How to Rescue Your RC Plane from a Tree

November 8th, 2006

Through painful personal experience, I’ve learned the best techniques for freeing your RC airplane from the evil clutches of mother nature’s best weapon against pilots: trees. Read on and I’ll share with you the pearls of wisdom that helped me libreate my HobbyZone Super Cub after 3 long days of arboreal bondage.

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Last Friday, I decided to tape my digital camera to my HobbyZone Super Cub and do some aerial video. I had done this in the past with great success, so I was natually quite excited. I taped the camera to the side of the fuselage directly under the left wing, set the radio to full throttle, and hand launched it into the wind. I had trouble climbing at first, so I piloted the plane in a wide clockwise circuit around the field trying to gain altitude. After about 20 seconds of flight, disaster struck. In this case I am defining “disaster” as “pilot error”. To be specific, I should have pushed the stick to the right, but did the exact opposite. This unexpectedly pointed my Cub directly at the tallest tree on the perimiter of the field, and simultaneously caused me to loose about 20 feet of altitude. At this point, the plane was about 300 feet away from me, which would soon provide me a valuable lesson about depth perception. I thought that the plane was well clear of hitting that big, looming tree, but I was wrong. The plane was in fact on a collision course with the leafy tree tops.

The impact was suprisingly soft. The plane landed (crashed) into the thinnest of the upper most branches, which cradled it like a baby about 60 feet up. No problem, I thought. I can just spin the prop and wiggled the tail until it falls free. No such luck. Mother nature had claimed its sacrifice and was not about to relinquish with a little tail wagging.

What Not To Do

The first thing you may think to try when your plane is stuck 60 feet up in a tree is to throw a stick at it. There are usually plenty of sticks around parks, and you’ve got a pretty good arm, right? Wrong. Throwing a stick 60 feet into the air, hoping to hit a plane that is securely lodged in a tree will likely not work. Plus, you are not as strong as you think (at least that was my experience).

The second thing you may think to do is return home to get some rope, which you can tie around your trusty stick, hoping to latch it onto a branch close to the plane and shake it free. This will also fail, but you will get a great upper-body workout.

Failing the stick-and-rope trick, you may think the stick is just not heavy enough, so you get a piece of brick, tie the same rope around it, and try to lob it over a tree branch. This also fails, because, again, you just haven’t got that much arm strength. Then you get clever. Maybe you could swing the brick around in big circles (a la David and Goliath) and, using your college physics knowledge, hurl the brick-and-rope up and over a tree branch near the plane. This will also fail, because your brain will simply refuse to let you lob that brick straight after it’s been orbitting your head for 30 seconds (again, that was my experience anyway).

At this point you are getting tired, but you decide to repeat the last two paragraphs about 10 times before finally giving up for the day. So you say good night to your plane, and go home for the day. The next day, in desparation, you replace the brick with a tennis ball, and the rope with fishing line. Your arm is sore from the previous day’s efforts, but you are confident that a new day will bring new hope. This is where you are wrong again, and you give up a lot more quickly than the previous day.

Then it rains.

Finally, Some Hope

After a good nigh’s rest and lots of sighing from a supportive, patient wife, you come up with two more ideas. The first involves about 50 feet of 1/2″ PVC pipe and lots of duct tape. The second involves a sling shot, lead weights, and fishing line. So you go buy 6 9-foot lengths of PVC pipe, 700 yards of fishing line, some lead weights, and a sling shot, and you head off to the field with new found confidence.

The pipe idea ends up failing for two reasons: 1. PVC is very flimsy, and at 50 feet, you can barely control it, let alone knock a plane out of a tree. 2. 50 feet is not actually enough pipe, apparently.

The slingshot idea, however, shows some merit. If you tie a lead weight to the end of some fishing line, unravel about 50 feet of line on the grass, and shoot the lead weight toward the plane, you will find (suprisingly) that you can shoot that line really close to the plane. What’s more, you can actually get the line to wrap around a branch pretty close to your plane. This brings new found hope! What you soon discover, however, is that the fishing line breaks very easily when you tug on it. Not to worry. This is where you head back to Wal-Mart and buy line that is rated at 50-lbs. Spider Wire, they call it, and it is tough. But it’s green and very difficult to see on the grass, so you are careful not to drop it. At this point, you’ve recruited a co-worker with good aim (though not required) and lots of patience (strictly required). Maybe this co-worker is named Steve. Steve’s got good aim with a sling shot and knows that you will let him fly your plane if he helps you get it down. Steve has such good aim that he shoots the lead weight right up and over the plane, with the 50-lbs fishing line in tow. He slowly pulls on the line until it wraps around the plane. If you are lucky (and apparently Steve is very lucky), the line will not only wrap around your plane, but also secure itself crane-like on a neighboring branch. At this point, Steve gives the line a few good tugs, and is able to free the plane from its leafy captor and lower it to the ground, where you stand with outsretched arms like a giddy girl at a weddinng boquet toss. If Steve considers himself pretty funny, he may even jerk the plane back up right before you can reach it, but you’ll forgive him since he got your plane down.

And that, my friends, is how you get an RC airplane down from a tree using fishing line, lead weights, and a slingshot. Total cost: under $20.00.

