On Sunday the 18th Feb while I was testing my iTsotsi100 in preparation for the RES/100 Challenge I lost radio contact with the plane while it was climbing away in a thermal that was drifting across the field to the West. The plane went into a spiral decent and disappeared below the horizon, so I never saw exactly where it crashed. I don't know what happened and will have to try and find out exactly what went wrong now that I have the model back.
I took a bearing and Justice and I went looking. The grass on the field next to ours was armpit high and I knew it was not going to be easy finding the model in that. I also did not really know how far it had gone, but had a pretty good idea that it was right across the field and somewhere in the orchards on the far side. After a while Chris, Gordon and Tony joined us and we widened the search, but found nothing. Eventually we were all exhausted from the heat and lack of liquid refreshments and we gave up looking and went back to the cars to sit in the shade and recover.
Later in the afternoon Chris suggested we go and have another look, so Gordon, Chris and I, this time each armed with a bottle of water, set off to look again. This time we went right through the orchard but found nothing. We did another sweep through the grass on the way back, but again nothing turned up. By this time it was late and we had to get home.
On the Tuesday, while driving past the field I noticed that it was being cut, so I stoped and talked to the guy driving one of the tractors. He promised to keep a look out and let me know if he was able to find anything. By Friday they had finished cutting and I went and asked if they had had any luck, but they had not. So now I knew that it was definitely further west as I had suspected in the beginning.
While I was there I rode around in the Kombi, stopping every now and then to climb out and look. Another tractor driver, Johannes, came by and I asked him to keep a look out as well and that there was a reward of R100 for the person that found the plane. His eye (he only had one) lit up and he promised to look for the plane.
Anyway Sunday came and went and I was not able to fly the RES/100 as I didn't have a plane. I had given my 2 meter Tsotsi to Phil so didn't even have a back-up.
On Tuseday afternoon the 27th, at around 5pm I got a "please call me" from a number that I did not recognise. Normally I do not respond, but something said that I must call, so I did. And low and behold it was Johannes, the tractor driver. He had found my plane it one of the orchards even further west that the one we had searched.
I arranged where to meet him and went and collected my glider. Unfortunately it was a bit worse for ware. Both wing hold-down bolts had pulled loose and the wing was broken in two places. By the damage to the wing it is apparent that it had crashed into a tree and the sudden stop had done the damage to the hold down bolts and wing. The fuselage and tail feather were undamaged. Old Johannes was very pleased to receive his R100 reward. No doubt he is celebrating tonight, as I am that I have got my Tsoti back! At least the radio, (flat) battery and servos appear undamaged!
On the way home, the sun went behind a cloud and it was rimmed in a beautiful silver and gold. I wish I had my camera with. This reminded me again that "every cloud has a silver lining"!
I think I will play the Lotto today!