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Man Killed By His Own Radio-Controlled Helicopter In Brooklyn 479

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Wall Street Journal: "A 19-year-old model helicopter enthusiast was killed Thursday when a toy helicopter he was flying struck him in the head, a law-enforcement official said. Victim Roman Pirozek 'was known to be aggressive in his flying and often executed tricks. He was executing a trick when he was struck,' the official said. Mr. Pirozek – depicted in [this YouTube video] he posted in July — was flying a remote-controlled helicopter worth about $2,000 when it struck him, cutting off the top of his head, the official said. The Woodhaven, Queens, resident was pronounced dead at the scene. His father was with him at the time of the accident, the official said."
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Man Killed By His Own Radio-Controlled Helicopter In Brooklyn

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  • OUCH (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cod3r_ (2031620) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:25AM (#44775137)
    Holy hell that's insane. What a way to go :(
    • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:36AM (#44775249)

      No kidding. I have no doubt this story discussion will be filled with jokes (somewhat understandably), but man that's horrible for his father as well. My thoughts and prayers go out for that family.

      • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Insightful)

        by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:43AM (#44775343)
        Yeah, not so much jokes as Darwin award nominations. You basically fly a high-horsepower rotating sword directly at yourself for no reason outdoors where the wind can change in a second. That's definitely up there on the list. This guy isn't exactly a firefighter running into a burning building. There is zero legitimate reason to fly a deadly helicopter at yourself just to do a trick.
        • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Funny)

          by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:55AM (#44775493) Homepage Journal

          quick, lets ban them! think of the children :D

          • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Funny)

            by krovisser (1056294) * on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:59AM (#44775541)
            Careful, this is NY were are talking about.
          • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Interesting)

            by kimvette (919543) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:12PM (#44775691) Homepage Journal

            in MA that would definitely happen. As it is Nannychusetts now requires all dirt bikes and ATVs to be registered (even if used only on your own private property!) and no one under 16 may operate any such vehicles at any time (even under guardian supervision), except to train within 21 days of a sanctioned competition.

            I see it now: all RC devices are now required to be registered and may not be operated by minors (even under guardian supervision) unless within one week of a sanctioned event.

            Thankfully I don't live in People's Republik of Nannychusetts any more. I know NYC can be pretty draconian but they don't compare to the insanity of Nannychusetts, sugary drink ban notwithstanding.

          • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Art Challenor (2621733) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:44PM (#44776149)
            You see an article like this and wonder if there is a deeper motive. This is not really "news" it's sad for the family, but a huge number of people die, unheralded, in accidents every day. So, now look at the helicopter as an unmanned drone. If you can find an excuse to ban helicopters as being dangerous, then you can start to look for ways to put all non-government controlled model aircraft/drones under some sort of control. Even if you can't outright ban them, you can restrict the airspace, make sure that they don't fly anywhere near any location where they may be able to take photographs that embarass the government.

            Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but I'm sure this will lead to calls for bans or some restrictions. It won't be effective this time, or the restrictions will be minor, but next time, or the time after they'll increase until they achieve the government objective of increase control over the people by removing civil liberties and information.
            • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Solandri (704621) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:43PM (#44776857)
              That's actually not that paranoid. The FAA has been working on guidelines for unmanned aircraft [faa.gov] for the last year. The things people call r/c aircraft when you do it for fun, drones when the government does it for tracking/blowing up people. So far the rules they've come up with have been pretty lax (no rules or limitation on flights under 400 feet as long as it's kept away from populated areas and regular aircraft). But some people are opposed to the current rules [slashdot.org] and want greater restrictions or outright bans. Fatalities from r/c aircraft are nothing new [google.com], but this is the first time I've seen one get this much press. I haven't seen anything unusual or notable about this particular death compared to previous r/c accidents, yet for some reason the story has gone national.
        • by malkavian (9512)

          Teenagers are neurologically wired to take risks. It's part of the development of brains; many go on to do circus tricks far more dangerous (hell, American Football is as dangerous; there's zero legitimate reason to run full pelt into another guy who's also running full pelt at you, just to grab a ball.. Yet it's an American national sport that everyone applauds!).
          This guy was involved in a scene that often leads to interest in aeronautics and engineering, certainly a more technical side than most, so I d

      • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Informative)

        by Splab (574204) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:51AM (#44775463)

        At first I thought, fuck man, that sucks, but then I read that one of his tricks was to fly the helicopter close to his head.

