Honoring a Friend of the Hobby: Michael "Crash" Hancock

Written by Jim T. Graham Born to Fly Column As seen in the March 2018 issue of Model Aviation.

I heard Michael “Crash” Hancock on his podcast before I ever met him. I have always been an RC podcast collector, and listen to them while I’m in the shop or traveling to RC events. The charm of TheCrashcast podcast wasn’t just the RC aspect—it was also the personalities on the show, and Crash was the person who held the whole thing together. I like to say his voice had a dulcet tone. I knew I would meet Crash and his gang at the Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF), held at Mac Hodge’s field in Americus, Georgia, and I did! Chaos and insanity ruled in TheCrashcast tent town, and the residents owned the sky at night. More than a few times, the RCGroups crew rolled up on something that we had never before seen. Night bowling was fun to watch, and sometimes tricky to safely observe! You always knew a good time was going to be had by TheCrashcast. I was excited to be invited to be on the TheCrashcast podcast a few times, and I made sure I had some moonshine nearby so that I could keep up with the crew! I also got to know Crash throughout those many years. We would talk at events, and the nighttime was always the right time for the whole Crash crew to have big fun! When I started tooling leather, he would let me know how interested his daughter was in what I was making. I would always try to make sure she had some information about how to get started making things. I made a point of finding Crash at the annual Joe Nall Week, in Woodruff, South Carolina, in May 2017. That was not an easy task! I had made him a pocket holster for his favorite pistol as a gift. It was the least I could do to thank him for all of the information and laughs that I was given through his podcasts. We saw each other off and on throughout Nall, and I knew that might be the last time I would ever see him. It made saying goodbye a whole new thing. The last time I saw him, we were in our golf carts across from the 3D flightline during Joe Nall Week, watching the large aircraft lay down their thick smoke over the 3D lake. He had a big smile on his face. A few months later, he was gone. Here is one of Crash’s last posts: “I’ve received so many wonderful PMs from folks wondering how I’m doing, and I am truly grateful for all of your concern. Cancer sucks. The oncologist maintains that I’m ‘terminal,’ but I refuse to let that damper my faith and good spirits. I’m doing all that I can to stay healthy and do things with family, friends, and my favorite hobby! Thanks so much for all of your continued prayers and support, dear friends!”

Laine “Lmopar69” Stahr Remembers Crash

Michael “Crash” Hancock. Man, I miss that big dude ... On a normal (crazy) evening of night-flying at SEFF, around 2012 or so, Tim “IFLYOS” King came walking up to me, very excited, with some huge, long-haired lookin’ fella. He introduced us with a big grin on his face. It was like Tim knew then that Crash and I would be great friends. Crash was approximately 6 feet, 6 inches, and close to 300 pounds. I am 5 foot, 6 inches, and approximately 160 pounds. I looked up at him like a 5-year-old to a normal adult, and I proceeded to (in Crash’s words) “press flesh” with the giant. I said, “Nice to meet you, Crash. Can I try to fly this Super Fly night flyer between your legs?” To make a long story short, a week later, when he got back home to his beautiful wife, Connie, she asked him, “How did you get those two bruises on your inner thighs?” Poor fella. I really thought that I could get that airplane through there. That night, and the days to follow at SEFF, cemented a friendship between the big guy and me. We shared ideas and techniques on the telephone. Together, we came up with some pretty good ideas, and some pretty bad ones. I don’t think a week went by since I met Crash that we didn’t talk at least once. He was the premier “enabler.” When you combine an “enabler” with a “Shinanigator” like me, only insanity can ensue. We built and convinced many others to build some fun and some crazy stuff. As a bonus, if Crash was there at an event, I always had an announcer when I flew demonstrations. The guy had a voice that was as smooth as butter, and he loved to talk. I was lucky enough to get to spend a few years as a cohost on TheCrashcast. I had never heard of a podcast until I met Crash. We had a great time doing the show. Crash loved to share his ideas, his experience, and his extensive knowledge of all things RC and life in general. He spent many hours each week returning emails and messages from listeners of the show, helping them work through an RC problem or just talking about life. One thing is for sure—Crash never met a stranger. He talked to everyone as though they were his long-lost buddies. People could tell that he truly cared about them. It’s not every day that you find a friend such as whom I found in Crash. I am lucky to have spent a lot of time with him and with his great family. Since he passed away, I have caught myself multiple times picking up the telephone to give him a call to talk about my next idea, or just shoot the bull, only to remember that the reality is that he will not be on the other end to answer. Fair winds and happy landings up there, Crash. And in your own words, “Get out there and build something, fly something, and enjoy this great hobby.”

