Plus, I don't really have the money for a new one:black_eyed:


Dedicated foam bender
That's awesome! I really mean that because so many times a crash of that magnitude would have meant the old girl was headed for the bin! Gives us all incentive to keep at it, no matter what!