Oh, by the way, unless your hands are made of steel, you’ll also want some gloves so your fingers don’t get burned by the fishing line as you pull on it.

For those of you wanting a damage report, here are the details: After 3 days of tree captivity and one night of rain, the camera still works, and the only damage to the plane was a broken prop and a small incision in the wing where the fishing line cut into it. 30 minutes with my favorite 5-minute epoxy had the Cub airworthy again.

And now, for those of you morbid enough to want to see first person what the on-board camera filmed as it crashed into the tree, here’s the video. You can skip the first 1:30 because it’s just me taping the camera to the plane. The tree crash happens at about 2:00. At about 10:00, you can hear me trying to spin the prop to free the plane, and then the prop breaks against a branch. Enjoy!


76 Responses to “How to Rescue Your RC Plane from a Tree”

  1. Bertha Says:

    This Steve fellow seems like quite the catch. Can I order one through this website?

  2. Dennis Says:

    Dave you gotta get a lite video camera , wirelessvideo.com, or CVS drug stores

    sell a one time use video cam. for 28. $$ that can be hacked to reuse.

    PS What park in provo were you flying at. I live in Batesville Indiana, But spent

    a few years in Happy Vally

    Dennis

  3. Dave Says:

    Dennis,

    Thanks for the tip. It’s right across the street from Raging Waters on 1700 South at about 1200 West, in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link to the location: Map

  4. Andy Says:

    I’m learning to fly a Super Cub too. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve “landed” in at least half a dozen trees. Glad you got yours out without too much damage. I’m curious how you mounted the camera to the plane. Was it on the side, or on the bottom? Any chance you could post a picture of how the camera was mounted?

  5. Dave Says:

    I mounted the camera on the side, just under the left wing. I taped it to the fuselage and to the wing. It’s just a standard run-of-the-mill digital camera, and it is really too heavy for this plane.

    –Dave

  6. Bryan Johnson Says:

    Great idea, we spent 2 hours slinging frisby golf discks at the plane. I will be going to get a sling shot in the morning.

    By the way the disck thing does’nt work.

    -Shreveport, LA

  7. Dave Says:

    Good luck getting your plane out of the tree Bryan. If you keep persistent with the slingshot, it’ll work!

    Good luck!

  8. DaveT Says:

    As a recent “Victim” of a large fir tree, I employed your methods to try and get my plane down. Couldn’t hook a fishing line that high with the pole, so a friend came over and tried the slingshot thing. We hooked the wrong branch, and ran out of sinkers/weights. A not so quick trip to the sporting goods store for more weights and heavier cord found us back at the park. Bear in mind this all took place over a weeks time, for a $30 Yellow Bee plane, so I wasn’t going to spend any real money to get it back. After finally obtaining what we felt was the perfect setup to get the plane down (about 50 feet up) we arrive at the park to find a strong wind blowing, and the plane laying on the ground.

    Sometimes you just have to wait it out. LOL

  9. Lars Says:

    What was needed to get my Super Cub down from my landing tree (…) was a brave girlfriend with tree-climbing skills well above average, and a ladder. Ofcourse, it doesn’t work if you choose a too high tree as your landing site.

    Great blog, by the way!

  10. Shadymilkman Says:

    I have a piper super cub stuck in a tree (Unsure of the species) that has a branch somehow tangled between the wing supports. its amazing how perfectly it landed in there but i have an idea with a pool skimmer pole, some rope, and a tree pruner. I’ll update later hopefully.

  11. ben Says:

    my friend riley decided to fly inverted over 60 foot trees when he was 61 feet high with the t-28 trojan and it reamed into the tree. at my school we have a baseball shooter, so wtf, we took about 200 ft of ext. cord from the dugout to the tree and shot 10 balls at it, losing all of them–but 1 hit the plane, and made as sound like this “boosh”. That was it. Then it rained, and im on break so when i go back i was gonna shoot paintballs at the beeatch—but thanks to this thread, ill get the local stuff from walmart tomorrow and not have to freeze paintballs and shoot through my plane. well..if it doesnt work..then ill try that hahah :) thanks bro.

  12. Dave Says:

    Ben,

    Great story! I can’t wait to hear how you get your plane down from the tree. I would advise *not* shooting anything at it, because even if you do hit the plane, it still has 60 more feet of tree to fall through before it hits the ground, and it’ll probably get stuck again, and again, and again… :)

    Go get yourself a sling shot, some fishing weights, and some heavy-duty fishing line. Good luck!

