First Person View (FPV) & RC flying — What do you think?

Apr 04, 2012 51 Comments by

First Person View (FPV) RC flying is one of the hottest new interests in our RC  hobby today. Live feed video instantly transmitted from the aircraft down to the pilot who wears video goggles or glasses provides a unique window on the world. It is as if you were in the model’s cockpit. This development is so popular in-fact that the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the governing body for all flying RC things, has developed strict guidelines for the proper procedures of FPV model flying . You need a safety pilot and a quick way to transfer RC control to the safety pilot. FPV flight has become so popular in fact that the web and YouTube is full of interesting and exciting videos. What do you think? With all the communucations between the AMA and the FAA, is this good or bad for our hobby? We want to know what you think.

MAN has been following local FPV activity and at the 2010 All-electric flight NEAT Fair, MAN ran into a guy who really has taken the whole FPV part of the hobby very seriously. Gary Graf of Long Island, NY been attending the NEAT Fair for years showing off his aerial camera-equipped flying platforms including a flying wing and a series of  sofiticated looking Octo-Copters. He has invested hundreds of hours refining his equipment to maximize his virtual airborne RC experience and each of his aerial surveillance vehicles has unique features. Last year at the 2011 fair, Gary showed everyone just how much smaller the equipment has become.

Gary prefers flying wings for Air-to-Air work as they are very efficient and stable which is perfect when he is chasing and flying formation with other RC airplanes. His Octo-Copter he developed as an untra-stable hovering platform and it has both an auto-pilot feature that he calls “Retun-to-home.” All he has to do is flip a switch and his UAV comes right back to the point of launch with the help of its on-board GPS system. His backpack holds all the ground equipment needed to feed his Heads up display goggles so he can pan and tilt the airborne camera.

An interview with the FPV Man!

Tell us the FPV experience. Basically, FPV involves a small camera on the nose of your aircraft that feeds video to a small transmitter, which then sends the V-signal to a ground station. The Ground Stations consists of an antenna, receiver and a video monitor or goggles. You fly from the vantage point of the aircraft alone.

Is it hard to control the aircraft? I started doing FPV flying in January 2008 and found it easier to learn to fly FPV then it was to learn RC flying looking up from the ground. I prefer to use flying wings as my main FPV platforms because they are easy to set up and are the most efficient airframes.

Above: HUD View

Above: Head-tracking view point video. Camera is servo driven to pan and tilt the view.

 

What’s the story about your Backpack? I built my Backpack “Ground Station” because it makes transport easier and allows me to keep the receiver antenna pointed at the plane. This gives me the best video quality and improved portability. With my headset and goggles, I actually feel like I am inside the plane. I see a video overlay showing a “Heads Up Display” (HUD) similar to an F-16. I see what the camera sees plus my altitude, airspeed, what direction I am traveling, where the field is and there’s an artificial horizon to help me orientate to the model’s attitude.

Above: 2010 Backpack.

Above : 2011 Backpack is  now a fanny pack!

Tell us about your Octo-Copter. There was a steep learning curve with these type of aircraft. Multi Rotor Helicopters consist of a control board for stability, a main frame to support everything, ESC’s and motors. They can have Tri-, Quad-, Hexa- and Octo-configurations. The more motors you have the greater the stability and payload capability. I use a UAVX Flight Control board which has three Gyros, a Barometeric altimeter, Compass and a GPS Reciever. I did a lot of soldering and some reprogramming on the more advanced systems but they make a great aerial video platform because of their stability and maneuverability. The Octo-Copter with its FPV set up is a great conversation starter. I always enjoy answering questions and sharing the hobby with people I meet at RC events. It has a “Position and Altitude Hold” function as well as a “Return to Home” function that really lighten my piloting workload while shooting aerial video photography. For 2011, he’s shown how much smaller the gear has become!

Chasing an RC B-17 at the NEAT Fair

For more information:

http://www.youtube.com/user/FPVFLIGHTSCHOOL?feature=mhum

http://www.youtube.com/user/FPVFLIGHTSCHOOL?feature=mhum#p/u/84/k4JaSyFQEE0

Featured News, Gerry Yarrish

About the author

Senior Technical Editor About Me: I have a lifelong passion for all things scale, and I love to design, build and fly scale RC airplanes. With 20 plus years as part of the Air Age family of magazines, I love producing Model Airplane News and Electric Flight.

51 Responses to “First Person View (FPV) & RC flying — What do you think?”

  1. Joe Bar says:

    Pretty neat stuff. I do believe, though, that this kind of capability takes the aircraft out of the realm of “hobby” and into the class of UAV, when flown outside of AMA limits.

    Within those limits, it’s great, and an interesting addition to our hobby that I’d like to try.

