Published on August 26, 2013
By Thomas Van Hare
The heady days of the early 1910s are long past. Today, flying a plane or helicopter is expensive and challenging — it is also fun and amazing, of course. Yet what if you could fly without having a pilot certificate, an airplane, or a flight instructor? What if all it took was a set of modern electronics, some cameras, and a rather specialized rig that puts you into the cockpit of a radio-controlled airplane — if only virtually?
Welcome to the world of FPV — First Person View.
FPV Quadracopters and Multicopters
The most common camera mounts and FPV systems seem to be the multicopters and quadracopters. These are multi-bladed helicopter-type “drones” that give extraordinary stability and maneuverability. Go up, down, sideways, or around objects up close — there’s nothing quite like it.
High-Intensity FPV with Fixed-Wing Aircraft
There is nothing like the speed and intensity of a fixed-wing aircraft with an FPV system — skimming low between the trees, over forests, streams, mountains, and lakes. In fact, this may be more fun than a real airplane! Definitely, you wouldn’t want to try this in your Cessna…. And some of it is quite a bit farther away than should be possible based on the legal requirements of RC aircraft, which is “within sight”. Some are privately owned and operated unmanned aerial vehicles.
Records and Incredible Flights
A lot of the flights with FPV are designed to push the limits and see how far a civilian can fly. Others who fly always try to achieve the impossible, whether it is flying under bridges, down roads, or even through buildings. Much of this is not recommended, though FPV pilots are treading in new legal territory.
Historic and Fascinating FPV Applications
Scale modelers have taken another route and put a camera on a swivel in the cockpit of historic aircraft — you fly from within the cockpit of the model, twisting your “head”, well, actually a camera, on a small pylon gimbal to look out of the plane as it flies along. Or, you could always try to fly with the birds.
Artistic and Stunning FPV
Amidst the galleries of thousands of home videos taken from amateur and professional FPV rigs, there are a number of stand-out videos that leave you speechless. Here are some of the best:
The “drone” revolution is not strictly military — it is also an RC hobbyist’s dream. Modern electronics, radio systems, HD cameras, and head-mounted displays give viewers an incredible experience. Be warned, however, in some countries flights like these are borderline legal, sometimes blatantly illegal.
And then, there’s Crazy Horst — not really FPV, but this takes the cake.
In the end, all we can say is wow.