        This was a pure Darwin Award moment, plain and simple, stupid trick ended with someone getting hurt. It's up there with torn groin videos from bad landings...

      • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Informative)

        by BitZtream (692029) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:59AM (#44775539)

        Which is sad.

        Some facts about R/C Heli's in the same general class as the one that killed him:

        They weigh roughly 10-12lbs, this one was a gas turbine, so it likely weighed a little more.
        The rotors each weigh about 3/4 lbs, most of the weight being from lead added near the tips to facilitate autorotation.
        They can fly at speeds up to 100mph, though its unlikely he ever went over 30mph when doing 3d aerobatics.
        The rotor tips in non-aerobatic flight travel at about 300mph.
        In aerobatic modes, the rotor speed goes up by about 30% so you have reserve power, that brings them to nearly 400mph.
        Carbon fiber blades are used not because they are lighter (you really don't want lighter blades at that size), they are more rigid, flex is wasted energy and can cause tail boom strikes.

        Doing the math on the rotor blades, .325kg * 175m/s * 0.5 = ~28.4 the tips carry approximately 28 joules of energy assuming they don't separate from the rotor head.

        That in and of itself, not so impressive. If you get hit with the broad side of a rotor, it hurts like hell, but won't even bruise most people.

        But thats not what happens. Even if the rotor separates from the hub in a crash, they are aerodynamically stable. They are wings after all. They fly straight and true in almost every case with the weighted leading edge up front.

        Thats 28 joules of energy in what is basically a knife edge. It can easily severe a leg at the ankle.

        These are miniature aircraft. They are easily deadly.

        I've put multiple helis into the ground to avoid possibly hitting someone or something, some of the scariest experiences I've ever had were due to a out of control heli. The worst was where I didn't properly fasten the radio antenna and it got pulled into the rotor blade during inverted flight nearly directly over the flight line (where everyone stands to fly) at our local club. Nothing I could do at that point but watch it tumble towards the ground and yell at people to scatter. I was able to recover the aircraft when it got closer to me and without hurting anyone, but you can not imagine the fear people had as the aircraft was tumbling towards them.

        Jokes about this kid getting hurt are about as funny as jokes about the Shuttle Columbia's last re-entry.

        • Jokes about this kid getting hurt are about as funny as jokes about the Shuttle Columbia's last re-entry.

          All of this, and many times over.

        • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:13PM (#44775705) Journal

          Maybe if the Shuttle Columbia was trying to do inverted tricks on re-entry.

          Otherwise, it's not much different than someone juggling chainsaws that are running.

        • Re:OUCH (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:18PM (#44775785)

          Um, sorry, but you acknowledge (and even highlight) the danger and then go on to say how you basically almost decapitated a spectator by flying this admittedly deadly thing directly above them and losing control of it. Remind me never to be in the same park where you're flying.
          If this hobbyist was flying it close to himself he was taking a serious, and seemingly well understood, risk. You play Russian roulette long enough and your luck runs out, period.

        • "Jokes about this kid getting hurt are about as funny as jokes about the Shuttle Columbia's last re-entry."

          While in real life it is sad, but most of us are rather distant from the actual person. It explains the jokes, but doesn't excuse it.

          But we have the Darwin awards and we laugh at them too, we often don't think of the guys family who is missing a loved one now, due to some bad decisions on his part.

          We have jokes like What is a Rednecks last word "Hey Billy Bob!, Watch This!"...

          The truth is life isn't F

        • by BLKMGK (34057)

          Yeah, this can really tear you up...

          http://www.heliguy.com/nexus/dangers.html [heliguy.com]

          Check out the one guy who's belly was struck 20ft away when he blew a landing. That is a picture of the bruise 3 days later - owwie! Or the guy who had to have both internal and external stitches when he fired up a copter with the throttle stuck open - not good!