    Oustide those limits, i am not sure of the legal ramifications. I presume it would be treated as a piloted aircraft, and subject to the same rules (licensing, registration, etc.) as “real” aircraft.

  2. Patrick Ethridge says:

    I think the AMA needs to drop the buddy box requirement if it wants to stand a chance of collecting new members who are entering the hobby specifically for FPV. A spotter requirement would be fine though. I got into the hobby 8 months ago specifically for FPV, but found I liked LOS as well so I joined the AMA.

    That being said, if the buddy box requirement isn’t dropped, more than likely I won’t renew my membership with the AMA next year.

  3. FHH says:

    Having a programmable waypoint capability, including “return to home” is a technical violation of AMA’s rules and voids AMA insurance coverage.
    I have specifically asked AMA HQ this question due to the difference between the current Safety Code and the previous version. The answer was that the insurance policy does not permit it therefore it is not allowed.
    The new version Safety Code wording is not as clear as the previous version on this issue.

    AMA’s strict FPV rules are intended to positively differentiate between a hobby grade model and a commercial/military UAV/UAS.

    The increasing availability and rapidly decreasing price of FPV systems is creating a problem for the hobby in making our models harder and harder to differentiate from military grade observation drones.

    We should not be working to see how far we can push the definition of a model vs a UAV/UAS. The more that this “line in the sand” is pushed the more ammunition is given to those who want to regulate the hobby.

    Do you really want to have to go through FAA mandated inspections of your aircraft?

  4. Edo McGowan says:

    I would like to contact Gary Graf of Long Island. My idea as a pilot is to make a simulated cockpit, set up within a series of three gimbals to allow the three axes wherein the stick and rudder control the yaw, roll and pitch and the RC follows through and with FPV feedback. For many pilots who have lost their medicals and a lot have because of the baby boom, this offers them an outlet that, while not actually flying, is very close. I am hoping that someone out there may have already done this and Gary’s system is an excellent first step to accomplishing this. If one had a LOT of money, this simpit could be put on the end of a large robotic arm and thus one could get acceleration.

    Cheers—————-Dr Edo McGowan

  5. Edo McGowan says:

    FHH asks——”Do you really want to have to go through FAA mandated inspections of your aircraft?” Although this may push the envelope, the RCs that are 51% owner built would probably fall into experimental. I don’t have a clue how the FAA would look at the ready to fly types which might need certification. That would impact the industry, presumably, for only those that would be flying FPV outside AMA limits and absent a safety pilot and that cost of certification would put most manufacturers out of the loop. It also might see many of the RC pilots going back into the actual scratch construction of their planes.

    Is it possible to obtain a civilian rating for UAV? According the the AOPA, there is no special rating, but I did get this back from an inquiry.

    Here is the information you requested re UAV’s:

    http://www.aopa.org/members/files/pilot/2004/act0410.html
    AOPA to Protect GA Interests on UAV Certification Panel

    AOPA is leading the advisory committee that will set key standards for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying in U.S. airspace. The association has accepted the role as co-chair of a special advisory committee that will in essence write the UAV certification standards.

    “We volunteered for this job because we want to make sure that these unmanned aircraft don’t have an impact on our members, literally and figuratively,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs.

    “Our benchmark for the standards will be a piloted vehicle operating VFR,” said Randy Kenagy, AOPA senior director of advanced technology and co-chairman of the UAV advisory committee. “Only when a UAV can fit into the system with the same level of safety will it be ready to share our airspace.”

    UAV operations in the United States are currently very limited. The drones fly within special-use airspace, either restricted areas or military operations areas. Outside of such airspace, UAV operations must have a “certificate of authorization” approved by both the air traffic and flight standards branches of the FAA. The operations have to be conducted within strict parameters, including using chase planes and/or ground spotters to monitor their activity

    Regards,

    Greg Swierczek

    Aviation Technical Specialist ATP/CFI

    Government Affairs – Pilot Information Center

    AOPA

  6. Steve Monticone says:

    FPV flying is the terrific. It is integration of the electronics, that a lot of us of play with, and flight that all of us pursue. It is fantastic to sit in the cockpit of your own RC aircraft, fly it, and look out over the wing watching the country side go by.

    I know that the government wants to control everything we do, everything we eat, and everything we say and see, but I want them to let us have this and have some fun with it.

    The FCC already requires a HAM license for FPV transmitters above 10mw and the FAA and the AMA want us under 400 feet AGL and within visual line of site with a buddy pilot.

    Most of us join clubs, practice safety, live by the rules and we are still attacked by our own government. Those that don’t practice these measures will continue to do what they want, regardless of the FAA, FCC and AMA rules are.

  7. cubby says:

    I happen to think it’s stupid and dangerous. If there’s ever going to be a hobby killing/ruining accident it’s going to come from one of these. If you want to fly first person get a private pilots license like I did and stop putting our hobby at risk.