    –Dave

  13. Ryan Says:

    Ugggh! Just lost a brand new Parkzone T-28 Trojan in a 60 foot tree along with the probably now shot 2500mah lipo. I tried the slingshot method and was not too succesful with my attemps as I was having problems with the line getting tangled in the sling when fired.
    If you have the time you could rig something with a forward mounted reel/spool with a wire guide and this could possibly eliminate the problems I was having, but in my opinion a bow device is a much better choice. My next attempt was a kids bow and arrow with the line securely taped to the back near the arrows knock. The first two shots were slightly low and the tape held so well my #50 pound line finally snapped after attempting to free the arrow on the second shot leaving me with only one arrow. The final shot dropped the line perfectly over the plane and branch, when I pulled to free the plane the line pulled off the arrow and of course the last arrow was stuck now with the plane. I do however highly recommend using a bow or crossbow with a fishing reel to get the line over a branch or over the plane. It is very accurate and easily has the range unlike the slingshot in my opinion. Just be sure to have a few extra cheap arrows with blunt rubber tips and secure the line well! If I had a little more time, patience and arrows it would be out of the tree. Instead I found a guy on craiglist.com who works for a tree trimming company that is more than happy to come out and spend less than an hour making $40 bucks to ascend the tree and hand carry it out. Wish I had just done this in the first place as the money spent and time wasted exceeded , but I will keep the bow and buy a few more arrows in the likely event that I need to do another recovery. Here is a great guide on how a couple of different line launching devices can be constructed. Hope this helps.

    http://www.newtribe.com/technical-new.html

  14. Stephen Says:

    My first RC flight with my new Hobbyzone Super club was successful until I landed it in a 62 ft tree. I’m praying for a windy day. Maybe I’ll look into the sling shot idea. I probably lost $10,000 in the stock market last week but am more upset about my $100 super cub in that tree.

  15. Robert Says:

    I’ve flown kites for the past 15 years ad I use a giant 12-foot surf-fishing rod with 20-or-40-lb test monofilament fishing line to fly kites with cameras and such, up to 500-1000 feet. I also get caught in treetops and rooftop antenntas, and I find the leverage of the pole can get my “stuck kite” out of these areas… Sometimes I can break small branches pulling my kites out. I imagine I could land a kite near a stuck plane and rip it out. It would sure be dramatic! I have dropped objects on baseball games, etc. (t-shirts, empty 1-L soda bottles, etc).

  16. ss2 Says:

    Yo thx for the tip!

  17. Bryant, Andrew, and Brian Says:

    we modified the weight and slingshot idea to fishing line wedged in a potatoe by a stick fired out of a potatoe gun. First shot got it to a lower branch where 2 more shots got It down in almost 1 good piece

  18. greg Says:

    A rc helicopter with a skyhook would work, maybe I’ll start a rescue service

  19. don wilson Says:

    i put the exact same airplane into a tree where i fly. it took three hours of casting a fishing line to get it down. i thought of the pvc pipe first, but did not try it.
    it’s best to not get in the tree to begin with.

  20. mike Says:

    Have my Cessna 182 about 60 ft up in a tree now, unfortunately, it is obviously destroyed, as was obvious by the fact that I have retrieved my nosecone, half of a propellor, wing, and horizontal stabilizer but the plane is up there with the fuselage hanging over one side of a branch and my lipo hanging over the other!! Short of renting a manlift I do not know how to get out of this one!

  21. Steve Says:

    I’m glad I fell on this blog. It kind of reassures me to know that I’m not the only one who gets his plane stuck in a 60 foot tree. Well, mine has been up there for 4 days now. My first idea, in panik, was “chop the fu…. tree down” but quickly realized that it wasn’t the optimal solution. I then thought of using a fishing rod but didn’t test it as I then came up with a great idea. My solution was to tie a very thin and light rope to an arrow, shoot the arrow over the branch and recuperate the arrow. You then have a thin line hanging over both sides of the branch. You replace the arrow with stronger thicker fishing line(you won’t get the latter high enough if you tie it to the arrow) and pull the fishing line over the branch. And now here’s the trick, you cut your fishing line and between the two cut ends you tie in a 12″ wire saw blade then you continue to pull your fishing line over the branch until the saw blade reaches the branch. After a few back and forth tugs on each end of your line, the saw will have cut the branch and freed your plane.
    I tried this yesterday and the first shot was perfect. The only problem was that my arrow was not lested enough to return to the ground. The second and third shots only led to a major thread tangle. I’ll try again today with a lead lested arrowhead and a fishing spool. Once I get that arrow over the branch and back to the ground I’m pretty sure to achieve my goal.
    If that still doesn’t work…I’ll cut the fu….. down!

  22. Captain Dummy Says:

    Today I got my Lipo Brushless Skytec Jet stuck 30ft up in a 60ft Conifer. I was bringing it in and I was way to hot, full throttle and h ard climb to go around and ran out of field. Now it’s fallen and wedged itself nose down and the left wing is broken off. I tried the sling shot idea and found out I needed 3 weights to get it up and over. Man this was one tough branch I couldn’t get it to move enough, after some frost bite and swollen hands and one mis fire into my hand I will re-group tomorrow and give it another try. The worst part is the cockpit fell to the ground leaving all the electronics open to the weather. Thanks for the idea I’m not giving up..

  23. Captain Dummy Says:

    Got the jet down today after a little sharp shooting, the wings broke off and one of the servo wires was cut, but it’s all back together now and waiting for glue to cure, after yesterday total cost was:
    1. sling shot $7
    2. wieghts $4
    3. field knife $3
    4. 50lb test line $3
    $17 and a few hours! Thanks for the advice I have my baby back!!

  24. lefty Says:

    i used a hammer and some rope, and some sinkers w/ fishing line – 2 hours later both have failed and about 4 sinkers w/ line and the hammer & rope are also stuck.

