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Tips to find a lost plane in the woods needed

I need help/tips on finding my lost rc plane in the woods. Was flying FPV and was circling around and lost feed, and never seen it again since last Friday. I took 2 days to look but need some more tips on how to find it (and its a black plane) I have a basic idea of there it is and will show pictures of what im still going to do. This plane had all my fpv equipment :(
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Skill Collector
So sorry to hear this man - that's a sucky situation. Unfortunately almost all of the advice or tips I might have are long past being useful to you here. Just in case they will help you out for the next time, I'll list a couple.

1) If you have a transmitter than has telemetry or RSSI signal strength indicator, you can use the transmitter antenna like a dowsing rod - when you point the transmitter straight at the receiver the signal will go down due to the donut shape of the radio frequency strength.

2) Install a beeper like the Drone Keeper Mini - it's self powered so loss of the main lipo doesn't stop it from working, and it can be wired in to automatically charge itself when the flight battery is plugged in so you never have to remember to charge it.

3) If you have a HAM radio license, build or buy something like this Lost Model Locator that broadcasts in the 433 MHz range and will broadcast for weeks on it's internal charge.

4) Install a locator streamer. I haven't been able to find the link for this today, but someone had a design that used a spring loaded rolled up streamer with a servo release mechanism in a 35mm film canister - the idea was either a manual release if you knew you were going in, or have the receiver failsafe release it automatically. A 10 foot bright orange ribbon can really help in locating something on the ground.

5) Find someone with waypoint capable camera search equipment. I know a guy here in Northern VA building out a fixed wing plane with Pixhawk for autonomous waypoint driven search patterns and high def downward facing video recording. He's been succesfull with this method using a multi-rotor to bring back footage for review, but is porting it to fixed wing for longer search durations.

Again, sorry that I don't have much help to offer with your current situation - but after 2 days in the woods it's pretty sure your battery is drained even if it wasn't ejected during the crash, and I don't know of any remote electronic wizardry that could help now. :(
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Cardboard Boy
Search in the exact opposite or where you think it is and in the most unthinkable place, it's always where stuff ends up when I lose an aircraft or parts of it.
I also paint my aircrafts in yellow and red marking paint that is very visible but it might be too late for that.


Old and Bold RC PILOT
My search method is a little different to the ones listed above. As after a single day the batteries are flat and so tracing radio signal will not work.

I have a "Go Pro" and a number of planes so I tape my go pro to the underside of the fuselage and fly over the search area, (not too high) but in a comb pattern. The comb pattern is to fly out to a distance landmark and after the pass over the search area I then do a sharp turn and fly back along the smae path when it reaches overhead I then fly to another landmark only slightly different to the first and repeat the procedure until the entire search area is covered. from above the flight paths would look like you are flying along the teeth of a huge comb.

When the overflight of the search area is completed then you download and examine the footage for your lane. If and when spotted on the video you should be able to ascertain on which tooth of the search pattern the plane was spotted and even how far out or in the plane was spotted. Return to the field and starting where you did originally walk along the flight path of the plane on the tooth that spotted the plane until you find it.

It might be tedious sometimes but it does work.

In future to aid in spotting the plane a few streamers attached to the wing tips make spotting planes a lot easier.

Just what works for me.

Have fun!


Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
I know too well the frustration of a lost plane and how difficult it can be to find it. I have even had some search and rescue training but in my case that was not enough.

The object in finding something that's lost is increasing your probability of intercept and the biggest factor is searching the right area.

What do you have for clues? DO you have DVR footage? Did you have telemetry and if so was it recorded and what info?

Do you know anything about where the aircraft went down? the landscape? rivers, roads, or any visible landmarks?

Unfortunately the best advice is all preventative.

Was it the Mighty Mini Mustang you built earlier this year or another plane?
unfortantly I have the most basic set up for fpv. I know I was circling around two houses with white fences so I brought my parrot bebop up and found the only 2 houses where across from me and two house down then the signal went white. I was pretty low and my "Eclipse" (a high wing design by myself, not the mustang)s and it drops at a good angle when the motor stops so it landed some where near these houses in the woods. I'm going to search the woods several more times in a better pattern.


Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
Ok, if you think you have a good idea of where it went down then I would suggest going out with something to mark where you've been. Surveyors tape is cheap and can be brightly colored to help you plan your search grid.
A friend or 2 can be very helpful too if they are willing to spend the time. With all the leaves falling (at least up here in the north) you'll need to be extra careful not to have gaps in your search area. Here are some common search patterns. I don't recommend circular in the woods.

Be sure to post your results.


Skill Collector
But it came home!!

That's awesome!! :applause:

Are the electronics are good? (except the battery of course - sort of expect those to be a casualty in these situations)


Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
Really? ... I mean of course you did!

Congratulations! I don't know what the percentages are but the stories of people losing their planes and never finding them are plenty. When things like this happen I call it a "cheap lesson". Cheap because it cost you so little and a lesson because you learned something (I hope) about what we all should do to make losing our planes less likely.

One very simple thing is applying your contact info on the plane in the event someone else finds it and would like to return it to you. I get maybe 50 or more address labels every year and use them for everything that I either loan out (DVD's, CD's, books, etc) or things I might lose. Every one of my LiPo's has one.

Another easy thing is to use a LiPo checker with onboard alarm that connects directly to the balance port on the battery. They only cost a few dollars and is widely available including the FT Store.
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I have a lipo voltage alarm but on this flight I was expecting to fly for 4 minutes (max is 15) so I didn't put one on(my fault I shoud of and never will fly without it on). So I haven't found it yet, as the one I lost was upgraded with a new tail and fuselage. That photo was from some weeks ago.


Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
Foam is cheap. You can start buiilding the aircraft while awaiting the rest. That Simple Scout looks like a tempting candidate.