  8. Don Sudbury says:

    While this is a neat thing and very interesting, what scare me is attitudes like Patrick Ethridge’s He states he has a whole 8 months in the hobby and thinks the AMA requirement or the buddy box should be dropped. This is where the hooby will be destroyed but those going outside the guidelines just to get the experience. What he is not thinking about is unless you have a pan and zoom systems, how will you know what is to your right and left, above and below? You could easily fly into the path of a full scale aircraft and possibly cause a deadly crash. Or, without realizing it, fly our of range and now you have a plane that can crash into a home or hit someone. I sincerely hope that the requirement is not dropped. I’ve been in this hobby for almost 50 years with the last 30+ in RC. The changes over the years have been benefiial to the hobby. Is this one, maybe but as Cubby stated, if you really want to fly in the cockpit, get a sports pilot license. Please do not screw up a hobby the many around the world enjoy just because you thing you know it all already,

  9. Greg McCullough says:

    I think it’s a great system, being able to fly as you would sitting in the cockpit, but then again, I think the AMA is right in requiring a “copilot” to warn the pilot of encroachment issues, as well as flying too far away (e.g. out of sight of the field). I have put cameras in my airplanes ever since the mid 80′s, but I go up, take pictures, and land to see the results. No first person views. We need to keep a “line in the sand” between our models and UAV’s. The AMA knows this and is using proper judgement in their rules.

  10. Greg Clemensen says:

    As long as we are flying within a “box” that is restricted by our line of sight, FPV can be safe per AMA safety code. The danger of flying beyond line of sight should be obvious when a FPV controlled model is sharing the same airspace as a full scale passenger carrying aircraft.

  11. member643 says:

    This is a long post, so bear with me…

    I’ve been flying RC since ’79, and I think that FPV is terrific. It’s one of the few examples of actual innovation happening in the hobby today. Also, as a former airline pilot and flight instructor it is my opinion that 99% of FPV operations are no danger – NONE – to full-scale flight ops, as long as they’re done away from airports and below 500’AGL.

    Beyond the matter of how unlikely a mid-air is between full scale aircraft in the first place, most FPV platforms weigh less than three pounds and would cause very little damage. For reference, that’s about the same weight as a red tail hawk (according to Wikipedia), and I hit one of those on short final in a Bonanza; the aircraft received no damage and certainly didn’t crash. I hit a Canada Goose (7-14 lb…Wikipedia again) in a King Air – again on short final – and landed without incident, with no damage to the aircraft beyond a small dent we wouldn’t have noticed if not for the blood smear. Worries about mid-air collisions between full-scale airplanes and most FPV rigs are nothing but uninformed hysteria!

    That being said, there are some reasonable limits that could be placed on FPV operations, such as aircraft weight, operating altitude, and distance flown from takeoff, that would mitigate the risk and still make for an enjoyable hobby. I know of FPV pilots who fly 10-15 miles out and back. While I understand the desire to push the limits, there’s no need for that. A requirement for a spotter is also reasonable, but the buddy box requirement is silly, especially if you’re not using goggles (which I don’t – I prefer a monitor so I can keep one eye on the plane).

    Another issue is the “what’s a UAV” question. All RC planes are “unmanned aerial vehicles” if you get right down to it, so the “don’t mess up my hobby with this newfangled stuff” argument doesn’t hold water. We all fly UAVs, it’s a matter of capability and operating environment. None of us should be operating close to airports or over populated areas to begin with, FPV or POV pilots. Do any of us need autopilots? Not in my opinion, but I know many FPV pilots who say that the RTH (return to home) feature makes them more safe, not less. Do FPV pilots sometimes operate at higher than normal altitudes? Sure they do. So do glider pilots. All I’m getting at is that there’s room for all of this in the hobby, and our operations aren’t all that different. Some calm conversations between FPV-ers and non-FPV-ers would probably clear up lots of misunderstandings and allow us to work together for the good of the hobby as a whole.

    Finally, keep in mind that most FPV pilots know a lot more about what’s going on with their aircraft in flight and POV pilots do. Until I started flying FPV, I never knew my airspeed, altitude, battery voltage, engine RPM, heading, climb/descent rate, etc as I was flying in real time. As an FPV flyer I do. So, I started looking into using the Spektrum telemetry modules in my non-FPV aircraft, and guess what I learned…if you use them in flight, you’re in violation of the AMA’s safety code, which requires the pilot to maintain visual contact with the aircraft “during the entire flight.” Maybe we’re not so far apart after all…

  12. dale kobetich says:

    how many civilian aircraft and how many military aircraft have been lost to model aircraft/uavs?? how many have been lost to birds..flocks of geese ect.???…better regulate birds/geese/bad weather…this has killed more people than models or uav fpv ever has!!