Barbara Wolfe Remembers Michael "Crash" Hancock

On any given Wednesday night, as dinner wound down, anticipation increased. In our home, a familiar webpage and logo blazed in bright red. Upon entering my screen name, the instant connection linked me to the RC excitement and knowledge of many enthusiasts across the US, Canada, and other far-flung places. When the time was right, a smooth, mellow voice came over the internet: “Well, hello there, gang!” What followed is best described as a neighborhood reunion mixed with bench-flying and how-tos, and enabling galore. Years of flight stories, building experience, and life tips were shared an hour or two at a time. And when it was over, we couldn’t wait for the next week’s show. I’m pretty sure that creating a worldwide following was not even a thought when Michael “Crash” Hancock started in the RC hobby in 1982. At 15 years old, he scraped and saved and bought a Balsa USA kit called the Smoothie. That started a fascination with aeronautics and RC, which followed him all of his life. That part of Crash’s story isn’t far from many others. He was very active in RC at times; during other times, life held other priorities. The Hancock hangar included all forms of RC joy—from nitro to electric and profile to scale airplanes. He admitted to having RC ground vehicles as well. There wasn’t a form of remote control and model building that he didn’t enjoy. He studied vigorously about whatever he was interested in. This led Michael to an extensive understanding of many topics and resources, or friends who shared his interests. Listen to TheCrashcast and you will easily find all that held Michael’s fascination. He was especially fond of balsa building and seeing his creations take flight. He enjoyed designing and experimenting with different airframes and material types. Like most aeronautic fans, he worked all angles possible to defy gravity. From there, Michael’s story was different from most RC pilots. In 2009, he started a venture that continues to impact veteran pilots and RC newcomers today. After spending a good bit of time on a podcast known as the RCFlightCast, he stepped out of the father/son show to create his own podcast. He wasn’t narcissistic about it; he just enjoyed talking about RC. He would go giggly while talking about building airplanes or about the newest technology in RC. His podcast, TheCrashcast, provided a constantly renewing flow of information. Michael wanted to share what he knew with as many as wanted to learn. While TheCrashcast primarily explored RC flight in its many facets, Michael’s show topics included other hobbies he was interested in. They all related to RC in some way. He tied in topics including CNC, laser-cutting, ham radio, electronics, Arduino, 3D printing, and even cooking, cars, and camping. Perhaps that is part of the magic that kept hundreds of listeners coming back show after show. Crash’s show averaged 50,000 downloads for more than 360 episodes. He also produced many helpful how-to videos. He once explained that his desire to share his knowledge with as many as possible drove him to keep the podcast going and put the videos together. He gave old information in new ways, and put difficult concepts in understandable terms. Mix that with comedy and life stories that anyone could relate to, and that was close to TheCrashcast formula. When my husband and I first started tuning in to TheCrashcast podcast, we were instant fans. We were impressed by Michael’s knowledge and the way he made the RC hobby understandable for a newcomer, but was still helpful for the longtime RC pilot. We were entertained and enlightened with every episode. We began listening when it was live, and before long, we weren’t just fans—we were friends with a legend. We were suddenly members of a large RC family. We realized quickly that Crash didn’t just build airplanes—he built friendships into a community. Through the TheCrashcast listeners’ community, the gentle giant influenced pilots of every age and skill level. The podcasts routinely included information about charity fun-flys, donation drives for good causes, and sometimes specific people in the community. He would publicize events across the country and encourage listeners to get out and “press the flesh,” meaning shake hands and get to know fellow RC fanatics. In this way, Crash brought