    Have broken all the branches around the plane tho… i will chk again in the morning, hopefully the winds pick up – but its also ment to rain tonight :(

  25. Ken Says:

    I tried flying in weather that was probabley too windy. now my cub is stuck at the top of our tallest tree.{100 ft}. any advice? were thinking of cuttin the tree down, its old and ugly. i doubt the sling meathod will work.

  26. evojsn Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I lost my wildhawk with my mini DVR and a canon still camera on board about 50 feet up a tree. I will not go into how or why. But I want to thank you for the sling shot/spider wire tick. It worked like a charm. I got everything back but a prod adapter. I could not be happier.

    thanks for the idea!!

  27. Jordan Says:

    I got my Super Cub stuck in a pine tree (it was totally the wind’s fault, I swear) and absolutely couldn’t get it down even after several solid hits with a baseball. We got one of those rubber water-balloon launchers, tied a rope to a good rock, and shot it right over the limb holding my Warbird.

    Of course, I realized after doing so just how imperative it is that one person have their foot on the loose end of the rope. Long story short, a couple more launches of the rope+rock and we had that whole tree shaking in no time, freeing the Warbird at last.

  28. tony sanico jr Says:

    well i tryed it all sling shot home made bow and arrow next a balloon to fishing line hold the line with two hands to make a up side down V formation get the balloon over the branch and pull down hope it works lol

  29. RDJ SIMULATIONS Says:

    Here is my tree rescue.. but it was a helo and at an impossible 110 ft up.. we had somewhat the same idea
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ7VwoUkBDA

  30. Rene Says:

    Today I lost my CX2 Blade helicopter to a gust of wind & unresponsive controls over some trees & a row of houses. Once I located it 50 ft in a leafy tree (thanks to hearing the clicking from the controls) I went back home to think about my predicament & found this site.

    I called my best buddy Rick & gave him a football and a challenge. 10 tosses later, he knocked it out of the tree undamaged (I caught it).

    Very sweet after I was almost resigned to losing my $200+ toy.

  31. nick Says:

    I hadn’t flown for a few days and was banking my spitfire I had recentley done up myself giving it a nice underside with fake landing gear and airscoop! Wow I am so good ! at this point got a nice little crowd watching, so I decide I am gonna bring it round real low in a shallow bank I have flown in this field for years! Poetry lovley then the dreaded thwack sound! end of flight and daydream. So I am green after 20 mins covered in ivy swetty and not a happy man! still up there with the spanner I used to toss up a line, wedged there! bugger! 60 ft up!!!

  32. nick Says:

    I can’t believe I got it down, my spitfire is now almost in one bit! needs new wing due to break on fall from tree, apart from that its fine.
    I did however use the Indiana jones method, this involves said spanner tied in this case to several metres of old modem cable quite tough I can vouch.
    You stand there get a swing going back and forward all gentle aim taking into account the arc of your arm swing then lauch toward stranded spitfire etc hoping it will land and snag branch! you can really get height if you launch it at right angle, It helps to picture yourself in a faded hat and revolver etc!
    I did have a nice little crowd and neary spered several small children in the process and have made a heavy contribution to removing the green belt as this tree now has a bald spot and more leaves under it.
    Ok anyhow once lodged just pull gently and it should fall helps if you have a friend and a blanket! a thank you!!!!!!

  33. Thomas K. Says:

    Yesterday I was performing a little “airshow” for my family and friends with my Super Cub LP with FLOATS! I made some low passes over some boats on the water and flew down the lake when I decided to turn back for some more passes. Obviously I misjudged the distance (extremely easy to do with rc planes) and put it right into the top of the tree.
    I’m looking for more advice. This morning the local fire department came out and took a look at it but their ladder truck can not get into the area. So hopefully tomorrow someone will come out from REMC with a bucket truck to get the plane out.
    The plane is very hard to get out because of the huge floats. The engine still works along with all of the control surfaces. Hopefully we will have it out soon!

  34. Carlos G. Says:

    I got my Piper Cub stuck in a tree this weekend in Whittier Narrows park CA. It was nestled in a branch high atop the tree. At least 50′ maybe 60′. I used a PVC pipe contraption which is kept handy in the park for exactly this purpose. I can vouch how difficult it is to erect 50′ feet of pvc straight up in the air. It is impossible without weaving it in and out of tree branches that you hope lead to your plane. For me they didn’t. I bought a Daisy slingshot at Wal-Mart for $7 and a reel of 50lb fishing line for $2. I used old fishing lead weights and began shooting. It turns out I’m a good shot and was able to shoot a line over my plane. The fishing line sliced into to tail of the plane, BUT the lead weight kept the line in place as WAIT I pulled and lowered in a pulley like fashion my plane. SWEET! I had a broken wing from the impact but so many parts were salvageable. It was a relatively inexpensive plane but I’m glad I got it. I’m not in the business of ditching planes in trees. There’s no guarantee you wont further damage your plane with the slingshot method, but it works!

  35. Lodi Says:

    Thanks so much for the info! I now have my A.R. Drone back safely from the clutches of a 60 ft Douglas fir. I had already come to the conclusion of slingshot and fishing line, but lead sinkers was the secret ingredient! Cheers!