    • Raul says:

      Dale, I completely understand your sarcasm and I agree with you a 100%. But keep in mind that we’re dealing with a bunch of common sense challenged individuals. I’m referring to the some of the posters in here; you know the ones that are afraid of everything.

    • Dave says:

      Dale, the issue is the fact that it is a different sport. To fly FPV violates the r/c exclusions put out by Congress and the FAA. I have nothing against FPV, I just understand that it is a different sport and since that is true you guys need to form your own organizations and get your own insurances. It isn’t even about the crashes that have happened. It is about the ability of FPV to cause harm by the bad guys. When the first FPV is used to kill people, or the first crash happens that kills people on a freeway or in a home or shopping center etc, and causes harm to others then your hobby is doomed. The FAA is going to swoop down on you and kill your hobby.We (only meaning all the guys I have spoken with) in the r/c airplane flying sport/hobby do not want our flying regulated when that happens. Rightfully so I think. It’s not that we have no common sense its that we have thought this through and it seems that you and Raul have not. I question who is the one that really has no common sense on this issue.

      To make your sport flourish you need to develop your own regulations and start something like the AMA for your hobby. That is not asking too much. We had to go through it in our hobby there is no reason why you should get to use our hard fought for AMA. Just make your own. If there are enough of you to make complaints then just get together and start from scratch. That is what most new sports/hobbies have to do.

      • dlee3782 says:

        Dave,
        While I understand the concern of many RC pilots not to have untenable regulations imposed on them because of FPV flying, I must respectfully disagree with your logic. FPV is not a separate hobby; it is, in fact, intrinsically linked with RC flying. By definition, you can’t fly FPV without flying RC.

        Also, FPV flying is allowed under rule 550 of the AMA’s safety code, so the AMA itself (apparently) sees FPV flying as part of the model aviation hobby. It is true that many FPV pilots see the 550 regs (especially the buddy box provision) as actually making the hobby less safe, so they chose to not participate in the AMA. This is the group that, in my opinion, is open to some pretty energetic regulation by the feds if/when something bad happens. For these folks, I agree with you, the appropriate course of action is to create their own group (as has been done in the UK and other places in Europe). But as far as I remember, the guy who tried to blow up the Pentagon last summer/fall wasn’t flying FPV, so to single FPV out as a separate threat is a specious argument at best.

        The larger issue this discussion reveals is the insular thinking within the RC community, and the unfortunate readiness to label things as “real” model aviation/not “real” model aviation; us/them; yours/ours. Nothing good is going to come from this way of thinking. If one aspect of model aviation is bannished from the hobby, then what’s next? Are people who fly foam ARFs flyers not real model aviators? What about free flight? Are the only real model aviators people who fly giant scale, gas-powered airplanes? Where do we draw the line?

        FPV flying can be (and is routinely) done safely, responsibly, and within the existing regulatory structure. To simply tell FPV pilots to go away is not the answer.

        • Dave says:

          I’m not telling them to go away. I just suggested exactly what you have agreed with. They need their own system of guidelines, instruction and insurance. Just because they use r/c aircraft to do their flying does not mean they are linked to us. I personally like FPV I just do not want it tied to AMA and standard R/C flying. It will end up being a huge issue in politics and whether you admit it or not there are reasons for them to have their own system. My only argument is that the AMA should not be strong-armed into including them in what we have now. We all fought too hard to get where we are. We are not a bunch of idiots, dumb or hicks the average flyer is of at least average intelligence and actually can use a computer. We have the right to decide what is good for us or not as a local club and as AMA members that will not drop them if they don’t do what you demand. If you read here you will find insulting people acting like they have the right to simply show up at a local field and have everyone just jump at the chance to serve them and the new golden egg they act like theyhave. And if we dont?/ why just threaten to withdraw from the AMA like that would actually cause financial issues with us or them. I wouldn’t mind the guys even using our fields of a local vote of club members (who really do have a right to say no since it is a private club).
          Just woke from a nap so sorry if my answer is choppy.
          You don’t need to convince me it is an interesting hobby. It just isn’t my hobby so please stop trying to tell me it is.
          Have a great week.

      • Gary Graf says:

        I don’t understand why you think that flying an RC plane from an on board view makes it a different hobby some how.

  13. D Schilling says:

    Wow,things are changing fast. I stared using on board wireless camera in 2003. At that time I was just hooking it into a DVD recorder and letting a buddy view it on small TV. I havent got the goggles or HUD and can see some real issues with this technology. I suggest setting up a standard for Hobby and for Commercial/Military. I do some business taking aerial photos using RC airplane under AMA guidelines. So this would be considered commercial flying. I wouldnt want to pay for licensing for that. A business license should be enough. Whats it going to be like when a bomber can drop a 1,000 or more drones and swarm carrying chemicals or explosives scary stuff.

