Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm Going Flying...

It's funny, to me anyway, how some things fall into place. A few months ago I saw a video of a guy using an Radio Controlled (RC) helicopter to shoot video with a Canon 7D. I was blown away by it but know flying a helicopter is no easy task and no way was I going to put my 7D on one.

Having had experience flying airplanes in the past (control line airplanes as a kid, Microsoft Flight Simulator as an adult and a little seat time in real airplanes such as a Piper J-3 Cub and Cessna 172) I figured I could learn to fly an RC airplane without too much difficulty. As usual when I want to learn something new I started searching Google, YouTube, and looking for forums that dealt with the topic. After doing my initial research Donna and I went to a a Local Hobby Store (LHS) and talked with a salesman there. If he wasn't into RC's you could have fooled me because he seemed to know everything about every plane in the store. In the end we didn't leave with a plane -- I really hadn't planned to buy one anyway. What I wanted was a simulator for RC airplanes and helicopters so that's what we bought.

Phoenix Flight Simular - Image Courtesy of
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I have spent hours flying a variety of airplanes and helicopters in the simulator. I found one electric airplane that I really liked flying but after discussing that specific airplane with other RC pilots all of them recommended I start with something else. It's not that I couldn't learn using the more advanced plane but let's face it, every new pilot crashes so you're better off crashing a smaller, lighter, cheaper plane than one of the larger more advanced ones. This made perfect sense to me so I started investigating trainers. Hands down the number one recommended trainer is the Hobby Zone Super Cub LP. It's a very forgiving airplane and is slow flying, spare parts are readily available and when you're ready to move up there's numerous enhancements you can make to it. I had pretty much settled on buying that but then I found out about ultra micro RC planes.

An ultra micro is a very small version of the larger airplanes. They're designed to be flow indoors, such as in a gym or you can fly them outside in calm weather. So of course I had to find out everythng there is to know about ultra micros and as luck would have it a guy posted an ad for a new in box Hobby Zone Champ so I bought it and it should be delivered sometime next week.

The Champ could be considered the little brother to the Super Cub which is one of the reasons why I decided to buy it. Another is that it is extremely light (under 2 ounces ready to fly) and like the Super Cub spares are readily available. It's also small -- its wingspan is 24 inches where the Super Cub wingspan is 48 inches. Since I've settled on the Champ I've been flying a similar model in the simulator so switching over to the real thing hopefully won't be too difficult.

Hobby Zone Champ Image Courtesty of Hobby Zone
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So what does all of this have to do with photography? Glad you asked :). Along with the Champ I've ordered a tiny key-chain video camera. I'll attach the camera to the plane and then go fly around the house or whereever and shoot video.

Once I get the hang of flying the Champ I already have my next plane in mind. I won't be jumping up to DSLR hauling planes yet but next up after the Champ will be one that is capable of hauling around a Point and Shoot. I'd like to be able to move up to a plane that can haul around a DSLR but there's one major obstacle (other than I'm not ready to strap an expensive DSLR on one yet) the wing-span for a DSLR carrying airplane is HUGE. How huge I hear you asking -- try 80 inches. That's right almost a 7 foot wingspan. That's about the width of your average couch. I know 'cause I measured our couch last night and it's just a little wider than 80 inches. Right now I don't have a car that will haul that big of a wing around either. The only possibility would be to put the seat down in the Accord and run it through the trunk and into the car.

Stay tuned -- this should be a pretty interesting adventure :). The links below are for the products I've bought. If you use them to order the product from Amazon I'll earn a small commission.


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