many new enthusiasts to the hobby. Crash stood out in any crowd—literally. At 6 feet, 6 inches, he was heads above most pilots. Many pictures from flying events sport an unusually tall fellow with a large smile somewhere in the group. He was also known for his radio-quality voice and was routinely requested to emcee at events and demonstrations. He did so gladly. It should be noted that Michael did not earn the moniker “Crash” from his piloting. While he did have his fair share of rekitting experiences, he was an excellent pilot. He even worked his way to the Nats. The nickname actually came from his motorcycle racing days. It stuck, and became his signature moniker. His favorite names, though, were father, husband, and son. Family meant a lot to Michael. He and his wife, Connie, were committed to their two daughters. He retired in 2007 to be a stay-at-home dad for the girls. His son, James, is now grown and has developed an RC addiction of his own. Michael regularly included his family in trips to events. Michael attended every event he could get to. He enjoyed watching and flying, but mostly enjoyed being with people he cared about. Even after his stage-four cancer diagnosis in December 2015, Crash pushed himself for as long as he could to be able to join his friends. He fought cancer with as much vigor as he lived. With Connie at his side, he did everything he could to extend the fatal prognosis. His last 22 months were filled with family and flying events, and he enjoyed it to every extent possible. The stories will continue to be told about Crash for years to come. His laugh and his storytelling ability were trademarks of the TheCrashcast legacy. His pranks were creative and well placed. He took being pranked well also. Many crazy endeavors began as fun side notes at events. Hearing him retell these stories in his podcasts added a down-to-earth element for those who only knew him by his voice. The stories of flying, designing, building, and more are memorialized on Crash’s website. There are 360 TheCrashcast podcast episodes that will be kept there for fans and friends, old and new, to continue to spread RC joy and knowledge. Donations have been made to continue to pay hosting fees so that the site may remain a part of his legacy. His YouTube channel, “Crash Hancock,” has many videos that are still available to access his knowledge and help. Crash’s final podcast and farewell, episode #361, was recorded live just a few weeks before he passed away, and is on his YouTube channel. Michael passed his weekly podcast role to his five cohosts in May 2016. They have taken the challenge and strive to meet the bar that Crash set. The AngleofAttack podcast continues to honor his memory and seeks to pass on their knowledge. Michael acquired an immense collection of RC goodies throughout the years. He had more airplanes, wings, and quadcopters than he could have possibly built and flown. Some are in various stages of being built, while many others are still in boxes, yet to be enjoyed. Close friends of the family are assisting to auction off these memories to help fund the website hosting fees. There’s no greater way to honor the memory of Michael “Crash” Hancock than building something, flying something, and enjoying this great RC hobby.

Crash Isn’t Really Gone

People such as Crash help shape our hobby and make it something that RC folks want to be a part of. People such as Crash make the hobby doable, and that is what will move it into the future. The good news for all of us is that Crash isn’t really gone. He doesn’t feel gone to me, and I’m sure when I’m back at SEFF, I will still feel his presence. He is out there on the internet in all of those podcasts. We can visit with him anytime we want. The fun and good he has done will continue.

Friends Honor Crash with Walk of Fame Brick

You can read more about the Walk of Fame brick that was purchased in Crash’s honor on the AMA Foundation’s blog. The link is listed in “Sources.” -Jim T. Graham [email protected]


AngleofAttack www.angleofattackpodcast.com TheCrashcast www.thecrashcast.com TheCrashcast Facebook page www.facebook.com/thecrashcast AMA Foundation blogpost about Crash Hancock http://amablog.modelaircraft.orgamafoundation/2017/11/30/friends-honor-crash-hancock-with-walk-of-fame-brick

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