  14. Mike says:

    Although the tech is cool, I don’t believe it is what our hobby needs. If you are flying UAV’s then fine. It will be regulated as the tool it is. For the rc hobby it could bring down a plethora of avoidable rules, regs or worse yet ban rc due to one bad incident with one nutcase that clearly doesn’t represent our hobby.

  15. Lipo Power says:

    P Etheridge, If you have read any of the drafts of the impending regs from the FAA then you also know you will NEED AMA or equivalent (not homeowner insurance) Community organization based membership ….. As there is currently no real alternative to the AMA you will be flying ON-YOUR-OWN and illegally at that time. Good luck, Good by etc.

  16. Patrick Ethridge says:

    I am well aware of the impending regs and that I will need a nationwide community based group with rules to legally operate an FPV plane in the future. The AMA is not specified and I fear that they will lose membership when another group is formed and steps up to listen to the wants and needs of fpv pilots….such as the buddy box issue.

    @Don Sudbury – While I may be relatively “new” compared to a pilot of your experience, I’m willing to bet I have vastly more FPV experience than you do. It is great fun to fly low to the ground and around trees. The buddy box rule basically states that if I fly behind some brush in an open field that my spotter cannot see LOS behind, he must take over the model and fly it. How can he possibly see what he is doing better than I can when I have the same perspective a pilot would have in that situation. The only perspective I cannot see is behind me…such as a faster model approaching. A spotter could warn you without having to take control of the model he may have never flown before. Do not ruin this hobby for those of us who fly fpv just because you think you know it all.

    • Dave says:

      Patric, I think you miss a point. I also think that you being only 8 months in flying is a whole different serious issue. The whole point is that your type of flying is not our type. It is a whole new sport/hobby type and as such you need your own regulation and insurance. The AMA should not have to cover you and in fact it doesn’t.
      Most people I know including me think your sport can be fun but it is a different sport/hobby. It will take time but if you guys all get together and form your own type of AMA then all will be fine. We as hobby fliers do not feel that the upcoming issues and dangers of your type of flying should mess with ours. But the fact is that down the road when the first big crash or nutcase kills people using a FPV (not uav since we all fly uav’s) then your type of flying will be regulated or completely closed down by the FAA. We do not want that to leak over to us and we have that right. You guys just form your own system and have fun. Just like we want to have fun with ours without worrying about being closed down from an FPV issue.

  17. james says:

    I think most of these guys are the classic “old timers” like at my local RC club that don’t want the young guys there with Electrics that can fly longer and faster then their old models. I refused to join after one day of their crap. Its hard to believe they are even using a computer. I bet they resisted that new technology as well when it first came out. There will always be something the generation before puts down and resist progress and advancements. Most people reject what they don’t understand or haven’t experienced, especially if someone they don’t like does. I found private land to enjoy my hobby and I know one day the disgruntled will be replaced with the open minded. Until then I still fly and have fun in `the hobby` without a club full of people that want to tell me I don’t have a real airplane.

    • Raul says:

      Great piece James! I will be dropping my AMA membership and returning to flying in private lands too. I’m trying to enjoy myself I don’t need to be paying my hard earned money to a private group so that they can regulate everything I do.

      • Dave says:

        lol,
        Raul, you and James are welcome to drop your AMA it will not destroy us. Fact is FPV flying is not covered anyway and rightfully so. We do not want to stop you from having fun in your hobby, All we want is for you to understand that your hobby and ours are not the same hobby. James is silly when he makes these types of statements as well. If you don’t like the local club then get out, see if you can find others and form your own. After all the local club is formed by people that fly certain ways and they have the right to not change their rules just because some new guy shows up and expects them to change everything to accommodate him and expects everyone to kiss his butt. By the way these “old farts” are the ones who designed the computers of today and designed the AMA to fit their needs. You should do the same instead of trying to make us adapt to you. I wonder if James could use a computer based on the original dos instead of windows or apple??? Us “old farts” can.
        Why would you go to a local place knowing they have different guidelines anyway. Look for others that have the same interests as you do and form a new club. You are welcome to do so. Then you have like minded folks doing like minded things and maybe even can learn more computer stuff while complaining about that other club of dumb folks. You know, the one with all the fathers and grand fathers in it. The club that is filled with Veterans who gave you the freedom to complain about the very people who got the original flying sites and rules going in the first place.

        In other words just do what we did. Start something new that fits your hobby.