        • by iksbob (947407)

          They weigh roughly 10-12lbs, this one was a gas turbine, so it likely weighed a little more

          I highly doubt that. Gas turbine engines are very rare in the RC hobby, and quite expensive. The cost of such an engine would exceed the media's quoted price tag of the entire helicopter. Given the expense and typical time invested by the hobbyist, gas turbine helis almost never see 3D flight (acrobatic flight, as the articles describe).
          The most common power system in modern high performance helis is the brushless electric motor, powered by a high-discharge rate 6-10 cell lithium polymer battery pack (30-40

          • Re:OUCH (Score:4, Informative)

            by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:35PM (#44776741) Homepage Journal

            "Gas turbine engines are very rare in the RC hobby, and quite expensive."

            Expensive, not so much any more, and rare, not even fucking close. More than half of the RC devices flown by Citrus State Park are gas turbine engines, with the rest being battery pack - no nitromethane anywhere to be found. There's even a guy with an F-16 with freaking functional full-auto airsoft cannons on it. you know when that sucker gets started up, even half a mile away.

        • Re:OUCH (Score:4, Interesting)

          by s.petry (762400) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:31PM (#44776675)

          Jokes about this kid getting hurt are about as funny as jokes about the Shuttle Columbia's last re-entry.

          Humor is a method of learning, in addition to being a wonderful coping mechanism. While I am not a fan of certain types of jokes, I personally see nothing wrong with the jokes in this thread. Perhaps you prefer racial jokes, or find something else humorous that others have difficulty with. If you find no humor in anything, you are not really human.

        • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Informative)

          by ThreeKelvin (2024342) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:41PM (#44776835)

          Kinetic energy is 1/2 * m * v^2, so using your numbers gives ~5195 joules. It's actually a lot of energy, about the same as a car going at walking speed, delivered as you say, at a knifes edge.

          They'll easily chop a man in half if the rotors don't break first.

        • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Informative)

          by Solandri (704621) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:51PM (#44776967)

          Doing the math on the rotor blades, .325kg * 175m/s * 0.5 = ~28.4 the tips carry approximately 28 joules of energy assuming they don't separate from the rotor head.

          Kinetic energy is (1/2)(m)(v^2), not v. So it works out to 4977 Joules. More than twice the energy of an AK-47 round [thefiringline.com].

      • by davidwr (791652)

        Yeah, I've got jokes running through my head just like a lot of other people, but a man died. Family and friends are grieving.

        Human decency requires a suitable interval before making light of such a tragedy. By the time that interval passes, this thread will be in archive mode.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tolydude (1080033)
        I would imagine that anyone making jokes about this has no children. To anyone with kids, the thought of something like this happening is simply gut-wrenching. But since relations with the opposite sex are required for procreation, I guess the tasteless jokes and, what's worse, modding up of such, is to be expected here.
    • Re:OUCH (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:42AM (#44775333)

      Holy hell that's insane. What a way to go :(

      At least he died doing what he loved. But in the last 60 seconds of the youtube video, he lands the helicopter on a table just a few feet from his face, while he is seated and thus unable to dodge it easily. One of his friends isn't even wearing eye protection. He was taking dumb risks and it isn't a total surprise that he was later killed. I fly R/C helicopters, and mine are small enough that they could barely leave a scratch, but I would never land one that close to a seated person, and I would never operate in the vicinity of someone without eye protection (parts can come loose, and even small helicopters can kick up debris).

      • by Xoltri (1052470)
        It should be noted that the table landing video was a different model, it was a small quad copter and did not pose nearly the same risk as the one that killed him did.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Holy hell that's insane. What a way to go :(

      Ah, but he died doing something he enjoyed. Isn't that the dream of every man?

      Here Lies Ackthpt, Fully Debugged At Last

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:30AM (#44775185)

    Hats off for model helicopter enthusiasts.

    Too soon?

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:35AM (#44775245) Homepage

    Real helicopter pilots always wear a helmet. And so should you...

    BTW, would somebody think of the children ? How long before some maniac brings one of these to school and decapitates a bunch of innocent children?

    It is long overdue we ban them on school grounds (and for a couple of miles around each school) and establish a national registry for the devices and background checks for buyers!

  • Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by obarthelemy (160321) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:38AM (#44775271)
    At least he didn't kill anybody else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:41AM (#44775307)
    ...the Rotary Club will make him an honorary member?
  • by wrackspurt (3028771) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:42AM (#44775321)
    I was a klutz, big hands, big feet, big head, small body, but I tried out for every sport and when I didn't make the teams I waited to be picked last for pickup games. I don't know if this guy missed out on team sports but maybe he did. Sports teach you you can get hurt. Computer games and remote controlled toys don't teach you about getting hurt. They don't instill caution.
  • by Prune (557140)
    I'm not saying it's likely at all, but how can one be sure that someone else didn't override his signal and took over control of the craft? Just a thought.
    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      That's pretty paranoid, but who knows? Maybe if he wore a tinfoil hat, he'd still be alive.
    • by PseudoCoder (1642383) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:00PM (#44775551)

      I'm not saying it's likely at all, but how can one be sure that someone else didn't override his signal and took over control of the craft? Just a thought.

      It's quite possible with the old analog FM transmitters if you knew which channel they were in, and even then the two transmitters would be "fighting" for control and positive override control would be very difficult. The way he was used to flying so close to himself (according to one of the stories) it only takes a brief "radio hit" while the chopper was close enough to him to lose momentary control and cause this impact. Someone could possibly take advantage of one of these moments and just mess with the signal a little bit, if they wanted to do it deliberately.

      In the case of an FM radio system it's more possible it may have happened by accident if someone on the same FM channel started their transmitter and gave his receiver even a quick radio hit. At a field with loose radio impound rules it's possible another user on his FM channel could have accidentally switched their transmitter on without checking to see if that channel was in use. In my rookie days I would have done something like that.

      With the newer digital 2.4GHz spread-spectrum stuff it's highly unlikely to happen by accident and would be a lot more work to achieve deliberately.

      Either way I would not take the chance to fly so close to me. I have a healthy respect of rotating machinery and so should everyone.

  • Couple this incident with Colorado selling thousands of drone hunting permits [nbcnews.com] and perhaps its time to find a safer hobby than model aircraft. Like say noodling [wikipedia.org]
    • by cruff (171569)

      ... Colorado selling thousands of drone hunting permits ...

      The small eastern Colorado plains town that is thinking of selling these permits != the entire state of Colorado.

  • Brace yourselves (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:47AM (#44775411)

    I can hear the legal coffers clinking as lawyers prepare to amass and file class action lawsuits over an infrequent incident blown out of proportion by newscasts seething with "Think of the children" and "Helicopters kill people" campaigns.

    • I can hear the legal coffers clinking as lawyers prepare to amass and file class action lawsuits over an infrequent incident blown out of proportion by newscasts seething with "Think of the children" and "Helicopters kill people" campaigns.

      Meh, chances are they'll be about as successful as lawyers who sue Smith & Wesson because people play Russian Roulette.

      Which is to say, not at all.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:48AM (#44775413) Homepage
    if i were to die by drone (radio controlled aircraft in this case) id rather it be the one I control.
  • Cue... (Score:4, Funny)

    by longbot (789962) <longbottle@BLUEgmail.com minus berry> on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:55AM (#44775491) Homepage
    ...NYC outlawing remote-controlled planes/helicopters/etc in 3...2...1...
  • In his last video... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @11:58AM (#44775531)

    Some of the stunts he performs are pretty impressive, but as far as I can tell they're all dangerously close to him, given the model can go what appears 0-100 in less than a second. At some points the vehicle is less than 10 feet from him. I would call it a toy, but it's a bit beyond that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRPfLKVMGM8 - Last video posted by Pirozek. Rest in peace, doing what you loved.

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:07PM (#44775637)

    They are definitely NOT toys

    The high performance ones have 5 to 10 HP motors

    The flying style currently popular among the top pilots is to fly very close to the ground and very close to the pilot

    So naturally, the guys with less talent want to fly like the pros

    I think this is kinda crazy..no room for error

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've got half a mind to build one myself......

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#44775883)
    He should have flown his stunt towards Anthony's Weiner?
  • by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:29PM (#44775927) Journal

    Roman was out with his father
    Of safety he couldn't be bothered.
    As was his shtick
    he pulled off a trick
    and his helicopter became his barber.

  • by Chas (5144) on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:37PM (#44776029) Homepage Journal

    I keep seeing people (even the parent article here) using the term "toy" helicopter.

    These models are NOT "toys". They're precision machines and very VERY dangerous. Treating them like toys is what leads to people getting hurt.

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