  36. Bogdan Says:

    I lost my plane into a huge 80feet tree:( i can hear the plane bips and throttle noise but i cannot even see it :( it had onboard cam and all my best electronics :( :( i climbed 1/2 the way up but its too high and i cannot see it, it must be right on the top :(

  37. VIncent Says:

    same thing happened to me with the same plane ! super cub LP RTF 40′ feet up …ugh

  38. Randy Says:

    I found this web page because I got my Super Cub stuck in the top of an oak tree. I was going to try your sling shot method. However, I made some phone calls to local tree services and one of them offered to get it down for FREE! It was about 65 ft up and he brought out a his bucket truck and knocked it down. Not a scratch! I was so lucky.

  39. Nate Says:

    Plane stuck in a tree…hmmm. I got one stuck about 60 feet up in a damn Cottonwood. After a few beers I figured if I couldn’t grow taller, I could make the tree shorter. All I’m gonna say is that my solution involved a chainsaw, and it worked.

  40. camren Says:

    Yesterday, the maiden voyage of my Supercub LP. I missjudged how close I was to a tree off in the distance and was quickly held captive in the very top of the tree – 60 feet up, and in very thin branches.

    Due to my complete lack of a fear of heights, my method was to shimmy up the trunk the 60 ft tall tree (that is wrapped in dormant poison ivy), throw the plane back out of the tree, and shimmy down. This is a great method in the very short term, but due to the abrasions on my arms infused with poisonous juices this should prove to be a very bad option. But, I have my Plane!!!

  41. Marwan Says:

    Steve, and everybody…Thanks for all your input…My disaster started today….Despite every single thing I read about what NOT to do, I let my Ultru micro super cub go to far, lest perception, and lovely gust of wind pused me over to tree…around 60ft…I had both my daugters with me….they were not happy since we had waited so long to start flying it…

    First thing came to mind was the fishing line, but I was not prepared…I had it tied to a rock (stupid) so actually it once made it right to very close branch but on the tree right next to (my target)…After about 4 hours of throwing rocks and this and that…I didn’t give up, but my arm sure hurts and I am really upset…..I am so glad there is hope!

    Will try the sling shot method, but surely with my luck, all stores are closed tomorrow for good friday…

    I also tried the PVC pipes connecting them and hoping to reach that high, but sure enough, they do bend!!

    Will try the sling shot and I hope to get it down…Boy its a tough way to learn that lesson!

  42. Cory Says:

    I just did the same thing. Second time taking my Dynam HawkSky out. Had it in the air for about 2 or 3 minutes and was feeling pretty confident about my flying abilities. Got in a good landing, pulled off a nice stall maneuver, and told my friend “I think I’ll turn it back this way and we can head out”. Flying down the middle of the field, I thought I had enough room to turn, but rather than turning towards the baseball field on my right, I turned toward the line of trees on my left. An extra 3 feet of clearance and I would have been fine, but now it’s stuck ~30ft up and my 230lb frame isn’t going to fit up inside the tree to get it down. I’ll be giving the fishing line tactic a shot tonight. Here’s hoping that I’m successful and I don’t end up chalking it up as a loss.

    Definitely a discouraging experience for someone new to the hobby.

  43. rob Says:

    dang it my Polecat is 45 feet up a tree, my brother just just bought it for my birthday. I got a 20 foot pvc pole and climbed as high as I can trust the branches and I was like 2 feet short and I got really tired and decided to try again today. All I need is a few more feet on the pole or a nice gust of wind to knock it down. I’m never flying at that field again. I lost a Super Cub around 60 feet up another tree at that place and it was impossible to recover, a bitter lesson but I will be flying at a bigger field so I don’t have to risk my life for a 99 dollar plane lol

  44. rob Says:

    yay!!!! I got it back by tying a string to a spoon and batmanning it over the branch it was hung up on, took 30 tries but it worked!

  45. Blake Says:

    Reading all of these comments makes me laugh…I tried almost every one of them myself. On the maiden flight of my new Super Cub I took off and landed it several times beautifully. On my last turn around the field the battery may have failed ?? not sure but it took an uncontrollable dive to the top of a 70′ pine tree. I tried throwing rocks, branches etc at it for about 20 minutes and realized there was no way I could reach it that way. I came home and googled and found this thread. I thought okay that sounds promising so I purchased a slingshot, spiderwire, lead sinkers and headed out there the next morning. This is very hard to try yourself as it is hard to salvage the spiderwire if you do not hit it the first time and it is very difficult to untangle by yourself in the thick of trees and brush. So, I recruited a buddy to come help. we quickly ran out of spiderwire and at $12.00 per spool I was not ready to keep on buying with no luck so far. I had the idea to shoot a some cheap wooden arrows at it with bright yellow twine tied to it so that I could see where it was and what branch it was over. After several failed attempts of backlashing and a tangled mess of spiderwire, twine and weights wrapped around every branch except the one I needed, I decided to give up. We tried approximately 6 hours with no luck. I told my buddy to forget it, I was ready to give up. I thought for the fun of it I would try to shoot the arrow with no twine attached to it just to see if I could make it move. First shot landed right next to the fuselage in the wing, dislodged it and it fell 65′ into a small tree with the softest landing. There was NO damage at all. the hole where the arrow went in was so close to the fuselage that it cannot even be seen. Awesome recovery! Oh and by the way, do not try any of the other failed attempts that are mentioned on this thread…..They do not work, just trust us!! I tried all of them thinking even though they couldnt make it work, I bet I can… The funniest was the PVC pipe….Complete failure…I thought well the other guy tried 1/4″ no wonder, I will try 1″ bad idea…20′ is the maximum and you cannot keep it steady at all!!