  18. Edo McGowan says:

    It would seem to me that a camera on a rotating servo as viewed on a split screen would go a long way toward this issue of awareness outside the cockpit, just as a pilot constantly swivels his head in full size flight. With the technology that seems to be available ( I’m new at this RC but have over 50 years of flight in full size aircraft including crop dusting), that the FPV can be quite safe. As the RC’s get to the giant size, then collisions might be a serious issue if you can not see all around you, hence an observer on the ground. For those ranging out farther, the ability to see in 360 as well as above and below will become critical, but this is not in stereo so depth perception may be an issue. Is that approaching other aircraft a RC out 300 meters or a full size on long final and how would you know based on what appears on a screen? There are accounts of mid-airs with Giant and full size where the RCs were working at a show using the same full-size runway with mixed traffic and no controller. I’ve had pelicans come through the windshield in an L-19 and it was a real mess. A giant scale would present a similar problem. Thus the issue warrants some more thought and thus well considered agreement-rules. That, however, does not mean that FPV will be inherently dangerous. Common sense should guide.

  19. Don Snowdon says:

    I am a former working/airline pilot(Airline Transport rated) and flight instructor
    I have a significant amount of RC experience but have been out of the hobby for a while.
    I just bought a new transmitter(Fubaba 6J) and want to get back into the hobby again.and am particularly interested in FPV RC flying.
    I am working overseas right now and don’t have access to RC magazines except online.
    Could someone email me and let me know where I can find out where to buy such equipment and the costs?
    I would like to use my present transmitter if possible and use the goggles.
    Thank you in advance to whomever may respond.
    Don Snowdon
    Vietnam

  20. Don Snowdon says:

    My email address by the way is snowdondon@yahoo.com

    • Raul says:

      Don I just sent you all the info that you need to get into FPV flying. Break on Through to the other side. Don’t pay attetention to the scare joyless posters, enjoy your life while you still can!!!!

      • member643 says:

        Hi Don,

        I don’t know what Raul sent, but I’ve had very good luck dealing with an outfit called ReadyMade RC (readymaderc.com) — they’re one of the most highly-regarded outfits you’ll find. good luck!

  21. Raul says:

    “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people”

    Go out and fly your planes have fun, that is the only reason for this hobby. And if I hear anymore BS regulations from AMA this will be my last year as a member. Government regulations are bad? but private institutions and organizations can regulate me??? The hell with that!!!

  22. Gary Graf says:

    Hi all,
    I was getting ready to head to the Cradle of Aviation Model Aircraft Expo on Long Island when I came across this web page. I must say I was surprised and flattered by the article, it is positive and well written. Thank you Gerry Yarrish.
    Please let me say that I have been building models for over 40 years and flying RC aircraft of all sorts for over 30 years. I truely love this hobby. I have 2 young sons that love the hobby as well and we spend many hours building and now flying RC aircraft. I would not do anything to jeopardise the safety of others or this great hobby. I fly my FPV aircraft LOS and no higher then 400 ft AGL but understand that others do not. I try to do what ever I can to promote this hobby in a positive light. I feel that Small UAVs can make a very positive contribution to society. They can be used for SAR missions, Industrial Inspections as well as aiding Fire and Police activities. They are quiet, safe and greener then full scale aircraft. If used intelligently they can reduce the work load of full scale aircraft as well as being a force multiplier for ground based personnel. I am doing what ever I can to help introduce Small UAVs into society as a positive force. If successful that will only help the public perception of our hobby, not hurt it.
    Now I am going to have some fun today at the RC Aircraft Expo.;)
    Thank you

    • Gerry Yarrish says:

      Hi Gary. I tried to contact you but could not find your email! I agree, that everytime I have seen you fly FPV, you have been safety concious and professional showing hobby in a positive light. I thnik many who have bad things to say, do not react well to change or tech advancement. like when the 2.4 radios and ARFs came out. To each his own. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments.

      • Gary Graf says:

        Hi Gerry,
        Thanks again for the great article on FPV.
        I handled all the RC aspects of the Viral Video ” Flying People in New York City” Here is the link
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcDN409ZBv4
        Let me know if you want to talk about how this video was made. I was contacted by the AMA and asked to help ThinkModo get this done in a safe and positive fashion.
        Gary

    • dlee3782 says:

      Hi Gary,

      This is great stuff! I love FPV flying, and consider it the “next frontier” of the RC hobby. What can you tell us about your ground station setup? It looks like there are a couple of different setups shown in the images associated with this article, one with patch and omni receive antennas, so I assume you’ve got a diversity unit buried in there somewhere. I’m always looking for a more efficient way to get my ground station to the field, so any insights you can provide would be great.

      Gerry & Debra — any plans to do an FPV feature (or series???) in MAN? So much of what people see of FPV comes from YouTube videos that show flying over congested areas or at high alitutde/long range that there is a growing feeling that FPV is inherently unsafe and can’t be done responsibly. More exposure like this would put the lie to that point of view.

      Thanks!

      • Gary Graf says:

        I am using 2.4 for the RC link and 900mhz and 1.2ghz for my FPV video links. I use different types of antennas on both the TX and RX depending on where I am flying.

    • Charley Robinson says:

      Hello Gary,

      I didn’t see an amateur call sign displayed on any of your MAN video clips so I looked you up on the ARRL website. Glad to see that you have your amateur license. What are you doing about the FCC station ID requirement?

      73,

      AF5AO

      • Gary Graf says:

        Yes I up dated the FW on the OSD and it wiped out my call sign. I have to go in and re enter it.
        Thanks

  23. Raul says:

    Hi Gerry Yarrish, what’s your e-mail so that I can contact you about a problem with the posting in this page?

  24. Walt says:

    As intriguing as this all is, I’m fearful that it moves us too close to “drones” and could lead to FAA intervention.

  25. Dave says:

    While it is an interesting thing to do I really think FPV needs regulation and because of that it should be classed by itself and not become a part of r/c /AMA flying. One of the things about our not being regulated was the stipulation by the FAA and congress that in order to be exempt the plane has to be within “line of sight” of the flyer and only be a certain height when flying.
    I think that down the road when some nutcase (and this will happen) uses FPV to fly an explosive into a building or area killing people it would crush our industry and we cannot afford to have this happen.
    If you fly FPV then great, just get your own clubs and insurances going and please understand that while your base platform is a r/c plane, the hobby is quite different from those of us at the local field flying line of site crafts just as required by the FAA and Congress.
    I do not want to stop you from having a great day of flying I just do not want your type of flying to end up regulating my type of flying.
    The gent that commented that the AMA will lose out if they don’t recognize FPV is not thinking of these repercussions. Guys and Girls.. Have fun with your flying just don’t claim its like the regular r/c flying or that it should be adopted by us and the AMA. Fact is it shouldn’t be.
    Wait and see what happens the first time a nut uses this platform to cause harm to others or just until the first guy (or girl) loses their plane and it is so far away that it cannot be recovered… Imagine what will happen if that plane that lost power would crash into a car on a busy freeway or into a house and start it on fire killing someone sleeping inside that house.
    Perhaps instead of AMA you should start a ground up insurance company and regulate your hobby like we do ours?
    This is written with concern. I do not intend this to step on toes just expressing my concerns.
    Have a great day.

    • Gary Graf says:

      Sorry Dave but FPV is here to stay, maybe you can start your own AMA type of organization.
      Keep me posted.

    • member643 says:

      Dave,
      I think one of the points that has been made by others but that is getting missed is that the AMA already does recognize and regulate FPV. So, it’s not a matter of whether it will “become part of rc/AMA” to use your term…it already is. Likewise, if FPV is flown in accordance with the AMA Safety Code (see Rule 550), it is covered by the AMA’s insurance.

      I’m not bringing this up to be argumentative, but your posts seem to be treating FPV within the AMA as something that should not happen and I’m trying to highlight that it already has happened.

  26. Richard says:

    The number of FPV pilots I believe are small in numbers than the regular RC fliers. Patrick thinks that there will be a major impact if AMA starts adding regs. I don’t really think so. As far as the buddy box is concerned, I have no problem with it until the optics of FPV systems became better. As of right now, only 2D vision is possible. Depth perception is nil. And the field of vison is also limited. Of course we will hear differently from Patrick I’m sure.

  27. Albert says:

    After reading all the above, here is my “risk manager” assessment:
    1) CONTROL of conventional (LOS) RC planes relies on the pilot eyesight ,and as such is “reliable”: pilot is not likely to go blind suddenly after takeoff.
    2) CONTROL of FPV relies on electronics much beyond the normal RC electronics. As such it is “more” vulnerable to failures. These failures may be few, but is statistically certain that they will happen, and the impact depends on the instance, so if it is over a corn field nobody cares, but if it is over houses, factories, roads, and generally people then yes there is a high risk of damage.
    Any failsafes such as “return home if lost” are extremely helpful, but not guaranteed to work 100%. And there may be also power failure, or other failures that will take the plane down BEFORE it gets home.
    3) Flying over people (LOS or FPV) “cannot” be covered by a modeler insurance, and exposes the pilot to legal action for any damage… big legal suits.. a new bonanza for lawyers..
    4) So flying FPV over people and property is the issue of the matter.
    5) The RC industry needs to build a reliable, integrated, dedicated FPV comm/control module, so that the argument of “homemade / experimental / unreliable controls” cannot be used by FAA to forbid FPV ( which is likely since the FAA must protect people). This module would need to be designed and built to FAA’s satisfaction, but since the production run will be in the tens of thousands it will not be expensive, even with systems redundancy. It must also be hard-wired to prevent flying over “people and property” zones. This is an obvious anti-terror requirement.
    6) Until then, lets stick to airfields and agricultural fields, and TOTALLY avoid flying over any people or man-made property. Fly the prairies, fly the mountains, fly the desert, fly the seas, but be wise, dont be the first to cause an FPV accident, get experience, and be heard.