  46. brandon Says:

    Bow and arrow! Diddnt work. Twine I used never got to fishing line. That might help. But in the end I aimed for my stiraphon head ach three days latter and shoot it down ! Just made a hole . No internal damage. Good luck

  47. Janos Says:

    Holy cow, I had my first meeting with trees yesterday !! I have flown my Mustang P51D into a 15m tree yesterday evening, right to the top. I was totally upset, it was still half hour left until the evening falls and I spotted my plane between the bush of branches, seemingly intact. But it was a tree with very thin branches ( actually a large bush-like thing ), so there was no way to climb on it. Wat shall I do ?? Panic, panic !
    Since there was no time and ewuipment left, I went home and started thinking. Found this blog and it was giving me hope, thanks guys !
    And I had plan: I make a long stick with a wooden Y at the end, and i will pull my plane down as gently as possible. I could hardly wait until the next mornig ! I went to the hobby shop to buy some strong wooden sticks of 3m , I tied them together. 4 sticks were just long enough to reach the top of the tree! It was an acrobatic excercise to aim the plane with a 12m stick, but I succeeded. First I could pull it down by 2 meters and got blocked by another branch. Ok, now with 3 stick it was easier to continue. After 3 more pulls it was down, almost intact. The only two damages were a broken tip of the left wing and a small missing piece of the trailing edge of the right wing. I am so happy, I repaired it with some foam and epoxy within half hour. Testing of the electronic showed that everything works normally, no prop damage, no servo damage !! I was extremely lucky.
    … and I will NEVER EVER fly close to trees !!!
    So this is my story, with happy end this time. I will do my best not to let it happen again !!

  48. RobHob Says:

    LOL…excellent writing. I have not had the bad luck yet of getting my heli in a tree, but now I know what to do if it happens.

    Thanks for the post.

  49. AirHogs01 Says:

    I just called the fire department.

  50. JONES Says:

    hi how are you
    i have a simmilar problem i have an rc heli and it got stuck in a tree probably 60 70 feet high but t is held by really skinny twigs and small branches do you what to do and the tree breanchis over an unbusy street please help

  51. Coxy Says:

    Hi, for Christmas I received a sweet 42 inch RC helicopter. I began my first test flight the next day and within 20 seconds of flight a big dog was trying to eat it. for 10 seconds this did not appear to be a problem and I just kept my baby in the air – then the wind blew for the first time that day… 10 seconds later I had the dilema: land the copter and let the dog eat it or let the wind take it further and further away. I thought I could control it… 5 more seconds passed and the copter was over a roof, above a road, next to a high tree and spinning round and round completly out of control. 5 seconds later the wind took it higher and higher. This was my first flight so a crash land was almost inevitable and I was determined to bring it back above the grass to at least give it a chance of survival. I kept pulling at the controls and it kept going higher and higher and round and round until it made friends with the tallest tree in the park, about 4 stories high. So my first flight lasted less than 1 minute and my Christmas gift was now up a tree. I tried tennis balls, block and tackels etc etc. I went to the tree every hour when the wind picked up in the evenings and also checked the area at 4:30am in the mornings before anyone walked their dogs (I live in Australia and its summer time right now). Then I found this forum. Adopting the fishing wire method I invited my frined round with his fishing rod and using his strongest line we tied a Y shaped branch and cast the line over and over again trying to snag the highest branch. Over 1.5 hours we snaged the branch only 5 times in the ideal spot and were able to shake the hell out of it before the line broke. Eventiualy on the 6th sucessfull snag we managed to shake the copter out of the tree. It fell through the tree so I had just enough time to figure out its direction and caught it in my hands about 2 meters off the concret ground. Suprisingly, after 3 days of extreem Australian summer heat the copter still works. Thanks 2 everyone for all their advice, hope my method helps someone else.

  52. Dave Says:

    Coxy, that is an epic story! I am so glad to hear you got your heli back.

  53. Daniel Says:

    LOL nice read and video. I like your sense of humor. Anyways … I recently recovered my double horse 9053 heli out of a tree with a bobcat forklift, and a rake. Needless to say, it wasnt fun standing on the forks holding a rake with one hand … But it got the job done. Now that I think about it, ill try something different next time. Perhaps using fishing line, lead weights, and a slingshot ?

  54. Stewart Says:

    Got my FPV-equipped plane stuck 75 feet up in a tree after the motor cut out. I tried so many things, including a bow and arrow, slingshot with twine tied to 3/4oz. sinker, giant homemade slingshot with the same sinker, pellet gun, disc golf discs and my paintball gun (which wouldn’t work right) and I had no success for 72 hours until I switched my slingshot setup up. I used an $8 slingshot and a $3 spool of 50lb. test fishing line, along with a 3/4oz. egg-shaped sinker, to finally dislodge my AXN. The key was bringing a blanket to spread out on the ground so the line wouldn’t snag on the grass and weeds. With the thin twine attached to the sinker, I lost about 30 feet of range. I should have used the fishing line from the beginning. The amazing part of this story is that both of my LiPo’s are charging just fine after being completely drained.

  55. Dave Says:

    Stewart, that is an epic story! Did you find this blog before or after rescuing your plane?

  56. Matt Arrington Says:

    I have a Radian stuck about 50′ up in a tree. It sucks seeing your fully intact plane stuck and no way to retrieve it. I laughed as I read your failed attempts because I tried everything you did with the same results. PVC pipe is the biggest waste of time if you are more than 20′ up. Thanks for the sling shot idea. You gave me hope! I’ll be buying a bow next if this doesn’t work!

  57. Stephen Says:

    My Champ was thrown up on top of a gum tree due to a gust of wind today.

    Tried throwing various things including branches but no luck

    Went home and tried attaching a line from my kite to a tennis ball, and after several attempts, managed to dislodge it.

    The trick was to throw it over the plane and then lift it up with the tennis ball which was able to move it enough to let it fall.

  58. Ron Says:

    What happens when you get the RC helicopter with the sky hook stuck. I might have to try some helium ballons with a good fish hook on it as mine is too close to the neighbors house to use slingshots and fishing weights

  59. Paul Says:

    Got my mini super cub in a 45Ft dead tree.
    Tried a multi segmented pole with a pvc pipe on the end. hit the plane a couple of times but could not do more.

    I will try your sling shot and fishing line approach and also hope for strong winds.

    thanks

  60. Harry Says:

    Just wanted to confirm the slingshot method. Landed my super cub 60 feet high in a tree. Took me an hour with a 10 dollar slingshot, 50 lb test line and 2 oz weight to get it down.

  61. thanks Says:

    So I read the other writers and went to walmart and got the sling shot, the fishing line and weight. I also took my handy buddy who is good at fixing things!! 40 minutes, later my Hawk Sky that was in the tree for over 8 days came down 50 feet from cotton tree. Oh man I was so excited. The battery had swelled up like a balloon, but the plane works! I couldn’t believe it.
    Thank you so much for the information given. That helped me get the plane down….

  62. james Morrow Says:

    what a great article, my first rc flight in small park back yard, plane ended up in tree about 100ft, tail lodged in tree branch
    got the fish line to hook branch but could not dislodge plane
    2 days later, 25 tries, got it perfect line over back tail pulled plane out
    I got so good with slingshot I could hit withn a couple of ft of where aiming at 100 ft
    thanks for the article

  63. Joshua Says:

    In my case, my Hobby Zone Champ Champ RTF got stuck in a 30 feet pine tree, aprox., and I waited to recovery it. I cut a 26 feet long small tree to get up to the branch where my plane got stuck again after 6 hours.

    It is the second time that my plane got stuck in a tree.

    This time, no damage!!!

  64. Big Al Says:

    So my HobbyZone Cub spent 5 nights 60′ up a spruce tree. The slingshot idea is what finally got it down. Took me about 2 hours of slinging until I had the perfect shot but I recovered the Cub with just a broken wing strut. And despite 2 days of moderate rain, the electronics were all dry. The Cub still works perfectly. Thanks for the tip!

  65. Matt Says:

    My Bixler powered glider is stuck 20m up a tree on our nearby oval thanks to a swooping magpie taking chunks of foam out the top of the wings and distracting me on final approach. I’ve tried almost everything in this list before finding this page. I just bought a cheap slingshot wth some 50lb line and some large sinkers and will try it out tonight. Although its only a $100 setup, and its suffered critical injuries including broken wings and a broken tail section, I’m not letting the tree win. I’ve invested too much time already throwing rocks and hurling fishing line to be beaten now.

    Thanks for the ideas

  66. Jordan Scott Says:

    Thank you! Our 6 year old received an Air Hogs helicopter for his birthday. We took him out to a local BBQ restaurant that has a big area in the back where kids play, but bordered by tall oak trees. Wouldn’t you know, within 5 minutes the helicopter was stuck at the top of a 40 foot Oak!

    I used your advice but subbed in kite string instead of fishing line as I had it handy and it has a little more elasticity to it to prevent snapping. I must have channeled Steve’s mojo because the 1st shot went right over the top of the helicopter and with one pull on the string we had the helicopter out of the tree. I looked around to see if anybody but my kids saw me do it on the 1st shot. Nope. My kids weren’t even impressed but I was jumping up and down and cheering.

    Great advice! Thanks!

  67. Larry Says:

    Yay! This worked for me too! Got my Super Cub stcuk in a 40ft high tree. Nose in deep. Slingshot with a golf ball wrapped in plastic and attached to 40lb fishing line. Too about 7 shots to get the aim right, but eventually I snagged a branch close enough to the plane. Initiated a swinging and swaying with the tree and the plane eventually fell out!! As this was over the course of a week, the poor LiPo battery was wiped, but I managed to salvage the plane!!