  28. M. Mattingly says:

    Several of these guys remind me of the attitudes and mentality of many fixed wing club members when helicopters first hit the scene in the 70′s. They tried to run them off, considered them too dangerous and relegated them to a remote corner of the field if they would even let them fly. The introduction of turbine jets was met with much of the same resistance. With every new technology there will always be the Luddites and the fear mongers. Risk? Yes as with any technology there are risk but with the increasing reliability of the on board control systems the risk of a crash is actually decreasing. It hasn’t been that many years since crashing due to radio interference, radio failure, battery pack failure or some other failure was the norm. If you brought a plane back home at the end of the day in the same condition it left it was an exceptionally good day! Systems have become so reliable that it has become relatively rare for anything but structural failure and pilot error to cause a crash. If you stay within the AMA guidelines there is no reason that FPV flight cannot be as safe if not safer that conventional RC flight. For reference I am 60 years old, not some “kid”. I have seen lots of technological change in the hobby over the years and every bit of it has been good. Keep it coming!

  29. Chris says:

    It does not matter what rules are within any organization, if some nutcase what’s to crash a UAV/FPV R/C plane into a building or a group of people, he will do it. No amount of rule making will change that. Rules are like looks on a door.. There are there to keep honest people honest.
    I am getting started in FPV myself and I will be following all the rules set forth in the AMA.

  30. CAM71 says:

    The RC hobby developed over time by an assortment of enterprising individuals who adapted some new and rapidly evolving technologies towards the pursuit of a great new pastime. Similarly inspired and motivated, the same sequence of events will likely play out with FPV as well–with or without the support and participation of the “old guard” as it were.

    It would seem to me that that the traditional RC community has lost sight of it own roots. No longer seeking to adapt or implement new technologies for the further enjoyment and advancement of the hobby, they seek to build walls and “protect” the hobby they created. That’s OK, I get it–typical evolutionary path of many (defunct) established provincial organizations throughout history.

    The problem is that FPV is almost certainly a key component in the future of the RC hobby–a hobby that is rather defined by its continual embracement of new technologies as they come along. That said, to rail against FPV within the RC community it is sort of akin to those that spoke against the noise and presumed danger of the horseless carriage over a 100 years ago..and certainly just as futile.

    So I say this to all the traditional RC hobbyists and AMA members out there who feel the pursuit of their “own” hobby threatened by all this new fangled “FPV stuff”….keep thinking that way and witness your relevance within the community slowly erode. Failure to embrace, or at the very least, accept technological change within a hobby that was founded upon that very tenant is most assuredly an evolutionary dead end.

    Let’s be honest, who among us has not wished that they could be “up there” with our aircraft? I could be wrong but it’s probably safe to say that this most fundamental of human dreams (to fly) is what got us into the hobby in the first place and what keep us coming back for more every year. It’s not a dream anymore. Incorporation of FPV into the hobby should be a cause for celebration–the realization of a dream.

  31. Gordon Niessen says:

    I find it amazing that people still seem to think regulations will have any impact on terrorist using FPV for an attack. Or that the ability to use something badly means you need to regulate it.

    We do need guidelines to keep good people from having avoidable accidents. But that is not what the media and many others seem to be pushing. Altitude and weight restrictions are a good idea. But flying even a 10 pound RC airplane in a rural setting using FPV should not be restricted to Line Of Sight.

    And implementing an unenforceable law is also a waste of time and taxes.

  32. Beau says:

    Whatever happened to Common Sense? I’ve been hit by drunk drivers 3 different times, nearly losing my life once. Followed by 15 years of surgeries. Outlaw booze. Outlaw cars. I was hit by a “control line” airplane while playing basketball as a kid. 12 stitches. Outlaw control line airplanes.
    I could go on and on.
    I fly FPV in the wide open spaces, not over traffic or outdoor malls. When I drink, I don’t drive. When I drive I pay attention. And I don’t vote for or belong to organizations that try to legislate every activity under the sun.
    Does anybody remember the first days of snowboarding? “Stupid” “Not at this resort” “Bunch of thugs” Go figure…

  33. Jacek Rogozinski says:

    Nice Octo ! I am sure You enjoy it a lot ! I am testing and learning to fly and make films on a quadrocopter made in Poland and it is real fun . A question , if You do not mind . I will be in NYC in about two weeks for a couple of days – is there any good shop selling multicopters there ? Or at least components for FPV ? If You have any advice pls mail it on an email below – I will appreciate that -thank You z!
    Jacek

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