    Great advice, it worked for me too!!!

  68. Tim Says:

    Hey I have still got a Sbach converted into a local birds nest. I am going to use your “rope and weight” technique to recover whats left!

  69. Dutch Says:

    Just starting the flying hobby and really excited about it. Bought a Hobby Zone Super Cub DM RTF, and have been flying it often the last two weeks. My first tree landing I was able to climb the tree and get it down. So when I got home I thought .. you should put a ladder in the car. So off I go back to fly some more and sure enough another tree landing. This time …. I needed the ladder to get up to the branches that would support me. Success again. But while in the tree I was thinking.. Man, I should have a stick to knock it out.. so next I got the expandable 15ft stick that you can get around this time at Home Depot to put your Christmas lights on your shingles. Now with stick and ladder in the truck, off I go again.. several more tree landings at different fields that have less and less trees around.. but still I find a way to land in them!… So far have been very successful with the ladder and pole trick.. Until TODAY!!!.. she is way way up in a very tall tree.. even I wouldnt think to even try to climb it. My wife was with me and she said .. Dont worry Honey.. I’ll buy you another one for Christmas.. whatever you want under $300!… BONUS!!.. gonna get the sling shot tomorrow and get my old faithful down from that 60ft tree.. and also get that new Christmas present.. Im a lucky man if that slingshot works!!.. will follow up tomorrow.

  70. Rick Says:

    Mine Syma 18 inch copter was stuck in a branch about 45 feet up. I tired all of the above and finally got it down with three helium ballons tied to stong kite string. It took a while and it has to be calm but I eventualy was able to get the 3 balloons stuck on the same branch as the copter and was able to shake it lose. It was up there for over two weeks but still works perfectly

  71. rob Says:

    My plane got stuck in a palm tree, tried to use a pool skimmer and now my plane and my pool skimmer are stuck in a tree.

  72. pete Says:

    LOL yes the damn trees like to eat my models also. lets see… embarased to say this but four tree crashes this year. my wife says I should take up another hobby (no sympathy at all). first one was easy only about 8 meters up (I like archery so the Bow method was a natural) . second time was 15 meters and the bow and arrow and line worked again. As if I need greater challenges to make my life interesting they get higher and in denser branches. Third was a waiting game for wind and then the bow. Today however is the king of all tree crashes (I swear if I get it back I will never fly any where I can even see a tree, I think I will move to the prairies). I was thermal hunting, a big gust of wind out of nowhere and nasty inversion. she looped twice and dissapeared nose first, must have dropped 200 feet or more right in to the (yes you read this right) forest… took me an hour and a half just to find it, totally invisible could only locate it from the time it took to aquire a signal when I turned on the transmitter and then the servo noise when I got close . so now I need to figure out how to get my 2 meter baby out of the tallest pine in the forest, I can not even see it the branches are so dense . oh and did I mention the 35+ meters (100+feet) part? I’m seriously thinking about risking jail time and cutting the sucker down but I’m pretty sure it will completely destroy the model, Sling shot and fishing weight eh?? not sure I can get any thing past all those branches other trees and junk, any body with a helicopter want to do me a favour?—shit what a day.

  73. pete Says:

    Well just thought I’d check in and tell you how it went.
    I have to endorse the sling shot and fishing line method.
    I was not hopful but gave it a try.
    The arows would never have made it through the dense branches but the lead shot went though finally and even came down so I could tie a heavier line on and pull it back.
    I layed the spool down face up and pinned it to the ground using a screw driver so it acted like a spinning rod (way beter than coiling!) so to make a long story short shook the heck out of the tree, it said uncle and spit my glider out. I then had to convince it’s neighbour to let go also but the method worked for a second time and I caught my disshevelled and broken bird.
    However a day of repairs later… I went for a trip to the local soaring hill.
    I saw trees several hunderd meters off but took a deep breath, told my self to be brave and had a great 3.5 hour session.
    So happy ending!
    good luck people, may the force of the sling shot work for you.

  74. Richard T. Says:

    Your slingshot, fishing line, and lead weight technique worked like a charm for me. I had an 50mm edf electric jet stuck 30ft high in a tree and with the help of a club member was able to catch a branch with the fishing line where the plane was a shake it down. Thanks!!

  75. The Plane Dog Says:

    My Hobbico Superstar EP was coming in for a perfect landing. I cut the throttle for a nice gentle glide in. I thought I had cleared the trees and then all of the sudden my plane disappeared. I guess when your plane if far away, it’s hard to get an accurate perception of its height. I gave it some throttle and pitched it up – even though I couldn’t see it. Then I heard that sound – whack!

    My plane is stuck in a tree, nearly 100 feet tall. It’s been up there for almost 2 weeks. I’ll try the slingshot thing at some point. The wind brought it down about 8 feet, but now it’s more tightly gripped by the tree.

  76. John Says:

    I just spent 2 hours throwing a ball and shooting at the plane with paintballs. After talking to the cops that wanted to know what the heck I was doing at 9 o’clock at night, I gave up for the night and found this. Going to get a slingshot tomorrow!

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